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.

Karoub Associates was distinguished as a top-tier firm in the Capital Insiders Survey. Every two years, MIRS News and EPIC-MRA commission a survey of capital insiders, which include lobbyists, lawmakers, legislative staff, department directors, and various others who actively participate in the legislative process in Lansing. With 520 respondents to this year’s survey, Karoub Associates came in second for most-effective multi-client lobbying firm with 15 percent of the vote, up from 4 percent in 2017. Fetal heartbeat bills were introduced in the Senate last week. Performing an abortion when the heartbeat of a fetus can be detected would be outlawed under Senate Bills 357 and 358. With House and Senate GOP leadership at her side, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Senate Bill 1 that brings about changes in the state’s “no-fault” auto insurance law. Pending criminal charges against eight charged in the Flint water crisis have been dismissed as the Attorney General’s Office expands the investigation. The decision was based on the Attorney General's Office identifying “…additional individuals of interest and new information.” Charges can be brought against the individuals again if necessary. A highlight of the $57.7 billion House FIscal Year 2020 budget is the Republican proposal to phase out the sales tax paid on gasoline and replace it with a higher gas tax. Drivers would see no net increase in what they pay at the pump. Despite expressing “significant reservations,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law legislation (SBs 106 and 155) that prohibits teenagers 17 and under from possessing e-cigarettes and levies a $100 fine against vendors the first time they sell “vaping” products to the under-aged. Click here for the June 2019 Karoub Report for more information on these and other legislative issues.

After Gov, Gretchen Whitmer threatened to veto separate bills recently passed by House and Senate Republicans to reform the state’s no-fault auto insurance, House Democrats rolled out their own plan that would mandate an across-the-board cut of at least 40 percent in total premiums paid by Michigan drivers; Right to Life of Michigan has filed paperwork with the Department of Secretary of State to launch a petition drive in an effort to bypass Gov. Whitmer’s promise to veto legislation to ban dilation and evacuation abortions; Gov. Whitmer signed into law bipartisan legislation, SB 2, HB 4001, and HB 4002, forcing law enforcement to return confiscated goods to suspected drug dealers and others who were never convicted of a crime; Attorneys for Michigan Republican lawmakers have filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to suspend the April 25 judgment of a federal court panel ordering the state legislature to redraw legislative and congressional districts in Michigan by Aug. 1. Under the ruling, if that date is missed, the court will draw the new maps; The Department of Treasury is balking at lending support to the eight bill online betting legislation pending in the House because of fears it would negatively impact the state’s i-Lottery, thus costing the State School Aid Fund (SAF) revenue. For more information about these and other legislative issues, click here for the May 2019 Karoub Report.