LANSING – Proposed funding for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will jump in the 2017-18 budget, but still be a bit smaller than Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal following action by a House Appropriations subcommittee.

The LARA subcommittee reported HB 4239 to the full House Appropriations Committee unanimously but at $1 million less than Snyder’s recommendation.

The budget would total $440.5 million, up by $18 million from the current year’s appropriation. General Fund totals $44 million, up $295,000.

The biggest change in the budget is a cut of $2.1 million and a reduction of 20 new full-time employees to conduct licensing and tracking under the state’s medical marijuana law. The Senate’s LARA budget proposal similarly reduces funding, though to the tune of some $7 million.

Subcommittee chair Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming) said he felt the state needed to be cautious in how many people it started off hiring for the program. If more people are needed, they could be hired later, he said.

Brann also kept proposed increases for the state’s ethnic service commissions but changed how the money was allocated. Snyder had called for increasing funding for $25,000 for each of the Hispanic/Latino Commission, the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission and the Middle Eastern American Commission. Brann increased the Middle Eastern commission by $35,000 and raised the other two by $20,000.

Brann said he felt with the some of the social pressures expressed towards the Middle East these days, it was important to provide that commission with extra assistance.

The subcommittee also reported HB 4240 to the full committee that provides $66.7 million to the Department of Insurance and Financial Services. The budget was not changed from Snyder’s proposal. General Fund totals just $150,000 in the budget.

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