As the reforming of no-fault auto insurance continues to linger in the Legislature, some have now moved to repeal it in completely; The State House and Senate reached a compromise with Gov. Rick Snyder that will give Michiganders a tax break and speed-up elimination of costly driver responsibility fees. The current $4,000 personal tax exemption will increase to $4,900 per person by 2021. Gov. Snyder had proposed an increase in the exemption to $4,500 over three years; House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) wants to accelerate Gov. Snyder’s FY 2019 road funding proposal into this year’s budget; With the recent conviction of MSU Dr. Larry Nassar, members of the Progressive Women’s Caucus (PWC) will be introducing legislation in the coming weeks or month that will reflect its principles – prevention, protection and accountability – to address the problem of sexual assault on college campuses; Democrats in the Senate have introduced a 22-bill package of legislation they say is designed to prepare the best, attract the brightest and retain the finest Michigan educators. Click here for the February 2018 Karoub Report which highlights these and other legislative issues.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a provision based on bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Cornyn (R-TX) that would create a National Criminal Justice Commission.

The provision creates the bipartisan commission to conduct an 18-month, comprehensive review of America’s criminal justice system, proposing recommendations to address the most pressing issues facing our nation’s criminal justice system. The provision passed as part of broader sentencing reform legislation.

“It’s been more than 50 years since we last conducted a comprehensive review of our criminal justice system, and this commission is long overdue,” said Senator Peters. “Every American should trust that they will be treated equally under the law, but numerous incidents in cities across the country have eroded faith in America’s in the system. It’s clear we need to address these serious concerns, including police and community relationships, our growing prison population and the cycle of recidivism. I’m pleased the Judiciary Committee approved this bipartisan provision that will help us identify solutions to ensure we are administering justice in a fair, equitable and effective way for every American.”

Click here for more information on the National Criminal Justice Commission provision.

The Republican-led Senate passed an expanded personal income tax credit that is likely being eliminated due to a quirk in the new federal tax reform law. Senate Bill 748 S-1 preserves Michigan’s $4,000 personal exemption on its income tax, but increases it to $5,000 by 2021- a $200 increase over the $4,800 exemption level of the SB 748 version; Able-bodied Medicaid recipients would have to work, go through job training or perform community service in order to keep their benefits under House Bill 5317; In the state’s first gubernatorial override in 16 years, the House and Senate pushed into law an accelerated sales tax phase out on used car trade-ins that Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed in July 2017; A Special House Task Force report found 42 areas where mental health services could be improved in the state; Charter schools would receive a share of “regional improvement” property taxes on a per-pupil basis that now go only to traditional schools if legislation (SB 574) approved by the House becomes law; and analysts for the House and Senate fiscal agencies are projecting continued slow and steady growth for Michigan economy through 2020, which means the state’s $10 billon General Fund isn’t likely to keep up with inflation over the next three years and the School Aid Fund, when adjusted for inflation, should remain smaller than it was 10 years ago. These and other legislative initiatives are featured in the January 2018 Karoub Report.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

Photos by Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor                                                        MAP Executive Director Fred Timpner (left) welcomed Senator Debbie Stabenow as a guest speaker to the MAP Annual Open House Dec. 8. Pictured right of Stabenow are MAPO President Michael Sauger and Karoub Associates Partner Jim Curran.

Senator Debbie Stabenow joined MAP, MAPE and MAFF labor representatives and members Dec. 8, 2017 at the Annual Open House to show her support for public safety unions and their efforts to stop legislation which could significantly impact their ability to bargain over pensions and retiree health care and threaten benefits already promised to existing retirees.

Senator Stabenow, whose grandfather was a Detroit Police Officer until he became disabled following a high speed chase, expressed her opposition to the measures. Stabenow wanted to let MAP, MAPE and MAFF members know she opposes the attack on public safety and public employee retirement benefits.

“I cannot believe you have to worry about your pensions being paid,” Stabenow said. “It just enrages me as well as energizes me. Your senators fought really hard to stop it from happening.”

MAP, MAPE and MAFF representatives and public employees across the state called their legislators and descended on the Capitol in recent weeks, rallying forces to express their opposition to House Bills 5298-5313 and Senate Bills 686-701. MAP, MAPE and MAFF, through affiliation with Michigan Association of Police Organizations (MAPO) and Labor/Management Coalition of Michigan, joined forces to express their support for Governor Rick Snyder’s task force on Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Governments report. The task force report, released July 2017, was signed by several stakeholders including local government groups and police and fire unions.

Under a scaled back 11-bill package of legislation passed by the House and Senate last week, local governments would need to submit a state approved plan on how to cover their employees’ and retirees’ pension and health care costs; Democrats in the state Senate have introduced legislation (SB 724-725) to reverse Michigan’s five-year old controversial right-to-work laws. The measures would allow a union to charge an agency fee for nonunion members who work in a public or private union; Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law legislation that would allow the Department of Corrections to hire a former felon to work in a state prison – if the hiring goes through an investigative process. The bill (HB 4065) is designed to create opportunities for previous offenders looking to become productive members of society; In an effort to address a growing opioid epidemic in Michigan, the House and Senate passed the last of two packages of bills; As contract negotiations with state employee unions are set to begin next year, Gov. Rick Snyder has named Cheryl Schmittdiel the new director of the Office of State Employer to replace Marie Waalkes who is leaving state government with plans to retire. Schmittdiel has worked both sides of the bargaining table. For more details on these and other end of 2017 legislative issues, see the December 2017 Karoub Report.