It appears as though the nearly year-long battle over a proposed severance tax on non-ferrous mining operations may finally be reaching its conclusion, at least in the legislature.
Since December, when Marquette County officials first became aware of state Rep. Matt Huuki's efforts to explore the severance tax idea, a protracted, contradictory, occasionally heated and often times confused dialogue has continued between state lawmakers, geology and treasury officials, local county, township and schools officials, mining companies, consultants, lobbyists and attorneys.
Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, introduced his legislation in six bills Nov. 8, aimed at simplifying the tax structure and decreasing high start-up costs for non-ferrous mining operations and creating an associated rural development fund for infrastructure improvements.
House bills 6007-6012 have since been referred to the house Committee on Tax Policy, chaired by Rep. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac. A hearing of the committee is scheduled to take place in Lansing Tuesday.
This past week, members of the Marquette County Board expressed continued frustration and disappointment with provisions of Huuki's bills. The proposed legislation differed significantly from what officials from Gov. Rick Snyder's administration, and local officials, had anticipated or supported.
A couple of the biggest points of contention with Huuki's bills include the ability for mining companies to take deductions and the percentage of distribution of tax revenue between local taxing units and the rural development fund.
County officials want more money coming to locals than the bills dictate and they don't think the mining companies should receive deductions. What will remain in the bill, and what is eventually passed by the full legislature, remains to be seen. There's much work left to be done.
At their most recent meeting, some county commissioners sounded as though they thought of giving up because of unsatisfactory results so far, or because a negative outcome seemed inevitable.
Instead, by the end of the board meeting, the panel decided to stand together and continue to fight for local interests on both legal and political fronts. We applaud this decision. This is obviously the right choice.
We want to support the efforts of all of these hard-working public servants involved in trying to get the best outcomes realized for Marquette County's residents -traveling to Lansing, the endless meetings, emails, consultations and the emotional peaks and valleys- your long and tireless efforts have not gone unnoticed.