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I'm Just a Bill

A sampling of proposed state laws, as described on MichiganVotes.org

SENATE BILL 904
Revise "green schools" criteria
Introduced by state Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell

The bill would revise the criteria by which a school may be designated as a "green school" and establish new levels of "greenness" for a school, including "emerald" and "evergreen." The new criteria specify in more detail various types of recycling and add doing energy audits of the homes of students, engaging in letter-writing or lobbying campaigns on environmental issues, offering classes in energy or environmental issues, creating a student environmental organization and "eco reading" program, and much more. Some criteria of the current "green school" statute are not included, such as hosting a Sierra Club spokesperson, students dusting coils on cafeteria refrigerators and checking bus tire pressure, etc.

SENATE BILL 552
Give "rewards" to gas stations that increase ethanol sales
Introduced by state Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Fawn River Twp.

The bill proposes to give a subsidy to gas stations that increase ethanol sales above certain thresholds specified in the bill. The subsidy would be a "carry-forwardable" income tax credit (can be used to offset the owner's tax liability over several years), and the value would be between 2 cents and 6 cents per gallon of ethanol sold above the threshold.

SENATE BILL 777
Authorize $100 million renewable power conversion manufacturer subsidy
Introduced by state Sen. Tony Stamas, R-Midland

(Note: This bill has become law — Public Act 110 of 2009)

The law gives a four-year, $100 million subsidy to a joint venture of the "Xtreme Power" and "Clairvoyant Energy" corporations, which would make "large scale power systems designed to convert variable renewable power into firm dispatchable power" at the former Ford Wixom assembly plant. The subsidy is structured as a "refundable" tax credit, meaning the state will send the company a check for the amount that the credit exceeds its tax liability.

House Bill 4126
Authorize subsidies for selected auto industry suppliers
Introduced by state Rep. Richard LeBlanc, D-Westland

The bill proposes to authorize up to $250 million in Michigan Business Tax credits for auto manufacturing suppliers that enter job retention agreements with the state. Several future years' worth of credits could be claimed all at once by a company, meaning that the state would be writing checks to them. The bill authorizes "clawbacks" if the firms don't meet the job retention goals, but if a firm went bankrupt then presumably the state would be in line with other creditors for a piece of whatever assets remain.

HOUSE BILL 4515
Increase electric car subsidies
Introduced by state Rep. Dian Slavens, D-Canton Twp.

(Note: This bill has become law — Public Act 5 of 2009. See also: "Politically Correct Capitalism," in the May/June 2009 edition of Michigan Capitol Confidential.)

The law expands from one to three the number of refundable, $100 million, capital investment Michigan Business Tax credit agreements that could be entered into with makers of plug-in traction battery packs used in electric cars, which were authorized by a 2008 law, and increase from $70 million to $90 million total credits for "battery integration, prototyping, and launch" expenses. The 2008 law authorized various subsidies estimated at $335 million over seven years. This bill would add an additional $220 million to that. "Refundable" means that the state will send a manufacturer a check for the amount that the credit exceeds the firm's tax liability.

SENATE BILL 418
Increase energy business subsidies
Introduced by state Sen. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City

The bill proposes to increase from $45 million to up to $60 million the amount of "21st Century Jobs Fund" money that can be spent on grants and subsidies to energy technology projects undertaken by for-profit companies. These "centers of energy excellence" grants would have to be used for matching federal or international grants.

Michigan legislators vote on hundreds of bills every year. Keeping track of them can seem like a full-time job.

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