Franz ends tenure as state rep. presiding over 20 hours of lame duck session.

December 16, 2016
Rep. Franz fulfilling his duties as associate speaker pro-tem.

Rep. Franz fulfilling his duties as associate speaker pro-tem.

Franz ends tenure as state rep. presiding over 20 hours of lame duck session. 

#101stHouseDistrict.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LANSING — State Representative Ray Franz’s very last week as the representative of Mason, Manistee, Benzie, and Leelanau counties, included a 22 hour lame duck session, of which he presided over about 20 hours. The 98th Michigan House of Representatives ended Thursday and Franz arrived back at his Onekama home around midnight. While he technically remains the state representative of the 101st District until January 1, 2017, he essentially is done. Term limits do not allow him to run again.

Rep. Jon Bumstead (R-100th District) and Rep. Ray Franz.

Rep. Jon Bumstead (R-100th District) and Rep. Ray Franz.

Franz, a Republican, served as Associate Speaker Pro Tempore, chairman of the Regulatory Reform Committee, and a member of the Agriculture, Communications and Technology, and Insurance committees.

“It went by remarkably fast,” the Franz said. “It was the quickest six years I think I have ever spent. There were a lot of good things and a lot of things that were disappointments. A lot of both. It was a very good time. We made some significant reforms and did some things that were tough votes. When you look at the numbers we did a remarkable job of turning this state around and letting the economy start growing again. I’m very happy.”

Franz is most proud of the achievements the state government has made in the areas of business reform, particularly eliminating the state business tax and replacing it with a flat tax. “We weren’t going to see any growth in Michigan with that business tax in place. It was difficult to get that changed and required several changes on several fronts of the rest of the tax portion of our budget. There were a lot of votes involved in that. In the end, the switch to a flat corporate tax was the single biggest reform I was a part of. But, then you add reforms in unemployment and workers compensation. We have been able to bring down costs to businesses in Michigan.”

Speaker Kevin Cotter, left, speaks with Rep. Franz.

Speaker Kevin Cotter, left, speaks with Rep. Franz.

Franz said another part of business reform that he says has been good for Michigan was the adoption of the Right to Work bill, which allows employees to opt out of joining unions in businesses that have collective bargaining agreements.

“That was huge for our state,” Franz said. “It’s been kind of flying under the radar because it didn’t make the doom and gloom impact that many said would happen.”

Franz also said that reforms in education funding have seen benefits, including tenure reform in schools. “The changes we have made have made the schools more effective and more efficient. When I started six years ago there were 49 schools that were in dire financial conditions. That number went up slightly for a short time and now there are only around 25 or 26 schools. That’s a significant improvement and I’m pretty proud of that.”

Franz was the sponsor of a bill that changed the starting age for kindergarteners. It encourages students to start at a time that is slightly later in their life and it makes sure that a lot of those early starters are going to make it through school with fewer problems. Parents ultimately have the choice, though.”

lansing_franz_capitol_house_05-11-16_009He also sponsored a farm bill that helped farmers during weather crisis.

One bill that did not get passed — and he is hoping that the next house session takes it up — is what he calls the handy man bill, which would allow for people who perform home repairs for the cost of under $4,000 to do so without licensure. Currently the price cap is $600.

Franz, who formerly owned grocery stores in Onekama and Bear Lake, is taking a break for a couple years. He said he intends to look at the 35th State Senate seat, which will be open in 2018 after Sen. Darwin Booher reaches his term limit.

The district covers Mason, Manistee, Benzie, Lake, Wexford, Missaukie, Kalkaska, Craford, Ogenaw, and Roscommon counties.

In January, Curt Vanderwall of Ludington will take Franz’s place as representative of the 101st House District.

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