Lobbyist influence and bad Legislation from Lame Ducks

November 21, 2018

I promised in my last article we would visit a subject matter that affects all of us who drive and use local Michigan roadways.

This time a whopper of all time lobbyist “trough feeding” has been exposed with the introduction of Senate Bill 396.

Let’s first look at the basic contents and thrust of the Bill. It will allow logging companies and timber haulers unfettered and unchecked use of paved and unpaved

Dan Dysinger, Grant Twp Supervisor

Dan Dysinger, Grant Twp Supervisor

Local and County roadways even during periods of “frost laws” in spring thaw season. Further it allows equipment to be transported without regard to weights or weight reductions normally restrictive during these periods. It would allow full 164,000 lb. loads. Frost Laws were created due to the vulnerable period in spring thaw season, to prevent excessive damage from heavy loads, including slowing down such traffic.

This particular Senate Bill gained traction from influences by Great Lakes Timber Producers, Michigan Association of Timbermen and Michigan Forest Products Council. Senator Tom Casperson a Republican (Delta County) and a small handful of other Legislators were taking this on because some timber haulers were contending unfair treatment. The trough of plenty must be tasty. Senator Casperson is term limited, we should be sure to lock the door when he leaves on December 31st. I hope someone dumps the tasty trough after he leaves, we wouldn’t want new Legislators to get addicted drinking the elixir of influence. Quite simply, self-serving “carpet baggers”.

Let’s look at how loggers were treated unfairly. I and probably everyone else was not aware the loggers were exempt from the 2015, 20% vehicle registration fee increases(road funding package). Now here is the real kicker, a logger truck registration is about $300 annually, probably less than a new Chevy Suburban. The Legislature chose not to increase those fees but placed the burden on everyone else. We should all ask to be treated more fairly. I’ll say it again, State Legislators are pure pick pockets, making sure to fleece taxpayers and driven by influence peddling.

Here’s another travesty of this haphazard bill. We all know that gravel road improvements are about $30,000 to $50,000 per mile depending on ditching and other work in preparation. Gravel alone is about $28,000 to $30,000 per mile. Blacktop is about $80,000 per mile. The bill contains language that limits local road agencies (Road Commissions) charging a road damage bond. In summary the damage bond is capped at $2,000 per mile, a small fraction of potential damage. Guess who picks up the rest of the cost?

Here is the easiest answer; save money buying a fuel efficient vehicle, then give the savings to the government, a true form of redistribution.

Why should Townships care? Pursuant to Public Act 51, “other sources” of funding for local roads come from Townships. Township taxpayers either provide this funding from a millage, or take money saved in the general fund to pay for local road improvements. Road Commissions assist Townships in preparation for completing a variety of local road improvement projects. The current proposed bill will circumvent local authority either from Road Commissions or Townships over control of local roadways. Keep in mind, the current bill, violates two major provisions of the Michigan Constitution; Article 9, Section 29 through 32 and Article 7, Section 29. Currently, SB396 is pending on the Senate Floor for a vote, let’s hope State Senators see through the hype and flush it in the commode, staying within their Constitutional limitations. One comforting thought, if the legislation passes,(and signed by the Governor) it can be reversed later using the court system at unknown cost. Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy seeing such a waste of taxpayer resources?

House Bill 5945 which I warned of earlier this spring is still pending in committee. It deals with an expanded agricultural exemption for use on roadways. I believe it may die in committee, (it may have reached the commode) probably due to loud opposition across the state.

Both of these pieces of legislation were clearly influenced by “trough kool aide and swill” AKA Lobbyists. Both Bills would not impact the State but cost local taxpayers, how convenient. They both impact and force local taxpayers to pick up the tab when road damage occurs. Fix a road and then soon fix it again without recourse to those who cause the damage.

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