Key Bills at a Glance

Key bills are listed/grouped by category. Each category represents a Michigan Chamber legislative priority issue for 2017-2018. Click on the thumb icon next to each key bill to reveal additional information.

EDUCATION & WORKFORCE READINESS

Address Michigan's Talent Gap

HBs 5139-42 and 45

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 5139, HB 5140, HB 5141, HB 5142, HB 5145

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Daire Rendon, Rep. Sue Allor, Rep. Bronna Kahle, Rep. Robert Kosowski, Rep. Julie Alexander

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Michigan employers are facing a severe talent gap. There are currently over 100,000 open positions on the Pure Michigan Talent Connect website and it is estimated that the professional trades fields will add 15,000 new jobs each year through 2024. Michigan needs to work smarter to address the state’s long- and short-term talent needs. 

This legislative package of bills would:

  • Provide for greater student and parent skilled trade program awareness, with the goal of driving more students towards these programs and careers where Michigan has worker shortages. This will allow proprietary schools, skilled trade employers and community colleges to have access to pupil directory information for the purposes of marketing educational and career opportunities. This will put these institutions on par with the military and universities in their ability to recruit students.
  • Provide for greater student career exploration, exposing students in 7th and 8th grade to robust career exploration and job readiness courses.
  • Provide real world experience for educators, guaranteeing that the time educators spend with local employers will count for credit toward required continuing education and professional development. 
  • Boost CTE instructor recruitment by allowing schools to hire non-certificated/-endorsed instructors for CTE programs in instances where the person has achieved private sector expertise in the subject matter or field of the program.

Chamber Position:

Support. This legislation focuses on solving real-world problems and providing opportunities for businesses and schools to collaborate to create a robust and diverse talent pipeline ready to fill the jobs coming back to our state.

Status:

House Bills 5139, 5141-42 and 5145 were signed into law as Public Acts 229, 235, 366 and 234 of 2018. House Bill 5140 is in the Senate Economic Development and International Investment Committee. 

Limit Access to Educational Choice

HJR B

Job Killer

Bill(s):
HJR B

Sponsor(s):
Reps. Pagan, Gay-Dagnogo, Koleszar, Camilleri, Manoogian, Hoadley, Shannon, Garza, Brenda Carter, Kennedy, Cynthia Johnson, Chirkun, Cherry, Sowerby, Bolden, Pohutsky, Hood, Stone, Ellison, Anthony, Garrett, Yancey, Brixie, Sneller, Haadsma, Robinson, Wit

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

If adopted, HJR B would place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to prohibit a charter school board from contracting with a for-profit education management company to provide staff and comprehensive educational, administrative, management or instructional services. In the real world, this means more limited access to educational choice for students and families, including in areas where our public schools are failing our kids.

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. This constitutional amendment is being driven by teacher unions and others who feel threatened by their increasingly successful education rivals. The sad reality is that, by and large, the education sector is failing in its responsibility to give young people the skills they need to do the jobs that are available today and will be available in the future. Yet charter schools are emerging in many areas a bright spot in public education. This is because many charter schools, while public, are freed from some of the bureaucratic restraints other public schools face. They have independent boards and take pride in getting parents involved in school. Charter schools are also innovative, sometimes completely rethinking the way students and teachers teach and learn. Many charter schools offer STEM-based or other specialized curricula, as well as specialty programs such as language immersion, project-based learning, and environmental and agricultural studies. Some schools benchmark all of their students against international education standards to ensure that they can compete in the global workforce. We believe this focus on student success and achievement is something to run towards, not away from.

Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Committee on Education. 

Post-Labor Day Opening for Schools

SB 271
HB 5157

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
SB 271, HB 5157

Sponsor(s):
Senators Knollenberg, Pavlov and Hopgood, Representative Pamela Hornberger

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Repeals Michigan’s post-Labor Day school start law, which ensures there is an adequate workforce available to staff the travel and tourism industry throughout its peak summer season. This legislation is focused on starting the school year in late summer and ending earlier in the spring, meaning it has nothing to do with either improving education quality or lengthening the school day or school year to increase student achievement.

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. The Michigan Chamber has long supported the post-Labor Day school start law as a way to boost Michigan’s travel and tourism industry. Research shows Michigan’s post-Labor Day school start law has produced its desired intent. Without student workers through Labor Day, many hotels, golf courses, campgrounds, restaurants, marinas, etc. will be unable to keep their doors open or be forced to operate during limited hours or shutter their business early for the season. 

Status:

SB 271 - Passed by the Senate Education Committee but has not moved in the full Senate
HB 5157 - Referred to House Education Reform Committee.

Workforce Readiness

HBs 4315-16

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HBs 4315-16

Sponsor(s):
Reps. Griffin, VanderWall, Hauck, Howell, Frederick, Reilly, Alexander, Cole, Wentworth, Marino, Bellino, Noble, Lower, Glenn, Lucido, Hornberger, LaFave, Hoitenga, LaSata, Bizon, Iden, Graves, Barrett, Sneller, Sheppard, Rendon, Brann, Kahle, Leutheuser

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Allows for greater flexibility in the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements with the goal of narrowing the skills gap and fostering workforce readiness.

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. High school students need greater flexibility to pursue their individual areas of interest and develop skills needed for their future educational goals or to be ready to enter the workforce. This legislation would create additional opportunities for students to pursue coursework in subjects such as computer coding or career and technical education (CTE) programs.

