The chairman of Kalamazoo County's Board of Commissioners says he wants to bring his experience and record to the state Legislature.
Dave Maturen is seeking the seat in the 63rd district, which includes parts of Kalamazoo and Calhoun Counties. The current representative, state House Speaker Jase Bolger, can't run again because of term limits. Maturen and Marshall School Board President Vic Potter are seeking the Republican nomination. Bill Farmer is the only Democratic candidate. Maturen sat down with WMUK's Gordon Evans, Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Jennifer Bowman and Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Alex Mitchell. A summary:
State lawmakers have gone on summer break without reaching a deal on funding road improvements. Maturen says he would like "work within the existing budget" to find money for roads. But he says a permanent solution is needed for infrastructure. Maturen says if additional money is going to be raised, there should also be reforms in road funding. He says increasing the gas tax and vehicle registration fees should be considered.
Maturen says he would have supported legislation that exempts gun registration forms from Freedom of Information Act requests. He says there have been some abuses of legitimate gun owners being harassed. Maturen says police should still have access to records of gun ownership.
State lawmakers approved an increase in the state's minimum wage. Maturen says he would have supported the legislation because it's preferable to an initiative that was likely going to be on the November ballot. Maturen says he is "not really wild about government telling employers what they should pay employees." But he stopped short of saying that there should be no minimum wage.
Local Road Funding
Asking about townships considering putting their own road millages on the ballot, Maturen says local units of government are within their right to pursue additional money for roads from the voters. He says the problem local governments have is that there is never enough money to go around. Maturen, who served on the Brady Township board before being elected to the Kalamazoo County Commission, says the township converted many paved roads to gravel years ago. He says they are easier to maintain, and Maturen says gravel roads may be in better shape than paved roads currently filled with potholes.
Maturen says he is "open to exploring" decriminalization of marijuana. He says Michigan can evaluate how states like Washington and Colorado handle legalizing pot. Maturen says he favors treatment programs, like the Kalamazoo County Drug Court, rather than harsh criminal penalties. Asked about restrictions on medical marijuana, Maturen says since voters have approved the law to allow pot for medicinal purposes, people should have a way to get it safely. But he says there should also be safeguards for public safety.
Governor Rick Snyder has said he would like lawmakers consider amending the state's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Maturen says he's not sure how he would vote, but says the state should be welcoming to people who can contribute to society. Asked about concerns, Maturen says he has to consider people's religious beliefs.
Albion and Marshall are both in the 63rd district. The two high schools in those school districts merged last year after Albion decided to close its high school. Maturen says the state should encourage communities and school districts sharing services and merging when it makes sense. Maturen says the state shouldn't mandate consolidation, but can offer incentives.
Discussion of other issues can be heard in the web version of the interview.
Personal Property Tax
A measure on the ballot in August would phase out Michigan's Personal Property Tax. Maturen says he supports getting rid of the PPT. He says the plan will make up the funding that local governments get from the tax. Maturen says getting rid of the Personal Property Tax will attract more businesses to Michigan.
Asked about the county's decision to opt out of Oshtemo Township's capturing of tax revenue on a stretch of Drake Road, Maturen says there were many problems with the proposal. He says state reform on districts that capture taxes would be appropriate. On the broader question of tax policy and reform, Maturen says he would like to see taxes tied more to the purpose of what those dollars are used for. He says eliminating the state's Single Business Tax was a positive move for economic development. Maturen says he favors maintaining a mix of property, sales and income taxes as the best way to ensure that everyone is paying something for government services.
Maturen says he favors the state's "Right to Work" law which was approved in late 2012 as a long-term strategy for bringing more jobs to the state. Maturen says it's not going to bring jobs in instantly. But he says in the long term more companies will consider Michigan as a place to do business. Maturen says he favors continuing to examine and remove regulations which he says hinder job creation.
As part of the discussion on discrimination, Maturen says his own view is that marriage is between one man and one woman. But he says there should be legal protections for someone in a same-sex relationship.