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Breaking news, legislative updates and the facts.

December 2014: Legislative Report

Bill Introductions and Status

Transportation Funding 

Michigan citizens have already waited too long for this legislature to take the lead and fix our roads. Last week the Senate stepped up and took a bipartisan lead acknowledging the problem cannot be fixed without generating new revenue, which Governor Snyder concurs. The Senate plan generates $1.2 Billion to fix our roads, improve our mass transit and create thousands of jobs. The Senate’s transportation package begins our road to recovery now, and does not wait until six years down the road, which the House bill will require. 

The House package unfortunately will simply transfer $900 Million out of education and $120 Million from cities, villages and townships, creating new and bigger problems for the people of Michigan and the next legislature. 

Our education budgets have already been slashed and many school districts are on the verge of collapse; our local communities have taken a serious hit too. The House transportation package would make matters worse for them and still not generate enough funds to fix our roads. And, by the time enough funding is generated to do anything, our roads and schools will have deteriorated that much more.

So, this is a time for leadership; a time to do what is needed and what is right for the people of Michigan. We are urging our lawmakers to do what is right and do it now. The people of Michigan have already waited too long.

HB 6074 (Pscholka) excludes university athletes from definition of public employee, thus prohibits them from organizing. 

The intent of HB 6074 is to prohibit university athletes from organizing. The bill will republish the provision of law enacted last year and then struck down in court on procedural grounds, which would have prevented union organization of graduate research assistants.  It will also prohibit public university football players from organizing. 

This bill passed the House on Tuesday, December 9th. The Senate suspended its rules, placed it on immediate passage and was voted on and passed, on December 16th

HB 5977 (Poleski) prohibits local governments from passing ordinances that require employers to provide specific benefits, wages or leave time.

This bill prohibits local governments from passing any ordinances requiring certain wages, includes local prevailing wage, living wage, paid time off benefits or community benefits. It also includes enforcing current agreements.

The intent of this bill is to decrease local control of our schools and community government.  It will make it more difficult to ensure that local jobs go to local workers on local community projects. 

  • A local government could not require that a percentage of work be done by local business contractors or local workers, or that materials be purchased by local vendors.
  • A contractor could get tax breaks or other public funding, yet the local government body could not require that a contractor meet wages or hiring requirements that could impact their community.

This bill did not get to a vote in the House and therefore is no longer eligible for passage in this legislative session. 

HB 4804

This bill permits local officials to create prohibited subject of collective bargaining (currently already permissive) on defined benefit pensions. While the Committee heard testimony, the bill was not reported and therefore is dead.

Early Warning Financial Manager Package

SB 951-954 and 957, 958

These are a senate package of bills that set up an “early warning system” that places school districts into an Emergency Manager situation earlier. The legislation contains “triggers” that could set off a state takeover of the local school district. If early warning conditions are met, the state will cut school funding and require extensive reporting for oversight.  An analysis of the impact shows that just 2 of the triggers would capture over 220 school districts.

The package passed the Senate and was considered by the House Committee on Competitiveness and voted out of the Committee, and remains on the House Floor.

RFRA HB 5958

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (House Speaker Bolger’s)

The bill would create the “Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act” to prohibit government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden resulted from a rule of general applicability. 

The House Judiciary Committee advanced the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which could allow people to put their religious beliefs ahead of the public good. If it becomes law, it will potentially permit people to claim that their “religion” gives them the right to ignore criminal and civil laws – non-discrimination laws, child abuse laws, and domestic violence laws. 

After only two hours of discussion, the Judiciary Committee voted along party lines 7-4 to send HB 5958 to the House floor and on December 11th, the bill passed 59-50.

SB-1138

The Car Title Loan Bill (Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville) 

SB 1138, intends to include car titles into the state law that governs pawnbrokers.

The car title loans being proposed would allow this new service to charge a 20 percent, per month “usage fee”. While the bill was discharged to the floor, logistically, it needed to move by Thursday, December 11th in order to survive the 2013-14 session.

These predatory loans are enticing because they allegedly can be turned around fairly quickly and they provide consumers with another way to get high-dollar, short-term loans fast. The loan targets are our most vulnerable people. The simple math works like this: A car owner gets a $1,000 car title loan, the title loan company charges 23 percent interest a month. After 90 days, the car owner now owes an additional $690 in addition to the original $1,000.

The bill was referred to the Regulatory Reform Committee, the committee approved the bill and it is now on the Senate floor. Based on the “5-day rule” this bill is dead.

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