2015-2016 Legislative Accomplishments

Following are highlights of key issues from the 2015-2016 legislative session and the results that we achieved on your behalf. This is not an exhaustive list, rather it denotes several issues impacting large segments of our membership.

ENERGY

Reform Michigan's Energy Policy
SBs 437-438 

After months of negotiations, the Michigan Chamber successfully championed legislation to reform the state's energy policy. This legislation contains critical changes fought for and won by the Chamber,including: 1) Continuation of retail open access for all Chamber members who currently utilize electric choice service; 2) Improved reliability of Michigan's energy structure for future generations; and 3) Creation of a meaningful competitive bidding process for the procurement of utility generation. Public Act 341 of 2016


ELECTION REFORM  

Protect Integrity of Petition Signature Gathering Process
SB 776

The Michigan Chamber strongly advocated for an amendment to Michigan Election Law to ensure the ability of citizens to exercise their right to initiative and referendum without allowing for a process that extends signature gathering beyond a reasonable amount of time (180 days). - Public Act 142 of 2016


EMPLOYER RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE

Preempt Adoption of Local Labor Laws and Regulations
HB 4052

The Michigan Chamber successfully championed legislation to guarantee that only the state and federal government have the authority to enact employment law mandates on businesses. Absent this legislation, Michigan's 1,800+ local units of government could potentially enact a patchwork of aggressive new mandates governing employers' relations with their employees, including minimum wage, leave time, scheduling and/or employee benefit requirements. - Public Act 105 of 2015

Reform Michigan's Garnishment Process
HBs 4119-4120 

The Michigan Chamber successfully pursued legislation to address the most serious issues and financial risks associated with Michigan's wage garnishment process. The legislation put an end to the practice of allowing creditors to pursue default judgments against an employer for the full bad debt of employees. It also increased the fee employers receive to administrate garnishments from $6 every 182 days to a flat $35 fee. - Public Act and Public Act 15 of 2015

Protect Franchisee -Franchisor Business Model
SBs 492-493

The Michigan Chamber successfully championed legislation to protect the franchisee-franchisor business model in Michigan. The legislation was necessary to stop the trickle­ down effect of a controversial National Labor Relations Board ruling and ensures that franchisees will continue to be considered independent business owners and operators as it relates to state labor laws. - Public Act 266 of 2015


HEALTH CARE

Repeal Unique Tax on Health Insurance Claims
HB 5105

The Michigan Chamber successfully opposed legislation to impose a $1.98 billion tax increase on individuals and businesses who purchase health insurance by extending the sunset of the Health Insurance Claims Assessment, or HICA tax, by nearly eight years to 2025. Although legislation was passed to extend the HICA to mid-2020, the legislation allows the state to move towards an alternative solution that maintain s the necessary revenue and repeals the unique-to-Michigan HICA tax. - Public Act 50 of 2016 

Cap the Co-Pay on Certain RX Drugs
SB 625

The Michigan Chamber successfully blocked legislation that would have capped the copay for certain high-cost specialty drugs at $100 for a 30-day supply. This bill was a clear example of government price controls and would have resulted in higher health insurance premiums for employers. - BLOCKED


LEGAL REFORM

Decriminalize Minor Regulatory Mistakes
HB 4713

The Michigan Chamber successfully advocated for legislation to decriminalize unwitting violations of Michigan's regulatory laws. This means individuals cannot be criminally liable for violating the law if the person did not mean to break the laws or was aware the law was being broken. - Public Act 250 of 2015

 

Reform Michigan's Medical Malpractice System
SB 1104

The Michigan Chamber helped shephard through legislation to reign in health care costs by reform ing Michigan's medical malpractice system. The legislation specifies that economic damages in a medical malpractice action should be based on the actual medical bills paid by a plaintiff's health insurer rather than the amount charged. - Public Act 556 of 2016


TAX POLICY 

Eliminate "Pay-to-Play" to Use Ml Court of Claims
SB 100

The Michigan Chamber successfully championed legislation to eliminate Michigan's unfair requiremen t that taxpayers must pre-pay disputed state tax assessments when going to the Court of Claims. - Public Act 79 of 2015

 

Increase Michigan's Beer Tax
HB 5873

The Michigan Chamber successfully blocked legislation to increase Michigan's beer tax by nearly 250 percent. This ill­ advised effort to raise the beer tax would have had a chilling effect on Michigan's craft brewers, distributors and retailers and would have brought this growing industry to a grinding halt. - BLOCKED 

 

Mandate City Income Tax Withholding on Suburban Employers
HB 4829 and SB 1127

The Michigan Chamber led the fight to strongly oppose legislative efforts to shift city government responsibilities for tax collection onto suburban employers. Michigan employers who are not located in, and do not receive services from, cities with a local income tax should not have to withhold multiple and complicated taxes for city residents who may be currently evading the law. -BLOCKED

 

Reform of Michigan's Unclaimed Property Audits
SB 538

The Michigan Chamber worked with member companies and the Michigan Department of Treasury to codify reforms to Michigan's burdensome Unclaimed Property audits. The new law limits the amount of property that would be audited, as well as how far back in time auditors can review for property. - Public Act 242 of 2015

 

Stop Local Gov't Scheme to Increase Real Property Taxes
HB 5578

The Michigan Chamber successfully fought back a local government scheme to increase (over-assess) property tax on large retailers. Michigan taxpayers have a right to fair and accurate assessments and an unbiased appeals process. -BLOCKED

 

Stop Trial Lawyers' Efforts to Create New "False Claims" Act
HB 4494

The Chamber strongly advocated against the effort by trial lawyers to create a new "false claims" act that would allow anyone, including disgruntled employees who steal confidential information, to make a claim that companies have submitted inaccurate payments to the state - even in the case of highly disputed tax law. - BLOCKED

 

Stop Unlawful Taxation of Software Services
SBs 82-83;HBs 4018-4019

The Michigan Chamber continued its pursuit to stop the Michigan Department of Treasury from imposinga tax on services used over the internet by Michigan companies. The Court of Appeals brought the hammer down on Treasury in an October 2015published opinion, and the Chamber continued its legislative advocacy to shut the door for good on Treasury's aggressive approach. -BLOCKED

 

Stop 83% Corporate Income Tax Hike
Potential Ballot Proposal

The Michigan Chamber strongly advocated against a union-led petition initiative to place an 83°/o increase in the Corporate Income Tax on the November 2016 ballot. The unions threw in the towel and dropped their signature gathering effort. - BLOCKED


TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

Increase Funds to Fix Michigan's Roads
HB 4738

The Michigan Chamber strongly advocated for much­ needed funding to fix Michigan's roads. After lengthy debate, GOP lawmakers passed a comprehensive $1.2 billion plan. - Public Act 176 of 2015