MICHIGAN GOVERNMENT RELATIONS- August 2016

Please take the time to go to www.legislature.mi.gov and register for alerts on different bills.  Click on that link and you can also check on any bill listed below or search for a bill using a key word. You can contact us for help at bob.funkey@hotmail.com or cathy.funkey@hotmail.com.  This report will be posted on the State web site.

HEALTH/EMPLOYMENT

1.      HB 5686, 5687, 5688: continue the regulation, taxation and enforcement of electronic smoking devices. HB 5686 would also require that the devices be sold in child proof containers. As of May 2016 the bills were not sent to committee.

2.      SB 778: would amend the Public Health Code to allow Law Enforcement, Firemen and other first responders to use “narcon” and other “opioid antagonists” to treat suspected overdose victims.  The incidence of heroin overdoses has reached epic levels.  There is also a “hold harmless” clause for the first responders.

3.      HB 5283: Deals with escheat which is where unclaimed property, revert to the State. This bill would allow the State to sell unclaimed property account information to licensed “locators” for a fee.  This would increase revenue to the State and allow people who may have unclaimed property to have an outside company help them. As of 6/6/16 the bill was in committee. This is a pretty popular bill with bi-partisan support.

4.      HB 5802: This bill would regulate physician assisted suicide for patient -requested life-ending medication.  There are 17 pages of requirements to this bill which was introduced on 8/3/16 and has been referred to the Committee on Health Policy.  There may be a lot of controversy with this bill.    

EDUCATION/SPORTS/ENVIRONMENT

1.      Speed Limit Change Bills:  The five bills in the package: HB 4423, 4425, 4425, 4426, 4427 were passed by the House on 6/1/15.  They have now been referred to the Committee on Transportation. The proposed 75-80 mph speed limits would make Michigan the highest in the Midwest.  

NATURAL RESOURCES: 

1.      Eight new bills were introduced to regulate hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in Michigan.  House Bills 5366 of 2016 to 5372 of 2016 include: were introduced in February but have not moved to committee.

IRS/TAXATION

1.      SB 0732 of 2016 and HB 5325 of 2016: would amend the General Property Tax act allow property owned by Masonic Associations and used solely for Masonic purposes to be tax exempt. Several Masonic Lodges already have a taxable value of zero. The Senate bill was referred to the Committee of the Whole 6/8/16.  The House bill was referred to the Committee on Tax Policy on 2/9/16.  These bills were re-introduced in 2016 because the original bills expired.  We are closely following these bills because they could help us.

2.      SB 0570 of 2015- would exempt sportsmen clubs from property taxes if the facilities off free classes to the public consistent with the primary purpose for which the club was created.  Some of our Lodges already host classes on gun and hunting safety or have DNR groups come in to give talks. 

3.      SB 0606 of 2015- became a Public Act effective 6/7/16.  This act would exempt school taxes levied on the principal residence of military service members who are residing elsewhere because of deployment.  There are several conditions that need to be met to get the exemption and a clause in the Act allows members of the armed services who resided in a nursing or rehab facility to apply retroactively for the tax exemption.  

GAMING

  1. HB 4923 of 2015 and SB 187: together would amend the Traxler-McCauley Bingo Act.  The Senate bill passed in December 2015, was amended and was approved out of the Regulatory Reform committee 3/23/16.  Both have been referred to their second and third reading but have not gone to the House Floor for voting which means they are stalled and if they do not pass by the end of the year, the bills will expire.  
  2. SB 889 and 890- would create the “Lawful Internet Gaming Act”.  The bill was introduced 4/14/16 and has already gone in an out of committee and on 6/9/16 was referred to the Committee of the Whole.  This bill set a land speed record even by Legislative fast track standards.  The background has to do with the lawsuits and boycotts of many Indian Tribes when the Detroit Casinos were built and Keno went on-line.  6 Tribes stopped making payments in 1999 and others did the same in the mid 2000’s when Club Keno was introduced.  The loss in revenue was projected to be up to $60 million dollars.  On July 25, 2016 the Gun Lake Tribe reached a partial settlement with the State over $21 million in disputed casino revenue payments.   

In a move toward government accountability you can track State Government spending and other financial reports at transparency.michigan.gov. Also Public Act 221 of 2016 requires that the state’s unfunded liabilities, legacy costs, be included during the budget process starting with the governor’s budget plan. 

FEDERAL NEWS:

1.      Senator Stabenow announced that over $544,000 will be given to Munson Medical Center and Central Michigan University to expand health care in rural communities through telemedicine.  Munson will connect nineteen rural medical clinics in Grand Traverse, Ottawa, Wexford, Charlevoix, Roscommon, Chippewa and Leelanau Counties.  CMU will offer community based training to its medical students to sure rural areas of Isabella, Saginaw, Clare, Houghton, Lake, Mackinac, Gratiot and Huron Counties.

2.      Senators Stabenow, Susan Collins of Maine, Edward Markey of Mass. and Shelley Capito of West Virginia (a bi-partisan group) announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid proposed covering new care planning sessions for Alzheimer’s patients and their families to provide an early assessment on the disease, which will be called the HOPE Alzheimer’s Act.

3.      Lt Colonel Alexander Jefferson, one of the remaining Tuskegee Airmen was awarded a Bronze Star on May 1, 2016.  It took 57 years for the paperwork to be sorted out because he was originally listed as missing, presumed killed in action when his plane was shot down on a mission over Germany.

4.      The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 was passed on April 27th.  The legislation will clean up some of the unfair tariffs and taxes American Manufacturing businesses pay so they can better compete in the Global Market