PIERSON – Road conditions were one of the main topics at Monday night’s Panhandle Area Chamber of Commerce legislative dinner.
State Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, and State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, updated audience members on legislative topics of interest and tried to answer questions from participants. The event took place at the Loon’s Nest in Pierson.
Grant Haney of Hinton Township in southern Mecosta County expressed his concern about Road Commissions returning some paved roads to gravel. He said Road Commissioners should try using micropave – something he’s seen in the southern United States.
“On the county level, they’re (Road Commissioners) quicker to grind a road up than patch it with potholes,” he said. “I think it (micropaving) could save in the long term a lot of money. If something likes that comes up, don’t always listen to the engineers that own the asphalt companies, but listen to the engineers that have been involved in said products.”
Outman said his daughter lives in Kentucky now and she has told him how much better the roads are there than in Michigan. Outman said the weather is a major factor.
“It is tough on roads when the frost comes out,” he said.
Howard City Village President S. Michael Scott, who moderated Monday’s event, He is retired from road construction and currently works part-time as a consultant to developers and municipal construction agencies.
“It’s a tough call for municipalities, whether it be county, state or local government, to decide what to fix first,” he said.
Scott said he was a supporter of gas tax to fund road infrastructure – until he had a conversation with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.
“I hope the governor (Rick Snyder) listens to him, because I think he’s got a very good idea,” said Scott without going into specifics. “I think it’ll work. He’s not going to increase the gas tax, he’s doing to do it in other areas.”
Emmons updated the audience on a initiative she’s working on in the Health Policy Committee – a website similar to travel websites where people can compare health care plans and prices. She said the proposal is currently called Health Marketplace.
“It’s going to hopefully be a way for folks to compare and contrast plans,” she said. “We’re going to take some testimony on that and work on that these next few weeks.”
Emmons also serves on the Military Affairs, Veterans & Homeland Security Committee. She said that committee recently learned Michigan ranked last in the United States – including Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. – in acquiring benefits for veterans.
Michigan ranks 11th largest in the country for being home to the most veterans – 700,000 of them.
“To be dead last in utilizing these services is too bad,” she said.