Michigan

Commentary & Community

Michigan Senate Bill 249: Ban government, school district discrimination against charter schools

 

Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Michigan, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 249, Ban government, school district discrimination against charter schools: Passed 25 to 13 in the state Senate on May 23, 2017

 

To prohibit a school district or local government from refusing to sell property to a charter or private school, or taking other actions designed to keep these potential conventional public school competitors from using property for a lawful educational purpose. Prohibited actions could also include imposing deed or zoning restrictions. A number of local governments and conventional school districts have adopted such restrictions in the past.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Michigan Senate Bill 249!

 

Michigan Senate Bill 98: Authorize Flint “promise zone” tax increment financing authority

 

Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Michigan, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 98, Authorize Flint “promise zone” tax increment financing authority: Passed 35 to 2 in the state Senate on May 16, 2017

 

To authorize a “low educational attainment promise zone” tax increment financing authority in Flint. These entities “capture" a portion of  increases in school property tax revenue and use the money to partially subsidize college tuition for local students.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Michigan Senate Bill 98!

 

Michigan House Bill 4001: Cut state income tax rate .2 percent

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Michigan, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 4001, Cut state income tax rate .2 percent: Failed 52 to 55 in the state House on February 23, 2017

 

To cut the state income tax from the current 4.25 percent to 4.05 percent over two years. Twelve Republicans voted 'no' and one Democrat voted 'yes.'

 

Comment below to share what you think of Michigan House Bill 4001!

 

Michigan Senate Bill 40: Expand State Subsidies for Particular Companies on State Line

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Michigan, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 40, Expand state subsidies for particular companies on state line: Passed 24 to 14 in the state Senate on February 9, 2017

 

To let particular businesses that are near the state line, and that have been selected by political appointees on a state 'economic development' program board, to each collect up to $10 million in state business subsidies for hiring people who do not live in Michigan.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Michigan Senate Bill 40!

 

Michigan Legislature: 2017 Preview

 

The Michigan State House of Representatives and Senate have a busy year ahead in 2017. Potential upcoming bills will affect all citizens of Michigan; the topics and issues addressed in these bills including: children, offenders, voting and voter registration, vehicles and taxation. With so many bills to cover, below are outlined some of the key potential bills likely to impact the people of Michigan in a substantial way –

 

Children:

 

SB 0052 adds crimes involving sexual conduct or abuse of a child under 18 years of age to the list of crimes with no statute of limitations.

 

HB 4042 includes people involved with school and recreational youth sport to those people responsible for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

 

Offenders

 

SB 0022 mandates, where possible, for inmates aged approximately 18-22 to be housed only with inmates of similar ages and all within the same correctional facility.

 

HB 4065 outlines the new Department of Corrections policy allowing individuals convicted of a felony to work within the Department. These individuals must have disclosed their felony prior to employment and the felony must not be of such a nature as to negatively impact public safety or the running of the Department.

 

Voting

 

SB 0056 allows voter registration to take place online, with an online form submitted to the Secretary of State. A voter may update their address on the same website.

 

HB 4037 creates automatic voter registration for individuals when they are issued a driver’s license or a change of address notification for their existing driver’s license.

 

Vehicles

 

HB 4013 make vehicle registration shown in electronic form acceptable when it is required to be displayed to a police officer.

 

Taxation

 

SB 0059 allows a taxpayer to claim a tax credit on their state income tax equal to 50% of their yearly repayment of a student loan. However the total of this repayment must not exceed 20% of the average yearly tuition for Michigan’s public universities. This is a non-refundable tax credit.

 

HB 4014 allows a taxpayer to claim a tax credit on their state income tax equal to fees paid throughout the tax year for a dependent of the taxpayer to take part in any sport, program or other extracurricular activity offered through a school. This is a non-refundable tax credit.

