An update on legislation affection AFL-CIO unions and their families
Straight Party Voting Cleared for November 8 Election
Straight party voting will continue to be an option for Michigan voters at the November 8 general election after a series of legal rulings rejecting appeals by Attorney General Bill Schuette to put the controversial law in effect for this year.
Passed by a partisan vote in the Republican controlled legislature last December and signed by Governor Snyder, the law was challenged last May in federal court. The court challenge alleged that eliminating the time saving voting option would lead to longer waits in line to vote, particularly in predominantly African American cities, where straight ticket voting is more prevalent.
Demographic studies presented to the court by supporters of straight ticket showed that Michigan citizens in 15 cities voted straight party at rates in excess of 65%, including Highland Park (82%), Inkster (78%), Detroit (75%) and Flint (75%).
On July 21, U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain issued an injunction against implementation of the law and ordered a trial on the merits of the issue.
In his opinion, Drain noted that even the supporters of the ban conceded that removing the straight ticket option didn’t prevent straight ticket voting, it prevented them from doing so with a single vote. “It seems the only purpose behind P.A. 268 is to require voters to spend more time filling more bubbles,” he said.
Schuette appealed to Judge Drain to reverse his ruling, which he declined to do. He next asked the Court of Appeals to reverse the ruling, but they voted unanimously against taking that course. He asked the entire district Court of Appeals to rule “en banc” against Drain, but they turned him down. Finally, Schuette asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the matter, but they voted 6-2 against taking action.
Schuette finally conceded defeat and acknowledged that Michigan would use straight party voting for the November 8 election.
Dark Store Bill in Senate Committee
In 2010, the Michigan Tax Tribunal ruled that the Target store in Novi should be valued as though it were out of business or a “dark store” based on a new property assessment criteria.
This bizarre interpretation of Michigan law allowed big box stores across the state to pay little or no taxes, shortchanging local governments and leading to cutbacks in funds for police, fire and educational services.
Local governments have lost at least $100 million in revenue since 2013 due to this loophole!
And yet these same retailers expect local governments to continue to provide the services vital to a safe, high-quality community. Michigan counties spent $1.5 billion on security-related tasks in 2015 alone. The big box retailers put demands on public services, and yet have decided not to pay their fair share of the local property taxes to fund the services, leaving homeowners and small businesses to pick up the tab.
Rep. Dave Maturen, R-Indian Lake, introduced HB 5578 to help correct this inequity and ensure a fair and reasonable system of valuing property based on its “highest and best use” in the marketplace. The bill was approved overwhelmingly by the Michigan House last spring on a 97-11 vote and is now in the Senate Finance Committee awaiting action.
A Michigan Court of Appeals ruling against a big box retailer in the Upper Peninsula validates the case against the “Dark Stores” property valuation method, and the need for an immediate legislative fix to the problem. In Menard, Inc. v. City of Escanaba, a three-judge panel said the Michigan Tax Tribunal made an error of law in accepting a dark store-style appeal by Menards and cutting the retailer’s value by more than half from the original assessment.
The decision is a significant victory for local governments and validates the reforms embodied in House Bill 5578.
Please contact your State Senator and urge them to pass HB 5578 in the few remaining days of legislative session this year. If the bill is not passed this year, it will expire and have to be re-introduced again next year.
You can get contact information for your Senator here.
You can watch a comprehensive documentary on this issue here.
Short House Likely in Lame Duck Session
The Michigan House of Representatives may be short-handed for the lame duck session of the legislature that takes place after the November 8thelection.
The 106th district seat will be vacant due to the tragic death of Representative Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, who was hit by a truck while riding his motorcycle.
Several other seats may also become vacant if current term-limited legislators are successful in their attempts to get elected to local offices. At least three are running for township Supervisor seats and, if elected, would take office on November 20, missing most of the lame duck session. Representative Charles Smiley, D-Grand Blanc, is running for the office of Grand Blanc Township Supervisor. Representative Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, is running for Plymouth Township Supervisor and Representative Thomas Hooker is running for Byron Township Supervisor.
