Senators Point to Array of Positives in $4.7B Supplemental
With SB 565 containing about $4.7 billion largely in federal funding for infrastructure and other coronavirus pandemic relief, there appeared to be something for everyone. The bill passed the House on Thursday 95-7 and the Senate shortly thereafter by a 34-3 vote.
From water infrastructure, other infrastructure including dams, airports, rural broadband, parks and recreation, schools, homeowner and rental assistance, coronavirus recovery efforts and to fill revenue sharing gaps, the bill touches on an array of priorities.
Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters following passage of the bill he was thankful to legislative leadership and the administration for the work put into the final product.
He said he was particularly pleased with the $59.9 million that will go toward disaster recovery following the May 2020 floods that caused multiple dams to fail in his district. There is also $206.8 million for other dam-related projects.
"I’m extremely excited that we were able to get funding to work towards replacement of the dams," Mr. Stamas said, adding it will also require some local funding and assessments on landowners. "This will go a long ways to ensure that substantial assessment is not put on the backs of all of the families across there. They’re still being assessed, but it will not be nearly what it would be if they had to go to bond somewhere to do some of this."
Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing) told reporters Thursday he was pleased that the bill targeted needs statewide.
He pointed to dam replacements in Midland as being critically important. Wastewater infrastructure funding for items including sewage issues that his brother Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-Saint Clair Shores) has been one of several champions for in recent years was also something he was proud to see included. The senator said there was some funding for his district including funding for a road near the Lansing airport.
"At the end of the day the way we get things done is by sitting in a room, negotiating and working with each other, so that’s what happened today," Mr. Hertel said. "We have lots of things to do still more, but I’m proud that all of these things were included in this … Today is the day of celebration for our state, that shows what we can do when the Legislature works with the governor."
Mr. Hertel added between the supplemental and the funding passed in December to attract major economic development projects there is proof members from both parties can work together when they decide to put aside their differences and come to the negotiating table.
Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) agreed on the ability to come together, telling reporters Thursday there was broad agreement on getting funding out for water infrastructure, wastewater treatment and for roads and bridges.
"It was just making sure that the dollars were spent properly and are going to get to the places they need to be," Mr. Schmidt said.
He was pleased with the water infrastructure portion of the bill, as he was with there being some roads and bridges infrastructure spending that was a priority of his in a separate supplemental proposal that is still awaiting action.
"I think the improvement on a lot of the water and sewer projects, everything from Traverse City up to Sault Ste. Marie throughout northern Michigan and the entire Upper Peninsula, those monies are going to be well-used. I also like the fact that there’s monies in there for septic systems, we still have a lot of that in rural Michigan," Mr. Schmidt said.
"I’m excited that my ‘filter-first’ language was able to make that in there. I really do believe that we need to do some things for the schools, especially when it comes to safe water," Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) said Thursday.
Mr. VanderWall was referring to SB 184 and SB 185 , introduced by him and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), respectively. The bills would require schools and child care centers to filter and test for lead in drinking water.
He said he was also pleased with the inclusion of $50 million in grant funding for a potash production facility in Evart Township in Osceola County that he said would provide an economic boost to the area and help lower fertilizer prices for farmers (see separate story).
Mr. Ananich told reporters after the vote he was pleased with the fact the deal was able to be finalized, passed and sent to the governor. He said getting it done, regardless of the time it took, was the most important thing, as was ensuring people across the state benefit.
As to his own district, he was pleased to see funding included for the creation of a state park in Flint, the first in Genesee County. Ms. Whitmer proposed funding for the park last year (See Gongwer Michigan Report, July 14, 2021), adding weight to a proposal the senator has been pushing for several years.
"I’m happy to finally get that, the resources there to finalize that," Mr. Ananich said. "We’re the only county in the state that doesn’t have any real DNR presence, and this would be a pretty big signal that Genesee County matters and Flint matters."
Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) told reporters one item he was particularly proud of was $20 million for the restoration and development of the Copper Creek ski jump facility in Gogebic County.
"Copper Creek is an enormous transformational project for the economy of the Upper Peninsula," Mr. McBroom said. "A huge investment in something that right now it stands to bring tremendous worldwide interest to the west end of the Upper Peninsula. It would be the largest ski jumping hill in the world that would be open year-round for training exercises."
He said the state parks and recreation funding would be a positive for the U.P., as would the water infrastructure funding for smaller projects in his district.
State Sending $42M In Recreational Marijuana Revenue To Locals
MRA and the Department of Treasury said Thursday the $42.2 million is split among 163 municipalities and counties. Specifically, 62 cities, 15 villages, 33 townships and 53 counties will receive some funding.