Status:

Passed by the House; awaiting consideration by the Senate Committee on Education. 

ELECTION REFORM

Clarify Donor Rules

Senate Bill 335

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
SB 335

Sponsor(s):
Senator Robertson

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

This important legislation properly updates the Michigan Campaign Finance Act and grants notice to donors regarding how to utilize their First Amendment free speech rights. 

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. If you donate to candidate campaigns, this legislation stops the threat of “gotcha” penalties and fines dating back to 2010 for organizations who did not have the benefit of proper notice regarding the requirement to register. It also provides a regulatory framework for SuperPACs in Michigan so everyone understands what is required and how the Secretary of State (SOS) will implement the law.

Status:

Signed into law as Public Act 119 of 2017.

EMPLOYER RIGHTS

Increase 100% Employer-Financed Unemployment Insurance Benefits

SBs 531, 532, 534, 538

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
SB 531, SB 532, SB 534, SB 538

Sponsor(s):
Senators Hood, Warren, Hertel and Ananich

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Would massively increase the 100 percent employer-financed unemployment insurance (UI) weekly benefit amount and dependent allowance, weaken the state’s ability to garnish wages to recover fraudulent benefit payments and increase penalties on employers for tax compliance issues. These changes could more than double an employer’s maximum exposure for a former employee, increasing the potential benefit charges from $7,840 to $14,060 per claimant. There is no doubt this legislation would lead to sharp UI tax increase on employers. 

Chamber Position:

Oppose. The Michigan Chamber is strongly opposed to these fiscally irresponsible benefit increases for claimants as these increases will drain the UI Trust Fund and ultimately lead to significant UI tax hikes on employers. Michigan needs to continue to focus on policies that will fill the skills gap, put people back to work and rebuild the UI system for the next downturn in our state’s economy, not increasing benefits that will bankrupt it. 

Status:

Introduced in the Senate. 

Increase Minimum Wage

SB 185, Ballot Proposal

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
SB 185

Sponsor(s):
Senators Young and Knezek

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

The legislation would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. The ballot proposal would increase the minimum wage from $9.25 to $10 beginning January 1, 2019, and to $12 per hour by January 1, 2022. It also increases the wage for tipped employees from $3.52 to 100 percent of the minimum wage by 2024.

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. The Michigan Chamber opposes any further increase in the state’s minimum wage, especially given that the state’s minimum wage was increased to $9.25/hour in 2018 and is set to increase by the rate of inflation in 2019. If Michigan were to further increase its minimum wage, it would result in our state having one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country, thereby making Michigan uncompetitive in the race for jobs. Michigan's minimum wage already outpaces Indiana ($7.25), Illinois ($8.25), Ohio ($8.10) and Wisconsin ($7.25).

Status:

Senate Bill 185: Introduced in the Senate.

Ballot Proposal: Proponents of a $12 minimum wage submitted sufficient signatures to get the issue on the November 2018 ballot. Under the Michigan Constitution, the Legislature has a 40-day window to adopt the proposal as written (no changes), reject the proposal and send the question to the voters, or do nothing and send the proposal to the voters. The Legislature can also put a competing question on the ballot. The ballot proposal was adopted by the Legislature in September of 2018. With that step, legislators removed the proposal ballot. This means legislators retain the ability to amend either law with a simple majority vote instead of the three-fourths vote required to amend a ballot initiative if it were passed by voters in November. The Michigan Legislature can amend either or both laws before their March 2019 effective dates – either during the lame duck legislative session after the November general election or in the new 2019 session. The proposal is now Public Act 337 of 2018. 

Insert Government in Private Sector Wage Decisions

HBs 4509-4519
SBs 317-328

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
HB 4509, HB 4510, HB 4511, HB 4512, HB 4513, HB 4514, HB 4515, HB 4516, HB 4517, HB 4518, HB 4519, SB 317, SB 318, SB 319, SB 320, SB 321, SB 322, SB 323, SB 324, SB 325, SB 326, SB 327, SB 328

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Love, Rep. Chang, Rep. Erika Geiss, Rep. Winnie Brinks, Rep. Pam Faris, Rep. Kristy Pagan, Rep. Christine Greig, Rep. Christine Greig, Rep. Vanessa Guerra, Rep. Donna Lasinski, Rep. Kevin Hertel, Sen. Curtis Hertel, Sen. Rebekah Warren, Sen. Rebekah Warren, Sen. David Knezek, Sen. Hooh-Yung Hopgood, Sen. Steven Bieda, Sen. Vincent Gregory, Sen. Curtis Hertel, Sen. Jim Ananich, Sen. Rebekah Warren, Sen. Coleman Young, Sen. Bertram Johnson

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Inserts government in private sector wage decisions by mandating "pay equity."

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Existing laws already provide robust protections and significant remedies to protect employees against wage discrimination. This legislation would limit the ability of employers to pay market wages based on objective factors, such as performance and number of years on the job. 

Status:

Introduced in the House and Senate. 

Prohibit Gov't Interference in the Interview Process

SB 353

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
SB 353

Sponsor(s):
Senators Proos, Marleau and Brandenburg

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Prohibits local units of government from banning, via ordinance or regulation, the types of questions employers can ask prospective employees in the interview process.

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Local units of government around the country are increasingly restricting the types of questions private sector employers can ask in the interview questions (e.g., salary history). This legislation would guarantee that these issues are regulated at the state and federal level, creating a consistent set of rules for employers.