 

SB 0060 allows a taxpayer who is eligible for a refundable tax credit under s21 of the Internal Revenue Code (regarding expense for household and dependent care services necessary for gainful employment) to claim a percentage of that credit against their state income tax. Percentages determined by annual income are:

  • Less than $25,000 = 110%
  • Greater than or equal to $25,000 but less than $40,000 = 100%
  • Greater than or equal to $40,000 but less than $65,000 = 80%
  • Greater than or equal to $65,000 but less than $100,000 = 30%

 

What do you think the Michigan Legislature should focus on in 2017?

 

Jackie Morgan contributed to this post

 

 

Abortion, Immigration, Same-Sex adoption, Welfare Truants, Nude Dancing

 

Check out these key votes made by lawmakers during the 2015-16 Michigan Legislature, and go to www.votespotter.com to sign up and see how the people who represent you voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

  

Senate Bill 564, Criminalize selling aborted fetuses or body parts: Passed 26 to 10 in the Senate

To make it a crime to receive a financial benefit or any type of compensation for transferring or selling an embryo, fetus or neonate, including organs, tissues or cells, if this was obtained as the result of an elective abortion. The House has not voted on this bill.

 

Senate Bill 501, Require alien drivers have visa or passport while driving: Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate on February 4, 2016, and 90 to 18 in the House on May 12

To require resident aliens who drive a vehicle in Michigan to have both a valid drivers license issued by their native land and a passport or valid visa. Current law only requires a valid drivers license. (A legal alien can also get a Michigan drivers license.)

 

 

2015 House Bill 4188, Let adoption agencies refuse adoptions that violate moral convictions

Passed 65 to 44 in the House on March 18, 2015, and 26 to 12 in the Senate on June 10, 2015

To specify in statute that adoption agencies are not required to assist or participate in an adoption or placement that violates its written religious or moral convictions, including adoptions of a child by same sex couple. Also, to prohibit a state agency from discriminating or taking an “adverse action” against an adoption agency for this reason.

 

2015 House Bill 4041, Ban welfare for persistent truancy, Passed 74 to 36 in the House on March 26, 2015 and 26 to 12 in the Senate on May 26

To withhold welfare benefits from a household with children who are persistently truant from school. A truant child age 16 and above could be removed from the household/

 

Senate Bill 302, Impose ban on nude entertainment in bars: Passed 27 to 10 in the Senate on February 10, 2016

To ban fully nude performers at topless bars, or bars showing videos that depict this. This relates to a 2007 federal appeals court ruling that struck down Michigan’s previous law banning fully nude performers in bars, holding it was a violation of the First Amendment. The bill would specifically ban a performance that exposes specified body parts. The House has not voted on this bill.

 

More developer subsidies, more data center subsidies, no more film producer subsidies

 

Check out these key votes made by lawmakers during the 2015-16 Michigan Legislature, and go to www.votespotter.com to sign up and see how the people who represent you voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

 

Senate Bill 616, Exempt developers of “Pyramid” building from sales tax: Passed 21 to 15 in the Senate on December 3, 2015, and 61 to 45 in the House on December 15

 

To exempt business equipment purchases made by an internet data center from the state sales tax. The bill originally applied only to the developers of proposed data center in the vacant “Pyramid” building near Grand Rapids, but was expanded to all companies in this particular business.

 

Senate Bill 556, Extend “commercial rehabilitation” tax breaks for developers: Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on November 4, 2015 and 87 to 19 in the House on December 2


To extend for another five years a “commercial rehabilitation act” that authorizes property tax breaks for owners of rehab projects involving commercial property selected by local government officials. The law was originally created with the developer of a moribund Oakland County mall in mind, and has been used to give these indirect subsidies to other developers as well.

 

House Bill 4990, Expand local government energy vendor financing schemes: Passed 102 to 4 in the House on December 8, 2015 and 34 to 0 in the Senate on May 3, 2016


To expand the things cities can spend money on under a scheme that lets them contract with vendors for energy efficiency projects to be paid for with money the projects are supposed to save (or from taxes if savings don’t appear). The bill would allow vendor installment contract duration of up to 20 years, expand the contracts to include information technology, include “lease-purchase” deals in the scheme and more.