Each eligible municipality and county will receive more than $56,400 for every licensed retail store and microbusiness.
Last year, municipalities and counties split $10 million with $28,000 for every licensed retail store or microbusiness.
"It’s rewarding to see that the agency’s balanced regulatory approach is effectively protecting consumers while still allowing Michigan businesses to grow and thrive," MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo said in a statement. "The funding provided directly to local governments – and the thousands of jobs created across the state – show that Michigan is leading the way in the cannabis industry."
Revenue was collected from 374 licensees among the state’s cities, villages and townships during the 2021 fiscal year. Some of these municipalities host more than one licensed retail store and microbusiness.
For the 2021 fiscal year, more than $111 million was collected from the 10 percent adult-use marijuana excise tax. In total, there was $172 million available for distribution from the fund.
Aside from the $42.2 million in disbursements to municipalities and counties, $49.3 million was sent to the School Aid Fund for K-12 education and another $49.3 million to the Michigan Transportation Fund.
In total, more than $1.1 billion in adult-use marijuana sales was reported for the 2021 fiscal year.
Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor saw some of the highest payments: $1.4 million to Ann Arbor and $1.8 million to the county.
Bay County saw $1.4 million and Calhoun County $1.2 million. Grand Rapids is set to get $677,441 and Lansing $903,255. Ingham and Kalamazoo counties will both see more than $1 million.
A full breakdown of payments to municipalities and counties is available online.
Could Berman Be The Middle Path Between Establishment/MAGA In GOP AG Race?
As the auditorium at the Waterford Charter Township Hall became filled wall-to-wall, a precinct delegate strolled in with a Berman t-shirt and a small black-and-red backpack from the candidate. As a self-titled Donald Trump enthusiast, the man said he loved a lot of things about election fraud candidate Matt DePerno…but Berman visited his group a week ago and made a meaningful impression.
After Thursday night’s debate hosted by the North Oakland Republican Club, a close associate of the local GOP community said she arrived wanting to see if Berman could put up a fight. The woman – who wouldn’t share her name – said she sought to see if Berman could be a "bulldog" against former House Speaker Tom Leonard’s golden portfolio and DePerno’s grassroots clout.
Precinct delegates composed nearly 50% of the auditorium, and they will be responsible for voting on the GOP attorney general nominee
Afterward, Berman told MIRS delegates want somebody who can beat Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, after she defeated Leonard in November 2018 by 115,000 votes.
"Their No. 1 issue has been election integrity, and while one of my opponents claims that as his issue, I’m even stronger on that. But I come from a different perspective. I come from a logical perspective – I come from a perspective of transparency and accountability," Berman said.
DePerno acquired much of his Make-America-Great-Again stardust for filing a lawsuit in Antrim County claiming Dominion Voting Systems equipment was distinctly manufactured to shift voting totals. The allegations were rebutted in several instances, as evidence showed unofficial votes obtained on election night were not initially transferred into their respective spreadsheet columns.
The tax lawyer – who now calls himself a constitutional lawyer – even set up an "Election Fraud Defense Fund" that garnered more than $300,000 in contributions. DePerno said he was not required to release anything in regards to the fund, connecting it to client privacy for the lawsuit’s plaintiff.
Meanwhile, Berman was the latest lead sponsor on legislation to establish the Legislative Open Records Act to subject the Legislature and the Governor’s office to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
His HB 4383 would give the public the right to of requesting records from lawmakers and the Governor. It was referred to the Senate Oversight Committee in March 2021 and has yet to receive a hearing.
He also underscored that his interns have been scanning ballots as their own election security effort – on top of him attempting to attach a $5.5 million "integrity review" of the November 2020 election to an old budget proposal.
Going after DePerno at the start of the debate, Leonard asked the audience, "Do you want somebody who has been through an FBI background check because they were nominated to be a U.S. attorney, versus somebody who, right now, news reports are saying that they were sanctioned, they performed illegal billings and actually assaulted their clients?"
After Leonard’s opening statement, Berman said "just to be clear, he wasn’t talking about me."
Berman illustrated his strategy as being centered around a reality that "Leonard supporters will never go to DePerno, but they’ll go for me. It’s the same thing with how DePerno supporters won’t go to Leonard, but they’ll go for me."
Also before Thursday’s debate, several individuals handed out special bingo cards for attendees to mark down during the event, with boxes for "Chatfield Scandal," "Only I Can Beat Dana" and "DePerno Mentions Trump Endorsement 3X."
When asked if he was behind the bingo cards, Berman told MIRS "I take the Fifth on that one. I don’t know what you’re talking about, but maybe I do."
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