Status:

Signed by Governor into law as Public Act 84 of 2018 with immediate effect.

Reform Unemployment Insurance System

HBs 5165-72

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):

Sponsor(s):

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Would work to block UI identity theft and the payment of fraudulent benefits, protect employers and innocent employees who are victims of identity theft and make other miscellaneous changes to the law. 

Chamber Position:

Support. For years, the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has been plagued with problems. From wrongly accusing over 40,000 individuals of UI fraud to the growing problem of identity theft claims to a compromise of its database, it's time for the UIA to clean up its act.

Status:

HBs 5165-72 signed into law as Public Acts 225-232 of 2017.

Repeal Prevailing Wage

Senate Bills 1, 2 and 3
Ballot Proposal

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
Senate Bill 1, Senate Bill 2, Senate Bill 3

Sponsor(s):
Senators Robertson, MacGregor, Hildenbrand and Meekhof

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Repeals state's prevailing wage on state construction projects.

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. The state's prevailing wage artificially inflates the cost of taxpayer-funded construction projects by 10 percent or more, without any additional gain or return on investment.

Status:

SBs 1-3: Introduced in the Senate. 

Ballot Proposal: Proponents of repealing Michigan’s prevailing wage law submitted sufficient signatures to get the issue on the November 2018 ballot. Under the Michigan Constitution, the Legislature has a 40-day window to adopt the proposal as written (no changes), reject the proposal and send the question to the voters, or do nothing and send the proposal to the voters. The Legislature can also put a competing question on the ballot. The ballot proposal was adopted by the Legislature in June of 2018 and repeal became law without the Governor’s signature (Public Act 171 of 2018).

Repeal Right to Work Law

HBs 4146-4147

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
HB 4146, HB 4147

Sponsor(s):
HB 4146: Reps. Chirkun, Dianda, Peterson, Robinson, Scott, Durhal, Zemke, Liberati, Hammoud, Greig, Yanez, Sabo, Hertel, Wittenberg, Ellison, Rabhi, Brinks, Pagan, Moss, Lasinski, Greimel, Elder, Schor, Guerra, Sowerby, LaGrand, Faris, Camilleri, Kivela, , HB 4147:Reps. Cochran, Robinson, Dianda, Neeley, Camilleri, Pagan, Lasinski, Greig, Geiss, Kivela, Elder, Hertel, Schor, Hammoud, Liberati, Sneller, Greimel, LaGrand, Byrd, Scott, Durhal, Zemke, Moss, Sowerby, Rabhi, Green and Love

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Repeals Michigan’s 2013 Right to Work law which ensures workplace fairness and equality by giving every employee the ability to decide for themselves if joining or financially supporting a union is the right choice for them. 

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Michigan's Right-to-Work law is good public policy that protects all employees from being forced to join a union and pay dues against their will. It does not prohibit a union's right to exist or prevent collective bargaining.

Status:

Introduced in the House.

Repeal Right-to-Work Law

House Bills 4033 and 4034

Job Killer

Bill(s):
HB 4033, HB 4034

Sponsor(s):
HB 4033: Reps. John Chirkun, Brian Elder, Terry Sabo, William Sowerby, Sara Cambensy, Lori Stone, Kevin Hertel, Nate Shannon, Ronnie Peterson, Kristy Pagan, Matt Koleszar, John Cherry, Laurie Pohutsky, Yousef Rabhi, Cynthia Johnson, Donna Lasinski, HB 4034: Reps. Brian Elder, John Chirkun, Terry Sabo, William Sowerby, Sara Cambensy, Lori Stone, Kevin Hertel, Nate Shannon, Ronnie Peterson, Sarah Anthony, Kara Hope, Joseph Tate, Karen Whitsett, Issac Robinson, Sheldon Neeley, Kristy Pagan, Matt Kolesz

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Repeals Michigan’s 2012 Right-to-Work law which ensures workplace fairness and equality by giving every employee the ability to decide for themselves if joining or financially supporting a union is the right choice for them. 

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Michigan's Right-to-Work law is good public policy that protects all employees from being forced to join a union and pay dues against their will. It does not prohibit a union's right to exist or prevent collective bargaining.

Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

Restrict the Use of Non-Compete Agreements

HB 4755

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
HB 4755

Sponsor(s):
Representative Peter Lucido

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Restricts the use of non-compete agreements between employers and employees. Non-competes are used to protect employers' intellectual property, customer relationships and client lists, to qualify for trade secret protection, among other things. 

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. The Michigan Chamber opposes legislative interference in private contracts between employers and employees. There is over 30 years of case law developed in this issue area and the courts have been successful in balancing employer and employee interests. 

Status:

Introduced in the House. 

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

Create a Stakeholder Process for Environmental Rulemaking

SB 652

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
SB 652

Sponsor(s):
Senators Casperson and Robinson

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Establishes a rule review committee to prevent the DEQ from simply writing whatever rules its wants. It will provide critical oversight and transparency to the DEQ rulemaking process and force the agency to answer questions.

Chamber Position:

Support. The Michigan Chamber has been working with members the last six years to develop a long-term fix to the poor rulemaking process at the DEQ. This review committee will greatly improve the rulemaking process by inserting stakeholders into the discussion early and give them a stronger voice to ensure the outcome is in everyone's best interest.

Status:

Introduced in the Senate. Referred to Committee of the whole with a substitute bill (S-1).