 

House Bill 4226, Expand technology business subsidies: Passed 79 to 30 in the House on June 3, 2015 and the Senate 33 to 4 in the Senate on June 18


To increase from three to nine the number of areas in which “certified technology parks” (previously dubbed "smart zones") are allowed to expand by creating a "satellite" zone. These provide infrastructure and other subsidies to technology-based businesses.

 

House Bill 4122, Repeal film producer subsidies: Passed 24 to 13 in the Senate on June 18, 2015 and 63 to 46 in the House on the same day


To repeal the program that gives Michigan tax dollars to film producers as of October, 2016. Since 2008 some $500 million in state tax revenue has been distributed to producers.

 

Government pension spiking and double dipping; union time on taxpayer dime; Detroit pension bailout

 

 

Check out these key votes made by lawmakers during the 2015-16 Michigan Legislature, and go to www.votespotter.com to sign up and see how the people who represent you voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

 

Senate Bill 279, Ban public school/union pension spiking scheme: Passed 25 to 12 in the Senate on November 10, 2015

To prohibit public school districts from adopting arrangements in which a school employee goes to work full time for a teachers union but remains a school employee for purposes of collecting a government pension. Recent presidents of the state’s largest teacher union have used this to ‘spike’ their government pension payouts to six-figure amounts.

The House has not voted on this bill.

 

Senate Bill 280: Ban schools and governments paying union officials to do union work: Passed 20 to 17 in the Senate on November 10, 2015

To prohibit the state and local governments including public schools from carrying union officials on their payroll for doing union work, on either a full time or part time basis. Under these so-called “release time” arrangements many public school districts pay a local union official a full time teacher's salary and benefits even though the individual does not teach or perform any other educational functions.

The House has not voted on this bill.

 

Senate Bill 86: Authorize more local “pension obligation bonds”: Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on March 4, 2015

To extend for one year the Dec. 31, 2015 sunset on a law passed in 2012 to allow local governments to borrow money to cover unfunded employee pension liabilities, which is allowed only if the local has closed its traditional “defined benefit” pension system to new employees.

The House passed this 109 to 1 in the House on May 20, 2015.

 

Senate Bill 738: Require more state pension fund disclosures: Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate on February 10, 2016

To require that state pension systems include an executive summary of the system’s unfunded liabilities in annual reports they are already required to produce.

The House also passed this bill with no opposing votes.

 

Senate Bill 801, Coleman Young Jr. amendment to give Detroit schools pension bailout: Failed 12 to 25 in the Senate on May 4, 2016

To give the Detroit school district an extra $157 million to cover its cover its delinquent commitments to the underfunded state-run school pension system.

 

Senate Bill 343, Prorate unfunded university pension “catch up” costs: Passed 32 to 5 in the Senate on June 18, 2015

To cap the percentage of payroll that state universities must pay to “catch up” on past underfunding in the school pension system run by the state. This would mean that the state (taxpayers) would be required to cover required catch-up cost contributions above this level, which has also been the case for public school districts since 2012. 

The House passed this 100 to 8 on May 12, 2016.

 

Senate Bill 12: Allow pension double-dipping by “retired” Attorney General employees: Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate on February 3, 2015

To allow a retired state employee to simultaneously collect pension benefits and a paycheck for work performed as an Attorney General consultant or expert witness.

The House passed this 82 to 28 on April 16, 2015, with three Republicans joining 25 Democrats in opposition. (The current Michigan Attorney General is a Republican.)

 

 

Restrict vs. permit Uber; licensure mandates on analysts, scooter dealers, stair lifts, yoga schools

 

Check out these key votes made by lawmakers during the 2015-16 Michigan Legislature, and go to www.votespotter.com to sign up and see how the people who represent you voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

 

2015 House Bill 4637: Regulate Uber, Lyft, etc.; preempt local bans: Passed 71 to 39 in the House on June 17, 2015.

To establish a detailed but generally permissive regulatory framework that would enable “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft to operate in this state, including preemption on local government regulations or bans. The bill would require permits, specified insurance, background checks, vehicle inspections, prescribed customer disclosures and more. The Senate has not voted on this bill, and bills introduced there would be more restrictive and potentially let local government pass their own regulations and restrictions.

