Lobbyist / December 2016
Type: Open Committee
FAREWELL TO THE 98th LEGISLATURE. Lawmakers left town last week ending the lame duck session and bringing to a close the 98th Michigan Legislature.
Several pieces of legislation are on their way to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for his signature or potential veto. Others were left to die and be reintroduced next year.
ENERGY REFORMS MAKE THE CUT. An 11th hour compromise on legislation (SBs 437 and 438) designed to shore up Michigan’s electricity market amid declining in-state production gained final approval after two years in the making.
Governor Snyder will sign the bills as he was directly involved in the final deal along with the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.
What is included in the compromise?
The percentage of electricity customers being served by choice marketers could roll backward if the percentage of customers falls below the current 10 percent cap, customers who leave their choice provider to commit to DTE, Consumers Energy or the other incumbent utility to stay for six years, AES companies avoid paying a four-year fee to cover costs of an incumbent utility’s new power plant under certain conditions, gives customers a chance at seeing rate relief in times of lower than expected energy needs, and raises the amount of energy Michigan would need to generate from renewable sources from 10 to 15 percent by 2022.
UI INSURANCE FUND SURPLUS TO HELP BALANCE STATE BUDGET. Under legislation (SB 1008) headed to the Governor’s desk, $10 million in “surplus” unemployment insurance funds would be transferred to the General Fund to help balance the state budget. Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the bill because the administration signed off on the transfer as part of the overall budget plan for 2017.
NURSES TO PRESCRIBE DRUGS? Governor Rick Snyder will have to decide whether to sign into law legislation that would allow state-regulated nurses with advanced degrees, known as advance practice registered nurses (APRNs), to prescribe drugs and controlled substances.
GAS STATIONS CAN SELL BEER. Legislation (SB 929) to allow gas stations to sell beer and wine along with fuel has been forwarded to the Governor. It is a companion bill to recently passed House Bill 4895 that allows big-box stores to sell beer and wine from gas stations they operate close to their property.
STEP ON THE GAS. If Governor Rick Snyder agrees, speed limits on nearly 1,500 miles of Michigan’s rural highways could see a 5 to 10 mph increase. The legislation would only allow speed limit increases on highways where the Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Michigan State Police conduct traffic safety and engineering studies to determine at least 85 percent of motorists are already driving at the proposed increased speeds.
DRONES DROP ON GOVERNOR’S DESK. Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Systems, have been given a regulatory home. Under the legislation (SB 992), a 27-person task force would be charged with hashing out further regulations and passing them along to the Legislature.
WHAT LEGISLATION WAS NOT TAKEN UP IN LAME DUCK?
NO FAULT. Fifty-five votes could not be found in the House to pass a compromise deal over a lingering proposal that would cap the number of hours a family member could be paid for caring for a catastrophic car accident injury victim and cap benefits at $400,000 for those without a Michigan auto insurance policy.
VOTER ID. Legislation (HBs 6066 thru 6068) giving voters showing up on Election Day without an ID card seven days to present one to a local clerk in order for their vote to count died in the Senate.
FOIA. The 10-bill package of legislation (HBs 5469 thru 5478) that would open up legislative offices and the Governor’s office to open record laws was taken off the table in the Senate.
GOVERNOR’S PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP. Among the Governor’s top priorities, the issue stalled in the House out of concern that it would clear the way for toll roads.
TIF. Legislation that would allow “transformational projects” to recapture up to $50 million in state tax money in its first year of existence died in the Local Government Committee. The measure was being pushed by Detroit developer Dan Gilbert.
PENSIONS/OPEB. Lawmakers backed off legislation that would have put all new teachers into a 401(k)-style retirement system plan, effectively closing teachers’ pension plan.
A thirteen-bill package to scale back local governments’ obligation to pay retiree health benefits also failed to get support.
RAINY DAY MONEY. A proposal to put away 25 percent of any General Fund money left over at fiscal year’s end into the Rainy Day Fund.
OIL, GAS PERMIT RESTRUCTURING. With three days of lame duck remaining, House Energy Policy Committee Chair Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) decided not to take up a bill to restructure how the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issues oil and gas permits and their appeals.
ANTI-PICKETING. Legislation that would make it much more difficult and expensive for people to picket businesses was shelved by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive).
LONG-TERM INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIR WOULD COST BILLIONS
Governor Rick Snyder’s-created commission has determined the state needs billions of dollars in long-term infrastructure repairs.
How many billions? The state needs to put up $4 billion per year for 20 years to close the “investment gap” of more than $60 billion in its infrastructure, according to the commission report.
