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.

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.