 

Senate Bill 1015, Impose licensure on practitioners of “applied behavioral analysis": Passed 34 to 1 in the Senate on September 21, 2016.

To impose licensure on practitioners of “applied behavioral analysis," with $90 annual license fees and other fees, regulations, scope of practice restrictions, education and experience requirements, and more. Senate Bill 1015 creates the mandate and this bill would create a state board comprised of officials and individuals who are already in this or related careers to devise specific rules, requirements and restrictions for new entrants.

 

2016 House Bill 5577: Impose licensure mandate on “mobility vehicle” dealers: Passed 96 to 12 in the House on June 2, 2016

To impose a new licensure and training mandate and associated regulations on new dealers of vehicles modified for use by disabled individuals (“mobility vehicles”).

 

2016 Senate Bill 818: Exempt yoga instruction schools from licensure mandate, Passed 35 to 0 in the Senate on April 13, 2016 and 2 to 17 in the House on May 17, 2016

To exempt yoga teacher training schools from a state licensure mandate imposed on private trade-schools (“proprietary schools”). A bill analysis notes that many people take yoga teaching classes just for the experience, and “the regulations reportedly have created a business environment that deters...offering or expanding instruction programs".

Signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on June 6, 2016

 

2015 House Bill 4163: Remove some licensure restrictions on residential lift installers: Passed 62 to 47 in the House on March 11, 2015 and 27 to 10 in the Senate on May 13, 2015

To permit a licensed residential home builder to install residential stairway lifts without being subjected to the much more rigorous licensure provisions that apply to elevator contractors.

Signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on May 21, 2015

 

2015 House Bill 4344: New regulations on auto repair shops:

Passed 86 to 23 in the House on May 31, 2016, and 33 to 3 in the Senate on June 1, 2016

To codify into law the comprehensive regulatory regime currently imposed on vehicle repair facilities by rule, including a state registration mandate. An amendment was added and then modified to prohibit shops from replacing a major part on a newer vehicle with one not made by the vehicle's “original equipment manufacturer.” This was criticized as protectionism for automakers, and the final version of the bill appears to allow non-OEM parts if a customer authorizes this in writing.

 

End trying some juveniles as adults; ban locking up juveniles with adults; require outdoor exercise for young prisoners

 

Check out these key votes made by lawmakers during the 2015-16 Michigan Legislature, and go to www.votespotter.com to sign up and see how the people who represent you voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

2015 House Bill 4962: End automatically trying 17 year olds as adult: Passed 90 to 19 in the House on April 28, 2016

To no longer automatically prosecute and sentence 17 year olds charged with serious crimes as if they are adults. Other bills in the same legislative package amend other statutes to bring this about. The Senate has not voted on these bills.

House Bill 4965, Create juvenile justice family advisory board: Passed 96 to 13 in the House on April 28, 2015.

To create a family advisory board in the Department of Corrections to give advice on ways to support family reunification when a minor is incarcerated for committing a serious crime, and other steps intended to assist re-entry into the community and reduce recidivism.

House Bill 4966, Require out-of-cell exercise for young prisoners: Passed 93 to 16 in the House on April 28, 2016

To require the Department of Corrections to provide “age-appropriate out-of-cell programming and outdoor exercise” at least five days a week for prisoners who are less than 21 years old.

2015 House Bill 4959, Ban locking up young criminals with adults: Passed 92 to 16 in the House on April 27, 2016

To prohibit incarcerating minors charged with criminal offenses in a facility that also houses adult offenders during confinement, trial, or transport. This is part of a legislative package that consists of House Bills 4947 to 4966.

2016 Senate Bill 945, Ban locking up young criminals with adults: Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate on June 9, 2016

Ban locking up young criminals with adults: To prohibit incarcerating minors charged with criminal offenses in a facility that also houses adult offenders during confinement, trial, or transport.

