The teacher pension reform bill (SB 401), which will close the current “hybrid” plan in the Michigan Public Schools Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) to new enrollees, has been signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. "A travesty” is how the Michigan Education Association described the new law; the Senate has put aside four bills (HBs 4416-4419) that would eliminate the need to get a special license to carry a concealed firearm for later review; Snyder vetoed $6.37 million in line items before signing the $56.5 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2018; the “Good Jobs” tax package passed the Senate and House; the Department of Environmental Quality is suing the City of Flint in an effort to force the city to remain with the Great Lakes Water Authority, aka Detroit’s water system;  former Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Young, Jr. announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Debbie Stabenow (D-Delta Township) and Saginaw’s Dr. Jim Hines is seeking the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018. These issues and many more are discussed in the July 2017 Karoub Report.

Lawmakers are expected to have $292.2 million less in the General Fund to spend this year and on next year’s (FY) 2018 budget that starts Oct. 1, but $340.3 million more in the School Aid Fund (SAF) than expected; House Bill 466 would make it illegal to hold, talk or otherwise use a “portable electronic device” while driving, except for hands-free or voice-activated devices; the House has introduced legislation to ease gun registration and concealed carrying; the Senate passed legislation making Flint Michigan’s 11th Promise Zone to pool resources and use tax increment finances to help its students afford a college education; Gov. Rick Snyder signed a massive criminal justice reform package into law that supporters say will keep criminals from reoffending; and Geoffrey Fieger considers another run for Governor. These topics and more are highlighted in the May 18, 2017 Karoub Report.

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME)  introduced bipartisan legislation to help local fire departments across the country save money hiring and promoting trained first responders.

The Firefighters Retention Act of 2017 would give fire departments flexibility to use Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants to transition part-time or paid-on-call personnel to full-time status. Under current law, SAFER Grants can be used to hire and train new personnel, but cannot be used to promote part-time or paid-on-call fire fighters, who are already trained and equipped to respond to emergencies.

For more on the The Firefighters Retention Act of 2017, please click here for the release from Senator Peters office.

State income taxes are not expected to be rolled back anytime soon; the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is seeking changes to the state's marijuana law; a battle appears to be looming over whether a $2.5 million state appropriation to private schools is constitutional; high school graduation requirement changes are approved by House; and criminal justice reform bills are signed into law. These topics and more are highlighted in the April 2017 Karoub Report.

Governor Rick Snyder has formed a task force to tackle local government retirement reforms; he expressed serious concerns about the proposed income tax rollback going before the House; with state revenues on the rise, he proposed a 2018 budget; and he appointed a Chief of Staff and Lottery Commissioner. These topics and more legislative issues are featured in the February 2017 Karoub Report.

House Republicans are proposing a roll back of the state’s 4.25 percent state income tax to 3.9 percent in 2018 and eventually eliminating the income tax completely; the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously elected Justice Stephen Markman as its new chief justice; and Gov. Rick Snyder has now appointed three of the four-members of the Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC) - including former House Speaker Jase Bolger, the leading legislator behind the enactment of Right to Work in 2012. Click on the January 2017 Karoub Report for more information on these and other legislative topics.

Public safety employees stop bill that would've ended future retiree health benefits

House Bill 6074, which drew protest from public employees in Michigan and a barrage of calls to State Legislators will not be moved out of the House as part of a package of bills.

Early this morning, the House Local Government Committee reported that the only bill in this package that will be moved is House Bill 6075, which creates reporting requirements between public employers and Michigan Department of Treasury. This bill has no effect on retiree health care.

MAFF Executive Director Fred Timpner wanted to thank MAFF members for their support! MAFF members participated in the MAPO effort, contacting State Legislators to make this victory possible.

However, Timpner also wanted to alert members that is this a temporary win and MAFF members may be called on again soon. Republicans are expected to introduce bills as early as January 2017, after new legislators have been sworn into office, that would negatively impact public employee healthcare and pensions.

In the meantime, Legislators were clearly swayed by the overwhelming involvement of MAPO members.

CLICK HERE TO READ MAPO TESTIMONY

Karoub Associates, the legislative representatives for Michigan Association of Police (MAP) and Michigan Association of Police Organizations (MAPO), is seeking the passage of SB 218, a bill to provide continued, comparable health care coverage to the surviving spouse and dependents of a public safety officer killed in the line of duty. The bill would also extend those benefits to a public safety officer, their spouse and dependents if the public safety officer becomes permanently disabled on the job. To read the memo from Karoub Associates to the legislature, click here.

MAPO representatives recently joined Gov. Rick Snyder (center) for the formal signing of HB 5097. From left to right are: Matt Kurda, Karoub and Associates, legislative advisor to MAPO, Rep. John Walsh, sponsor of the bill, Police Officers Labor Council Executive Committee Chair Paul Combs, MAPO Secretary/Treasurer and Michigan Association of Fire Fighters Director Fred Timpner, and Mike Sauger, President Warren POA and MAPO Executive Board member.

By Jennifer Foley, MAFF Editor with excerpts from www.michigan.gov

The wait has been long, but Gov. Rick Snyder approved a measure which removes Act 312 eligible public safety employees from earlier legislation restricting their collective bargaining rights. Snyder passed Public Act 322 of 2014, introduced by Rep. John Walsh (R-Livonia); honoring his earlier statements that he would support this change to Public Act (P.A.) 54 of 2011.

"Police officers and firefighters risk their lives daily to protect citizens across our state," Snyder said. "This legislation helps ensure these first responders continue to receive full compensation regardless of the status of their contract."

Under P.A. 54, once a contract expired public employees' wages were frozen, there were no step increases and no longevity - pay increases based on years of service. The law also prevented public employees from receiving retroactive wage or benefit increases greater than those in effect on the expiration date of the previous contract. P.A. 54 took one more swing at public employees by allowing employers to pass on up to 100 percent of health care cost increases once a contract expired.

HB 5097, now P.A. 322, no longer prohibits wage or benefit increases, including step increases, authorized under the expired contract for Act 312 eligible public employees. The law also does not prohibit retroactive application of a wage or benefit increase if the increase is awarded by an arbitration panel to a negotiated contract.

"It allows us to be able to negotiate retroactivity," said MAFF Director Fred Timpner.

Furthermore, when a collective bargaining agreement expires, Act 312 eligible employee costs for health care, dental, vision, prescription or other insurance benefits shall not exceed the employee's share under the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act. This Act requires the employer to pay no more than 80 percent and the employee to pay 20 percent or more of health care costs or choose a Hard Cap. The Hard Cap for the employer is:
• $5,500 times the number of employees with single coverage, plus
• $11,000 times the number of employees with two person coverage, plus
• $15,000 times the number of employees with family coverage.

The amount necessary to purchase health insurance for employees that exceeds this "cap" must be paid by employees.

P.A. 322, which is supported by Michigan Association of Police Organizations (MAPO) and Karoub Associates, legislative consultants for MAFF, takes affect immediately.

FIREFIGHTERS WORK RIGHTS EXPANDED
Snyder also signed HB 4624, now known as Public Act 323, sponsored by state Rep. Joe Haveman, which gives public fire department employees the right to work on a volunteer, part-time or on-call basis at another fire department as long as the employment does not conflict with their full-time fire fighter position. Public Act 323 adds fire fighting to the list of suitable part-time or volunteer positions allowed for fire fighters within their collective bargaining agreements.