Review our new Government Relations Update - Caucus Call: Lansing

Peter J. Langley
Week of March 14, 2022

Caucus Call Lansing

This Week's Updates

The Michigan House and Senate will be in session Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Gas Tax Holiday Legislation Pushed

  • Who needs to know: Businesses that have high transportation costs, attorneys counseling businesses and individual citizens who commute to work
  • Potential impact: Legislation passed the Michigan House of Representatives last week to pause the Michigan gas tax due to rising costs and is expected to be considered in the Senate this week.

Another week, another large tax cut appears to be on its way to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for consideration. Last week the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill along mostly party lines that would pause the 27-cent per gallon state motor fuel tax starting April 1 until Sept. 30, 2022. The resulting loss of revenue would mean $725 million less for road repairs. Whitmer hinted that she will likely veto the measure if it makes it to her desk. The Senate indicated they are likely to vote on the bill this week.

The proposal comes as gas prices are hitting record levels. The price of crude oil fluctuated wildly last week but ended nearly $20 dollars a barrel less than it started the week. Whitmer penned a letter to Congressional leaders indicating her support for pausing the federal gas tax earlier in the week. There are three taxes on motor fuel in Michigan, the 18-cent per gallon federal tax, a 27-cent per gallon state tax and 6% sales tax. Senate Democrats have indicated that they may be willing to broker a deal that would pause the state’s sales tax on fuel. At this point the GOP appears ready to pass the legislation and dare Whitmer to veto it, all while she’s still deciding on the $2.5 billion income tax cut they sent to her last week.

The legislation is House Bill 5570 and is sponsored by Representative Steven Johnson.

Senate Considers $1.4 Billion Investment in Michigan Agriculture

  • Who needs to know: Agriculture businesses that operate in Michigan
  • Potential impact: The Senate is considering a bill that would pump $1.4 billion into the state’s agriculture operations.

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Appropriations Subcommittee took testimony last week on a bill that would create significant investments in Michigan agricultural operations. The bill would invest $1.4 billion in things like infrastructure, food safety and creating grant programs. Here is a partial breakdown of the spending proposal:

Agricultural Infrastructure Grants / $350 million - grants to support agriculturally-beneficial infrastructure projects, including water, wastewater, natural gas, biodigester, electric, bridge, railway and harbor/port infrastructure projects and any infrastructure project that facilitates new or increased production or export of Michigan-grown or processed agricultural products.

Food Distribution Security and Stability Grants / $350 million - to support food growth, processing and distribution services and facilities. Eligible grantees include Michigan-based warehouses and distribution centers for retail grocers, food banks and other food distribution locations and businesses. Grants may also be used to offset costs for new facility construction, the purchase of equipment for the growing, processing, transportation, storage and distribution of food items and support. Eligible grantees include mobile grocery programs, retail grocery stores, food banks, greenhouses, growers, producers, processors and potash production and processing businesses.

Agriculture Labor Housing Grants / $150 million - to create a grant program to support the building of housing units for seasonal and year-round employees of Michigan's agricultural industry. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) also must encourage agricultural businesses to work in partnership with the local municipalities and regional transit hubs to secure appropriate locations for these housing units.

Bovine tuberculosis mitigation grants / $144 million - to create a grant program to support biosecurity upgrades for beef and dairy operations. Every beef and dairy operation in the state is eligible for a bovine tuberculosis mitigation grant, but grants must be issued based upon proximity to a bovine tuberculosis modified accredited Zone 1 as referenced in the current memorandum of understanding between DARD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The supplemental appropriations bill is SB 855 and is sponsored by Senator Roger Victory.

The Week Ahead:

  • Tuesday, there will be a joint committee meeting of the Senate Finance and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees to discuss gas prices.
  • Tuesday, the House Transportation Committee will consider legislation to study the impacts of toll roads.
  • Tuesday, the Underground Storage Tank Authority Board of Directors will meet.
  • Wednesday, the House Tax Policy Committee will meet to discuss liquor use and sales tax legislation.
  • Wednesday, the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee will meet to consider legislation making changes to public and legal notice requirements.
  • Wednesday, the Michigan Municipal Stability Board will meet.
  • Thursday, the Michigan Certificate of Need Commission will meet.
  • Thursday, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission will meet.
  • Thursday, the Michigan Environmental Rules Review Committee will meet.
  • Thursday, the Michigan Public Service Commission will meet.

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