2015 Senate Bill 251: Establish less formal court procedures for some juvenile crimes: Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate on May 14, 2015, and 105 to 4 in the House on June 9, 2016

To establish a parallel court “consent calendar” process for criminal cases involving juveniles that are not serious enough warrant removing the juvenile from parental custody, but only if the parents or guardian and the prosecutor agree. Procedures for such cases would be less formal than for regular criminal cases, and access to case records would be restricted.

This bill was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder last June and is now Public Act 185 of 2016.

Nothing Closer to Eternal Than a Failed Michigan Public School?

State education officials have been unable or unwilling to say whether they have ever used their power to close a Michigan public school that has persistently failed academically. (Some low-performance school districts have been closed by the state because they became fiscally unviable.)

 

Whether that will change is uncertain. A few weeks ago, an official with a state School Reform Office told an education news website that with a few exceptions, schools that rank in the state’s bottom 5 percent on academic performance will be closed after the current year.

 

But apparently that was news to officials in the state Department of Education, who said no closings were planned.

 

Which brings us to the release this week of the latest update to the worst-performing schools report,  essentially the lowest 5 percent of school on what the state calls its “Top to Bottom” list. The bottom 5 percent includes 116 schools, of which 58 are in Detroit.

 

This list of so-called “priority schools”comes from the same School Reform Office from which the earlier “bad schools will be closed” report originated. The press release accompanying the updated rankings says nothing about closing schools, with instead just a vague reference to “a next level of accountability.”

 

However, an aide to Gov. Rick Snyder told the Detroit Free Press that no Detroit schools on the worst schools list – precisely half of the total  – will be closed for at least three years, based on some legal interpretations of a Detroit school bailout bill Snyder championed and recently signed.

 

One school reformer is skeptical. Gary Nayaert of the Great Lakes Education Project told the Detroit News, “Legal opinions are not hard to come by, not hard to purchase…I would encourage the governor to seek a second legal opinion.”

 

The National Assessment of Educational Progress has named Detroit’s as the nation’s worst performing urban school district in each of the four biannual rankings released since 2009.

 

Snyder has been under stress since the Flint water contamination debacle hit the news almost a year ago. At the end of 2016 the term-limited Republican will have two years left before a new governor takes office on Jan. 1, 2019.

 

 

 

http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/detroit/2016/08/15/scores-michigan-schools-shuttered-based-test-scores-told-wouldnt-count/#.V8hvovkrLiw

 

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sro/2015_Lowest_Achieving_5_List_v.2016.09.01_533522_7.pdf%20

 

http://www.michigan.gov/sro/

 

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2016/09/01/snyder-aide-failing-detroit-schools-unlikely-face-closure-yet/89680796/

 

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2016/09/01/snyder-adviser-forced-detroit-schools-closures-soon/89681518/

 

https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/subject/publications/dst2015/pdf/2016048xr8.pdf

State-Run Internet Gambling

According to Capitol reporter Tim Skubick writing for Mlive, last November the Michigan lottery quietly began letting individuals buy lottery tickets online. The number of online users has grown 300 percent, from 86,000 the first month to 322,000 now, with sales of $147 million.

 

Elsewhere in the Capitol, a Senate committee has advanced Senate Bills 889 and 890 to the full body for consideration. The bills would allow casinos in the state to enter the internet gambling market, subject to a 10 percent tax. A fiscal analysis suggests the move may or may not increase state revenues, because it could divert sales from the lottery.

 

None of the above addresses the ethical concerns surrounding state governments not just being in the gambling business but advertising heavily to entice individuals to gamble.

 

Research suggests that low-income and minority individuals disproportionately spend money on lottery gambling, where even more than casinos “the house” is the only real winner. In other words, government lotteries prey upon those least able to afford them.

 

Bathroom Wars Come to Michigan

The conflict actually arrived in March, when Democrats on a state Board of Education (an entity that has limited authority) proposed “guidance” that would require public schools to let students “use the restroom in accordance with their gender identity.”