On a forecasted annual basis, there is a $2.7 billion gap in transportation infrastructure. For water, it is $1 billion, and another $70 million for communications.
The 15-member 21st Century Infrastructure Commission’s report included several ways to raise the money including “real money in the multiple billion dollar category” along with smaller amounts in the $100,000 range. Bonding is another option.
However, there was no discussion by the group about dipping into the state’s General Fund to pay for a host of projects.
STATE BUDGET DIRECTOR IS LEAVING
State Budget Director John Roberts has announced he will be leaving for the private sector after the Fiscal Year 2018 budget presentation in February.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Al Pscholka (R- Stevensville) is being strongly considered to replace Mr. Roberts.
The Governor’s office indicates a replacement is expected to be announced before the end of the year.
MEEKHOF SAYS NO
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) has announced he will not seek the Republican nomination for governor in two years.
For months, he had refused to answer the question, “Are you running for governor?”
Lobbyist / October 2016
Type: Open Committee
Karoub Report: 9/20/16
MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT TAKES REPRESENTATIVE PETTALIA’S LIFE
Representative Peter Pettalia (Presque Isle) was killed last week in a motorcycle accident as he was returning to Lansing. A memorial service has been held for the popular third-term lawmaker. House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) has appointed new members to committee vacancies left by Representative Pettalia. Representative Ben Glardon (R-Owosso) will assume chairmanship of the House Transportation Committee. Representative Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) will serve as the committee’s vice chair and Representative Gary Howell (R-North Branch) will fill the remaining vacancy on the committee. Representative Mike Callton (R-Nashville) will take up the role as vice chair of the Financial Services Committee and Representative Ken Goike (R-Ray Twp.) will fill the remaining vacancy. Representative Ray Franz (R-Onekama) will fill Representative Pettalia’s spot on the Energy Committee and Representative Joel Johnson (R-Clare) will take up the vacancy on the Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee
SCOTUS SHUTS DOWN SCHUETTE
Attorney General Bill Schuette’s emergency appeal to keep a ban on straight ticket voting in place was denied Friday by the U.S. Supreme Court. So it means the straight-ticket voting bubble will more likely than not be back for the November election. Mr. Schuette took the appeal to the highest court in the land after a federal judge in Michigan ordered a preliminary injunction on its immediate implementation. Friday was the state’s deadline to finalize ballots for the November election. The two-sentence order issued by SCOTUS read: “the application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is denied. Justice Thomas and Justice Alito would grant the application.”
SBE OFFERS SCHOOLS GUIDANCE ON LGBTQ
On a party-line vote the State Board of Education (SBE) approved a guidance document advising Michigan’s public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room corresponding to their gender. The SBE document says transgender students have the right to use the bathroom of their gender identity if they choose, and that no transgender student should be forced to use a changing facility incongruent with their gender identity. The SBE document made reference to a federal guidance issued in May by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to use as its legal basis for the recommendations.
BEER TAX INCREASE INTRODUCED
The tax on beer in Michigan has not been raised since 1966, but Representative Thomas Hooker (R-Byron Center) wants to change that. Representative Hooker has introduced legislation (HB 5873) that increases the tax from 1.9 cents per 12 ounce bottle or can to 6.9 cents, nearly 250 percent and uses that money primarily for substance abuse treatment and increased enforcement of alcohol related crimes. The measure, for the first time, indexes the tax to the rate of inflation. The bill isn’t likely to get a hearing before the November 8 election. In fact, the bill is unlikely to get any hearing and Representative Hooker will be leaving the Legislature at the end of this year because of term limits.
SENATE PASSES MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGISLATION
The Senate passed legislation (HB 4209 and HB 4827) that creates a regulatory framework for the use of medical marijuana. Specifically, the bills create five different licenses for the legal sale of medical marijuana growing, testing, processing, transporting and selling through provisioning centers. After passing the House, the entire package was being held up in the Senate over the issue of “medibles,” marijuana infused products made for those who can’t inhale smoke. The bills create a 3 percent tax on marijuana and give locals the authority to better regulate where and how many provisioning centers can be in a community. A five member board would be created to implement the new regulations and state licensed activities involving medical marijuana would be protected.
SENATE DRIVES AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES LEGISLATION TO THE HOUSE
The Senate last week passed and sent to the House a four bill package (SBs 995 through 998) that is designed to authorize the testing of autonomous vehicle research in Michigan. Under the bills, autonomous vehicles would be given the go ahead for testing on 122 miles of Michigan roads, would authorize that Willow Run airport be developed a testing facility for the vehicles, and would create the Michigan Council on Future Mobility within MDOT which will provide recommendations for ongoing policy changes needed as development of the vehicles progresses.
