Reviewing my first year serving in the Michigan House
As we near the end of 2019, I want to share some highlights of my first year representing the western Upper Peninsula in the Michigan House.
Serving our communities has truly been a rewarding experience. I have learned a lot just from listening to the thoughts and ideas of people I meet at local events and during my monthly office hours. This year, I hosted more than 50 opportunities for people to meet with me and share their views. Hearing directly from people in our district helps make me a better representative, and I look forward to continuing these meetings in 2020.
I’ve also had the opportunity to work on issues that are important to families throughout the U.P. Some of this year’s highlights include:
Guaranteeing relief from high car
U.P. drivers will soon get relief from the out-of-control car insurance rates we’ve all been saddled with for far too long. I was proud to cast my vote in support of a historic, bipartisan solution to deliver guaranteed rate relief for every Michigan driver.
The first sign our reforms are paying off came when the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) recently announced it will cut its annual per-vehicle assessment by more than half for the year-long period beginning July 2, 2020. That means Michigan drivers will pay $100 per vehicle, down from the current $220 per vehicle — a 55 percent savings.
The great news is the lower MCCA fee is just the first of many reductions that drivers can expect to take effect as these reforms progress. The new law will continue to provide relief for years to come by offering drivers more choices, combating fraud and ending price gouging on medical services for crash survivors.
Earlier this year, I worked with both Republicans and Democrats to approve a new state budget without raising taxes that provided record funding for public schools and record funding to fix roads and bridges. Then, the governor shocked us all by vetoing services and cutting funding for public safety, health care and programs our most vulnerable residents rely on every day.
People were understandably upset. I listened to their concerns and worked hard to find a solution. I’m proud to say I recently voted for a budget plan to restore funding for rural and isolated schools, “payments in lieu of taxes” that local communities receive from the state, secondary road patrol officers, rural hospitals and many other critical services.
Expanding access to clean, affordable energy
I often hear complaints from residents and business owners who are frustrated by the astronomical price of power in the western U.P. That’s why one of my top priorities is to make it easier for families and business owners to utilize clean and affordable energy resources. I introduced a plan in October that would provide relief by removing bureaucratic barriers that currently deny people the freedom to generate their own renewable electricity.
My legislation would prevent electric utility companies restricting the number of energy customers who can participate in renewable energy efforts. It would allow any customer who meets certain interconnection and equipment requirements to participate and receive credit on their utility bills for the energy their equipment generates.
Keweenaw County Road Commission
A plan I introduced to help the Keweenaw County Road Commission move forward with a proposal to replace its outdated maintenance facility was recently vetoed by the governor.
The current law, which dates back to 1909, requires county road commissions to limit the payments to 15 years or less when purchasing property for public use — a window sometimes too demanding for smaller communities. Other municipal units have more flexibility and can currently finance such payments over 30 years. My plan would have given road commissions in rural counties, including Keweenaw, the same option.
Despite the veto, I will continue fighting for a solution to help the road commission access the financing it needs to improve its operations.
It is my honor to serve as your state representative. Please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions, ideas or concerns at (517) 373-0850 or GregMarkkanen@house.mi.gov.