Karoub Associates was distinguished as a top-tier firm in the Capital Insiders Survey. Every two years, MIRS News and EPIC-MRA commission a survey of capital insiders, which include lobbyists, lawmakers, legislative staff, department directors, and various others who actively participate in the legislative process in Lansing. With 520 respondents to this year’s survey, Karoub Associates came in second for most-effective multi-client lobbying firm with 15 percent of the vote, up from 4 percent in 2017. Fetal heartbeat bills were introduced in the Senate last week. Performing an abortion when the heartbeat of a fetus can be detected would be outlawed under Senate Bills 357 and 358. With House and Senate GOP leadership at her side, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Senate Bill 1 that brings about changes in the state’s “no-fault” auto insurance law. Pending criminal charges against eight charged in the Flint water crisis have been dismissed as the Attorney General’s Office expands the investigation. The decision was based on the Attorney General's Office identifying “…additional individuals of interest and new information.” Charges can be brought against the individuals again if necessary. A highlight of the $57.7 billion House FIscal Year 2020 budget is the Republican proposal to phase out the sales tax paid on gasoline and replace it with a higher gas tax. Drivers would see no net increase in what they pay at the pump. Despite expressing “significant reservations,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law legislation (SBs 106 and 155) that prohibits teenagers 17 and under from possessing e-cigarettes and levies a $100 fine against vendors the first time they sell “vaping” products to the under-aged. Click here for the June 2019 Karoub Report for more information on these and other legislative issues.

After Gov, Gretchen Whitmer threatened to veto separate bills recently passed by House and Senate Republicans to reform the state’s no-fault auto insurance, House Democrats rolled out their own plan that would mandate an across-the-board cut of at least 40 percent in total premiums paid by Michigan drivers; Right to Life of Michigan has filed paperwork with the Department of Secretary of State to launch a petition drive in an effort to bypass Gov. Whitmer’s promise to veto legislation to ban dilation and evacuation abortions; Gov. Whitmer signed into law bipartisan legislation, SB 2, HB 4001, and HB 4002, forcing law enforcement to return confiscated goods to suspected drug dealers and others who were never convicted of a crime; Attorneys for Michigan Republican lawmakers have filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to suspend the April 25 judgment of a federal court panel ordering the state legislature to redraw legislative and congressional districts in Michigan by Aug. 1. Under the ruling, if that date is missed, the court will draw the new maps; The Department of Treasury is balking at lending support to the eight bill online betting legislation pending in the House because of fears it would negatively impact the state’s i-Lottery, thus costing the State School Aid Fund (SAF) revenue. For more information about these and other legislative issues, click here for the May 2019 Karoub Report.

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently made an interesting ruling on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for police reports regarding an officer involved deadly shooting.

In the case of Tom Rotta v. City of Manistee, the Court upheld in part a trial court decision to not disclose the reports based on an ongoing Michigan State Police investigation. However, the trial court refused to privately review the police reports in question to determine whether all the documents met the requirements to be exempt from FOIA.

Therefore, the Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court to make a decision after privately reviewing the disputed documents.

Click here for the full Court of Appeals decision in Tom Rotta v. City of Manistee.

In response to House and Senate Republicans ranking road funding third on their 2019 session priority list behind auto-insurance reform and the budget, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will not sign any Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending plan that doesn’t include the road-funding piece. House Judiciary Chair Representative Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) said, “…there is nothing in writing yet but ‘two or three’ plans are being kicked around that do not include Gov. Whitmer’s new formula for distributing new road dollars… and it is not going to include the 45-cent gas tax hike…” Based on a recent poll, it appears Gov. Whitmer’s statewide effort to garner support for a 45-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase to “fix the damn roads” is failing. Almost 75 percent of residents are opposed, according to a recent poll. Gov. Whitmer unveiled two tuition-free programs in her first State of the State address and budget proposal. One provides free community college for graduating seniors and those over 25 years old, earning good grades and completing the process in a timely manner. Another bases funding on grades and income and can be applied to a four-year degree. The three branches of state government are joining together in a state task force to focus on jail and pretrial incarceration, with the goal of improving the effectiveness of the front end of Michigan’s justice system, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Whitmer. Attorney General Dana Nessel has opined that the Line 5 (oil pipeline) tunnel law is unconstitutional, saying provisions go beyond the scope of what was disclosed in its title. The Michigan Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for July 17 to consider the House and Senate’s requests for an opinion on whether the Legislature can amend two citizen-initiated laws during the same session they were adopted in, after the Legislature did that to the minimum wage and paid sick time ballot proposals. For more on these and other legislative issues, click here for the April 2019 Karoub Report.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget calls for increasing the gas tax by 45 cents under a three-part phase-in starting Oct. 1 of this year and ending Oct.1, 2020 that would raise about $2.5 billion in new annual revenue for roads. This would be deposited into a new Fixing Michigan Roads Fund and allocated to the most highly traveled and commercially important roads at both the state and local levels. Gov. Whitmer is also asking for an additional $507 million to increase K-12 funding in her Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget including up to $180 more per pupil. Revenue sharing will increase 3 percent for counties, cities, villages and townships. Whitmer has called for eliminating the so-called “pension tax” and proposed paying for it by taxing “pass-through” businesses at the same 6 percent rate as the existing Corporate Income Tax. Budget recommendations also include funding for a new trooper recruit school with the anticipation of graduating 50 new troopers to keep the Michigan State Police enlisted strength at about 2,100. For more information on the Governor's Fiscal Year 2020 budget, please click here for the March 2019 Karoub Report and also visit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's website.