EM LAW IS UPHELD
Unless the nation’s highest court says otherwise, Michigan’s emergency manager law is here to stay. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the law did not violate constitutional rights under the First and Thirteenth Amendments and the voting rights act, thus affirming the decision of the district court. In Phillips, et al. v. Snyder, et al., the three judge panel voted unanimously to hold to U. S. Supreme Court precedent by ruling that states have absolute discretion to control their political subdivisions.
SUPREMES SNUFF OUT THE MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION PETITION CASE
A leave to appeal has been denied by the Michigan Supreme Court to attorney Jeffrey Hank in his effort to get legalized marijuana on the November ballot. Now Hank has pledged to seek appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The denial was in the case MILegalize v. Secretary of State, Bureau of Elections and Board of State Canvassers, which Hank filed after his group failed to gather enough valid signatures under the state’s 180 day window, requiring the state to deny certification. The order issued by the MSC said the court was not persuaded and the questions presented should be reviewed.
COURT RULES ON MCCA’S FOIA EXEMPTION
A three judge panel of the Court of Appeals has ruled that the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Associate (MCCA) is a public body and does not need to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The ruling comes after the Michigan Supreme Court asked the appellate court to answer those questions. The three judge panel ruled that the MCCA is a public body and the Legislature did not violate the constitution when it exempted the public body from releasing its records to the public. The insurance industry groups applauded the ruling and used the moment to again promote their push for no fault reform.
Lobbyist / April 2016
KAROUB REPORT: February 2016
Microsoft Word – April 18, 2016
GOVERNOR SNYDER PROPOSES WATER RULES CHANGES STRONGER THAN THE FEDS
Under changes proposed by Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan would have water regulations dealing with lead stronger that those of the federal government.
The proposals put forth last week, contain recommendations from a subcommittee of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee.
They include lowering the lead action level to 10 parts-per-billion (ppb), from the current federal standard of 15 ppb by 2020, requiring annual lead and copper testing for all schools as well as other facilities, requiring “comprehensive lead and copper analysis” before any significant change in water source or treatment of a public water system as well as mandating that water systems be required to follow defined corrosion control treatment standards.
The timeline for implementing the proposed change are undetermined. However, the changes could come via legislation, the state’s rule promulgation process, and more, according to Governor Snyder spokesman Ari Adler.
Meanwhile, members of the Flint water crisis task force, appointed by Governor Snyder, told lawmakers their findings showed flaws in the state water office’s culture and the emergency manager law and said that moving forward the state needs to address the culture that allowed the Flint water crisis to happen from the top down. The task force also recommended considerable changes in the emergency manager policy.
DEMS CALL FOR RESTORING CITIZEN OVERSIGHT COMMISSIONS
Some Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced legislation (HBs 5404 through 5406 and SBs 829 through 831) that would restore citizen oversight commissions for both air pollution and water quality.
The commissions would take complaints, have the ability to commence enforcement actions and oversee permitting and departmental policies and rules.
Former Governor John Engler abolished the commissions by executive order. The House voted to reject the order but the Senate never took action and the order stood.
SENATE PANEL VOTES TO CLOSE TWO PRISONS
Two correctional facilities would close under a budget unanimously moved by the Senate Corrections Appropriation Committee.
Subcommittee Chair John Proos (R-St. Joseph) said the subcommittee did not name the exact facilities saying that should be a departmental decision, but added the budget assumes a $46.97 million savings from their closure.
The plan also calls for adding $5 million to allow the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) to lease the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin as well as $26.6 million to staff the facility.
DEQ HAS A CHANGE OF HEART ON TOXIC LIST
Citing public concerns, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has reversed itself and decided not to limit its list of air toxics to review in permit applications, in a set of pending rule changes.
The DEQ had proposed criteria for defining toxic air contaminants, which would have resulted in a list of roughly 600 chemicals to review during the air permit application process.
The current rules have the state examining all the chemicals proposed in an application, except those on an exemption list.
“It is our conclusion that legitimate concerns were raised, with compelling arguments and that is the basis for the change in our proposal,” said Barb Rosenbaum, air quality evaluation section chief at the DEQ’s Air Quality Division.
SENATOR MEEKHOF: NO-GO ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA REGULATION…FOR NOW IN THE SENATE
A package of legislation (HBs 4209, 4210 and 4827) on medical marijuana regulations is being snuffed out, at least for now, according to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive).
