NO BRIDGE BILL BY JULY 4th
Yes, Governor Rick Snyder told a gathering at the Greater Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce gathering on Mackinac Island "It's time to build the bridge."
Yes, he urged lawmakers to get the necessary legislation needed (SB 410 and SB 411) that would create the authority to build a second span between Detroit and Canada by July 4th before the House and Senate take a scheduled two-month recess in July and August.
No, it isn't going to happen.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe), sponsor of the bill, said last week, "It's not going to be done by June 30." He made the decision after talking with Senate Economic Development Committee Chair Mike Kowall (R-White Lake) who scheduled at least one more public hearing this week and there may still be more to come.
Following testimony early last week, Richardville told reporters there is only one firm Republican vote for the bill in that chamber and that vote is his.
Both Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Canadian officials testified in favor of the bridge, all saying it would not cost Michigan taxpayers any money. There was also testimony from representatives of the Ambassador Bridge who strenuously oppose any construction of a second span across the Detroit River.
Will the bridge issue be linked to redistricting, as some Democrats would like to do as a way of getting a better deal in reapportionment?
Both Governor Rick Snyder and Richardville said Tuesday they want no part of it.
Some Democrats think differently, contending the administration needs their votes to build the bridgee.
FY 2012 BUDGET IS SIGNED
Calling it "a major milestone in the reinvention of Michigan," Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday put his pen to HBs 4526 and 4325 finishing the FY 2012 budget on the earliest date in 30 years.
Included in the $47.4 billion budget are a new incentive-based revenue sharing program for local governments and an incentive-based system for the state's 15 universities; a tougher 18 month lifetime limit on welfare payments; $115 million in state employee concessions; and money for brownfield and historic grants used by the Michigan Strategic Fund to attract businesses to the state.
Snyder vetoed four items in the budget - money for a precollege engineering program; a special $4.25 million adoption subsidy; money for a mental health illness study and $80,000 for surface mining.
He also said he would ignore some items in the boiler plate portion of the budget calling them not legally enforceable. Those include penalizing universities that offer health care benefits to employee's domestic partners, requiring public universities doing embryonic stem cell research to report data to the state, and administrative requirements for the Michigan Gaming Control Board in dealing with the horse racing industry.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT CHANGES BECOME LAW
Legislation (HB 4314) that will eliminate and revise several sections of the Michigan Telecommunications Act (MTA) was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.
The new law is designed to help major telecommunication service provides better compete in an industry being taken over by ceU phones.
The new law does the following:
• Removes from the MTA language that grants the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) the ability to revoke licenses or order cease and desist orders when determining that rates, quality of service or conditions of service violate the Act . • Clarifies that the terms of mediated agreements between telcos not be disclosed to anyone other than the telcos, including the MPSC
• Basic local exchange carriers will be able to opt out of printed directory delivery requirements
• Includes voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) and wireless service as "comparable voice services" for purposes of determining whether alternative te1com providers are operating in an exchange.
• Removes the Relay Service Advisory Board
• Landline service providers can opt out of delivering printed directories for customers and instead provide free directory information by request
HOUSE PASSES TEACHER TENURE REFORM
It would be easier to fire bad public school teachers under a four-bill package of legislation (HBs 4625 through 4628) that has cleared the GOP-controlled House on a mostly party-line vote.
The measures would reform the current process that grants tenure protection based on longevity rather than job performance.
The legislation grants effective teachers protections against internal politics based on performance evaluation; fast tracks "highly effective" teachers to receive tenure in three years; gives administrators more legal wiggle room in the process of firing or suspending a teacher; and requires a teacher and principal to give their mutual consent to any teacher transfer.
House Democrats criticized the legislation as going too far. Teacher unions are focusing their efforts to derail the measures in the Republican-controlled Senate where the bills are now pending.
FAILING DETROIT SCHOOLS TO GET HELP
A new state-run Educational Achievement System (AES) designed to give more control to parents and teachers as well as millions of dollars more in resources to students is being created to help 45 failing Detroit public schools.
Those schools will be placed under control of the AES but the Detroit Public School system will continue to manage the school properties, deal with the district's debt and receive tax revenue from the state.
Governor Rick Snyder said the 45 failing schools will be the pilot schools for a new system to eventually spread across the state within the next five years.
DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts will chair the executive committee of the AES.
HOUSE BILL BLOCKS "FORCED UNIONIZATION"
On a straight party-line vote, the House has passed legislation (HB 4003) that would block large groups of independent workers from receiving government money for their work, being lopped together under an umbrella organization through an inter-local agreement and put through an election to organize.
Such situations occurred twice under the Granholm administration.
The bill, dubbed "forced unionization" would clarify who is and who is not considered to be a public employee.
SENATE PUTS "FIX" IN AUTO INSURER BILLS
Legislation (SBs 441 and 442) that would require auto insurers to provide information on policyholders to the Secretary of State beginning October 1 passed the Senate on
Thursday. The move would allow the state to use auto insurance information to recoup an estimated $5 million in lost Medicaid money by letting state officials figure out if Medicaid ended up paying the medical expenses of a car accident victim when another insurer would have been required to do so.
SENATE ACTION WOULD "NIX" PLAs
Project labor agreements (PLAs) would be banished under legislation (SB 165) that cleared the Senate Thursday on a party line vote with Democrats protesting that it was another attack on unions. Current PLAs, often required on state and local building and works projects, spell out a project's labor costs, hours and rules and often require nonunionized contractors to sign onto local labor agreements.
HOUSE GETS MORTGAGE FRAUD BILLS
A bi-partisan package of legislation that would toughen penalties on those convicted of mortgage fraud has cleared the Senate and is heading to the House. The nine-bill package would make mortgage fraud at 20-year, $500,000 penalty and would extend the statute of limitations from six to 10 years.
DeLONEY IS NEW LCC CHAIR
Andy DeLoney is the new chair of the Liquor Control Commission (LCC) replacing Nida Samona whose term expired earlier this month. DeLoney, who has been vice president of public affairs for the Michigan Restaurant Association, will serve a term expiring June 12, 2015. The current term of LCC Commissioner Pat Gagliardi's has also expired but Governor Rick Snyder has yet to make any announcement regarding that position.