MARQUETTE - Marquette County Board Chairwoman Deborah Pellow said she expected severance tax legislation to be considered in the Senate today and she was hopeful final concurrence in the House and a signature by the governor would follow soon afterward.
The legislation (House Bills 6007-6012), introduced by Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, would levy a 2.75 percent severance tax on gross mineral value on specific non-ferrous minerals, including the copper and nickel to be mined at the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine in northern Marquette County.
The severance tax replaces property, corporate income, sales and use taxes currently paid by mining companies. Tax revenue would be distributed with 65 percent going to the local taxing units and 35 percent to a newly-created rural development fund, which would finance infrastructure improvements and worker training.
Under a tentative agreement reached last week, the legislation would also allow for a base tax to be paid to local taxing units and the Legislature would have final approval of projects recommended for funding by the rural development fund advisory panel.
The legislation also requires the state to credit tax revenue back to Rio Tinto, rather than local taxing units, for taxes paid during the current year. Language was included delineating boundaries around mining project lands subject to the severance tax.
"We do have a tentative agreement, everybody's on board with it," Pellow said.
At a meeting of the county board, Tuesday, county officials praised the work of numerous people involved with the team effort championing local interests in Lansing on the severance tax issue. State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and his aide Marty Fittante were especially lauded for their efforts.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.