Lawmakers produce steady stream of bills | Michigan Legislature | Farm Policy | Michigan Farm News

Lawmakers produce steady stream of bills

Category: Politics

by Nicole Sevrey

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There’s no shortage of legislative activity following the Governor’s final state of the state address and now heading into state budget deliberations.

In addition to supporting key legislation to increase transparency and accountability within the Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) remains engaged on a variety of high-priority issues including water use, skilled trade promotion and career & technical education, taxation and more.

With numerous bills introduced weekly, and others progressing through the House and Senate, following are several recent highlights of interest:

Agriculture

Agricultural product donations

House Bill 5373 was introduced by Rep. Brian Elder (D-Bay City) to create an income tax credit for donation of edible agricultural products to a hunger-relief charitable organization. Individuals could claim up to 50 percent of the aggregate value of the commodity, with a $3,000 annual maximum.

While MFB does not have policy regarding donations specifically, the organization views this as an opportunity to utilize surplus product and feed hungry people. Therefore, MFB supports the concept of HB 5373. The bill awaits a hearing in the House Tax Policy Committee.

Seed Potato Act

Legislation to create the Seed Potato Act was passed by the state House, 102-5, and awaits a hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee. House Bill 5227, sponsored by Rep. Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville), brings Michigan into compliance with the State National Harmonization Program for seed potatoes and is an industry-led effort to control and prevent plant pests and diseases.

Supported by MFB and the Potato Growers of Michigan, the bill requires farms more than one acre in size to utilize certified seed only. It also includes a provision for an advisory committee and process to allow, under certain conditions, non-certified seed to be used when it’s not available.

Helmet Usage with Agricultural ORVs

House Bill 5510, sponsored by Rep. Brett Roberts (R-Eaton Twp), would provide additional clarification that ATV and ORV operators using the vehicles for agricultural use are excluded from helmet requirements. MFB does not have a position on the bill that has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Elections

Local Property Tax Proposals

House Bill 4814, introduced by Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), would require any local property tax proposals, millages, and millage renewals to appear only on the state’s November general election ballot. MFB’s member-developed elections policy supports the bill that awaits a hearing with the House Elections and Ethics Committee.

General Law

Bottle Deposit Expansion

MFB’s member-developed policy on resource recovery has long supported amending the state’s bottle deposit law to include more containers similar to what’s currently accepted. House Bill 5486, introduced by Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), would accomplish that by including all beverages packaged in metal, plastic or glass containers, with the exception of milk.

Similar bills have been considered by the Legislature over the years, but unfortunately none have made it through the process yet. This bill awaits a hearing with the House Natural Resources Committee.

Constitutional Taking of Property

House Bill 4070, introduced by Rep. Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp), would amend the Property Rights Preservation Act, to establish a process for evaluating governmental actions that may result in the constitutional taking of private property.

The legislation would require the Attorney General, in conjunction with state departments, to develop, review, and update—if necessary—the guidelines for the taking of property. This process would occur every five years.

Additionally, the bill would require a state department to pay a private property owner for their attorney fees and costs if the department did not review the guidelines before taking action that resulted in a constitutional taking of property.

MFB supports the bill that passed the Senate Oversight Committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.