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Sharon Rabe

Sharon
Rabe



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2011 State Legislative and
Regulatory Accomplishments

During the first year of the 96th legislative session, as of November, more than 2,000 bills have been introduced, with more than 220 bills signed into law by the Governor. Issues of importance to agriculture signed into law during the first year of the legislative session included:

MICHIGAN AGRICULTURE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSURANCE PROGRAM

Public Acts 1 and 2 of 2011 placed the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program into statute with meaningful incentives; reforming the way the state addresses environmental issues on farms. Farm Bureau supported the legislation and provided grassroots leadership to see the legislation through the policy process, early on in the legislative session.

ERGONOMICS

Farm Bureau supported legislation that was signed into law (PA 10 of 2011) to prohibit the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth from promulgating rules regarding workplace ergonomics. The legislation prevents excess regulatory burdens on Michigan farmers.

AGRICUTURAL PROCESSING

Within PA 22 of 2011, agricultural processing is eligible for economic development grants and loans through the 21st Century Jobs Fund. Farm Bureau supported passage of the legislation.

TAX REFORM

Legislation was signed into law (PA 38-PA 45 of 2011) that repealed the Michigan Business Tax and replaced it with a 6 percent corporate tax that only applies to “C Corporations”. The reforms will save agricultural business filers $11 million in business tax per year. Farm Bureau supported the proposal as a step toward streamlining state government and bringing state spending in line with revenue.

FARMLAND PRESERVATION

Legislation was signed into law (PA 79 of 2011) to address funding challenges the farmland preservation program faces. Farm Bureau policy supports both temporary and permanent farmland protection tools to stabilize the land base, help maintain the agricultural industry’s competitive position, and aggressively increase its economic value to producers and the state.

BIOFUEL PRODUCTION

Farm Bureau supported amendments to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to allow for limited on-farm biofuel production, exempting the processing from special use permitting. The legislation was signed into law as PA 97 of 2011.

PAYMENT IN LIEU OF TAXES

Legislation was signed into law (PA 117 and PA 118 of 2011) allows for appropriations from the Natural Resource Trust Fund for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to local units of government for land purchased with trust fund dollars. Farm Bureau supported the legislation.

COGGINS TESTING

Farm Bureau supported legislation that was signed into law (PA 121 of 2011) to permanently require proof of a negative Coggins test for any equine leaving a farm. This falls in line with Farm Bureau policy recommendations on livestock health.

LOG SLASHER BRAKE REQUIREMENTS

PA 151 of 2011 exempts motorized “slasher saw tables” used in logging operations from the law that requires regular motor vehicles to have brakes. Farm Bureau supported the legislation.

GOVERNMENT STREAMLINING AND REFORM

In 2011, several government reforms and streamlining measures were enacted in Michigan, including:

  • Changes to eligibility standards for food stamps in an effort to minimizing fraud and abuse.
  • Establishing a 20 week maximum eligibility for unemployment benefits in Michigan, and a true lifetime welfare limit was capped at 48 months.
  • State construction job restrictions were revised to create more competition for individuals who want to bid on those jobs.
  • In Michigan public schools, sweeping reforms were made to teacher tenure laws, putting requirements and effectiveness ratings on teachers to gain tenure, as well as establishing provisions for dismissal.