Senator Meekhof said he is not ready to discharge the package from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the full Senate due to broad concerns within the GOP caucus.
He said Senate Republicans are well aware there is science-backed evidence in favor of medical marijuana use but what is less clear is how to regulate it in a manner where it is grown well and treated like a pharmaceutical.
GOVERNOR CREATES ANOTHER EDUCATION COMMISSION
Governor Rick Snyder has created a second education commission this one charged with identifying how Michigan can help students be more career and college ready with the goal to have Michigan in the nation’s top 10 school systems in the next 10 years.
Governor Snyder announced his plan for the 25-person 21st Century Education Commission in this year’s State of the State address.
The group is tasked with devising ways to facilitate STEM education achievement and preparedness for skilled manufacturing jobs.
The commission must have a complete report by November 30 to be provided to the state Legislature and State Board of Education.
BEER, WINE LICENSES MODIFICATIONS SIGNED INTO LAW
Legislation (HB 4895), now PA 84 of 2026, that would allow grocery stores with onsite gas stations to sell beer and wine at both locations has been signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.
The measure creates a secondary location permit so the retailers can sell beer and wine under an extension of their primary license. The bill also designated merchants to reduce the minimum distance between a fuel pump and point of sale of alcohol from 50 feet to five feet.
The license-holder must also keep an inventory of at least $250,000 or operate from a location not less than 50,000 square feet.
MID-MAY IS NOW TARGET DATE FOR EDUCATION FUND ADEQUACY STUDY
Although the law creating the Education Fund Adequacy Study mandated it to be done by the end of March, it now looks like it will be mid-May before there will be details on how much it would cost to adequately fund a child’s education in Michigan.
The vendor doing the study requested an extension to May 13.
COA: CITIES CAN LEASE DRILLING RIGHTS UNDER PARKS WITHOUT CITIZEN VOTE
The state Court of Appeals has ruled that citizens have no legal right to vote on whether to approve leases for drilling for oil and gas under city-owned parks and cemeteries.
A three-judge panel unanimously rejected a challenge by the non-profit group Don’t Drill the Hills, Inc. to a decision by Rochester Hills to lease underground oil and gas rights to one company and to allow another company to relocate an oil pipeline.
An Oakland County judge dismissed the cast without trial.
SUPREME COURT ANNOUNCES NEW REGIONAL STRUCTURE
The Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Office is implementing a new regional structure that it hopes will better support trial courts.
The plan expands the number of regional administrators and realigns coverage areas so that service to trial courts will be more focused.
DATES ARE SET TO FILL EX-SENATOR VIRGIL SMITH’S SEAT
A special election has been set to replace former Senator Virgil Smith (D-Detroit) who resigned from his Senate seat following a jail sentence for crimes committed last May.
The primary election for Smith’s seat is scheduled for August 2, with the general election taking place on November 8, 2016…the dates falling in line with the state’s regularly scheduled primary and presidential elections.
Interested candidates must file for the seat by 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 10.
NEW PREVAILING WAGE BALLOT COMMITTEE IS FORMED
A group, its organizers as yet unknown, has filed to place a new prevailing wage issue on the ballot, but it is not known whether the committee calling itself Citizens for a Safe and Secure Michigan, is opposed to the prevailing wage law, or opposed to current efforts to repeal the prevailing wage law.
Lobbyist / February 2016
Type: Open Committee
KAROUB REPORT: February 2016
GOP DPS PLANS DIFFER BETWEEN HOUSE AND SENATE
A package of Republican legislation introduced in the House to help the beleaguered Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system differs greatly from a plan introduced by Republicans in the Senate.
The House plan calls for a wait of eight years to fully elect a new school board and also places some restrictions on collective bargaining. The Senate plan would have a school board election this November and does not address the issue of collective bargaining.
In addition to phasing in an elected school board and prohibiting collective bargaining rights on items such as school calendar, work schedules and contracting with third-party vendors, the House plan would:
–Keep the old district and new district philosophy as put forth by Governor Rick Snyder;
–Convert new DPS employees from the traditional pension system to a 401(k) ! type system;
–Use general fund dollars for 10 years to pay off the DPS debt; and,
–Create an A-F building grading system for Detroit schools, including charters,that would be available to parents.
The plan has already drawn strong objection from House Democrats and the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) urged caution on the House package because the Senate has been working on the issue for months. The Senate began hearings this week on its legislation and those hearings are expected to continue next week.
LEGISLATION INTRODUCED TO COMBAT OPIOID ABUSE
A four-bill package of legislation (SBs 769 thru 772) has been introduced in the Senate to address the growing prescription drug and opiate abuse in the state.
