Michigan Legislative Update
Week of June 14, 2017
By Judy Augenstein
The House of Representatives recessed early today as the husband of Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine had a stroke and she had to go home leaving the Republicans one vote short to complete action on certain issues. The word later today, was that someone found him in time and got him to hospital to prevent severe damage. Our prayers go out to Rep. Allor and her husband. The Legislature intended to finish up their schedule of work this week and recess for summer break, but will now return next week for sure.
The big political battle between Democrats and Republicans this week was an attempt to change the retirement plan for future teachers. The House and Senate committees debating the "MPSERS" issue reported their bills this afternoon. Republicans want to move future teachers to either the same 401 (k) retirement package offered state employees or a likely more expensive pension option.
After "chasing" the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday, late in the day, the committee did report the bill to allow for a multiple use permit, HB 4644, sponsored by Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona. Jessie Augustyn was in Lansing on behalf of GLTPA and reviewed the language change and agreed it did not impact our goal so we agreed to the last minute change. Today, the bill was placed on Second Reading of the full House calendar and I expect it will be voted on and move to Third Reading next week. I will keep you updated as it travels through the full House and onto the Senate. Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba has agreed to schedule the bill for debate hopefully in July. My goal is to have the bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee by Logging Congress and signed into law by November.
Today, the House Natural Resources Committee heard a presentation by the Timber Advisory Council. TAC members Tim Biewer, Biewer Lumber and Charlie Becker, Weyerhaeuser delivered an excellent presentation. They outlined the purpose of the Council which is to advise Governor Rick Snyder on forestry issues/policy. Their presentation included forestry facts such as the industry generates some $20 billion to our economy, we enjoy some 20 million acres of Michigan forests, 4 million acres being state forests and forestry creates 96,000 jobs.
The presenters also highlighted details of the new "Arauco" plant being built in Rep. Daire Rendon's district. Rep. Rendon, R-Lake City explained what the new plant is doing for the area in her district; as always, she made many positive comments about the forest products industry. All and all it was a very positive and informative presentation touting forestry as a Michigan success story. Gary Melow and myself were the only forestry lobbyists attending the meeting . As you know, Gary is a member of the TAC.
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