Michigan Chamber Enjoys Many Successes During 2013-2014 Legislative Session

In keeping with our unwavering commitment to promote conditions favorable to job creation and business growth, we are pleased to report that the Michigan Chamber enjoyed many successes during the most recent legislative session. Key victories this year had one central theme: reducing the burdens and costs that government imposes on your business.

During the 2013-2014 legislative session, we worked diligently for passage of meaningful legislation that will benefit your bottom line. However, it is important to note some of our most significant work was to aggressively defeat harmful, job-killing initiatives. 

Michigan Chamber staff members are proud to work for you and we take great pride in our advocacy efforts on your behalf.  The leadership from Chamber members to set clear priorities ensures that our mission is clear and that we always remain focused on fighting for you.  

Below you will see highlights of important issues 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.

EMPLOYER RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE

Workers’ Comp and Self-Insured Employers - The Chamber successfully tackled a crisis facing Michigan’s workers’ comp system and self-insured employers, largely because of key errors made by the State in 2009 in the Delphi bankruptcy proceedings. Three hundred workers’ comp claimants were left without benefits, which presented a $30 to $46 million liability to the employer-funded account that makes payments to injured workers from bankrupt companies. Without a solution, this issue could have threatened the sustainability of Michigan's self-insurance system. Read more

Health Insurance Claims Tax Reduction - Agreeing with the Michigan Chamber that taxes on health insurance claims causes premiums to rise and reduces the ability of employers and individuals to purchase coverage, Gov. Snyder signed legislation to reduce the rate charged to purchasers of health insurance under the Health Insurance Claims Assessment (HICA) Act. Read more.

Incentives for Hiring of Non-Traditional Employees - The Michigan Chamber supported several bills incentivizing the hiring of non-traditional employees, individuals who may otherwise experience a barrier to entry into the workforce. Specifically, legislation was signed into law to allow employers to offer a hiring, promotion and/or retention preference to military veterans when all other factors are equal. Legislation also was signed into law to limit legal exposure for employers hiring parolees who have exhibited excellent behavior and pursued educational and vocational opportunities while in prison, thereby gaining a Certificate of Employability from the State. Read more

Repeal Right-to-Work Law - The Michigan Chamber blocked legislation that would have repealed Michigan’s Right-to-Work law, which provides employees freedom to choose whether to join a union and pay dues. Michigan took bold and decisive action in 2012 to make Michigan the 24th right-to-work state, which has proven to be an important tool in attracting jobs and improving our state’s economic competitiveness. Read more

Mandatory Paid Leave Time - The Michigan Chamber opposed efforts to mandate that all employers provide paid sick leave to all employees, including part-time employees, because a paid leave mandate would add significant costs, as well as human resources complications, for many Michigan employers. Read more

REGULATORY REFORM

Contaminated Site Cleanup Reform – The Michigan Chamber successfully fought for passage of legislation to revise Michigan’s contaminated site cleanup program. These changes will provide the DEQ more flexibility to work with job providers and allow for the cleanup and closure of many additional contaminated sites across the state. This legislation will also provide more opportunities for much-needed reinvestment into these blighted properties. Read more.

Cost of Service – Electric Rates – The Michigan Chamber aggressively advocated for passage of legislation to grant the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) authority to implement electric rates based on true cost of service. This law will force the MPSC to examine the intensity of a consumer’s energy usage and make sure they are paying their true cost of service and not subsidizing other electric customers. Read more.

Wetlands Regulatory Reform – The Michigan Chamber championed passage of legislation to provide needed regulatory improvements to Michigan’s wetlands program while also bringing our state into compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.  Without this legislation, Michigan would have lost its authority to run our wetlands program and the EPA would have taken over. Read more.

State Energy Policy Interference – The Michigan Chamber strongly opposed legislation that would have opened the door to patchwork regulations for the oil and gas industry by permitting local governments to regulate them. This legislation also threatened to undermine individual property rights by denying access to natural resources. This legislation was soundly defeated on the Senate floor. Read more.

Special Energy Rates Subsidization – The Michigan Chamber aggressively opposed legislation that would have allowed one company access to a special, subsidized electric rate contract indefinitely at the expense of all ratepayers. Due to the Michigan Chamber’s efforts, this bill never came up for a vote. Read more

TAX POLICY 

Personal Property Tax Elimination - On August 5, 2014 voters approved Proposal 1 to begin phase-out of Michigan’s dreaded business personal property tax. The Michigan Chamber played an instrumental role in development and passage of this plan that initially targets small job providers and Michigan’s manufacturing employers. Read more.

Audit Deadlines for the Dept. of Treasury - The Michigan Chamber has had an aggressive agenda to improve the day-to-day administration of taxes in Michigan. We led the fight to implement concrete deadlines for audits and refund decisions. PA 3 of 2014 was signed in to law effective 2/6/14. Read more.

Officer Tax Liability Reform - The Michigan Chamber led efforts to reform Michigan’s “Corporate Officer Liability” to bring the statute into the mainstream among states and the IRS by holding corporate officers personally liable only for unpaid “trust taxes” (sales, use, tobacco, payroll taxes) rather than the outrageously aggressive approach taken by the MI Dept. of Treasury that held even non-officers liable for corporate taxes. Read more.

Offer and Compromise Tax Program – The Michigan Chamber championed this legislation to establish a formal program that allows taxpayers who want to pay their taxes – but simply cannot afford to do so – to come forward with a payment offer and become compliant. Read more.

“Zapper” Bill - The Michigan Chamber was instrumental in blocking SB 1100, a harmful initiative to allow the State of Michigan to require installation of government monitoring computer devices on cash registers. The Chamber advocated strongly against this “big government” intrusion and the bill never got scheduled for a House committee hearing. View bill here.  

House Joint Resolution MM – The Michigan Chamber was outspoken against this constitutional amendment to remove constitutional protections against a graduated income tax. The bill never received a committee hearing. View bill here.

Sales Tax on Services Expansion – The Michigan Chamber vigorously opposed this job-killing tax increase, which never received a vote. View bill here