Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said there will be no government shutdown because “there is no reason for it” in recent comments he made on WJR. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suggested a continuation budget be prepared in case budget negotiations go beyond October 1–the start of the next fiscal year, but Leader Shirkey said legislative leaders are making “good progress on the budget and some creative ways to address roads.” Some members of the Michigan Legislature allege Attorney General Dana Nessel is trying to “usurp the lawmaking power of her office,” and they are asking to intervene in Enbridge’s lawsuit against her. Enbridge filed the lawsuit in June seeking to enforce its Line 5 Tunnel agreement with the state. Nessel has filed suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, joining more than a dozen states charging a new rule denying green cards to legal immigrants who use public assistance, or might use it, is unconstitutional. Over a dozen Republicans have filed suit in U.S. District Court’s Western Division against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in an effort to stop the state’s new citizen redistricting commission and invalidate Proposal 2. A sales tax holiday is propoosed under legislation, HBs 4824 and 4825. If passed and signed into law, parents and teachers wouldn’t pay the 6 percent sales tax on back-to-school pens, glue sticks, clothing and computers under $1,000 on the third Saturday in August. Please click on the August 2019 Karoub Report for more details on these and other legislative issues.

The Michigan Legislature is on recess, but work continues to find at least $2 billion to address a road funding plan. House Republicans have moved a budget premised on the idea that the 6-cent sales tax stop being collected on gasoline and a penny-for-penny gas tax or excise tax be installed in its place to collect close to $1 billion in road revenue. That would amount to about a 15-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase. Another idea is a 30-year $10 billion bond that would prefund the teacher retirement system and free up $1 billon in the School Aid Fund being diverted from classrooms to pensions. Four alternative road funding bills that would increase the 6 percent Corporate Income Tax another 2.5 percent, raise the fees on heavy trucks, and make a pension income exempt from the income tax have been introduced by House Democrats. Still basking in its 2018 passage of the independent redistricting commission amendment to the state constitution, the grass roots group Voters Not Politicians (VNP) is mulling over running a ballot proposal in 2020 or 2022 that would either extend or eliminate term limits. Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) has introduced legislation (SB 416) that would automatically clear misdemeanors involving low-level marijuana use and distribution from Michiganders’ records. The measure would allow some 235,000 people to have those records automatically expunged without having to go through the courts. Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed a lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court seeking to close the controversial pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. She also filed a motion to dismiss Enbridge’s Court of Claims suit that seeks enforcement of agreements made at the end of former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration that allows the company to build a 4.5 mile, $500 million tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on partisan gerrymandering opining the issue presents political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts. Two gun-related bills (HBs 4200 and 4201) have been introduced that would reduce the penalty for license holders who conceal and carry in “no-carry” zones. Click here for the July 2019 Karoub Report for more details on these and other legislative issues.

Karoub Associates was distinguished as a top-tier firm in the Capital Insiders Survey. Every two years, MIRS News and EPIC-MRA commission a survey of capital insiders, which include lobbyists, lawmakers, legislative staff, department directors, and various others who actively participate in the legislative process in Lansing. With 520 respondents to this year’s survey, Karoub Associates came in second for most-effective multi-client lobbying firm with 15 percent of the vote, up from 4 percent in 2017. Fetal heartbeat bills were introduced in the Senate last week. Performing an abortion when the heartbeat of a fetus can be detected would be outlawed under Senate Bills 357 and 358. With House and Senate GOP leadership at her side, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Senate Bill 1 that brings about changes in the state’s “no-fault” auto insurance law. Pending criminal charges against eight charged in the Flint water crisis have been dismissed as the Attorney General’s Office expands the investigation. The decision was based on the Attorney General's Office identifying “…additional individuals of interest and new information.” Charges can be brought against the individuals again if necessary. A highlight of the $57.7 billion House FIscal Year 2020 budget is the Republican proposal to phase out the sales tax paid on gasoline and replace it with a higher gas tax. Drivers would see no net increase in what they pay at the pump. Despite expressing “significant reservations,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law legislation (SBs 106 and 155) that prohibits teenagers 17 and under from possessing e-cigarettes and levies a $100 fine against vendors the first time they sell “vaping” products to the under-aged. Click here for the June 2019 Karoub Report for more information on these and other legislative issues.

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.