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House Republicans roll out their action plan, set stage for next two years

An income tax rollback, a more transparent government and reducing auto insurance rates - those are some of the main priorities for House Republicans during this session. 

They rolled out the plan Thursday.

Passing a high priority piece of legislation is already underway. The income tax phase-out is moving forward quickly – over Governor Snyder’s objections.

It would reduce the state’s current income tax rate of 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent in 2018. It would then be rolled back by a tenth of a percentage point every year for the next 40 years, with an elimination year of 2057.

Some lawmakers worry programs would have to be cut to make up for the lost revenue. It would put a 1.1 billion dollar hole in the budget during its first full year of implementation.

But according to House Speaker Tom Leonard, “That would be a legitimate argument if we were passing it a couple months after the budget passed but we are starting this three or four months before we are going to pass that budget.”

“And that’s why we’re doing it this early because we want to get this bill over to the Senate and hopefully sit down with the governor and see if there is a landing spot we can have,” he said.

That legislation has already been voted out of committee and could see a vote of the full House in the near future.

Prison and parole reform is another one of Leonard and fellow House Republican’s top priorities right now.

The Senate introduced a corrections reform package earlier this year. That legislation has already passed the Senate and is waiting a House committee hearing. Leonard said it’s a top priority.

“I’m really looking forward to getting that one wrapped up,” he said. “And I think that’s going to be the first real big issue item that we get wrapped up and get to the governor’s desk.”

Leonard said they will likely hold additional hearings on the bills next week and vote on the bills within the next two or three weeks.

Unlike criminal justice reform and the income tax rollback, car insurance reform hasn’t seen much movement yet. But Leonard said it is a significant goal.

Leonard said they want to reexamine Michigan’s no-fault system and find a way to reduce costs because, “We’ve got a situation where folks simply can no longer afford auto insurance.”

Earlier efforts at no-fault reform drew fierce opposition.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R