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An update from West Michigan Chamber Coalition.  

A-F grading

House Bill 5526 (Kelly), introduced last week, would create the Education Accountability Policy Commission tasked with the development, implementation, and ongoing assessment of a statewide accountability system. The bill would require that each public school be assigned a letter grade, A-F, for the following indicators:

  • Proficiency in Math and English Language Arts (ELA)
  • Percentage of students achieving adequate growth in Math and ELA
  • Percentage of English-language learners who achieve adequate growth in English
  • Graduate rate
  • Rate of students chronically absent
  • Participation rate for state assessments

The bill would also require schools be ranked in relation to both comparable schools and student subgroups to the statewide average. The school would receive the ranking of significantly above average, above average, average, below average, or significantly below average.

Yesterday, the House Education Reform committee heard the second round of testimony regarding the bill. We expect a vote on the legislation next week.


PFAS

Governor Snyder’s office has extended invitation for you or key to join for an information update on the state’s efforts to identify, communicate and address the potential effects of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in Michigan, and the state’s efforts to protect public health.

A panel of experts from both the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Environmental Quality will provide detailed insight on what this substance is, and answer questions that you may have. We will hold this information session on Thursday, March 8, 2018 from 3:00 – 5:00 in Lansing, at the George Romney Building, 111 S Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933, 1st Floor Michigan Room.

As you are likely aware, Michigan and a growing list of states are dealing with this nationally emerging contaminant. To escalate Michigan’s response, Gov. Snyder established the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) to ensure a comprehensive, cohesive and timely response to the continued mitigation of (PFAS) across Michigan. The team is being led by retired Michigan Chief Deputy Attorney General Carol Isaacs, and key members of the MPART team will present important information.

Governor and Lawmakers Compromise on Income Tax Exemption and Driver Responsibility Fees

Governor Snyder cut deals with the House of Representatives and the Senate on Wednesday to deciding to set the personal income tax exemption at $4,900 and eliminating costly driver responsibility fees beginning Oct. 1.

Snyder, the Senate, and the House have been in discussions on the final amount for the personal income tax exemption since the federal tax package passed and effectively eliminated personal exemptions.

With this compromise, the legislature has raised the exemption from $4,000 to $4,900 over four years. This will save Michigan families more than $100 a year.

Driver responsibility fees were also on the House and Senate agendas this week, with both voting unanimously to eliminate these costly fees beginning Oct. 1. The move means forgiving $637 million in debt owed by 350,000 drivers.

Snyder had warned lawmakers that he was concerned about the impact of both of these issues on the state budget – the tax exemption will cost the state about $190 million and between $35 to 40 million a year from the driver responsibility fees.  However, on Wednesday he said that the compromise was a good one.

“Now that we have acted to reduce the financial burden on taxpayers, we can focus on other important priorities for Michiganders — funding road improvements, more money for education and another responsibly balanced budget finished months ahead of schedule,” Snyder said in a statement.

Infrastructure Council

Representatives VerHeulen, Victory and Cole testified on their bills related to establishing a Michigan Infrastructure Council.

The focus of the testimony was regarding the better use of taxpayer dollars for infrastructure by promoting best practices for asset management for roads and water systems.

Only the sponsors and the state were invited to speak. Eric DeLong, Deputy City Manager for the City of Grand Rapids, was part of the group that included the Governor’s strategy office that spoke in support. They highlighted that the MIC is designed to be an umbrella to help coordination for the initiatives that already exist (like the transportation asset management council).

It was announced that there is a “meeting on this bill” this week and that interested parties could contact Rep. Coles office if they wish to participate.

We will continue to monitor the bill as the process continues.


Construction Code Review

This week, the Chamber held a roundtable with Representative Brandt Iden and stakeholders that focused on HB 5376 (Iden) regarding the statewide construction code. This bill would put in statute the stakeholder-supported process commissions and boards already follow.

Recently the Construction Code Commission and boards, made up of industry experts, were told the process to promulgate rules, including reviewing new construction codes, would change and put in place would be a 2-3-person group that would conduct the process. This change stems from an executive order that sought to streamline departments. However, the business community, unions and local governments are worried that this is an impossible task and will become an unworkable process.

HB 5376 is sitting in the House Regulatory Reform committee, chaired by Representative Iden. There are continued discussions ongoing between supporters of the bill and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to see if common ground can be found before the bill is scheduled for a hearing.


Ballot Proposals Update

Another ballot proposal is in the field. This one is driven by California billionaire Tom Steyer and would mandate Michigan energy companies get at least 30% of their power from wind, solar or other renewable sources by 2030.

This is similar to the 2012 proposal the Coalition opposed in 2012 to mandate 25% renewable energy by 2025. It is was soundly defeated by the voters in 2012, but with other potential questions on this year’s ballot, they are taking another shot.

More information here: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/02/13/michigan-renewable-energy-november-ballot-measure/334458002/