Create an Environmental Permit Appeals Board

SB 653

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
SB 653

Sponsor(s):
Senators Booher, Robertson and Casperson

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Creates an appeals board that would, upon request, serve as a scientifc permit review panel similar to the body in environmental remediation, to hear an appeal by a permit applicant that has been denied by the DEQ. Final decision-making would reside with the DEQ Director.

Chamber Position:

Support. This legislation would provide Chamber members the opportunity for a fair review of the facts related to a denied permit without incurring the costs of going to court. 

Status:

Introduced in the Senate. Referred to Committee of the whole with a substitute bill (S-1).

Ensure Implementation of Michigan's New Energy Law (2016) 

Public Act 341

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
PA 341

Sponsor(s):
Senator Nofs

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

This new law contains critical changes, including: 1) continuation of retail open access; 2) improved electric reliability requirements; and 3) creation of a meaningful competitive bidding process for the procurement of utility generation. 

Chamber Position:

Support. After months of negotiations, the Michigan Chamber successfully championed legislation to reform the state’s energy policy last session. Chamber staff is now working to ensure the law is implemented as intended. 

Status:

Implementation process underway.

Prohibit Rules More Stringent Than Federal

HB 4205

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 4205

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Cole

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Prohibits a state agency from promulgating a rule more stringent then the applicable federal standard unless the department director can demonstrate a clear and convincing case that it is needed.

Chamber Position:

Support. 

Status:

On the Senate floor awaiting final passage. 

Utilization of Refined Petroleum Fund

HB 4583

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 4583

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Whiteford

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Allows for the utilization of the Refined Petroleum fund in certain circumstances to cover corrective action costs incurred by underground storage tank owners. 

Chamber Position:

Support. 

Status:

Signed into law as Public Act 134 of 2017. 

HEALTH CARE

Mandate Health Insurance Coverage Requirements

SB 492
HB 5367

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
SB 492, HB 5367

Sponsor(s):
Senator Geoffrey Hansen, Representative Daire Rendon

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Limits the out-of-pocket costs for certain pharmaceutical drugs, which pushes the costs back into the premium. 

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Government should not arbitrarily cap a patient's copay for certain drugs. Taking these decisions out of the insurer and health purchasers' hands does nothing to change the underlying price of the drugs. Rather, it shifts the remaining costs to the employer/purchaser via premium. 

Status:

SB 492 passed by the Senate, referred to House Committee on Insurance. HB 5367 referred to House Committee on Insurance. 

Reign in Overcharging Practices for Air Ambulance Services

House Bills 5217, 5218, 5219

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 5217, HB 5218, HB 5219

Sponsor(s):
Reps. Bellino, Barrett, LaFave

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

These bills better protect consumers from unscrupulous balance billing practices of air ambulance providers by:

  • Requiring hospitals to prioritize ground transport over air;
  • Requiring hospitals to prioritize in-network air ambulance providers in non-emergency transport situations;
  • Requiring Air Ambulance companies and hospitals to disclose network status and the estimated cost of AA transport in non-emergency situations;
  • Prohibiting AA providers from balance billing in emergency situations; and
  • Requiring hospitals to allow a patient’s in-network AA to land at their facility to give patients a transportation choice. 

Employers are often on the front end of having to help their employees understand their insurance bills and why, in this case, they may have received a bill for $10, $20 or $50,000. The employer is often the one explaining why, even though they were never told the network status of the air ambulance provider or given an estimated cost for the transport, they must pay up. Employers, like employees, have seen the financial ruin these billing practices can create. And they, too, are left wondering why there is a lack of oversight and protection under state law. 

Ideally the free market would settle these problems. But if healthcare and health insurance were a free market, prices for health care goods and services would be set freely between patients and health care providers. That is not the reality of our system today. 

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. The price of these services are not being negotiated by the patient and thus patients are being blind-sided by these balance billing practices. In emergency situations, good questions cannot be asked about other options and out-of-pocket costs associated with the transport. Even in non-emergency situations, patients lack the necessary tools to explore their options. The lack of health care cost transparency is real.    

Status:

Passed the House, awaiting action in the Senate.

Repeal Tax on Health Insurance Claims

Senate Bills 992-994

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
SB 992, SB 993, SB 994

Sponsor(s):
Senators Horn, MacGregor, Shirkey

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Repeals a costly and anti-competitive tax on health insurance claims, known as the Health Insurance Claims Assessment, or “HICA Tax."

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Repeal and replace Michigan’s wholly unique and uncompetitive HCIA Tax. The legislation would allow the state to turn a page on a tax which serves as a disincentive to purchasing health insurance and has added over $1.5 billion to the cost of health insurance coverage since 2011. The replacement tax, a new Insurance Provider Assessment (IPA), will cut health insurance taxes for employers and individuals and continue to fund Michigan’s traditional Medicaid program in a fair and stable way.

Status:

Passed the Senate and House, awaiting the Governor’s signature as of May 30, 2018.

Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients

SB 897

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
SB 897

Sponsor(s):
Senator Shirkey

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Promotes independence among healthy, adult Medicaid recipients by requiring them to find work or engage in job training or educational opportunities as a condition of receiving benefits. Michigan is currently experiencing a workforce shortage and talent gap. Estimates suggest that as many as 100,000 jobs are currently unfilled. The Chamber believes Medicaid work requirements, modeled after what has been required under the Unemployment Insurance system since the 1930s, could help employers with their labor shortages. Estimates suggest over half of healthy adults on Medicaid are not working.