See Memorandum from State of Michigan Department of Education here.

This week a bill was introduced in the state Senate that was described by MichiganVotes.org as follows:

2016 Senate Bill 993: Ban boys in public school girl’s restroom and vice versa

Introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson (R) on May 25, 2016, to prohibit public schools from allowing boys to use the girl’s restroom or girls to use the boy’s rest room, plus locker rooms, showers, etc. when students of the opposite sex are present. However, if a student asserts having a gender is different from their biological sex, and a parent or legal guardian consents in writing, the school would have provided an accommodation that does not violate the prohibition described above. This could include a single-occupancy or unisex restroom or the “controlled use” of faculty facilities.

http://www.michiganvotes.org/2016-SB-993      

Flint Water Crisis Triggers Constitutional Amendment Proposal

Flint Water Crisis Triggers Constitutional Amendment Proposal

House Speaker wants to make it easier to fire incompetent government employees

The investigation into how the City of Flint’s drinking water became contaminated almost immediately became highly politicized and partisan, but this much seems clear: The crisis involved government failures at the local, state and federal levels. The failure was aggravated by overlapping layers of opaque and possibly contradictory regulations promulgated by multiple agencies, which all conspired to dilute responsibility and accountability.

Nevertheless, the actions – or perhaps inaction - of two long-time civil service employees at the Michigan Department of Environmental quality, have drawn criticism from all quarters, and criminal charges.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/20/474931189/criminal-charges-to-be-filed-in-flint-water-crisis-reports-say

In Michigan and most states, government employees are subject to civil service protections originally created during the Progressive era in the early 20th century in an effort to reduce corruption and political patronage that was most visible in big city “machine” politics but was rife throughout government. One unfortunate downside is that the laws make it difficult or even impossible in some cases to fire “civil servants” for anything but the most egregious kinds of malfeasance.

In Michigan, these protections are built into the state constitution in the form of a Civil Service Commission that in the matter of state employees can even trump the action of the legislature in some areas.

This is the context for a new proposal to amend the state constitution introduced Thursday by the Speaker of the Michigan House, Kevin Cotter (R-Mount Pleasant), as House Joint Resolution MM. The measure would give state department heads the power to fire civil servants for “conduct that directly and negatively impacts the department's ability to accomplish its statutory duties in a fair, timely,

equitable, and transparent manner.” Employees would retain the right to appeal to the Civil Service Commission, and get their jobs back if it judged the firing “arbitrary and capricious.”

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(srriogi4it3w22mmiskahyps))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2016-HJR-MM

Given the politicization of the Flint water debacle the fate of the measure is uncertain. It would require a two-third supermajority vote in both the House and Senate to be placed on the ballot, and then the approval of voters. Cotter is widely regarded as an effective and able Speaker, however, so it would be premature to count the proposal out yet.

State Fails to Deposit Required Amount in School Pension System

The state of Michigan has accumulated huge unfunded liabilities in the government employee retirement systems it runs due to failing to deposit the required amounts into pension funds. The system for public school employees is the largest and currently has a $26.5 billion unfunded liability. Taxpayers are on the hook for this debt to the tune of more than $2,600 for every man, woman, and child in the state.

So it is significant that for the sixth year in a row state officials once again failed to adequately fund the system. According to an article in Michigan Capitol Confidential, the state’s own actuaries calculated that it should deposit $2.18 billion into the school employee system this year. The deposit covers the additional pension benefits accrued by individual employees for the year, plus some extra to cover catching up on past underfunding.http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/22411

However, the state only contributed $1.97 billion, shorting its “Annual Required Contribution” by $210 million.

Legislation has been introduced to contain the growing burden by no longer enrolling new school employees into the defined benefit pension system. Under the bills, new hires would instead get defined contribution, 401(k)-type benefits (see House Bill 5218 and Senate Bill 102).

http://michiganvotes.org/2016-HB-5218

http://michiganvotes.org/2015-SB-102

Copyright © 2018 Votespotter Inc. All rights reserved.