Two currently vacant seats in the House will be filled in special elections on November 8. Lauren Plawecki is the favorite to fill the seat held by her late mother, Julie Plawecki, for the remainder of 2016. Jewell Jones is the favorite to represent the 11th district for the 2017-18 term.
Patrick Green will likely replace former Representative Derek Miller, who resigned to become Macomb County Treasurer. Green will fill the remainder of Miller’s 2016 term and the 2017-18 term as well.
In the Senate, Ian Conyers is the overwhelming favorite to win the election to fill the vacant Senate seat in the 4th district.
Attorney General’s self-imposed deadline for action by Court of Appeals passed yesterday
LANSING – Yesterday, August 30, marked Attorney General Bill Schuette’s self-imposed deadline for the Court of Appeals to take action on his motion to uphold the Republican law banning straight-ticket voting. Schuette’s deadline passed without any action from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Four different federal judges have already ruled against Schuette’s effort to eliminate straight-ticket voting.
“With just over two months to go until Election Day, we need our Attorney General and Secretary of State focused 100 percent on making it easier to vote, not harder,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Now that Schuette’s own self-imposed deadline for action by the Court of Appeals on straight-ticket voting has come and gone, it’s time for him and Ruth Johnson to abandon this partisan power grab, and get on with the business of preparing for the November election. The last thing we need are more barriers to voting.”
In his August 18 filing, Schuette demanded a response from the full U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by August 30, arguing that the partisan portion of the ballot impacted by the lawsuit would start being processed on that date, after certification by canvassers. According to Schuette’s self-imposed deadline, there is now insufficient time to implement the law.
Repealing straight-ticket voting will create longer lines at polling places across the state, making it harder for senior citizens and African Americans to vote.
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Unions endorse candidates for Supreme Court, State Boards, Congress, Legislature
LANSING – The Michigan AFL-CIO announced endorsements in races for the November 2016 general election. The endorsements were voted on by the Michigan AFL-CIO’s Executive Council, and include candidates for Congress, the Michigan Supreme Court, State Board of Education, University of Michigan Board of Regents, Michigan State University Board of Trustees, and Wayne State University Board of Governors.
“Michigan’s labor movement is united and ready to elect candidates up and down the ballot this November who will have the backs of working people,” said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “We need leaders in Lansing and Washington who have a strong track record of fighting for quality schools, good jobs, and strong wages for Michigan’s working families. That’s why the Michigan AFL-CIO and our affiliates are ready to knock on doors, make phone calls, and mobilize our members across the state to win these important races on November 8.”
Endorsed Candidate for President by the AFL-CIO: Hillary Clinton
Endorsed Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Lon Johnson (District 1), Dennis Murphy (District 2), Douglas Smith (District 3), Debra Wirth (District 4), Dan Kildee (District 5), Paul Clements (District 6), Gretchen Driskell (District 7), Suzanna Shkreli (District 8), Sandy Levin (District 9), Frank Accavitti, Jr. (District 10), Dr. Anil Kumar (District 11), Debbie Dingell (District 12), John Conyers (District 13), Brenda Lawrence (District 14)
Endorsed Candidate for Michigan Supreme Court: Deborah Thomas, Frank Szymanski
Endorsed Candidate for Michigan Court of Appeals, District 1: Cynthia Stephens
Endorsed Candidates for State Board of Education: John Austin, Ismael Ahmed
Endorsed Candidates for University of Michigan Board of Regents: Laurence Deitch, Denise Illitch
Endorsed Candidates for Michigan State University Board of Trustees: Dianne Byrum, Diann Woodard
Endorsed Candidate for Wayne State University Board of Governors: Mark Gaffney, Yvette Anderson
Endorsed Candidates for Michigan Senate: Ian Conyers (District 4)
