Governor Rick Snyder closed out his eight years of service by signing numerous pieces of legislation benefitting the agriculture sector and accomplishing Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) policy.
Unfortunately, three items MFB hoped to see finalized were vetoed and will need to be reintroduced and considered by the new, 100th Michigan Legislature.
“Our members work hard to foster meaningful relationships with elected officials and craft relevant policy—and it continues to pay off,” said MFB Government Relations Manager Matt Smego. “We’re thankful to have worked with the governor and our legislative partners to finalize bills important to Michigan farmers. It was a great way to end 2018, especially after our successes earlier in the year.”
Senate Bill 1211 was signed into law as Public Act 631 of 2018. Supported by MFB, the new law reforms Michigan’s wetlands program that provides protection while allowing continued agricultural development. In advance of its passage, more than 200 Farm Bureau members sent more than 2,300 emails supporting committee members, representatives and the governor. See significant amendments included.
Commercial Truck Traffic
Signed into law as Public Act 533 of 2018, MFB supported House Bill 5945, which excludes agricultural vehicles from local ordinances prohibiting commercial truck traffic.
House Bill 6330 was signed into law as Public Act 640 of 2018. Supported by MFB, the new law creates an Industrial Hemp Advisory Board and requires the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to establish an industrial hemp licensing program with application guidelines and fees.
Ag Processing Renaissance Zones
MFB supported Senate Bill 1130, signed into law as Public Act 474 of 2018. The bill allows the renewal of a renaissance zone for an agricultural processing facility that meets certain criteria. This is in addition to the 30 designated renaissance zones for agricultural processing facilities already allowed and includes those previously approved as renewable energy facilities.
Sugar Beet Moisture Level
House Bill 6122 was signed into law as Public Act 615 of 2018. Supported by MFB, the new law increases the allowable moisture level of soil removed from sugar beets from 35 percent to 55 percent, ensuring its continued exclusion from the definition of solid waste.
The update was needed because new processes remove more dirt from beets than previously but adds more moisture to the soil being removed. Increasing the moisture level allowance ensures better reuse of removed soil rather than placing it landfills as unusable.
Water Use Advisory Council
MFB supported House Bill 6123, reestablishing the Water Use Advisory Council. The bill was signed into law as Public Act 509 2018 and empowers the council to make recommendations to the departments of agriculture, environmental quality and natural resources—and the Legislature—on the implementation of the state’s water-withdrawal statute.
Qualified Forest Property
Supported by MFB and signed into law as Public Act 671 of 2018, Senate Bill 1034 increases the state’s cap on qualified forest property from 1.2 million acres to 2.5 million acres.
Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Time
MFB supported Senate Bills 1171 and 1175, amending the minimum wage and paid sick leave laws. The legislation was signed into law as Public Acts 368 and 369. (Related: How does scaling back minimum wage increases affect Michigan farmers?)
Signed into law as Public Act 608 of 2018, MFB supported House Bill 6595 which imposes additional rules and restrictions on petition gathering for constitutional amendments, initiatives, and referendums. Specifically, it requires:
House Bill 4205 was signed into law as Public Act 602 of 2018. Supported by MFB, it limits the state’s ability to adopt a rule more stringent than federal regulations.
Ballast Water Discharge
MFB supported House Bill 6465, which adopts federal standards for ballast water discharge. The bill was signed into law as Public Act 667 of 2018.
Grade A Milk Law
Signed into law as Public Acts 622 and 623, House Bills 6393-6394 update the state’s Grade A Milk law to comply with national pasteurized milk ordinance laws. These amendments are required periodically for Michigan’s dairy producers to ship milk out of state.
Animal Industry Act
MFB supported an 11-bill package intended to update the Animal Industry Act. The legislation would have accomplished several items outlined directly in, or supported by, MFB policy. The legislation was vetoed because of language added to the House package from Senate Bill 660 (which MFB opposed) dealing with poultry housing standards. Because the governor vetoed Senate Bill 660, the 11-bill package containing the same language was also vetoed.
Horse Racing and Internet Gaming
Several bills to permit regulated online gaming at Michigan casinos were vetoed along with House Bill 4611. MFB supported the legislation that would have allowed advanced deposit wagering (ADW). ADW allows wagering on horse racing to occur online and via cell phones—technology already allowed in more than 20 states.
Alternative Energy Systems
House Bills 5143 and 5680 would have provided personal property tax exemptions for certain alternative energy systems, but were vetoed. MFB supported the bills, which included requirements for commercial, industrial and residential applications of the exemption.