MITA Opens Doors: Legislative and Media Access Update

As MITA continues to grow the MITA PAC Fund, it is our goal to keep our members informed on a regular basis of all we have been doing to keep the industry moving forward using our influence in the legislature and with the media. 

Legislative Outreach Update

Most recently, MITA’s Executive Vice President Rob Coppersmith met with top state, local and federal government officials when he and Lance Binoniemi, MITA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, attended the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference May 31-June 2 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. 

During the conference, Rob was invited to be a part of the Governor’s press conference that also included United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. The emphasis of the press conference was transportation and the Governor announced that her administration will be rolling out a new streamlined permitting process this year for projects over $50 million. 

Much of the talk at the conference centered around the MITA sponsored EPIC MRA Poll, in which 93 percent rate infrastructure as a number one priority for the state. Police and fire were the second priority, and education came third. The EPIC MRA poll generated dozens of radio and television interviews for MITA. 

Many other meetings were held with key lawmakers concerning camera enforcement and the banter around the topic of a gas tax holiday. 

Media Legislative Outreach Update

May and June 2022 were extremely busy and successful months for MITA in the area of media relations. Here are several quick hit summaries and links to news stories in which MITA was quoted on the behalf of the entire industry.

Infrastructure Group Urges Long-Term Plan For Road Funding (WSJM, 6/1/22)

  • MITA Mention: “I think it’s general fatigue with the residents of Michigan,” Coppersmith said. “You see things like the Flint water crisis. You see the failure of the dam in the Midland area. And now we’re dealing with replacing lead lines in Benton Harbor, coupled with the local roads at a high rate of deterioration.”

 Coppersmith says the recently approved federal infrastructure package will give Michigan a chance to begin catching up on fixing its infrastructure, but when the money dries up, the state will be back where it was. MITA has a suggestion for a way to collect more for road work.

 “A Vehicle Miles Traveled, or VMT. It’s being studied in states all over the country right now, and there is room in the Senate’s budget for a VMT study in Michigan.”

 Coppersmith says while there has been plenty done in recent years to address the roads and other infrastructure, the state still lacks a long-term plan. He’s at the Mackinac Policy Conference this week to discuss the issue with lawmakers.

Poll: Fixing Michigan roads is top voter issue (The Center Square, 5/30/22) (KPVI, 5/30/22) (Longview News-Journal, 5/30/22) (Eastern Progress, 5/30/22) (Spot On Michigan, 5/30/22) (NewsBreak, 5/30/22)

  • MITA Mention: Rob Coppersmith, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, called on Michigan lawmakers to enact a long-term infrastructure plan.

 “Even more, two-thirds of Michigan voters said that fixing all types of infrastructure – roads, bridges, dams and underground infrastructure – are equally important,” Coppersmith said in a statement.” The results speak for themselves – Michiganders are fed up with crumbling roads, failing dams, and broken underground infrastructure that leads to flooded roads and basements.”

 “The results of this poll show the continued need for a long-term, sustainable infrastructure plan from Michigan’s leaders,” Coppersmith said. “Study after study shows that Michigan’s infrastructure will continue to worsen if we don’t make the needed investments now. I hope Michigan’s leaders will see these results and come together to do what’s needed and pass a long-term infrastructure plan that will put Michigan on the right track.”

Speeding in a construction zone? You could be caught under Michigan House proposal (MLive, 5/30/22) 

  • MITA Mention: Robert Coppersmith, vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, said construction workers put their lives at risk every time they go out to work on Michigan highways.

 “These types of accidents leave lifelong scars and memories,” Coppersmith told lawmakers Tuesday. “I’ve felt the collective loss as I put families in touch with groups like Construction Angels, a nonprofit that exists to help with benefits for those that have had loved ones pass while trying to improve the quality of life for all of us.”

 Coppersmith said the need for additional speed enforcement in construction zones can be shown by the number of deaths in work zone traffic crashes in Michigan.

 In 2020, there were 4,035 crashes in work zones on Michigan roads, according to the Office of Highway Safety Planning. More than 800 people died in work zone crashes the same year.

 “The need for additional options for speed enforcement at work zones has been proving itself over the last few years by the way of fatalities,” Coppersmith said. “I’m sad and embarrassed that Michigan is not at the front of what has been proven to be an effective tool for driver compliance in other states.”