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 In recent weeks, she has withdrawn the state from more than a dozen federal cases.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.

After an oft-times contentious lame duck session that saw the GOP-controlled 99th Legislature pass several controversial pieces of the legislation and an all-night session, lawmakers wrapped up their work for the year and the 99th Legislature came to an end. Karoub Associates lobbyist Emily Laidlaw was named Policy Director for Governor Whitmer’s Administration. Laidlaw was instrumental in developing Karoub’s Education Practice. Gov. Rick Snyder has signed several bills including a huge $1.3 billion spending bill that includes $69 million for the Renew Michigan Fund for hazardous waste sites, a new revenue stream ($114 million in FY 2019 and $143 million in FY 2020) for roads, $19.3 million to fight PFAS and $40 million for a new Capitol Visitor Center at the Capitol. Snyder also vetoed 56 bills in his final days of office. Gov. Whitmer started her term, naming the state’s new Budget Director, Treasurer and she appointed new state department Directors, including Col. Joseph Gasper as Director of the Michigan State Police. Detroit developer Dan Gilbert's attempts to revive no-fault auto insurance reform failed to make it out of the Legislature during the last day of the lame duck session. Although the Senate passed legislation that would make all limited access expressways 75 miles per hour and all non-city highways 65 miles per hour, the House stopped the legislation from moving forward. For more details on these and other legislative issues, click here for the January 2019 Karoub Report..

The 2018 Michigan General Election results for Nov. 6 are available on the Secretary of State website with length of elected office terms, number of votes per candidate and percentage of votes each candidate received. The site also details voter turnout for all 83 Michigan counties.