Bills on unemployment, property tax, wolf management, and more
Michigan Legislative Action, June 2021
Sponsored bills introduced
Sen. Ed McBroom introduced Senate Bill 531 early in June. This bill would require the unemployment insurance agency to get background checks on independent contractors, and their employees. It was referred to the Committee on Economic and Small Business Development and there has been no further movement.
Sen. McBroom introduced Senate Bill 541, which creates a homestead property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a person who dies on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces if they have not remarried. It is currently held by the Committee on Finance.
Sen. McBroom also introduced Senate Bill 540, which would shift the cost of property tax exemptions granted to disabled veterans from the county to the state through reimbursement. This bill was referred to the Committee on Finance. Tie-barred with it is Senate Bill 539, which prescribes more of the process.
At the end of June, Sen. McBroom introduced Senate Bill 590, which would require conservation officers to wear body cameras while on duty. It has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.
Sen. McBroom also introduced Senate Bill 581, which sets the penalty for someone who injures a “vulnerable roadway user” as not more than 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both. It is tie-barred with Senate Bill 580, which defines a vulnerable roadway user as pedestrians, bicyclists, people using wheelchairs, or others “operating or riding a transportation device in compliance with this act [the law]”.
Votes of note
Sen. McBroom voted in favor of Senate Bill 458, requiring the governor to notify legislators when traveling out of state, and against Sen. Jeff Irwin’s proposed amendment to waive the requirement for legislators believed to be “a security risk to this state because of his or her affiliations with a domestic terrorist organization.” The bill and amendment passed and failed, respectively, along strict party lines. The bill has been received by the House and referred to a committee.
Sen. McBroom’s bill to limit the membership of the Wolf Management Advisory Council to residents of the Upper Peninsula until studies find a wolf population in the Lower Peninsula passed the Senate along party lines and has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation.
Sen. McBroom voted with a mix of Democrats and Republicans that supported waiving driver’s license fees until the Secretary of State offices are “fully open”, which includes at least 25 hours a week of walk-in service. The bill passed the Senate, was amended and passed by the House — where Rep. Greg Markkanen also voted in favor — and has now been returned to the Senate for confirmation.
Sen. McBroom voted in favor of Senate Bill 393, which would grant a tax break to restaurants, taverns, hotels, and other commercial businesses that had to close under pandemic orders for at least six weeks, along with other restrictions. The bill passed with solely Republican support and is now in the House Committee on Tax Policy.
Sen. McBroom supported Senate Bill 285, which would require identification to vote with some exceptions. It passed along party lines with Republican support. The bill is now in the House Committee on Elections and Ethics.
Sen. McBroom also voted yes on Senate Bill 379, which prohibits the governor from selling bonds to fund road repairs without approval from two-thirds of the House and Senate. It passed on party lines and is now in the House Committee on Transportation.
Finally, Sen. McBroom supported Senate Bill 28, which would grant $25 million to certain rehab clinics that are reported to be in danger of closing after fee caps in the 2019 auto insurance reform law take effect this year. It was presented to the governor on July 1.
Sponsored bills introduced
Rep. Greg Markkanen, with fellow U.P. representatives Sara Cambensy and Beau LaFave, proposed House Bill 4978, which would exempt interstate truckers from a fuel tax reciprocity agreement. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Transportation and hasn’t received a vote or any fiscal analysis yet.
House Bill 4976, which exempts truckers from state sales and use tax on fuel if they are subject to fuel tax reciprocity agreements, has also been referred to the same committee and has not been analyzed.
Likewise, House Bill 4977, which amends the rules for entering into fuel tax reciprocity agreements, has not seen any action since being introduced.
Rep. Markkanen is also a sponsor of House Bill 5046, which has support from both major political parties. It sets a time limit of 90 days for child care centers or group homes to come into compliance with new rules.
Votes of note
Rep. Markkanen voted in favor of House Bill 4667, to prohibit state or local governments from issuing COVID-19 “vaccine passports”. While the bill passed mostly along party lines, it did have some support from a handful of House Democrats as well. The bill passed on to the Senate but has yet to receive a vote there.
Rep. Markkanen also supported House Joint Resolution D, which would let voters decide if a two-thirds majority of the House or Senate could suspend the salary and expense allowances of another member. It would also require roll call votes to give a law immediate effect after passage. The bill moved on to the Senate but has not received a vote there.
House Bill 4685 also received a ‘Yes’ vote from Sen. Markkanen. This bill would impose a personal financial disclosure mandate on state officers from the governor to members of state university governing boards. It passed the House with a mix of support from Democrats and Republicans but has not been voted on in the Senate.
The story is nearly the same for House Bill 4684, which would impose similar disclosure mandates on members of the legislature. However, these reports would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
Rep. Markkanen and other Michigan House Republicans joined with two House Democrats to pass House Bill 4434, which will cancel the state’s participation in the federal $300 boost to unemployment benefits. The bill was originally introduced to require the unemployment agency to use plainer language in its communications but was amended before being passed. It was amended again by the Senate — where Sen. McBroom also supported it — and concurred to in the House.