Lame Duck – Truck Driver Hours, Personal Property Tax and Sewer Grants

MITA has been at the forefront of a flurry of activity on several key measures occurring before the end of 2006.

Truck Driver Hours of Service Effort Being Pushed by MITA

MITA has been working at a furious pace in recent weeks, leading the effort to get truck driver “hours of service” changes adopted during the 2006 lame duck legislative session. The legislation, House Bill 6663 (sponsored Rep Phil LaJoy, R-Canton), would create expanded hours of service opportunities for intrastate truck drivers. A previous exemption, which allowed expanded driving time was removed last year under the belief that the state law did not comply with federal regulations. Working with Marty Leavitt of Sullivan & Leavitt who represents the Michigan Aggregate Haulers Association and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Division in Washington, D.C., MITA has helped craft legislation which would restore much needed flexibility for in-state truck drivers.

The basic details would allow a truck driver to be on duty for up to 70 hours in 7 days or 80 hours in 8 days and would allow for each driver to be on duty for up to 16 hours and to drive up to 12 hours each work day (while staying within the weekly limitations).

The legislation was reported from House Transportation Committee this week and is scheduled for a House floor vote on December 5, 2006. MITA staff has been given assurance that the Senate will make every effort to move this legislation to the Governor Granholm’s desk prior to the holiday break where it is expected to see a quick signature.

Significant Personal Property Tax Reforms Unveiled as Part of Governor’s SBT Proposal

Over the past year, MITA has been lobbying hard to include significant Personal Property Tax (PPT) savings for the heavy construction industry in any effort to reform the way the state taxes Michigan business.

This week, Governor Granholm announced a 46-percent statewide cut on the PPT as part of her Single Business Tax reform plan. The savings would be the result of eliminating the 6-mill State Education Tax and the 18-mill school operating tax imposed on non-homestead property.

The governor has asked the legislature to approve an SBT overhaul plan before the end of this year. So far, the Republican-led legislature has been reluctant to pass a plan on that timeline, however, MITA staff will work diligently to push for this important change regardless of the timing of an SBT replacement package.

Sewer Grants Lead to More Loans

Last year, legislation promoted by MITA to provide $40 million in sewer grants appears to be paying dividends. The state recently announced almost $600 million in project applications – an almost threefold increase from recent years.

In 2005, MITA helped write and pass legislation creating a $40 million clean water grant program. The “S2” grants were designed to cover local government costs of planning and design necessary for construction loan funding from the state’s clean water revolving fund programs. The state recently announced that they have awarded roughly $32 million of the grants to date.

MITA staff recently met with MDEQ Director Steve Chester to discuss the future of the state’s clean water and infrastructure needs. Regularly scheduled meetings are also taking place with Chip Heckathorn, the state administrator responsible for running the state’s Revolving Loan Fund programs. MITA will continue to meet with Clean Water Coalition members this winter to talk about new legislative and regulatory ideas in order to build on these recent successes.

If you have any questions, please contact Mike Nystrom, Vice President of Government & Public Relations at or Keith Ledbetter, Director of Legislative Affairs at , or call the MITA office at (517) 347-8336.