Bills on wetland use, forest property tax breaks
Senate Bill 163, Revise wetland use permit details: Passed 25 to 12 in the Senate
To expand certain exemptions to a state wetland permit mandate, increase some wetland permit fees and reduce others, require permit denials to document their rationale and authority, authorize grants to local governments to create “wetland mitigation banks,” slightly reduce wetland regulatory burdens imposed on county drain commission projects, slightly increase the state's burden to justify restrictions on an owner's use of his or her property, prohibit the Department of Environmental Quality from imposing regulations that are beyond the scope those required by federal law, and make other changes to these land use restrictions.
House Bill 4042, Require match of welfare applicants against incarceration lists: Passed 37 to 1 in the Senate
To require the Department of Human Services to perform a monthly jail and prison “incarceration match” and Social Security “death match” to help determine eligibility for a welfare and food stamp benefit “bridge cards,” and not issue or revoke the card of a person on those lists. This would codify current practice in statute.
Senate Bill 335, Extend Medicaid "gamesmanship" insurance tax: Passed 65 to 44 in the House
To extend from 2014 to 2018 the sunset on a 1 percent health insurance claims tax intended to “game” the federal Medicaid system in ways that result in higher federal payments to Michigan’s medical welfare system. As introduced the bill would have eliminated the sunset and empowered the Department of Treasury to raise the tax without any further authorization by the legislature.
Senate Bill 165, Require disclosure of medical futility policies: Passed 108 to 0 in the House
To require a hospital, health facility or agency that maintains a written policy that encourages or allows a health care professional to withhold or discontinue treatment on the grounds of "medical futility" to provide a copy of the policy to a patient or resident upon request.
Senate Bill 58, Revise DNR and Agriculture Department “mission statements”: Passed 89 to 18 in the House
To explicitly include among the duties of the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture that they work together to jointly promote development of the state’s forest products industry.
Senate Bill 51, Expand forest property tax breaks: Passed 79 to 28 in the House
To expand the eligibility for certain forest property tax breaks, increase their value, increase the number of acres eligible for the tax breaks (by means of new exemptions from an existing 1.2 million acre cap), authorize a new 2 mill property tax on property in this program that would go to a proposed "Private Forestland Enhancement Fund" to subsidize private forestland management activities, and more. This and related bills are designed to facilitate use of a program granting property tax exemptions to owners of smaller "non-industrial" sized parcels of forestland, rather than one designed for owners of much larger "industrial" forests.
Budget Negotiations Dominate Week’s Legislative Activity
The primary focus of legislative activity this week was the budget for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. Significantly, House and Senate conference committees came to agreement on most spending items, although some remain unresolved. One of these is whether the Department of Education budget will include language prohibiting adoption of a national “Common Core” curriculum initiative. Many grass roots activists have expressed strong opposition to this policy, which the state Board of Education has already approved.
The budget agreement does not include expanding Medicaid eligibility under the terms of the federal health care law ("Obamacare"). That issue is still in play, however; as one advocate for the expansion told the Gongwer news service, "The budget's not done until October 1st." In other words, a “supplemental” appropriation bill could still be passed later that would authorize the expansion.
Legislative leaders and the Governor did agree on where to spend a one-time, $483 million tax collection windfall (plus another $219 million expected next year), which is mostly related to taxpayers shifting income into the 2012 tax year because of federal income tax increases. Specifically, $140 million more will be spent on K-12 schools, an additional $350 million will be used for road projects, and $75 million will be deposited in the state “rainy day fund.”
It is expected that the full House and Senate will pass the complete budget next week. The weekly Roll Call Report will report key details when this happens.
SOURCE: MichiganVotes.org, a free, non-partisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, non-partisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate. Please visit http://www.MichiganVotes.org.