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Jacobsen hits ground running in Lansing

New state rep. wants to tackle biz taxes, speed limits, liquor licenses

January 05, 2011 - Michigan is beginning the new year with a new governor and a new crop of legislators.

One of those legislators, state Rep. Brad Jacobsen (R-Oxford), is wasting no time launching his ideas into the Lansing political arena.

"I've got a variety of things in the works as far bills that I'm hoping to get written and introduced," said the 1975 Oxford High School graduate, who now represents the 46th District.

Elected in November, Jacobsen will be sworn-in as part of the 110-member state House during a special ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 12.

This event is largely symbolic as Jacobsen took office in late December following two other swearing-in ceremonies.

You know government everything in triplicate.

Jacobsen's certainly hit the ground running. He's already submitted numerous requests for legislation.

Business taxes

Two of his requests involve eliminating the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) and its surcharge.

"I'm not sure it's going to be as simple as it sounds," he said. "But there's a number of us working towards that end."

The fate of the MBT and its surcharge is largely dependent on what happens with new Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's idea to replace them with a 6-percent flat tax on corporate profits.

"I think if we end up going with the flat tax that he's talked about, that will make it a whole lot easier to get rid of the MBT and the surcharge," Snyder said.

Jacobsen said Snyder wants business taxes "to be so simple" that they can be calculated "on the back of a business card."

"This is how much I made, this is my 6 percent, this is what I owe the state," he said.

Speed limits

Another bit of legislation Jacobsen's requested is to reinstate local control over the speed limits on gravel roads.

He noted the idea's been submitted a couple times in the past few years, but it's never gotten anywhere in the legislature.

"We'll see if we can't get it in there this time," Jacobsen said. "I know that's been a big issue in north Oakland County."

Right now, thanks to Public Act 85 of 2006, speed limits are set according to the number of access points driveways, side streets or intersections within half-mile segments located along a stretch of roadway. The limits must be properly posted in order to be in effect.

The law eliminated the 25 mph speed limit on 283 gravel and dirt road segments in Oakland County, 22 of which were in Oxford and 19 in Addison Township. It also raised the speed limit on a vast majority of affected roads to the maximum speed of 55 mph, even in residential areas.

Many locals have argued that 55 mph is simply too fast and too dangerous for the area's numerous gravel roads which often aren't in the best of shape due to the weather.

Liquor licenses

Jacobsen's also looking to craft legislation designed to help communities stimulate their local economies by freeing up existing liquor licenses.

The way it works now is if a person or entity holds a liquor license for one year, but then goes out of business, the license is theirs to keep, sell or put in escrow indefinitely.

He's seen firsthand how this has hindered business at the local level.

"There's liquor licenses that are tied up in Lake Orion that businesses want to use to build new restaurants, but they can't get access to them," Jacobsen said.

His proposal is that if someone holds a liquor license for one year and they go out of business, they must either reuse it or sell it within one year or it goes back to the municipality for reissuance.

"Sitting on a liquor license doesn't do anybody any good, except the guy who's holding it," Jacobsen said.

Behind the scenes

It might seem like Jacobsen's taken on a lot for a freshman legislator, but he's not burning the midnight oil writing all these bills himself.

That's not the way it's done in Lansing.

According to Jacobsen, the drafting of a bill begins with him writing down in two or three sentences what he wants his legislation to accomplish.

He then submits his request to the Legislative Services Bureau (LSB), which assigns an attorney and researcher to write the bill based on his intent.

"They're sort of our go-to people to help facilitate that," he said.

The "most bizarre" part of the process is that the LSB won't tell him or any other legislators if another legislator has submitted the same request.

"As crazy as it sounds, they could have six different researchers writing six different bills to all do the same thing," he said.

The reason it's done this way is so that if a legislator is the first to submit a bill, they can claim it as their "intellectual property."

Jacobsen said he and some other legislators have already talked and agreed to try to work together in an effort to eliminate this redundancy.

Thoughts on the new governor

Although he hasn't met with Snyder in a one-on-one setting, Jacobsen has had the opportunity to sit down with him as part of small groups.

So far, he likes what he's heard and thinks the new governor is a "very sharp guy."

"When people asked him a question, his eyes twinkled and you could see the gears working," Jacobsen said. "He gave very short, precise answers. which I really like.

"I don't beat around the bush very much and that's one of the things I think people around the state like about him. He's very down to earth."

Based on Jacobsen's experience attending Snyder's outdoor inauguration Jan. 1, it seems like the Man Upstairs might also be a fan of the Ann Arbor businessman-turned-politician.

"It was raining on the way over, but when the ceremony started, the sun came out there wasn't a cloud in the sky," he said. "About 10 minutes before it was over, the clouds rolled in and it got cold and windy. It was like somebody turned a switch."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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