Rep. Kivela speaks about final term in Michigan House

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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Prior to being elected to the Michigan Legislature, John Kivela of Marquette could be found working at Jon's Auto.

"Most people in the legislature got their start like I did -- working for a small business or working for a school and they got involved in local government and they followed their passion," Kivela said.

Kivela's passion took him from a seat on the Marquette City Commission to a mayorship to representing Michigan's 109th House District.

"I've been lucky to have several bills passed and signed into law," Kivela said.

He said a few of those bills stand out in his mind.

"The role that I played in revitalizing Detroit and helping to turn Detroit around really benefits the state as a whole," Kivela said. "I would say from the state perspective, that is probably the biggest piece."

Locally, Kivela considers his role in creating the Superior Trade Zone as one of his biggest accomplishments.

"That was my first bill that I had signed into law," Kivela said. "That's already providing jobs in the Upper Peninsula."

With two years left before being term-limited out of the House, Kivela said there's still work to be done.

Some of the issues he's planning to take on this term include chronic wasting disease, improving energy reliability and affordability in the Upper Peninsula, continuing the fight against meth and continuing efforts to close the dark stores tax loophole.

"I think we have good luck getting it through the House again," Kivela said in reference to new Dark Store legislation. "The Senate is going to continue to be a challenge."

The loophole allows "big-box" stores to be assessed at the same value as a similarly-sized vacant building, drastically reducing their property taxes.

Last year, a bill that would close the loophole passed the House, but stalled in the Senate.

Kivela said a few meetings regarding new Dark Store legislation have already taken place.

"I'm encouraged that the state Supreme Court is taking this up now," Kivela said. "Hopefully we'll have a favorable ruling. That will help give us maybe some momentum."

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