The Aug. 7 Primary Election set a modern day voter turnout record with the number of ballots cast expected to exceed 2 million. Michigan voters will hear “Fix the Damn Roads” and “I have been endorsed by President Trump” for the next three months as Democrat Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Bill Schuette won their respective primaries. Campaigning will continue to see who will succeed Governor Rick Snyder as state's next Governor in the November general election. In his first foray into politics, John James, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and businessman, defeated venture capitalist Sandy Pensler to win the Republican primary. James will run against three-term incumbent U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Delta Twp.) in November’s election. Other state senator and representative primary race winners are also highlighted in the Special Election Karoub Report.

Lawmakers have only 30 days of session scheduled for the remainder of the year with the House actually at 29 days. The House will return to session after Labor Day for the month of September, although three of those weeks are just two-day session weeks. The Senate meets one extra day that month. But the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (MLCV) says lawmakers should return to Lansing immediately to undertake investigations as to why the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in 2012 did not take a staffers report connecting PFAS chemical contamination to various diseases and health issues. Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law legislation (SB 652, 653 and 654) that gives him the power to appoint three new commissions within the DEQ. Closing arguments have been held in a 24-day preliminary exam on whether Department of Human Services Director Nick Lyons had individual legal duty by statute or otherwise to notify the public about Flint’s Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in 2014 and 2015. The Michigan Supreme Court (MSC) recently heard oral arguments from both sides of the Voter Not Politicians (VNP) ballot proposal to have an independent commission redraw Michigan’s political districts. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has mounted a legal challenge to a ballot proposal that is designed to put an end to gerrymandering in the state. The paid sick leave and minimum wage increase ballot proposals are opposed by Michigan Opportunity, a ballot question committee affiliated with the Michigan Restaurant Association. Michigan Opportunity has filed a complaint in the Court of Appeals alleging the minimum wage increase proposal “unlawfully seeks to amend the current law by reference and without re-enactment and publication of that law as required.” Michigan drivers need to keep their distance from bikers, allowing at least three feet of space while passing bicyclists on the road under legislation (HB 4198, 4185 and 4265) signed into law by Gov. Snyder. Click here for more details in the July 2018 Karoub Report.

Before Michigan lawmakers left for summer break, they sent the 56.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019 to Gov. Rick Snyder, which has record levels for education and transportation money. However, Democrats have concerns about “raiding” $900 million in K-12 money to bail out the stagnant General Fund; Gov. Snyder says he will sign a bill requiring many Medicaid recipients to work at least 80 hours a month. The bill is a compromise from the initial proposal which included a 29-hour work week requirement and a provision allowing counties with unemployment rates of 8.5 percent or higher to be exempt. That provision was removed; The House took no action on the last day of the 40-day constitutional deadline to legislatively adopt and amend a citizen initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Now voters will decide in November whether to make pot legal in Michigan; The Senate passed legislation (SB 787 and 1014) that would allow seniors 65 and older to choose a $50,000 personal protection auto insurance policy as opposed to the otherwise mandated unlimited lifetime benefit as part of a scaled-back auto insurance package. The House took no action on the auto insurance reform bills before the break; Gov. Snyder vetoed the Health Insurance Claims Assessment (HICA); and Petition signatures calling for passage of a mandatory paid sick time leave policy in Michigan were filed with the state’s election division by the Michigan Time to Care Coalition. If approved, employees could bank up to 72 hours, or nine days, of paid sick leave a year for those who work for employers of 10 employees or more. Those working for smaller businesses could bank up to 40 hours of paid leave with 32 more hours of unpaid leave. Click on June 2018 Karoub Report for more information on these and other legislative issues.

The Committee to Keep Pot out of Neighborhoods and Schools was fighting a ballot proposal to legalize marijuana. Now, it is urging the Legislature to take up the initiative, amend it and pass legislation for adult recreational use; Updated revenue estimates set by state economists indicate Gov. Snyder and legislators will have a combined $500 million more than expected for this fiscal year and next fiscal year; The strictest drinking water rules for lead in the country are about complete, according to Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration. The plan would eventually result in the replacement of all 500,000 lead service pipes in Michigan unless a legislative committee objects by June; Environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer is dropping his effort to put before the voters in November a ballot proposal that would raise the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 30 percent by 2030; After the U.S. Supreme Court gave the state the ability to regulate the running of a sports book for gaming operations, the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee may schedule a hearing to permit casinos to offer sports team wagers; and Pancreatic cancer has taken the life of State Superintendent Brian Whiston. He was diagnosed with the disease in late 2017 and had officially gone on long-term disability just days before his passing. Click on the May 2018 Karoub Report for more information.

A package of gun control/safety legislation bills introduced by Senate Democrats would invest $100 million in schools, with half going for grants for more counselors, social workers and school resource officers, and half in grants for safety measures in schools; SB 897, which passed the Senate without any Democrat support, would require able-bodied Medicaid recipients between the ages of 19 and 64 to work, receive job training or education, or a combination of the three, for an average of 29 hours per week; the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has granted Nestle permission to increase its water withdrawals to 400 gallons per minute for its bottled water plant near Evart despite most public comments opposing increased usage; the Michigan Supreme Court ordered oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by unemployment insurance claimants who were falsely accused of fraud through the state’s controversial Michigan Integrated Data Automated System (MIDAS); As the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol pushes to get the legalization of marijuana on the Nov. 6 ballot, some Republican lawmakers are considering legalizing it through the Legislature rather than let the initiative make the ballot; and 5 p.m. April 26 is the deadline to challenge a sample of signatures submitted by the redistricting reform ballot committee, Voters Not Politicians (VNP). VNP said they submitted 425,000 signatures and have no doubt the proposal will be on the ballot Nov. 6. For more information on these and other legislative initiates, click here for the April 2018 Karoub Report.