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Michigan's Medicaid Expansion program ("Healthy Michigan") is over-enrolled and under-funded. When the program was initially expanded, job providers were specifically promised the program would reduce uncompensated care costs that would translate to premium savings for employers, emphasize healthy behaviors for enrollees and a set-aside of state funds to pay for the long-term costs associated with the program. To date, these promises have not been fulfilled. Major reforms - like work requirements - are needed. 

The Michigan Medicaid program offers some of the most generous health care benefits to enrollees at zero cost to enrollees entirely at taxpayer expense. Asking participants to join the labor market is a commonsense way to combat poverty and create opportunities for them to cycle off Medicaid and onto employer-sponsored insurance.

Status:

SB 897 passed by the Senate and is awaiting action in the House Appropriations Committee.

LEGAL REFORM

Limit the Liability of Solvent Companies in Asbestos Litigation

House Bill 5456

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
House Bill 5456

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Wentworth

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Asbestos is a mineral that was once used regularly in industrial applications like building insulation and fireproofing. It was also commonly used in settings such as naval shipyards. Since it was discovered that prolonged inhalation could lead to serious illnesses, its use has been banned outright or severely limited. Litigation over its use has become the most expensive mass tort in US history and Michigan is now a top 10 state for asbestos litigation. 

Asbestos litigation is big business for plaintiffs’ attorneys, but misrepresentations and inconsistencies are common. A major concern is the “double dipping” of claims for both civil litigation and the trusts that have been established by the original manufacturers of asbestos for individuals suffering from asbestos-related illnesses.

The problem isn’t necessarily that plaintiffs’ attorneys are filing claims with both the trusts and courts, but rather that in the lawsuits against peripheral defendants, the plaintiff’s lawyers are sometimes hiding the fact from juries that they also blame bankrupt companies for their asbestos-related injury. Why is this a problem? Juries and judges cannot properly apportion fault if they are blindfolded from these other allegations. 

HB 5456, pushed by the Michigan Chamber, solves this problem through basic disclosure requirements. It requires plaintiffs in asbestos suits to file their trust claims before proceeding to trial so the jury can hear all the facts, including their lifetime exposures, and properly determine fault. 

HB 5456 does not impose caps on a plaintiff’s ability to receive compensation or limit claims against trusts. What the legislation attempts to do is accelerate the timing of asbestos trust claim filings to promote fairness and transparency in the system.

Chamber Position:

Support. The Michigan Chamber supports this legislation because this simple change would discourage fraud and prevent abusive double dipping. Similar laws have been passed in 12 states, including Ohio and Wisconsin and the Michigan Chamber is committed to seeing the legislation through to passage here. The current asbestos litigation environment is unfair. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are denying businesses an opportunity to fully and fairly defend themselves in court by filing trust claims after the lawsuits have concluded and therefore hindering access to the exposure information that is presented to the trusts.

This lack of transparency hurts Michigan businesses, their shareholders, employees and the communities that they operate in. Every time a company is forced to pay more than its fair share in an asbestos case, it is left with less money to invest in its future and in Michigan’s economy.

Status:

Signed by Governor into law as Public Act 100 of 2018 with immediate effect.

 

Reform Auto Insurance System to Bring Down Premiums

Senate Bill 1

Bill(s):
SB 1

Sponsor(s):
Sen. Nesbitt

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Works to begin reducing the primary cost-drivers of the current no-fault automobile insurance system, including Michigan's unlimited Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits; the lack of a reasonable fee schedule to adequately reimburse providers for medical services and stop excessive charges and cost-shifting; overutilization; and fraud. 

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Bold action is needed to drive down Michigan's exorbitant auto insurance rates and we support the intent of the legislation.Michigan businesses, families and individuals need lawmakers to act to reduce Michigan's highest-in-the-nation auto insurance premiums. Michigan drivers pay auto insurance rates that are, on average, 83 percent higher than the national average. This issue is hurting Michigan’s economic competitiveness and needs to be addressed.

Status:

Introduced in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Insurance and Banking. 

Reform Auto Insurance System to Bring Down Premiums

HB 5013

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 5013

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Theis

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Reforms the primary cost-drivers of the current no-fault automobile insurance system, including Michigan's unlimited Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits; the lack of a reasonable fee schedule to adequately reimburse providers for medical services, but stop excessive charges and cost-shifting; and out-of-control reimbursements to attendant caregivers. The reforms are expected to have a substantial rate rollback for drivers. 

Chamber Position:

Support. Michigan businesses, families and individuals need lawmakers to act to reduce Michigan's highest-in-the-nation auto insurance premiums. Average auto insurance premiums in Michigan were $2,738 in 2016, nearly twice the national average and worse in many regions of our state. Bold action is needed to drive down Michigan's exorbitant auto insurance rates. 

Status:

The bill was defeated on the House floor on Nov. 2, 2017 by a vote of 63-45. Read the Chamber's new release and our Nov. 3, 2017 Capitol Report Special Edition

TAX POLICY

Accelerate Elimination of Sales Tax on the Difference for the Purchase of Automobiles

SBs 94-95

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
SBs 94-95

Sponsor(s):
Senator Hildenbrand

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Eliminates double taxation which takes place when a consumer trades in an old car for a new one and is not allowed to deduct the trade-in value from the sales price. 

Chamber Position:

Support. The Michigan Chamber supports eliminating this unfair sales tax scenario that artifically inflates the purchase price of a new automobile. 