The measures would require doctors to check the Michigan Automated Prescription system before prescribing medications to new patients and failure to do so would require the physician to complete remedial continuing medical education. The bills also would increase penalties for physicians who overprescribe specified controlled substances.
Another set of bills (SB 778 and HB 5326) would increase a pharmacy” s ability to dispense Naloxone, a medication used to reverse the side effects of an opioid overdose.
The legislation is part of the recommendations released by the Governor” s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force.
NO FIX FOR PA 269…YET
House Bill 5219, that would # fix$ the recently enacted law (PA 269) banning schools and local governments from using mailers, media ads or robo-calls to educate voters 60 days before an election has been put on hold by GOP leadership after House Republicans were not able to muster the needed votes for the replacement bill.
The legislation isn” t going to move until the bill” s sponsor, Rep. Lisa Posthumous Lyons (R- Alto) works through amendments that Republicans and Democrats both offered to her
# compromise$ bill.
A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction on one section of the new law.
PRESUMPTIVE PAROLE NOT PROCEEDING FOR NOW
With Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) continuing to hold out against House-passed legislation that removes the amount of subjectivity the Parole Board can use in releasing inmates, the lobbyist for Hope Network, a group pushing the presumptive parole issue says he hasn” t tossed in the towel for good. But it is apparent that portion of the legislation isn” t going to move anytime soon.
Still left on the table is legislation to reduce the prison head count by releasing the infirm and the elderly.
DEMOCRATS REINTRODUCE FRACKING PACKAGE
An eight-bill package of legislation has been reintroduced by House Democrats that would, according to a press release, increase safeguards on Michigan” s fracking industry by putting a halt on new wells until regulations are put in place.
The bills are the same as proposed fracking rule legislation introduced during the 2013-2014 legislative session that went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The measures would require oil and gas drillers to use the state water withdrawal assessment tool to monitor impacts on all waterways when their water use exceeds 100,000 gallons a month; ban the use of fracking wastewater as a roadway dust control spray; allow local governments or interested parties to request a public hearing on a permit application in the community where the well would be located; and allow local units of government to regulate fracking operations in their communities.
HOUSE PASSES MONEY FOR FLINT WATER BILLS
The House passed and sent to the Senate and then to the Governor for his expected signature a current year supplemental bill (SB 136) that provides $30 million to provide a 65 percent credit on any water bill Flint residents received from April 2014 to April 2016. The measure implements Governor Rick Snyder” s # Consumption and Consumer Use Credit.$
HOUSE PUTS BRAKES ON SPEED LIMIT BILL
Legislation that would allow for 80 mile speed limits on some Michigan freeways came to a quick halt in the House when the main bill in the five-bill package fell three votes short needed for passage. Two of the bills passed (HBs 4426 and 4427) but were pulled after the main bill (HB 4423) faltered. Votes on the others were reconsidered and passed for the day.
MICHIGAN HALTS WORK ON NEW FEDERAL POWER PLANT STANDARDS
After the U.S. Supreme Court last week blocked the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules aimed at curbing carbon emissions from coal power plants, the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) announced it would # suspend activities to comply with the rule and its timeline for submissions$ while it waits for resolutions through the courts.
JUDGE SUES OVER AGE RESTRICTION
Court of Appeals Judge Peter O” Connell has filed suit in the Court of Claims in an effort to circumvent the state” s constitutional limitation on judicial candidates running for election or re- election once they reach the age of 70. The suit was filed against the Bureau of Elections in an attempt to run for a seat on the Court of Appeals two years early. O” Connell” s current term expires January 1, 2019 at which time he will be 70. He is seeking to run for a six-year Court of Appeals term this November.
SPECIAL ELECTION SET TO FILL MILLER SEAT
Voters in the 28th House District will vote in the August primary and again in the November general election to fill the vacant seat of Derek Miller (D-Warren) who resigned to become the Macomb County Treasurer. Voters will decide who will fill the remaining few weeks of Miller” s term ending December 31 and who will hold seat for a new two-year term beginning January1.
PETITION FILED TO RECALL LT. GOV. CALLEY
The Board of State Canvassers will meet February 22 to decide if language filed by Genesee County resident Quincy Murphy to recall Lt. Governor Brian Calley meets the clarity standards need for ballot approval. Murphy wants Lt. Governor Calley gone because of an e-mail he wrote to Governor Rick Snyder expressing concern about Flint Clerk Inez Brown publishing of a wrong deadline to turn in their petition signatures for Flint mayor and city council.