November 14, 2014, MichiganVotes Weekly Vote Report

Big gas tax hike, property forfeitures and more

House Bill 5477, Increase gas tax: Passed 23 to 14 in the Senate

To replace the current 19 cents per gallon gas tax and 15 cents diesel tax with a 9.5 percent wholesale fuel tax, gradually increasing to 15.5 percent in 2018. When fully phased-in this would represent a tax hike of around $1.0 billion at current wholesale fuel prices.

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

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Senate Bill 841, Increase penalties, authorize property forfeiture for food stamp fraud: Passed 26 to 10 in the Senate

To revise a law that bans having or using a false or doctored food stamp debit card (“bridge card”), reducing the threshold for criminal penalties from getting $250 worth of merchandise to $100, and increasing the penalties. The bill also authorizes the seizure and forfeiture of the proceeds from this crime, and any property, including real estate, used to “facilitate” it.

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

Senate Bill 1100, Impose cash register fraud detector device mandate on merchants: Passed 31 to 5 in the Senate

To give the state Department of Treasury the authority to mandate that, for purposes of collecting sales tax, up to 1,000 merchants statewide must install software or detectors to expose the use an “automated sales suppression device” for falsifying the records of electronic cash registers (also called “zappers” or “phantom-ware”).

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

Senate Bill 843, Authorize welfare agency police force: Passed 25 to 11 in the Senate

To give the Department of Human Services, the state welfare agency, the authority to appoint agents with the same powers as peace (police) officers and limited arrest powers.

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

House Bill 4482, Convert “economic development” programs from rule-based to discretionary subsidies: Passed 77 to 30 in the House

To consolidate within the Michigan Strategic Fund agency the decision-making powers currently vested in various other government “economic development” and job training programs created over the years. In general, this and related bills have the effect of converting programs that give selective corporate and developer tax breaks and subsidies from (putatively) rule-based programs to ones in which the benefits are granted at the discretion of political appointees on the Michigan Strategic Fund board. The bill also expand this agency’s authority over “brownfield” and “historic district” tax breaks and subsidies, and government job training subsidies for particular companies.

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

House Bill 5513, Expand mobile home court regulation: Passed 106 to 0 in the House

To expand the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Quality over mobile home parks; impose new licensure conditions; require the state “Manufactured Housing Commission“ to notify local governments of any complaints from residents; impose a performance bond mandate on mobile home park owners; impose an annual inspection mandate; authorize placing a park under court-ordered receivership if conditions threaten residents’ health and safety; and more.

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

House Bill 4157, Lend IT project money to local governments: Passed 90 to 17 in the House

To create a government fund to make loans to state agencies, local governments, colleges and universities, school districts, and nonprofits that provide public services, for information technology projects that meet various criteria specified in the bill, and which would be selected by a board of state officials and political appointees.

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

House Bill 4401, Exempt some excavation and mining from permit mandate: Passed 68 to 39 in the House on

To exempt from state dredging and related permit requirements excavation or mining activities associated with an active mining operation, unless they create an inland lake with a surface area of five acres or greater.

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

House Bill 5230, Expand government’s power to seize and sell property deemed a “nuisance”: Passed 77 to 33 in the House

To expand the power of government to seize and sell an owner’s property, so that it applies to the contents of a building deemed a “nuisance” because they are connected with unlawful gun violence or human trafficking. Under this power the property owner does not need to be charged or convicted of a crime, and most of the proceeds from the taking go to the law enforcement agencies involved.

Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No”

SOURCE:, 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

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