Procrastinators Unite – sometime this weekend. The Legislature must be done by 11:59 pm on Sunday May 20. Okay, so they’re not exactly procrastinators, but legislators do seem to wait until the last minute to get the big projects done. This year is no exception.
Transportation: The proposal to constitutionally dedicate auto part sales tax revenues appears to be dead in the water (or road, in this case). The House passed HF 4437 to pose the constitutional dedication of auto part sales on the November ballot, by 76-54. This bill proposes dedicating 3.25% of the auto part sales to Townships for our road and bridges, with funding phased in between 2021 and 2024. It’s a controversial bill because it removes money from the general fund, leaving less for distribution. MAT continues to emphasize the importance of transportation infrastructure as a key to maintaining townships and bringing industry into the rural areas. The Senate’s version, SF 3837, is in the Senate rules committee, appears unlikely to pass.
The most-welcome news this week was the proposed transportation funding increases offered in the House and Senate Conference Report on SF 3656. Both the House and Senate initially earmarked $2 million for the township road account, but the Conference Report increased that to $4 million and added about $10 million for local bridge replacements. We are excited to see the $12 million increase. This comes after the previous years with little to no township transportation and bridge funding. The final days will determine if Townships come out with more transportation funding this year than last year. We will strive to have more conversations in the future with legislatures to bring insight on the condition of Township Roads and the need for additional funding.
Broadband: The Broadband Grant Fund appropriation remains at $15 million, also found in the Omnibus Supplemental Budget bill, SF 3656. The conference committee removed the carve-out for satellite service providers. MAT favored removing the carve-out because the program has been technology neutral in the past, requiring all providers to compete regardless of their preferred technology. This bill remains in conference committee and is being negotiated with the Governor and his staff.
We continue to watch the bonding bill and elections bill, both of which carry legislation and appropriations important to us.
The Legislature is scheduled to end the season on Monday May 21, but they cannot pass legislation on the final day so their work must be completed by midnight Sunday … unless they go into a special session.