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.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

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

Senator Debbie Stabenow joined MAP, MAPE and MAFF labor representatives and members Dec. 8, 2017 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 MAP, MAPE and MAFF members know she opposes the attack on public safety and public employee 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.”

MAP, MAPE and MAFF 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. MAP, MAPE and MAFF, through affiliation with Michigan Association of Police Organizations (MAPO) and Labor/Management Coalition of Michigan, joined forces to express their support for Governor Rick Snyder’s task force on Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Governments report. The task force report, released July 2017, was signed by several stakeholders including local government groups and police and fire unions.

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.