Status:

Bills vetoed by the Governor; veto override possible.

Adopt a Graduated Income Tax Rate

SJR D

Bill(s):
SJR D

Sponsor(s):
Senators Irwin, Moss, Alexander, Geiss, Wojno, and Hertel

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Michigan currently has a single, flat income tax rate of 4.25%. Adopting a graduated rate would create several different income tax rates. As individuals earn more, their tax rate would go up. In Michigan, many businesses do not pay a specific business tax but pay tax on business profits through the owner’s individual income tax. A graduated income tax would hit these businesses and their owners especially hard. While specific rates are not outlined in this proposal, past proposals have seen rates as high as 10% - more than double the current income tax rate.

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. The Michigan Chamber opposes creating an income tax that punishes success. Michigan’s current flat tax structure taxes everyone’s income the same. Creating several different rates according to income is an obvious mechanism to redistribute wealth. In addition to punishing success, a graduated income tax diminishes the entrepreneurial incentive to be bold and pursue one’s ambitious goals.

Status:

Introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Eliminate Annual Filing of Small Parcel PPT Exemption

House Bill 5261

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 5261

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Jim Tedder

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Would eliminate the annual requirement that businesses with less than $80,000 in personal property file an exemption form. Instead, a taxpayer would have to file the form once but receive the exemption for as many years as they qualify. 

Chamber Position:

Support. HB 5261 cuts down on unnecessary paperwork and allows businesses to easily get the property tax exemption they deserve. 

Status:

On the Senate floor.

Eliminate Tax on Aviation Repair Parts

HBs 4350 and 4351

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 4350, HB 4351

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Kahle

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Levels the playing field for Michigan-based aviation service businesses by making Michigan a tax-exempt state for the maintenance and service of all aircraft (both in-state and out-of-state).

Chamber Position:

Support. The Michigan Chamber supports the elimination of this tax to make Michigan-based aviation service businesses competitive with other states. 

Status:

Bills on Senate floor. 

Eliminate the Sales Tax on Dental Prosthetics

HBs 5164, HB 5173
SBs 566-67

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 5164, HB 5173, SB 566, SB 567

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Julie Alexander, Rep. Bronna Kahle, Sen. Dale Zorn

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Returns the taxation of dental prosthetics in Michigan to tax exempt status.

Chamber Position:

Support. The Michigan Chamber supports "re-exempting" dental prosthetics from the sales tax to help control health care costs. 

Status:

Signed into law as Public Acts 218-221 of 2017.

Entertainment Venue Tax

HB 5174

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
HB 5174

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Sylvia Santana

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Would impose a 10% tax on entertainment events that take place in a city with more than 100,000 people. The Tax would be on events such as: concerts, opera, live theatre, museums, etc.

Chamber Position:

Opposed. Placing a tax on items like entertainment events only inflates the cost of attendance, increases the cost to put events on, or does a combination of both. Michigan affords a great quality of life and boasts numerous opportunities for entertainment. The economic benefits large entertainment events have on the surrounding community in which they take place, as well as for the state as a whole, are numerous. 

Status:

Introduced in the House and in the Tax Policy Committee. 

Exempt Sales/Use Tax on Aviation Repair Parts

House Bills 4168-69

Bill(s):
HB 4168, HB 4169

Sponsor(s):
Representatives Kahle and Bryd

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Nothing is more frustrating for Michigan’s businesses than when our state’s tax policy makes them uncompetitive within their industry; that is exactly the case for aircraft repair facilities. Under current law, Michigan aircraft repair facilities do not enjoy a Sales and Use Tax exemption on aircraft parts like every other state offers in the Great Lakes region; this causes both private and commercial operators to seek repairs in surrounding states rather than right here in Michigan. The current law regarding the taxability of aviation repair parts makes it so that planes registered in Michigan are incentivized to go out of state for repair work. 

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Businesses should compete on a level playing field both regionally and nationally. The Chamber supports changing this unfair tax burden on Michigan aviation repair facilities.

Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Expand Allowable Uses of Sinking Funds

SB 384 & HB 5390

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
SB 384, HB 5390

Sponsor(s):
Senator Dale Zorn, Representative Curtis VanderWall

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

SB 384 allows local school districts to levy a local sinking fund millage for the purchase of school buses. HB 5390 allows school districts to levy a sinking fund millage for water filtration systems.

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Sinking funds were originally created to purchase or improve real property of school districts. Both of these bills represent an unprecedented expansion of what sinking funds can be used for. Furthermore, with more opportunities for school districts to levy local taxes, property tax protections are eroded and the taxable burden on Michigan businesses are increased. 

Status:

SB 384 is on the Senate floor. HB 5390 is in House committee. 

Expand Treasury's Settlement Authority

HB 4976

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 4976

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Jim Tedder

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Allows Treasury to settle tax disputes without having to spend significant time and money on legal proceedings and appeals. 

Chamber Position:

Support. By allowing Treasury to settle with taxpayers prior to entering into litigation, we can more efficiently settle simple tax disputes, saving businesses time and money. 

Status:

Signed into law as Public Act 215 of 2017.

