Senator Cassis’ statement is as follows:
I rise to applaud the work that has gone into bringing Senate Bill No. 434 before us today. I would like to just say that in answer to my friend and colleague from the 14th District, middle of the pack in Michigan is not good enough. Reforms are needed now in order to be able to compete for jobs with those states that have already been outlined as the best states to do business with by CNBC and by Forbes magazine.
What do they cite as being an attractive entrepreneurial environment which will create jobs and keep those that are there? One of the primary factors always cited is the cost of doing business in your state. We want to strike a balance between environmental protections, and of course, our state is known for that, along with being friendly to attract businesses. When they have to go through and insatiable amount of time in the permitting process, that results in precious time lost and money spent unnecessarily through delays. That, my friends, sends a very wrong message to those who want to do business in our state.
I do urge support for this substitute. I think it represents a positive balance and will put our state in a much better position to be actively competitive, which is sorely needed.
Senator Thomas’ statement is as follows:
I appreciate the previous speaker anticipating what I am going to say in my comments, and he is absolutely right. I am going to raise issues in terms of water quality. But before I go there, I wish to speak to the issue of state sovereignty. Yesterday, the Senate Majority Leader raised two issues dealing with federal stimulus dollars and state sovereignty. I was very pleased to stand up with him and in an overwhelming majority in this Legislature say, “You’re right.” When it comes to our state budget process and these are stimulus funds, state sovereignty and states’ rights must be sacred and I agree.
Isn’t this package of bills, then, handing our state sovereignty over to the federal government and federal bureaucrats when it comes to our rule-making authority? I would suggest the answer is yes. Doesn’t this package negate the simple principle that state regulations should preempt federal regulations? I would simply say yes.
So I think that we should stay consistent if we are going to stand up for state sovereignty in our budget process. We should certainly stand up for state sovereignty in our rule-making process. When you vote for this bill, you make Michigan citizens less safe, plain and simple, and the examples are very strong.
For years, a strong majority of Michigan citizens have argued that Michigan has had stronger rights for patients to seek legal recourse when they have been harmed in the medical system. Should that end? I think not. The same special interest groups pushing for this package, i.e., less strict state standards, champion drug immunity just because our state standard is stricter.
Clean water, obviously, is an issue that all of us should stand up and fight for. The state of Michigan does have stronger clean water laws than the federal government.
Firefighter safety—federal OSHA rules did not directly address the protection of firefighters. So Michigan took the lead and now we create stronger protections for our firefighters, our first responders, than the federal government requires. Blood-borne pathogens—in going back to 1993 with the rise of HIV cases, Michigan adopted a blood-borne pathogen standard that was the best in the nation, and the federal government has adopted Michigan as its model. This was again a Michigan program.
Drinking water, of course, again, Michigan has a much stronger public health standard than does the federal government. Certainly, when it comes to water source diversions, water diversion is an issue we have fought for on both sides of the aisle. Michigan has a much stronger position than the federal government.
These are just a few examples of where Michigan residents have a better understanding of what Michigan citizens deserve and how they can be kept safe. I think it is irresponsible and reckless and will damage the public safety of the citizens of Michigan if we allow the federal government and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to dictate to us how we should live our lives. For these reasons, I am going to oppose the legislation in this package, and I hope that my colleagues would join me in standing up for our state’s sovereignty and our ability to make and manage our own rules.
Senators Jacobs and Thomas, under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No. 434 and moved that the statements they made during the discussion of the bill be printed as their reasons for voting “no.”
The motion prevailed.
Senator Jacobs’ statement is as follows:
I rise in opposition to Senate Bill No. 434, the Gilbert substitute, as well as to address this bill as well as the next couple of bills that we are taking up in this package. I really think it is important that we address the assertion that overregulation makes Michigan an unfriendly environment for business, driving out companies to neighboring states.
I sit in committee and I hear this argument recorded time after time after time. But, according to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council’s Small Business Survival Index for 2008, Michigan ranks 19th friendliest in terms of public policy climate for entrepreneurship. This places Michigan just behind Ohio but ahead of such seemingly business-friendly states like Indiana and Illinois. I can’t tell you how times we hear the state of Indiana brought up in committee.
Now the Anderson Economic Group provides an annual ranking of states based on the tax burden on businesses. For 2008, Michigan ranked 22nd. Again, behind Ohio but ahead of our neighbors in Indiana and Illinois.
Finally, the Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship issues an annual state of new economy index based on the promotion of innovation as a significant part of a state’s economic development policy framework. By the way, they are supporting an effort to bring in 400 new entrepreneurs in their companies. So in 2008, Michigan placed 17th in this index, one spot behind Illinois but well ahead of Indiana and Ohio. So it is really disingenuous, if not outright wrong, to say that Michigan is running businesses out of our state because of the tax and regulatory burdens that they face here.
Now do we need to change some tax policy? Do we need to restructure tax policy in Michigan? Yes, but I am not sure that what we are trying to do with this and this package of bills really goes to the heart of that. Economic development and proper stewardship of the state are not mutually exclusive, and that is why I ask you to vote against this bill as well as the rest of package.