While lawmakers take their annual Thanksgiving/hunting break until Dec. 3, the supplemental budget will remain unresolved. Depending on the dollars Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed when she signed the FY 2020 budget, certain groups are beginning to seriously feel the pinch. Under legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Whitmer, Michigan’s 17-year-olds would no longer be automatically charged and treated as adults for any criminal offense under the 18 “Raise the Age” bills. If legislation overturning the Natural Resources Commission deer baiting ban reaches the Governor's desk, her press secretary has confirmed the Governor will veto it. The House passed a package of legislation that would legalize sports betting and internet gaming that comes after Governor Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation late last year. The Reproductive Health Act, a package of soon-to-be-introduced House Democrat-backed legislation, supported by Gov. Whitmer, would roll back all current restrictions on abortion in Michigan, including the statutory ban ruled inactive by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling in Roe v. Wade. The Attorney General’s office has filed a brief asking the Michigan Supreme Court to instantly bypass the Michigan Court of Appeals and vacate the Court of Claims preliminary injunction stopping the Governor’s ban on flavored vaping products. Gov. Whitmer has signed into law legislation reducing the tax implications of installing solar panels on roofs of homes and businesses. Business owners and homeowners installing solar panels on their roofs will no longer see an immediate property tax bump on their biannual bill. For more information on these and other legislative issues, please click here for the November 2019 Karoub Report.

Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens has blocked the state from enforcing the emergency rules on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ban on flavored vaping products. The House unanimously approved legislation that would require many out-of-state websites that facilitate online sales in Michigan to collect and remit the 6 percent sales tax. Gov. Whitmer has ordered that new limits on the amount of PFAS compound that can be in Michigan drinking water be committed to rules. Final adoption could come by April 2020. By Aug. 1, 2021, every Michigan school and daycare center would need to install lead-free drinking water stations per 100 occupants. Republicans have introduced 47 supplemental budget bills in the House and Senate to bring back $256 million of the $947 million of the line-itemed vetoes that include private college grants, charter school funding increase payments to local governments and county road patrol money restoring spending that Gov. Whitmer eliminated with her vetoes. A change in state policy raising the asset limit for three major public assistance programs this winter will allow more Michigan residents to take advantage of those services. By a vote of 107 to 1, the House passed SB 47, which would exclude placement of solar panels on residential real property from assessments of true cash value in regards to property taxes. The measure goes to the Governor's desk and if approved, local assessors will go back to reassess the value of the properties with solar panels. Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) are working with the Voters Not Politicians (VNP) group on term-limit expansion. The conceptual plan, which has not been finalized, would be that lawmakers could serve a combined 20 years in both the House and Senate before they would be term-limited out. Gov. Whitmer says she will pursue administrative rules to expand how many Michigan workers would automatically qualify for overtime pay. For more details on these and other legislative initiatives, please click here for the October 2019 Karoub Report.

The Michigan Legislature passed the K-12 budget and is expected to send Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the rest of the 15 FY 2020 spending bills as soon as Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year. Gov. Whitmer is expected to exercise her line-item veto power to keep the state government open beyond Oct. 1, but may scratch as many Republican-specific spending priorities as possible to force them back to the negotiating table to find ways to raise more money for road improvements and schools; Local road funding bills were introduced in the House. HBs 4963 – 4973 were referred to the House Transportation Committee. The 11 bills would allow counties to levy, after a vote of the people, their own registration fees or excise fuel taxes for roads; Gov. Whitmer offered three emergency rules banning all flavored vaping products from Michigan shelves. The orders came after Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun described youth vaping as a “public health emergency”; The House and Senate have both passed House Bill 4446, which limits how much a corporation or a union can put toward fundraising events for a political action committee (PAC) and is now headed to the Governor for signature; House and Senate Democrats have introduced a 16-bill package of legislation aimed at cracking down on payroll fraud; Democrats have introduced a 10-bill package to reform the state's unemployment system, which they described as one of the Midwest’s worst unemployment systems in terms of compensation and benefits.The measures would restore the maximum weekly benefit rate indexing formula to 58 percent of the state average weekly wage, while also returning the eligibility period from 20 to the standard 26 weeks.

For more on these and other legislative issues, please click here for the September 2019 Karoub Report.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said there will be no government shutdown because “there is no reason for it” in recent comments he made on WJR. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suggested a continuation budget be prepared in case budget negotiations go beyond October 1–the start of the next fiscal year, but Leader Shirkey said legislative leaders are making “good progress on the budget and some creative ways to address roads.” Some members of the Michigan Legislature allege Attorney General Dana Nessel is trying to “usurp the lawmaking power of her office,” and they are asking to intervene in Enbridge’s lawsuit against her. Enbridge filed the lawsuit in June seeking to enforce its Line 5 Tunnel agreement with the state. Nessel has filed suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, joining more than a dozen states charging a new rule denying green cards to legal immigrants who use public assistance, or might use it, is unconstitutional. Over a dozen Republicans have filed suit in U.S. District Court’s Western Division against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in an effort to stop the state’s new citizen redistricting commission and invalidate Proposal 2. A sales tax holiday is propoosed under legislation, HBs 4824 and 4825. If passed and signed into law, parents and teachers wouldn’t pay the 6 percent sales tax on back-to-school pens, glue sticks, clothing and computers under $1,000 on the third Saturday in August. Please click on the August 2019 Karoub Report for more details on these and other legislative issues.

The Michigan Legislature is on recess, but work continues to find at least $2 billion to address a road funding plan. House Republicans have moved a budget premised on the idea that the 6-cent sales tax stop being collected on gasoline and a penny-for-penny gas tax or excise tax be installed in its place to collect close to $1 billion in road revenue. That would amount to about a 15-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase. Another idea is a 30-year $10 billion bond that would prefund the teacher retirement system and free up $1 billon in the School Aid Fund being diverted from classrooms to pensions. Four alternative road funding bills that would increase the 6 percent Corporate Income Tax another 2.5 percent, raise the fees on heavy trucks, and make a pension income exempt from the income tax have been introduced by House Democrats. Still basking in its 2018 passage of the independent redistricting commission amendment to the state constitution, the grass roots group Voters Not Politicians (VNP) is mulling over running a ballot proposal in 2020 or 2022 that would either extend or eliminate term limits. Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) has introduced legislation (SB 416) that would automatically clear misdemeanors involving low-level marijuana use and distribution from Michiganders’ records. The measure would allow some 235,000 people to have those records automatically expunged without having to go through the courts. Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed a lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court seeking to close the controversial pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. She also filed a motion to dismiss Enbridge’s Court of Claims suit that seeks enforcement of agreements made at the end of former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration that allows the company to build a 4.5 mile, $500 million tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on partisan gerrymandering opining the issue presents political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts. Two gun-related bills (HBs 4200 and 4201) have been introduced that would reduce the penalty for license holders who conceal and carry in “no-carry” zones. Click here for the July 2019 Karoub Report for more details on these and other legislative issues.