Expanding Allowable Use of School Sinking Fund Millages

House Bill 4075

Bill(s):
House Bill 4075

Sponsor(s):
Representatives Miller and Meerman

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

School sinking fund millages were created as a financial tool to finance large capital improvements to school buildings and property. By levying a local sinking fund millage, districts could collect revenue and save it for needed improvements as opposed to taking out debt. For large, real property improvements, this makes financial sense. Over time, however, this local taxing option has moved beyond its intended purpose, increasing the number of sinking fund millages across Michigan dramatically. School districts have found the sinking fund millage as a work around to increase local property taxes while also getting their share of state tax dollars. HB 4075 expands the allowable use of sinking fund millages to pay for school busses and would undoubtedly lead to higher property taxes.

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Local school districts will always be looking to raise more revenues and no amount of taxpayer dollars will ever satisfy them.Continuing to allow districts to levy more and more local property tax millages is an end run around the school funding reform passed by the voters in 1994. If allowed to continue, taxpayers will once again be taxed out of their property as was the case post 1994.

Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Extend the Small Taxpayer Exemption Appeal Period

House Bill 4214

Bill(s):
HB 4214

Sponsor(s):
Representative Leutheuser

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

HB 4214 would allow a taxpayer eligible for the small taxpayer personal property tax exemption (a business with less than $80,000 in personal property) to go before the July Board of Review in addition to the March Board of Review if they missed the February deadline for submitting the exemption. The bill also provides for forgiveness if a taxpayer eligible for the small taxpayer exemption forgets to file the exemption in the first year of being operational. If a taxpayer forgets to file the exemption the first year they were eligible, they can petition the March or July Board of Review in the subsequent year to receive the exemption retroactively. 

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Businesses who are eligible for an exemption should have as much opportunity as possible to receive their duly-owed exemption. The Chamber supports this legislation as it provides a taxpayer more opportunities to get an exemption to which they are fully entitled.

Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Impose a Graduated Income Tax

House Joint Resolution K
House Bills 4436-4437

SJR I
Senate Bills 295-296

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
House Joint Resolution K, House Bill 4436, House Bill 4437, Senate Joint Resolution I, Senate Bill 295, Senate Bill 296

Sponsor(s):
Reps. Cochran, Ellison, Wittenberg, Liberati, Faris, Lasinski, Greig, LaGrand, Schor, Brinks, Rabhi, Hoadley, Pagan, Chang, Hammoud, Love, Hertel, Green, Gay-Dagnogo, Byrd, Moss, Sowerby, Geiss, Sabo, Dianda, Robinson, Chirkun, Elder, Peterson, Sneller, J, Rep. Wittenberg, Rep. Ellison, Senators Warren, Young, Knezek, Gregory, Conyers, Hertel , Senators Warren, Knezek, Gregory, Conyers, Hertel , Senators Warren, Knezek, Gregory, Conyers

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

House and Senate Democrats once again want to punish success by making Michigan's currently competitive income tax uncompetitive. 

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. The Michigan Chamber strongly opposes proposals to impose a massive tax increase on families, entrepreneurs, and job providers by eliminating Michigan’s long-standing taxpayer protection against a graduated income tax. This sends a clear message about the direction Michigan Democrats want the state to go: immediate and blatant redistribution of wealth that punishes individuals and job providers for being successful.

Status:

Introduced in the House and Senate and in the Senate Finance and House Tax Policy committees. 

Increase the Small Taxpayer PPT Exemption

House Bill 4215

Bill(s):
HB 4215

Sponsor(s):
Representative Farrington

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

HB 4215 increases the threshold in which a small taxpayer can benefit from a full exemption of personal property taxes. Currently, if a business has less than $80,000 in personal property, they can file for a full exemption from the personal property tax. This legislation increases that threshold to $100,000. Keep in mind that this is an all-in or all-out exemption. For example, if a business has $120,000 in personal property, they are responsible for paying tax on ALL their property, NOT just the amount over $80,000. If a business has $75,000 in personal property, they are fully exempt. This legislation does not change the all-in or all-out provision. 

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. While the Michigan Chamber would prefer a total elimination of all personal property taxes, we acknowledge the difficulty with this drastic policy change. Any legislation that gets us closer to full repeal will be supported by the Michigan Chamber. 

Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Maintain Personal Exemption for State Income Tax

Senate Bill 748

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
SB 748

Sponsor(s):
Sen. Jack Brandenburg

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

To ensure Michigan’s personal exemption remains due to changes in the federal tax code, SB 748 was introduced to make it clear taxpayers can still claim the exemption. The legislation also increases the personal exemption. Without state action to conform to the changes in federal law, Michigan could see a tax increase in the amount of $1.6 billion.

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. The benefits of federal tax reform should not be overshadowed by a state tax increase. The State should preempt any expected tax increase by passing SB 748.

Status:

Signed into law as Public Act 38 of 2018.

Manipulate Property Tax Assessment

House Bills 4025 and 4097
Senate Bills 26 and 29

Bill(s):
House Bill 4025, House Bill 4097, Senate Bill 26, Senate Bill 39

Sponsor(s):
HB 4025: Representatives LaFave, Brixie, Markkanen, Rendon, Yaroch, Cambensy, Bellino, Allor, Hoadley, Howell, Elder, Slagh, Ellison, Rabhi;, HB 4047: Representatives Brixie, LaFave, Slagh, Ellison, Carter, Hoadley, Hope, Markkanen, Cambensy, Wittenberg, Coleman, Lasinski, Miller, Rabhi, Elder, Paga;, SBs 26 and 39: Senator Ed McBroom

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

In an effort to increase taxes, local governments across Michigan are urging the Legislature to legitimize recent attempts by assessors to artificially increase property assessments. Instead of going through the normal process for a tax increase, which requires a vote of the people, local governments have been inflating the value of property to yield higher property tax assessments. After losing in the courts for this practice, local governments are attempting to amend the Tax Tribunal Act to force judges to rule in their favor instead of the taxpayer's. The overassessments have primarily been seen with large retail property; however, this practice could snowball to include all property.

