News From the Capitol, June 4, 2021

2021-06-04 | Michigan Association of School Boards

  • Senate Passes Legislation Taking Away Local Control of Mining Permits
  • How Panel Approves Asbestos Removal Legislation
  • Gov. Whitmer Signs New Directive for High-Speed Internet
  • Last Call on NSBA’s Advocacy Institute
  • A Chance to Serve—Apply for a MASB Committee

Senate Passes Legislation Taking Away Local Control of Mining Permits

A package of bills to move aggregate mining permitting to the state level rather than local was quickly passed by the Senate this week. Under Senate Bills 429, 430 and 431, mining companies would apply for a permit through the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy instead of having to receive approval from local governments.

MASB opposes this package along with other local government organizations. We believe these decisions should be made at the local level where residents will feel the real impact of these operations. We also have concerns over how trucks from these mines could interfere with bus routes and if there are issues, they are easier to address with local governments than having to go through the state.

SB 429 passed by a 19-17 vote while both SB 430 and SB 431, passed by votes of 20-16. All three bills received bipartisan support. The bills are now before the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee for consideration.

House Panel Approves Asbestos Removal Legislation

Earlier this week, the House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee reported bills addressing asbestos abatement. House Bills 4766-4771 would require public entities, including school districts, to do background checks on asbestos removal contractors and ban contracts with those who have been in violation of environmental rules or laws. Finally, the bills require the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to inspect a certain percentage of asbestos remediation projects to make sure they were following state and federal laws. The Department would be allowed to charge fees to pay for these inspections.

The bills may increase costs for asbestos-related projects for schools due to potential new inspection fees and costs associated with performing background checks. The package was approved unanimously in committee and now goes before the full House for its consideration.

Gov. Whitmer Signs New Directive for High-Speed Internet

On Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office, which will focus on the expansion of high-speed internet for Michigan residents. This new directive will be led by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and is designed to increase efforts to make high-speed internet accessible and affordable for residents. As we know, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated internet access issues for students and teachers in particular. The lack of quality internet for students continues to be a barrier for quality online learning and remote work for teachers. The Governor has also proposed spending $10 million in federal funding appropriated for broadband projects under the American Rescue Plan.

Last Call on NSBA’s Advocacy Institute

The National School Boards Association's 2021 Advocacy Institute will be held virtually next week from June 8 – 10. You can still register! NSBA is excited to provide this online experience focused on school board members' issues and priorities. Topics to be discussed this year include best practices for lobbying your member of Congress, teacher retention and recruitment strategies, federal funding for public schools (especially around IDEA) and reducing the homework gap.
Due to it being an online event, MASB will not be hosting its usual kick-off lunch. However, we are coordinating meetings with the attendees and Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters to replace our customary breakfast. We hope you will join school board members from around the country for this advocacy event. 

A Chance to Serve—Apply for a MASB Committee

Are you looking for a way to be more involved in your Association? Do you want to share your expertise and perspective statewide? Serving on MASB’s Government Relations Committee may be the right opportunity for you!

MASB committees bring together school board members from around the state to discuss vital issues and help shape your Association’s positions and actions. The Government Relations Committee monitors state and federal legislative and executive actions and school finance pertaining to public education and school districts.

To apply, contact Cheryl Huffman at chuffman@masb.org or 517.327.5915 with your interest by June 30, 2021. More information on this and the two other open committees—Resolutions and Bylaws and Legal Trust Fund—is available on the MASB website. You can apply for any of these committees by contacting Cheryl.