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TimberTalk Legislative Update May 2023


The new Democrat majorities in the Michigan Legislature spent much of the first few months of the legislative session focused on addressing their top priorities for 2023. The repeal of right-to-work, reinstatement of the prevailing wage, repeal of the 1931 abortion ban, expansion of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act and various gun control measures have already passed the legislature and been signed into law by Gov. Whitmer.

Moving into the spring, the legislature has begun to turn its attention to the Fiscal Year 2023-24 state budget and other priorities. One of those higher priorities is looking to adopt legislation to move Michigan toward carbon neutrality.

LEGISLATION INTRODUCED TO REMOVE BIOMASS AS A RENEWABLE ENERGY

As part of their “Clean Energy Future Plan”, the Senate Democrats introduced a seven-bill package last month that aims to achieve a 100% clean energy grid by 2035. Included in that package of legislation is Senate Bill 271 which would remove the definition of biomass as a clean and renewable energy.

Eliminating wood and wood-processing wastes as a renewable energy be of great detriment to our industry. Biomass is a renewable material that can greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It has played a vital role in providing electricity generation to the grid. Any elimination of biomass as a “clean energy” will remove an important energy source from our electric grid that cannot be fully powered by wind and solar power. It also shifts a huge cost burden back onto our mills.

MAT will continue to monitor this legislation and work with legislators on a more balanced approach that keeps biomass in the fold as an important piece of the complex energy puzzle.

SPENDING PLAN APPROVED TO BRING FORD EV PLANT TO MARSHALL


The legislature approved a $1.338 billion supplemental budget a few months ago. This was the second supplemental of 2023 and was aimed at attracting a new Ford electric vehicle (EV) plant to the Marshall area. Included in the funding is $330 million for transportation infrastructure for the project, $300 million to get the land ready for development and an additional $170 million for the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund for the project.


Some of the other spending projects in the supplement included:

- $212 million for energy efficient upgrades for eligible homeowners and landlords. - $75 million in federal money for hospitals to hire and train new workers. - $67 million in federal money to boost staffing at long-term care nursing facilities. - $63.5 million ($14.5 million General Fund) for a 2% reimbursement increase in long-term care services. - $60 million in federal grants to improve the facilities of before-or after-school centers, workforce training facilities, athletic gyms and fields, or senior homes. - $25 million from the General Fund to cover low-income municipal water customers. - $10 million for community violence intervention grants. - $10 million in federal money to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen levels in Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay.


MAT TO TESTIFY IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

MAT has been invited along with other industry partners to testify in front of the Michigan House of Representatives Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee.

The hearing will be held on May 18th. We are looking forward to educating the committee members on our industry, our association and our legislative priorities for 2023.

We will update the membership on our progress following the hearing.



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