MITA Ratchets Up Intensity on Gas Tax, Legislative Efforts

This week MITA began ratcheting up public pressure on legislators to deal with the problems of transportation funding in light of the Minnesota bridge collapse. There were also a number of legislative developments at both the state and local levels that are of interest to MITA members.

MITA Creates Urgent Push for Infrastructure Funding

Based on recent events in Minnesota, MITA coordinated a press conference at the state capitol August 8 that called on Michigan lawmakers to act immediately on a gas tax increase to fix the state’s deteriorating transportation network.

The event focused on Michigan’s aging infrastructure and was well attended by the media. Other participants in the press conference included the County Road Association of Michigan, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

This press conference and other media interviews of Mike Nystrom, MITA’s vice president of government and public relations, and Keith Ledbetter, director of legislative affairs, have been extremely effective in shaping public opinion and motivating the state legislature to act this year on a transportation funding solution.

Attached are links to the MITA press conference stories and other recent stories and editorials that mention MITA’s efforts. In addition to these TV and newspaper reports, MITA received strong statewide radio coverage on the bridge issue and the call for more state transportation dollars. You can read these and other transportation funding stories by visiting

Minn. bridge collapse should fuel state gas tax hike, backers say
The Detroit News
August 9, 2007 

Lobbyists, Lawmakers Battle Over Bridge Funding
Channel 10 Television
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Better Michigan Bridges May Cost You
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hike in gas tax urged to fix Michigan bridges, roads
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The Detroit News

Bridges: Michigan’s choice — Invest more via taxes or just sit
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Lansing State Journal

Bridge disaster points to our infrastructure
Monday, August 6, 2007
Port Huron Times Herald

Collapse underscores abysmal state of bridges
Friday, August 3, 2007
Kalamazoo Gazette

Collapsed bridge sends a warning
Friday, August 3, 2007
Detroit Free Press

Scrutiny increases on condition of Michigan bridges
Thursday, August 2, 2007
The Associated Press

Some Michigan Bridges Critical, Others to Be Re-Inspected
Thursday, August 2, 2007

Not all state bridges so mighty
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Detroit Free Press

State Transportation Budget Moves Forward

State and local road and bridge programs would receive $2.26 billion for 2008, according to a bill reported this week from the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. This represents a decrease of 3.7 percent from last year due to a decline in gas tax and bond revenues.

There were several key legislative victories in the bill. MITA helped lead the charge to retain $13 million in drivers license fees for the Transportation Economic Development Fund instead of channeling the money into the general fund as Governor Jennifer Granholm proposed in her executive budget.

MITA also worked with Rep. Lee Gonzales (D-Flint) to fight diversions of road money to other state agencies. Boilerplate language was adopted, which would require state departments to adopt cost allocation plans based on the actual cost of providing the transportation services. The bill would also require government audits of all departmental financial transfers to help keep track of hidden raids.

The bill is now scheduled for a hearing in the full House Appropriations Committee. A transportation funding bill is also pending in the state Senate.

Federal Court Ruling Strikes Down Portions of Hours of Service Law

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the federal allowance for expanded driving time (from 10 to 11 hours) along with the 34-hour restart rule.

MITA staff immediately took notice and has asked what effect this has on Michigan’s law. You may remember that MITA led the successful effort at the state legislative level just last year to allow expanded driving time for the construction industry.

According to early analysis, it appears that Michigan’s expanded driving time provisions will remain intact. Federal law has allowed states to offer a variety of exemptions under certain narrowly tailored circumstances. The portion of federal law that allows such state exemptions appears to remain in place, thus our current Hours of Service law does not change.

However, MITA will continue to monitor developments on the federal level as proposed changes begin to be proposed.

Feds Say Project Owners Can’t Force Construction Contractors to Sign Project Labor Agreements

The National Labor Relations Board said last week that a labor union representing construction craft workers and the owner of a construction project cannot lawfully require the contractor to sign a project labor agreement.

In the decision Glen Falls Building and Construction Trades Council, 350 NLRB No. 42 (July 31, 2007), the NLRB invalidated an agreement between a power company and a local union to require the construction contractor to sign a labor agreement. According to the decision, the project owner’s primary purpose was to “remove the threat of union opposition to its efforts to secure regulatory approval”.

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.