After Gov, Gretchen Whitmer threatened to veto separate bills recently passed by House and Senate Republicans to reform the state’s no-fault auto insurance, House Democrats rolled out their own plan that would mandate an across-the-board cut of at least 40 percent in total premiums paid by Michigan drivers; Right to Life of Michigan has filed paperwork with the Department of Secretary of State to launch a petition drive in an effort to bypass Gov. Whitmer’s promise to veto legislation to ban dilation and evacuation abortions; Gov. Whitmer signed into law bipartisan legislation, SB 2, HB 4001, and HB 4002, forcing law enforcement to return confiscated goods to suspected drug dealers and others who were never convicted of a crime; Attorneys for Michigan Republican lawmakers have filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to suspend the April 25 judgment of a federal court panel ordering the state legislature to redraw legislative and congressional districts in Michigan by Aug. 1. Under the ruling, if that date is missed, the court will draw the new maps; The Department of Treasury is balking at lending support to the eight bill online betting legislation pending in the House because of fears it would negatively impact the state’s i-Lottery, thus costing the State School Aid Fund (SAF) revenue. For more information about these and other legislative issues, click here for the May 2019 Karoub Report.

In response to House and Senate Republicans ranking road funding third on their 2019 session priority list behind auto-insurance reform and the budget, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will not sign any Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending plan that doesn’t include the road-funding piece. House Judiciary Chair Representative Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) said, “…there is nothing in writing yet but ‘two or three’ plans are being kicked around that do not include Gov. Whitmer’s new formula for distributing new road dollars… and it is not going to include the 45-cent gas tax hike…” Based on a recent poll, it appears Gov. Whitmer’s statewide effort to garner support for a 45-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase to “fix the damn roads” is failing. Almost 75 percent of residents are opposed, according to a recent poll. Gov. Whitmer unveiled two tuition-free programs in her first State of the State address and budget proposal. One provides free community college for graduating seniors and those over 25 years old, earning good grades and completing the process in a timely manner. Another bases funding on grades and income and can be applied to a four-year degree. The three branches of state government are joining together in a state task force to focus on jail and pretrial incarceration, with the goal of improving the effectiveness of the front end of Michigan’s justice system, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Whitmer. Attorney General Dana Nessel has opined that the Line 5 (oil pipeline) tunnel law is unconstitutional, saying provisions go beyond the scope of what was disclosed in its title. The Michigan Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for July 17 to consider the House and Senate’s requests for an opinion on whether the Legislature can amend two citizen-initiated laws during the same session they were adopted in, after the Legislature did that to the minimum wage and paid sick time ballot proposals. For more on these and other legislative issues, click here for the April 2019 Karoub Report.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget calls for increasing the gas tax by 45 cents under a three-part phase-in starting Oct. 1 of this year and ending Oct.1, 2020 that would raise about $2.5 billion in new annual revenue for roads. This would be deposited into a new Fixing Michigan Roads Fund and allocated to the most highly traveled and commercially important roads at both the state and local levels. Gov. Whitmer is also asking for an additional $507 million to increase K-12 funding in her Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget including up to $180 more per pupil. Revenue sharing will increase 3 percent for counties, cities, villages and townships. Whitmer has called for eliminating the so-called “pension tax” and proposed paying for it by taxing “pass-through” businesses at the same 6 percent rate as the existing Corporate Income Tax. Budget recommendations also include funding for a new trooper recruit school with the anticipation of graduating 50 new troopers to keep the Michigan State Police enlisted strength at about 2,100. For more information on the Governor's Fiscal Year 2020 budget, please click here for the March 2019 Karoub Report and also visit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's website.

The Michigan Legislature has rejected a Governor-issued executive order for the first time in 42 years.The Republican-led Legislature passed HCR 1, rejecting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2019-2, which would have reorganized the Department of Environmental Quality and abolished three oversight panels created by the Legislature. Attorney General Dana Nessel continues her efforts to withdraw the state from federal cases. In recent weeks, she has withdrawn the state from more than a dozen federal cases. The latest are four cases involving civil rights and two involving transparency. After Gov. Whitmer’s call in the State of the State address for “hands free” legislation, Representative Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) has introduced HB 4181 to prohibit drivers from using a mobile electronic device while driving unless it is in a “voice-operated or hands-free mode” and the driver doesn’t have to use his or her hands to operate it. Making 9-1-1 calls are exempted. The sale of a former state prison in Ionia for construction of a $35 million private immigration detention center has been scrapped by the governor. A judge has denied an agreement reached between Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters brought a lawsuit against the Secretary of State prior to Secretary Benson’s Administration over the Republican-drawn redistricted maps after the most recent census. Writing on behalf of the three-judge panel, U.S. District Judge Eric Clay said Secretary Benson “lacks the authority to enter into the proposed consent decree” which would have seen 11 of Michigan’s 110 House districts redrawn for the 2020 election. Click here for the February 2019 Karoub Report for more details on these and other legislative issues.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will put forth “a real plan” to fix Michigan’s roads and other infrastructure in her March budget presentation, but when questioned by reporters gave no indication of how she would propose paying for the plan. The Senate and House have set their top legislative priorities. The Senate’s first bill of the 100th Legislature is Senate Bill 1 to address the state’s nation-leading auto insurance rates. The measure includes reform of health insurance and personal injury protection benefits. Senate Democrats are calling for tax credits such as establishing a child care credit for working families with young children and creating a tax credit claw back that would make businesses that leave Michigan pay back incentive dollars they were awarded to come to or stay in Michigan. The Republican House is focusing on Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform to require a criminal conviction before law enforcement agencies could sell or use the property seized based on probable cause. Gambling expansion legislation will quickly be reintroduced this session, according to Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp.) and Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing). The legislation, which would allow online gaming and horse race betting by cellphone as well as fantasy sports gambling and new charitable gaming regulations, fell victim to former Governor Rick Snyder’s veto pen. Attorney General Dana Nessel has picked Fadwa Hammoud as Solicitor General and tapped her to oversee the Attorney General’s criminal prosecutions in the Flint water crisis. For more on these and other legislative topics, click here for the Jan. 23, 2019 Karoub Report.