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Taxpayers have a fundamental right to appeal their property taxes in a fair court. Legislation to manipulate the Tax Tribunal to yield more favorable decisions for local governments is wrong and tips the scales against taxpayers. Allowing property tax assessments to go unchecked will give tax collectors unfettered ability to increase taxes on everyone. The Michigan Chamber opposes efforts to restrict a taxpayers right to a fair property tax appeal.

Status:

HBs 4025 and 4047 introduced in the House and referred to the Local Government Committee. SBs 26 and 39 introduced in the Senate and referred to the Finance Committee.

Manipulation of Property Tax Assessments and Appeals

House Bill 4397

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
House Bill 4397

Sponsor(s):
Rep. David Maturen

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Legislation to dramatically change how property tax assessments and appeals are conducted in Michigan has been reintroduced under the guise of making corporations pay their "fair share" in property taxes. 

Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. The Michigan Chamber opposes efforts to upend tax evaluation processes that have been in place for decades. Challenges to the current system amount to nothing more than a money grab by local units of government in search of new revenue. 

Status:

Introduced in the House and Senate and in the Senate Finance and House Tax Policy committees.

Personal Property Tax Exemption on Certain Broadband Infrastructure

House Bill 4268

Senate Bill 163

Bill(s):
House Bill 4268, Senate Bill 163

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Griffin, Sen. Nesbitt

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

It’s hard to believe that many parts of Michigan do not have access to broadband internet services. Unless you live in an area without access to broadband you would not know how wide spread the problem is. In the past, legislators have introduced bills to allow for local units of government to offer broadband services with revenues collected from a special millage. The Michigan Chamber always looked at this proposal with concern. Most recently, however, Chamber-backed legislation was introduced to provide for personal property tax relief for broadband service providers who expand their network into areas that currently do not have access. House Bill 4268 would exempt "eligible broadband equipment that resolves lack of broadband service."

Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. The Chamber believes incentivizing private investment is a better solution to the lack of broadband than raising property tax millages for a government-run service.

Status:

Introduced in the House and sent to the House Communications and Technology Committee.  Introduced in the Senate as well and sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

Personal Property Tax Reform

Bills being drafted

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):

Sponsor(s):

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

This disastrous tax represents a disincentive to invest, makes Michigan uncompetitive, and is a proven administrative nightmare.

Chamber Position:

Support. The Michigan Chamber supports eliminating the PPT to alleviate unintended administrative burdens on Michigan manufacturers and to finally end punishing businesses for capital investment by slapping an endless tax on purchased equipment. 

Status:

Preempt Local Governments from Adopting a Local Excise Tax on Food and Drinks

HB 4999

SB 583

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 4999, SB 583

Sponsor(s):
Rep. VerHeulen, Sen. MacGregor

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Across the country we have seen various attempts by local governments to tax soda, unhealthy food, or prepared foods served at restaurants. This creates a patchwork of taxation that is detrimental in allowing for fair competition.

Chamber Position:

Support. The Michigan Chamber supports preempting local governments from going down this dangerous path. 

Status:

Passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Snyder as Public Act 135 of 2017. The Michigan Chamber played a key role in advancing this legislation, from introduction to final passage in only one month's time.

 

Soften Essential Services Assessment (ESA) Filing Deadline

SBs 570, 571, 572, 573 

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
Senate Bill 570, Senate Bill 571, Senate Bill 572, Senate Bill 573

Sponsor(s):
Senator Hildenbrand, Senator Brandenburg, Senator Robertson, Senator Proos

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Provides some leeway for the deadline to submit personal property exemption forms. 

Chamber Position:

Support. Currently, if taxpayers fail to have their exemption form into a local assessor by February 20, they lose their PPT exemption. This has proven to be an unreasonable burden on business owners. This legislation will put in place a "mail box rule" timeframe as well as offer a right to appeal a loss an exemption due to a past due form submission. 

Status:

Signed into law as Public Acts 261-264 of 2017. 

Tax Tribunal Reform

HB 4412

Pro Jobs

Bill(s):
HB 4412

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Iden

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Provides for better training and increased funding for Tribunal judges, to help garner more professional and consistent rulings. 

Chamber Position:

Support. The Michigan Chamber supports a taxpayers' right to appeal tax assessments. And efforts to make the process more fair and efficient are steps in the right direction.

Status:

Pending in the Senate Finance Committee. 

Water Tax

HB 5133

Jobs Killer

Bill(s):
HB 5133

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Peter Lucido

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Imposes a five-cent-per-gallon tax on water bottlers in Michigan. This bill also breaks longstanding tradition in Michigan that water is a right and not a commodity which could lead to major consequences, such as Great Lakes water diversion.

Chamber Position:

Opposed. The bill sponsors’ misguided goal to raise a few more dollars off the backs of water bottlers could cost Michigan 18,000 jobs, almost $4 billion in economic activity and, worst of all, could eliminate the water rights of every property owner in the state. The Michigan Chamber is strongly opposed to this harmful, job-killing legislation. 

Status:

Introduced in the House and in the House Natural Resources Committee.