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Michigan AFL-CIO Statement on the First Presidential Debate

LANSING – Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO, issued the following statement tonight on the first presidential debate at Hofstra University:

“Tonight Hillary Clinton proved that she has the right experience and steadiness to bring people together and lead our nation’s economy starting on day one. During tonight’s debate, Hillary put forward a clear plan to build an economy that works for everyone, and not just those at the top, with good-paying jobs for Michigan’s working families.

“By pushing an agenda that helps billionaires like himself get ahead at the expense of working families, Donald Trump showed that he is only in this race for himself. Tonight Trump reminded us once again that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be our next president.

“The choice Michigan voters face couldn’t be clearer. We can either choose a leader who will bring people together to tackle the big challenges facing our country, or we can let Donald Trump keep tearing us apart with his dangerous ideas.”

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Michigan AFL-CIO Blasts Schuette for Opposing Stronger Overtime Protections

AG suing to halt new overtime rule, which raises wages for 100k Michigan workers

LANSING – Yesterday Attorney General Bill Schuette signed onto a lawsuit with 21 states to stop the Obama administration’s new overtime rule, which will extend mandatory overtime pay to 100,000 Michigan workers. The Michigan AFL-CIO issued the following statement today blasting Schuette’s frivolous lawsuit:

“This lawsuit is a slap in the face to working people in Michigan,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “By suing to stop the Obama administration’s new overtime rule, Bill Schuette is putting himself squarely on the side of corporate CEOs who want to continue denying overtime pay to Michigan’s working men and women. That’s just wrong.

“This new rule is long overdue. Overtime protections have been gutted over the past four decades without a significant adjustment for inflation. The new rule will help protect wages from being eroded by rising costs, and ensure that working people get paid for the work they do.

“Bill Schuette needs to stop carrying the water of big corporations, and start protecting the paychecks of Michigan workers.”

The new overtime rule raises the salary threshold under which most white collar salaried workers are eligible to receive overtime pay from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to an estimated $970 a week ($50,440 a year) in 2016.

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Michigan AFL-CIO Blasts Lansing Lobbyist Steve Marino’s Pro-Outsourcing Remarks

LANSING – The Michigan AFL-CIO issued the following statement today from President Ron Bieber, commenting on newly-released remarks made by Steve Marino, a Lansing lobbyist and Republican candidate for the Michigan House:

“Steve Marino doesn’t belong anywhere near the Michigan Legislature,” said Bieber. “It was bad enough when he bragged about using his influence as a corporate lobbyist to buy personal favors from Republican lawmakers. But his latest comments defending the outsourcing of Michigan jobs to China and India tell us everything we need to know about him. Not only is Steve Marino someone who likes to play fast and loose with the law as a lobbyist, but he clearly doesn’t give a rip about Michigan’s working men and women. The people of Macomb County deserve a State Representative who will fight to create good jobs here in Michigan, not a greedy lobbyist like Steve Marino, who only cares about himself.”

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Dateline: Lansing Legislative Report

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.

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