MARQUETTE, Mich., Nov. 9, 2023 — State Reps. Jenn Hill (D-Marquette) and Dave Prestin introduced today House Bills 5379 and 5378, respectively, that would make it easier for logging companies to transport materials between Michigan and Wisconsin. The bills would allow logging companies more flexibility to transport their products between Michigan and neighboring states without the burden of paperwork that’s normally required under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). Hill issued the following statement after the bills were introduced:

“I’m looking out for workers, and I like finding ways to make their jobs easier. Our proposed bills make sure we’re not making things harder for loggers transporting cargo in the U.P. In the state’s bureaucratic maze, things unfortunately go overlooked that make some people’s jobs unnecessarily challenging. We as lawmakers are supposed to enter that maze and ensure it makes sense to navigate.”

Logging companies based in the U.P. frequently need to transport wood to mills located in Michigan and Wisconsin. The routes between these facilities are relatively short and do not change, making the paperwork requirements under IFTA for long-haul trucking redundant and burdensome. The IFTA was intended for trucks that deliver products and refuel in various states and locations on a regular basis.

This issue was addressed during the 2021-2022 session with legislation introduced by Rep. Markkanen and signed into law as Public Acts 24-26 of 2022. The legislation allowed (but did not require) Treasury to enter into reciprocal fuel tax agreements with other states specifically for the transportation of raw forest products within 30 air miles of the state border. However, due to an interpretation of the air mile limit discovered after execution of the Michigan-Wisconsin reciprocity agreement, a mill in Escanaba was inadvertently excluded.

These new bills will address this oversight by increasing the allowable number of air miles traveled under these agreements from 30 to 50. The bills would allow both states to make a change to the allowed number of air miles if both states are in agreement.

“Anything promoting transportation efficiency without impacting transportation funding is something we support,” said Todd Penrose of Holli Forest Products Inc. in Ishpeming. “The current 30 air-mile reciprocity agreement for the transportation of raw forest products between Michigan and Wisconsin has allowed our company to ship products to additional markets without doing unnecessary paperwork. We are very appreciative that Rep. Hill and Rep. Prestin are working to potentially allow more small businesses in the U.P. to benefit from this agreement.”