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.

In response to House and Senate Republicans ranking road funding third on their 2019 session priority list behind auto-insurance reform and the budget, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will not sign any Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending plan that doesn’t include the road-funding piece. House Judiciary Chair Representative Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) said, “…there is nothing in writing yet but ‘two or three’ plans are being kicked around that do not include Gov. Whitmer’s new formula for distributing new road dollars… and it is not going to include the 45-cent gas tax hike…” Based on a recent poll, it appears Gov. Whitmer’s statewide effort to garner support for a 45-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase to “fix the damn roads” is failing. Almost 75 percent of residents are opposed, according to a recent poll. Gov. Whitmer unveiled two tuition-free programs in her first State of the State address and budget proposal. One provides free community college for graduating seniors and those over 25 years old, earning good grades and completing the process in a timely manner. Another bases funding on grades and income and can be applied to a four-year degree. The three branches of state government are joining together in a state task force to focus on jail and pretrial incarceration, with the goal of improving the effectiveness of the front end of Michigan’s justice system, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Whitmer. Attorney General Dana Nessel has opined that the Line 5 (oil pipeline) tunnel law is unconstitutional, saying provisions go beyond the scope of what was disclosed in its title. The Michigan Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for July 17 to consider the House and Senate’s requests for an opinion on whether the Legislature can amend two citizen-initiated laws during the same session they were adopted in, after the Legislature did that to the minimum wage and paid sick time ballot proposals. For more on these and other legislative issues, click here for the April 2019 Karoub Report.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget calls for increasing the gas tax by 45 cents under a three-part phase-in starting Oct. 1 of this year and ending Oct.1, 2020 that would raise about $2.5 billion in new annual revenue for roads. This would be deposited into a new Fixing Michigan Roads Fund and allocated to the most highly traveled and commercially important roads at both the state and local levels. Gov. Whitmer is also asking for an additional $507 million to increase K-12 funding in her Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget including up to $180 more per pupil. Revenue sharing will increase 3 percent for counties, cities, villages and townships. Whitmer has called for eliminating the so-called “pension tax” and proposed paying for it by taxing “pass-through” businesses at the same 6 percent rate as the existing Corporate Income Tax. Budget recommendations also include funding for a new trooper recruit school with the anticipation of graduating 50 new troopers to keep the Michigan State Police enlisted strength at about 2,100. For more information on the Governor's Fiscal Year 2020 budget, please click here for the March 2019 Karoub Report and also visit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's website.

The Michigan Legislature has rejected a Governor-issued executive order for the first time in 42 years.The Republican-led Legislature passed HCR 1, rejecting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2019-2, which would have reorganized the Department of Environmental Quality and abolished three oversight panels created by the Legislature. Attorney General Dana Nessel continues her efforts to withdraw the state from federal cases. In recent weeks, she has withdrawn the state from more than a dozen federal cases. The latest are four cases involving civil rights and two involving transparency. After Gov. Whitmer’s call in the State of the State address for “hands free” legislation, Representative Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) has introduced HB 4181 to prohibit drivers from using a mobile electronic device while driving unless it is in a “voice-operated or hands-free mode” and the driver doesn’t have to use his or her hands to operate it. Making 9-1-1 calls are exempted. The sale of a former state prison in Ionia for construction of a $35 million private immigration detention center has been scrapped by the governor. A judge has denied an agreement reached between Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters brought a lawsuit against the Secretary of State prior to Secretary Benson’s Administration over the Republican-drawn redistricted maps after the most recent census. Writing on behalf of the three-judge panel, U.S. District Judge Eric Clay said Secretary Benson “lacks the authority to enter into the proposed consent decree” which would have seen 11 of Michigan’s 110 House districts redrawn for the 2020 election. Click here for the February 2019 Karoub Report for more details on these and other legislative issues.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will put forth “a real plan” to fix Michigan’s roads and other infrastructure in her March budget presentation, but when questioned by reporters gave no indication of how she would propose paying for the plan. The Senate and House have set their top legislative priorities. The Senate’s first bill of the 100th Legislature is Senate Bill 1 to address the state’s nation-leading auto insurance rates. The measure includes reform of health insurance and personal injury protection benefits. Senate Democrats are calling for tax credits such as establishing a child care credit for working families with young children and creating a tax credit claw back that would make businesses that leave Michigan pay back incentive dollars they were awarded to come to or stay in Michigan. The Republican House is focusing on Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform to require a criminal conviction before law enforcement agencies could sell or use the property seized based on probable cause. Gambling expansion legislation will quickly be reintroduced this session, according to Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp.) and Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing). The legislation, which would allow online gaming and horse race betting by cellphone as well as fantasy sports gambling and new charitable gaming regulations, fell victim to former Gov. Rick Snyder’s veto pen. Attorney General Dana Nessel has picked Fadwa Hammoud as Solicitor General and tapped her to oversee the Attorney General’s criminal prosecutions in the Flint water crisis. For more on these and other legislative topics, click here for the Jan. 23, 2019 Karoub Report.

After an oft-times contentious lame duck session that saw the GOP-controlled 99th Legislature pass several controversial pieces of the legislation and an all-night session, lawmakers wrapped up their work for the year and the 99th Legislature came to an end. Karoub Associates lobbyist Emily Laidlaw was named Policy Director for Governor Whitmer’s Administration. Laidlaw was instrumental in developing Karoub’s Education Practice. Gov. Rick Snyder has signed several bills including a huge $1.3 billion spending bill that includes $69 million for the Renew Michigan Fund for hazardous waste sites, a new revenue stream ($114 million in FY 2019 and $143 million in FY 2020) for roads, $19.3 million to fight PFAS and $40 million for a new Capitol Visitor Center at the Capitol. Snyder also vetoed 56 bills in his final days of office. Gov. Whitmer started her term, naming the state’s new Budget Director, Treasurer and she appointed new state department Directors, including Col. Joseph Gasper as Director of the Michigan State Police. Detroit developer Dan Gilbert's attempts to revive no-fault auto insurance reform failed to make it out of the Legislature during the last day of the lame duck session. Although the Senate passed legislation that would make all limited access expressways 75 miles per hour and all non-city highways 65 miles per hour, the House stopped the legislation from moving forward. For more details on these and other legislative issues, click here for the January 2019 Karoub Report.

The 2018 Michigan General Election results for Nov. 6 are available on the Secretary of State website with length of elected office terms, number of votes per candidate and percentage of votes each candidate received. The site also details voter turnout for all 83 Michigan counties.

Karoub Special Election Report
Nov. 7, 2018

With the exception of Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement’s victory, it was a big night for Michigan Statewide elected Democrats Tuesday.

In impressive fashion, Democrats surged in this midterm election and placed their respective candidates in the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General positions. Voters also returned United States Senator Debbie Stabenow to Washington and flipped two coveted United States House seats.

With about 90 percent of precincts reporting, Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer carved out a 53 to 44 percent win over Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette. The election results mirror the latest polls going into Tuesday’s election. Attorney Mark Bernstein will act as director of the transition team for the Governor-elect.

Democrat Jocelyn Benson snapped a 24-year Democratic drought in the Secretary of State post by defeating Republican Mary Treder Lang by a solid margin. Democrat Dana Nessel won a close race for Attorney General over Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard.