Measures will protect forest funds, help Keweenaw County Road Commission
State Rep. Greg Markkanen had four measures signed into law this week by the governor, successfully enacting reforms that will benefit people in the Upper Peninsula and across the state.
Markkanen, of Hancock, said the new laws make it easier for Michigan residents to go about their lives, eliminate unnecessary barriers, and improve the operation of state government.
“All of the work I do in Lansing is done with the goal of improving the lives of people in the Western Upper Peninsula,” Markkanen said. “These reforms will improve our state laws and allow Michigan families and communities to live up to their greatest potential.”
Reforms sponsored by Markkanen and signed into law this week include:
- House Bill 5085, now Public Act 280 of 2020, allows veterinarians to consult with pet owners about the use of marijuana and CBD oil for treating their pets. Markkanen spearheaded the reform at the request of an Upper Peninsula veterinarian who saw a need that was not being met due to overly restrictive state laws.
- House Bill 5333, now Public Act 287 of 2020, protects state funds reserved for sustainable forest management. Markkanen said money from the state’s Forest Development Fund was raided to pay for other state programs during the mid- to late-2000s. His new law ensures the fund cannot be used for administrative costs outside of those needed to ensure proper forest management. It clearly states that money in the fund must be reserved for things like harvesting, reforestation and forest management – including forest thinning, pest and disease control and other management practices that reduce the likelihood of a large-scale wildfire occurring in Michigan.
- House Bill 5314, now Public Act 286 of 2020, gives county road commissions additional options to finance property acquisitions for public use. Markkanen introduced the plan to help the Keweenaw County Road Commission move forward with plans to replace the building that currently serves as its maintenance facility, which is more than 100 years old and has many structural and electrical concerns.
- House Bill 5825, now Public Act 297 of 2020, helps residents and local governments by extending the deadlines for tax assessment boards of review to account for the COVID-19 pandemic. Because city and township offices were unable to perform normal business during the peak of the pandemic, certain deadlines that are specifically laid out under state law were missed and some taxpayers were unable to properly protest tax disputes due to delays in assessments.
Markkanen previously had two other pieces of legislation signed into law, bringing the total for his first legislative term to six.
“It has been a privilege to serve people in our communities, and I am looking forward to continuing to serve as your voice in Lansing in 2021 and 2022,” Markkanen said. “Some of the best ideas for legislation come from residents who see a problem that needs fixing. I encourage anyone who has ideas or concerns to share to reach out to my office.”
Residents can reach Rep. Markkanen’s office by calling (517) 373-0850 or emailing GregMarkkanen@house.mi.gov.
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