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.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and a bipartisan group of senators recently introduced legislation to help protect children’s identities from “synthetic ID fraud,” a form of identity theft in which stolen Social Security Numbers (SSN) are paired with fake names and birth dates. A recent study found that one in every 10 children had their SSN used by identity thieves to fraudulently open bank or credit card accounts, negatively impacting a child’s credit before they even become adults. Click here for more information on this bill to prevent chiild identity theft.

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.