After taking total control of the Legislature for the first time in 40 years, Democrats have been moving fast in the first six months in Lansing. Your Chamber Government Affairs Team led in support or opposition on issues important to the West Michigan business community, ranging from labor law and housing opportunities to new regulatory structures and more.
- How’d it go: Repeal of a Right-to-Work and prevailing wage were the first big dominoes to fall over business community opposition. This week, the bill repealing a requirement that rules/regulations that are stricter than associated federal standards come with a “clear and convincing need” was also sent to the Governor.
- What came next included surprise hearings and a series of significant items such as restrictions on the use of independent contractors , restrictive scheduling , and other items that were alarming to West Michigan businesses.
What’s the concern: Private employers drive our economy, and the associations that represent them, such as your Chamber, have communicated frustration with these proposed polices and the lack of clarity on the process and opportunity for input.
- What happens next: While many concerning bills received hearings in the House or Senate, almost all of them have not been advanced through Committee yet and are expected to go into summer “workgroups.” This includes legislation to allow local government to set their own minimum wages, benefits and more as well as labor and climate packages.
- A lot is still up in the air. Our team is participating in workgroups, meeting with legislators and partner organizations to stay on top of priority issues and make sure our members are engaged and informed.
What went well: A number of priorities moved forward this year that we supported, as well as some where we played a significant leadership role to get them over the finish line, including the following efforts:
- Tax increment financing to support workforce housing
- The expansion of the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act
- Relief for businesses paying sales tax on delivery and installation of products
- Changes to the Transformational Brownfield Program to support Grand Rapids projects like the amphitheater
- Investments into projects and programs that support employers needs for skills training, child care and more
- Plus budget items:
See how West Michigan Legislators Voted
Learn more in the breakdown below!
Labor & Employment Regulatory Legislation:
Assigned to the Michigan House Labor Committee in April, and unexpected to move until the fall, were 16 bills impacting:
- The ability of employers to use independent contractors
- The ability of individuals to operate as independent contractors
- Prohibiting non-compete agreements in certain situations
- Requiring employers to disclose at the request of an employee wage and benefit information for “similarly situated employees”
- Increasing several fines and penalties, including creating new felonies for violations of new and existing employment laws
Opposing this legislation is a top priority for the Chamber due to their regulatory burdens on employers and employees, plus their ability to potentially shutter businesses or force them out of state.
Other GR Chamber opposition on the topic of labor regulations and mandates include:
- Repeal of Michigan Fair and Open Competition in Governmental Construction Act (HB4231 ) if repealed, this bill would make union labor a requirement for doing business with public entities.
- Why it matters: Forcing companies to pay a prevailing wage rate as well as only working with unions will increase the cost of doing business and further slow down projects in Michigan.
- Bad Faith Legislation (HB4681 & SB329) will impose additional responsibilities and duties on insurers during the claims adjusting process.
- Why it matters: This legislation will lead to higher insurance rates by opening the floodgates to fraud and frivolous lawsuits. Modeled off laws in Florida, this legislation led to a 40% increase in homeowners insurance policies and of the $51B paid out by Florida insurers over a 10-year period, 71% went to attorney’s fees and public adjustors. For every dollar of fraud, businesses incur $2.92 in costs.
Infrastructure, Energy & Environmental Legislation:
On climate and energy, high priority legislation for Democrats in both the House (HB4759-61) and Senate (SB271-276) that would create mandated renewable energy and decarbonization goals having great impacts to the way Michiganders and business get their energy.
Major concerns include:
- Without ensuring that clean energy policy can meet the needs of Michigan’s energy customers, these bills will result in challenges to energy reliability and affordability.
- They lack a clear regulatory pathway for achieving greater renewable energy generation goals, creating uncertainty to how these goals are to be implemented or accomplished.
- Carbon capture and carbon offsets are important pieces of the decarbonization puzzle in Michigan and yet are not addressed in this package.
- The package does not address the issue of permitting and citing reform for renewable energy systems, a regulatory barrier that has all but crippled the ability of developers to site renewable projects.
- The bills do not create a framework of off-ramps for shuttering the many energy generation technologies that, under this legislation, would be banned by 2035, nor how the early retirement of these assets would be amortized.
- These bills pick clear winners and losers without the ability for regulators to properly account for the needs of energy customers.
The Chamber is a part of a coalition opposing these bills and have been told there will be an opportunity to provide feedback this summer before they get another hearing in the fall.
The Chamber is also opposed to House Bills HB4382 & 4383 impacting the Michigan drain code that would allow for the creation of water management districts, plans, and commissions created through a citizen petition of 50 signatures or through other avenues.
- Why it matters: These commissions would create a new layer of government with the ability to use eminent domain and levy special assessments without a vote of the people to fund new activities like studies, stormwater education, maintenance and construction.
Health Care Legislation:
On health care, the Chamber has been focused on a number of issues including:
- Drug Transparency (HB4409 ) that would create the “drug manufacturer data reporting act,” requiring a drug manufacturer to submit a report within 30 days of increasing the wholesale acquisition cost of a qualified prescription drug by 15% or more in a given year or 40% or more over 3 years.
- Why it matters: The Chamber is currently neutral on this legislation and is seeking amendments because it does not currently directly “reduce the cost of prescription medications” as listed in our priorities, but it is a reasonable step forward to understand the purpose of cost increases and create a public database of drug prices.
- Oral Chemo (HB4071 ) This legislation would create insurance parity for oral and IV chemo without addressing the significant difference in cost between the two drugs.
- Why it matters: This legislation impacts a very small number of insurance holders and does not impact patients on Medicaid or Medicare. Without addressing the high cost of drugs, this legislation has the potential to increase the cost of insurance policies. The Chamber is working with a number of other business associations to amend the language and become neutral on this legislation.
- Nurse Staffing Ratio Requirements (HB4551-52 & SB335-336 ) would require hospitals to meet nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and end mandatory overtime as a regular practice.
- Why it matters: Michigan hospitals are trying to fill 8,500 job openings for nurses. Instituting a one-size-fits-all mandate requiring hospitals to hire more nurses who do not currently exist will limit the services hospitals can offer, prolong patient wait times and hinder the ability of hospitals to respond to a crisis.