Endorsed Candidates for Michigan House of Representatives: Brian Banks (District 1), Bettie Cook Scott (District 2), Wendell Byrd (District 3), Rose Mary Robinson (District 4), Fred Durhal III (District 5), Stephanie Chang (District 6), La Tanya Garrett (District 7), Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (District 8), Leslie Love (District 10), Jewel Jones (District 11), Erika Geiss (District 12), Frank Liberati (District 13), Cara Clemente (District 14), Abdullah Hammoud (District 15), Robert Kosowski (District 16), Bill Lavoy (District 17), Kevin Hertel (District 18), Colleen Pobur (District 20), Kristy Pagan (District 21), John Chirkun (District 22), Darrin Camilleri (District 23), Dana Camphous-Peterson (District 24), Henry Yanez (District 25), Jim Ellison (District 26), Robert Wittenberg (District 27), Patrick Green (District 28), Tim Greimel (District 29), Michael Notte (District 30), William J. Sowerby (District 31), Jeff Yaroch (District 33), Sheldon Neeley (District 34), Jeremy Moss (District 35), Christine Grieg (District 37), Michael Stack (District 39), Nicole Bedi (District 40), Cyndi Peltonen (District 41), Tim Johnson (District 42), Pam Faris (District 48), Phil Phelps (District 49), Tim Sneller (District 50), Donna Lasinski (District 52), Yousef Rahbi (District 53), Ronnie Peterson (District 54), Adam Zemke (District 55), Tom Redmond (District 56), Harvey Schmidt (District 57), Jon Hoadley (District 60), John Fisher (District 61), Jim Haadsma (District 62), Ronald Brooks (District 64), Bonnie Johnson (District 65), Annie Brown (District 66), Tom Cochran (District 67), Andy Schor (District 68), Sam Singh (District 69), Theresa Abed (District 71), David LaGrand (District 75), Winnie Brinks (District 76), Marletta Seats (District 79), James Wencel (District 84), Anthony Karhoff (District 85), Lynn Mason (District 86), Tim Meyer (District 89), Colleen Lamonte (District 91), Terry Sabo (District 92), Vanessa Guerra (District 95), Brian Elder (District 96), Geoff Malicoat (District 98), Bryan Mielke (District 99), Dan Scripps (District 101), Robert Kennedy (District 106), Scott Celello (District 108), John Kivela (District 109), Scott Dianda (District 110)
PRINT a copy of our 2016 General Election Endorsements
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Michigan’s working men and women need a president in the White House who will build on the progress under President Obama, and fight every single day to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy.
That’s why the AFL-CIO is supporting Hillary Clinton for president.
Unlike Donald Trump, Hillary has laid out real, concrete plans to grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out – not the top down.
Here are the top five things Hillary Clinton will do as president to help Michigan’s working families get ahead:
1. Make the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II: That means cutting through the dysfunction in Washington to create thousands of good-paying jobs by making bold investments in infrastructure, technology, clean energy, and education.
2. Make college debt-free for all Americans: Hillary understands that education is the best investment we can make in our economy. To fight the skyrocketing cost of tuition, Hillary will make sure every student can attend a public college without borrowing money. And Hillary will change the rules to allow graduates to refinance their current loans at a lower rate.
3. Make the wealthy and Wall Street banks pay their fair share in taxes: Wall Street billionaires and wealthy special interests have manipulated the rules in their favor at the expense of working people. As president, Hillary will adopt the “Buffett Rule” to ensure millionaires and billionaires don’t pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. Making the rich pay their fair share in taxes will allow us to pay for bold investments in jobs without running up the debt.
4. Change the rules to stop rewarding corporations that ship American jobs overseas: Hillary will impose a tough new “exit tax” on big corporations that turn their backs on America and send jobs overseas. She’ll rewrite the rules so more companies share their profits with employees. And Hillary will crack down on unfair trade abuses, and oppose bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will make it easier for CEOs to ship more American jobs overseas.
5. Cut taxes for working families: Hillary understands that working people should be able to earn enough to sustain their families. To ease the burden on working men and women, she’ll cut taxes to make health care, child care, and prescription drugs more affordable.