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.

As the reforming of no-fault auto insurance continues to linger in the Legislature, some have now moved to repeal it in completely; The State House and Senate reached a compromise with Gov. Rick Snyder that will give Michiganders a tax break and speed-up elimination of costly driver responsibility fees. The current $4,000 personal tax exemption will increase to $4,900 per person by 2021. Gov. Snyder had proposed an increase in the exemption to $4,500 over three years; House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) wants to accelerate Gov. Snyder’s FY 2019 road funding proposal into this year’s budget; With the recent conviction of MSU Dr. Larry Nassar, members of the Progressive Women’s Caucus (PWC) will be introducing legislation in the coming weeks or month that will reflect its principles – prevention, protection and accountability – to address the problem of sexual assault on college campuses; Democrats in the Senate have introduced a 22-bill package of legislation they say is designed to prepare the best, attract the brightest and retain the finest Michigan educators. Click here for the February 2018 Karoub Report which highlights these and other legislative issues.

The Republican-led Senate passed an expanded personal income tax credit that is likely being eliminated due to a quirk in the new federal tax reform law. Senate Bill 748 S-1 preserves Michigan’s $4,000 personal exemption on its income tax, but increases it to $5,000 by 2021- a $200 increase over the $4,800 exemption level of the SB 748 version; Able-bodied Medicaid recipients would have to work, go through job training or perform community service in order to keep their benefits under House Bill 5317; In the state’s first gubernatorial override in 16 years, the House and Senate pushed into law an accelerated sales tax phase out on used car trade-ins that Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed in July 2017; A Special House Task Force report found 42 areas where mental health services could be improved in the state; Charter schools would receive a share of “regional improvement” property taxes on a per-pupil basis that now go only to traditional schools if legislation (SB 574) approved by the House becomes law; and analysts for the House and Senate fiscal agencies are projecting continued slow and steady growth for Michigan economy through 2020, which means the state’s $10 billon General Fund isn’t likely to keep up with inflation over the next three years and the School Aid Fund, when adjusted for inflation, should remain smaller than it was 10 years ago. These and other legislative initiatives are featured in the January 2018 Karoub Report.

President Trump signed into law the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Reauthorization Act that included a provision authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The provision enables fire departments nationwide to use SAFER grants to transition part-time or paid-on-call personnel, who are already trained and equipped to respond to emergencies, to full-time status. Previously, SAFER grants could only be used to hire and train new personnel.

Click here for more information on the new law.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Photos by Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor                                                    MAFF Executive Director Fred Timpner (left) welcomed Senator Debbie Stabenow as a guest speaker to the Annual Open House Dec. 8. Pictured right of Stabenow are MAPO President Michael Sauger and Karoub Associates Partner Jim Curran.

Senator Debbie Stabenow joined MAFF, MAP and MAPE labor representatives and members Friday, Dec. 8 at the Annual Open House to show her support for public safety unions and their efforts to stop legislation which could significantly impact their ability to bargain over pensions and retiree health care and threaten benefits already promised to existing retirees.

Senator Stabenow, whose grandfather was a Detroit Police Officer until he became disabled following a high speed chase, expressed her opposition to the measures. Stabenow wanted to let MAFF, MAP and MAPE members know she opposes the attack on public safety retirement benefits.

“I cannot believe you have to worry about your pensions being paid,” Stabenow said. “It just enrages me as well as energizes me. Your senators fought really hard to stop it from happening.”

MAFF, MAP and MAPE representatives and public employees across the state called their legislators and descended on the Capitol in recent weeks, rallying forces to express their opposition to House Bills 5298-5313 and Senate Bills 686-701.

Under a scaled back 11-bill package of legislation passed by the House and Senate last week, local governments would need to submit a state approved plan on how to cover their employees’ and retirees’ pension and health care costs; Democrats in the state Senate have introduced legislation (SB 724-725) to reverse Michigan’s five-year old controversial right-to-work laws. The measures would allow a union to charge an agency fee for nonunion members who work in a public or private union; Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law legislation that would allow the Department of Corrections to hire a former felon to work in a state prison – if the hiring goes through an investigative process. The bill (HB 4065) is designed to create opportunities for previous offenders looking to become productive members of society; In an effort to address a growing opioid epidemic in Michigan, the House and Senate passed the last of two packages of bills; As contract negotiations with state employee unions are set to begin next year, Gov. Rick Snyder has named Cheryl Schmittdiel the new director of the Office of State Employer to replace Marie Waalkes who is leaving state government with plans to retire. Schmittdiel has worked both sides of the bargaining table. For more details on these and other end of 2017 legislative issues, see the December 2017 Karoub Report.

A package of bills (SB 584 – 586) passed the Senate that would allow adults with a proper license to carry a concealed weapon through almost all “gun free zones”; The Board of State Canvassers is tentatively planning to meet Jan. 10, 2018 for consideration of the Protecting Michigan Taxpayer’s prevailing wage repeal petition; A no-fault auto insurance reform bill falls 10 votes short of passage in the House; Gov. Rick Snyder appointed his chief legal advisor Elizabeth Clement to the Michigan Supreme Court. Clement is the Governor’s fifth appointment; For the second time, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission was unable to issue an interpretation of state law to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited forms of sex discrimination. For more on these and other legislative issues, click November 2017 Karoub Report.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) says he is determined to pass legislation to allow private police forces with the authority to make arrests at colleges, hospitals, and malls under SB 594 and SB 595; A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers has introduced an 11-bill alternative to no-fault auto insurance package that would reduce rates by 20 to 30 percent without cutting benefits; A House resolution has been introduced that would eliminate the State Board of Education and give the governor power to appoint the state superintendent, who would oversee the Department of Education; The Senate passed its version of Driver Responsibility Fee (DRF) elimination bills which frees drivers with an unpaid DRF of six or more years; Dr. Eden Wells, the state’s top medical director, is facing two more charges - involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office - in connection with the Flint water crisis. Click here for the October 2017 Karoub Report which highlights these and other legislative issues.

The Senate passed legislation (SB 335 and SB 336) that would allow Super PACS to exist under state law. Super PACS are independent committees able to raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions and other entities; A bipartisan coalition of 15 House members claim the “Fair and Affordable No-Fault Reform Package” will reduce auto insurance rates 20 to 30 percent without reducing benefits; After Dec. 15, 2017, medical marijuana dispensaries still operating could have trouble getting licensed, according to the emergency rules the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs plans to push forward; and Democrats have introduced a seven-bill package to create a plan to test water and air quality annually in Michigan schools and create an environmental task force. Click here for the September 2017 Karoub Report featuring more information on these and other legislative issues .

 

With the Senate scheduled to return for the fall session Sept. 5 and the House on Sept. 6, 2017, topics expected to be addressed include: municipal pension reform, corrections reform, career technical training and streamlining the mental health system; Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law the “Good Jobs” package of legislation (SBs 242 through 244), which would allow a company seeking to relocate in Michigan to collect 100 percent of the state income tax withholdings for new employees for 10 years if it creates a minimum of 3,000 jobs at the average salary level for the local prosperity region; the state employment rate has dropped again; Gov. Snyder vetoed legislation that would phase out the sales tax on used car trade-ins, but there is talk of a possible override attempt on that or the Choose Life license plate he also vetoed; and Snyder signed an executive directive creating a Council on Opioid and Prescription Drug Enforcement (COPE) that will be headed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. For more information on these and other legislative issues, click here for the August 2017 Karoub Report.

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.