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 In recent weeks, she has withdrawn the state from more than a dozen federal cases.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.

The House has unanimously approved a five-bill package of legislation (SB 425-429) that will allow people to register to vote online; Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped to 4 percent in September. The number of jobless in the state fell below 200,000 last month for the first time since September 2000; Legislators have finished session work and headed back home to hit the campaign trail until the 14 scheduled session days in lame duck; The state's attempt to have some existing unlicensed marijuana businesses close by Sept. 15 ended up in court. So now the state has issued a new set of rules and made the deadline Oct. 31 instead; Legalization of the use of CBD oil, or cannabidiol, without the need of a medical marijuana card, has passed the House and been sent to the Senate; and the first case of chronic wasting disease in the Upper Peninsula has been confirmed by the Department of Natural Resources. It is the first deer to test positive among the 625 deer tested this year. Click here for the October 2018 Karoub Report for further information on these and other legislative issues.

Michigan voters will not be able to vote a straight-ticket when they go to the polls in November. Voters will not decide on paid sick leave or a $12 minimum wage. In a late move to take control of the citizen initiated petitions, the House and Senate passed the measures with the intent of Republican leadership to come back in lame duck to amend one or both of them.

The statewide ballot proposals in the November general election are:
• Proposal 1 would allow personal possession and use of marijuana by people older than 21 while regulating the distribution and commercial production of recreational marijuana.
• Proposal 2 would end partisan gerrymandering in Michigan by creating a non-partisan, transparent, and citizen-driven Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
• Proposal 3 would amend the state constitution to authorize automatic and Election Day, voter registration, no-reason absentee voting and straight-ticket voting; and add current legal requirements for military overseas voting and post-election audits to the Michigan Constitution.

The Michigan Department of Corrections plans to close the Ojibway Correctional Facility in Gogebic County on Dec. 1. Two other prisons have been closed in the past two years – Pugsley Correctional Facility in Grand Traverse County and the West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon County. Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Schuette and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gretchen Whitmer are planning three televised debates and chose their lieutenant governor running mates. Schuette tapped former state representative and Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons and Whitmer named Garlin Gilchrist II of Detroit as her running mate. U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain has issued a permanent injunction stopping the state from enacting Public Act (PA) 268 which eliminated the option of straight-ticket voting in the foreseeable future for Michigan voters. Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is recommending sales tax collected from online retailers outside of Michigan – more than $200 million – be spent to fix roads. Governor Snyder has announced new plans that would provide universal access to highspeed internet for every Michigan resident, business, region and community and the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Ann Arbor and Clio school districts’ ban on anyone bringing a weapon into a school building will stand. For more information on these and other legislative issues, click here for the August 2018 Karoub Report.

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.