Prohibit Powdered Alcohol – SB 240 & HB 4416 The Senate has passed a prohibition on powdered alcohol. SB 240 sponsored by Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) passed on May 20, 2015 by a vote of 37 to 0. Now, the House Regulatory Reform Committee will consider both SB 240 and HB 4416, the same bill sponsored by Representative Scott Dianda (D-Marquette) on Wednesday, June 17. Proponents of the prohibition claim that alcohol in powdered form is subject to a great deal of potential abuse. The manufacturer of these products maintains that it is just a convenience.
Food Establishment License Fee Increases – HB 4470 Legislation to increase the license fees for food establishments has passed the Legislature and been signed by Governor Snyder. HB 4470 passed the House on May 21st on a vote of 79-30 and the Senate on June 3rd on a close vote of 21-17. Senator Geoff Hansen, a grocery store owner from Hart, Michigan, argued vehemently against the increases stating that they were too steep for modest store owners operating on a slim profit margin. The Governor signed the bill on June 9. It is now law and is a part of the Governor’s 2015-16 budget proposal. The fees go from the current $67 annually to $106 in 2016; $145 in 2017; and $183 after 2017. This represents a 173% increase over the next three years.
Road Funding The House has passed a package of bills aimed at funding road improvements. The package provides $400 million from the current general fund, $400 million in cuts to economic development, and the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor, and the remainder from “projected economic growth.” The consensus opinion of experts is that this plan is neither viable nor sustainable, and that changes will be made in the Senate. There is some discussion that the Senate may entertain an increase in the gas tax of 5 cents per year for three years, with parallel increases in the diesel fuel tax. The Senate is prepared to meet during the course of the summer to resolve this issue.
2015-16 Budget The budget for fiscal years 2015-16 has passed both Houses, and must only be reconciled to resolve differences between the House and the Senate in conference committees before being sent to Governor Snyder for approval.