Michigan State Capitol

Key Issues and Bills

Education & Workforce Readiness
Key Issue Workforce Readiness
Overview
Michigan is experiencing a prolonged shortage of talent. Across our state, employers are struggling to find skilled workers to fill critical jobs and grow their businesses. Michigan must rethink our approach to K-12 education to ensure today's students have the skills needed to move Michigan forward. Every decision impacting public education should be based on what is best for students and how we can better enable them to emerge from high school prepared to enter the workplace or go on to college. Supporting the retention and growth of high-quality traditional and charter schools to expand and enhance educational opportunities for all Michigan students is a top legislative priority of the Michigan Chamber.

Addressing the Talent Gap

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Creates pathways for all students, regardless of income, to get the skills or education they need to land a good-paying job. The bills contain contains three career pathways, all focused on getting students the skills, credentials and degrees they need to enter the workforce. 

  • MI Reconnect Grant Program – This workforce development program would provide tuition-free training for non-traditional students who are at least 25 years old and have not yet attained a bachelor’s or associate degree. Tuition could be used by the student to attain a technical credential/certificate, associate degree or transfer to a four-year institution. Students would be eligible to use tuition for programs offered at community colleges, technical programs and other community-based organizations. The goal is to “up skill” these individuals so they are able to fill available jobs.    
  • MI Opportunity Initiative (two-year community college program) – This program would provide a two-year, tuition-free pathway at a public community college for graduating high school students. The credential goal would be a technical certificate, associate degree or transfer to a four-year institution. 
  • MI Opportunity Initiative (four-year program) – This program would provide assistance for the first two years at a public or private four-year institution (i.e., up to $2500 annually for two years). To be eligible for this program, students must graduate from high school with at least a “B” average and have a household income of $80,000 or less.
Sponsor(s):
Senator Ananich, Senator Horn, Rep. Frederick, Rep. Kennedy
Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Most of today’s jobs require some form of postsecondary education, whether it’s a college degree or a skills certification. However, only 44 percent of Michigan’s workforce held such credentials as of 2016. To better fill Michigan’s talent pipeline and boost career opportunities for Michiganders, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new statewide plan to increase the number of Michiganders with a postsecondary credential to 60 percent by 2030. Michigan currently ranks 36th for postsecondary educational attainment, with 43.7 percent of Michiganders possessing a postsecondary credential compared to the national average of 46.9 percent and other Midwest states (Illinois – 60 percent, Indiana – 60 percent; Ohio – 65 percent, and Wisconsin – 60 percent). Michigan is just one of nine states that has not formally adopted a statewide postsecondary goal. The Governor’s plan is modeled after the highly-successful Tennessee Promise Scholarship program, which creates pathways for all students, regardless of income, to get the skills or education they need to land a good paying job. This plan is a “last-dollar” plan, meaning all other student aid must first be exhausted, including Pell grants and other student assistance awards. The Governor has pledged to fund her proposal with no increases in taxes or fees.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Referred to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Limit Access to Educational Choice

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

If adopted, HJR B would place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to prohibit a charter school board from contracting with a for-profit education management company to provide staff and comprehensive educational, administrative, management or instructional services. In the real world, this means more limited access to educational choice for students and families, including in areas where our public schools are failing our kids.

Sponsor(s):
Reps. Pagan, Gay-Dagnogo, Koleszar, Camilleri, Manoogian, Hoadley, Shannon, Garza, Brenda Carter, Kennedy, Cynthia Johnson, Chirkun, Cherry, Sowerby, Bolden, Pohutsky, Hood, Stone, Ellison, Anthony, Garrett, Yancey, Brixie, Sneller, Haadsma, Robinson, Wit
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. This constitutional amendment is being driven by teacher unions and others who feel threatened by their increasingly successful education rivals. The sad reality is that, by and large, the education sector is failing in its responsibility to give young people the skills they need to do the jobs that are available today and will be available in the future. Yet charter schools are emerging in many areas a bright spot in public education. This is because many charter schools, while public, are freed from some of the bureaucratic restraints other public schools face. They have independent boards and take pride in getting parents involved in school. Charter schools are also innovative, sometimes completely rethinking the way students and teachers teach and learn. Many charter schools offer STEM-based or other specialized curricula, as well as specialty programs such as language immersion, project-based learning, and environmental and agricultural studies. Some schools benchmark all of their students against international education standards to ensure that they can compete in the global workforce. We believe this focus on student success and achievement is something to run towards, not away from.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Committee on Education. 

Eliminate Statewide Testing on Career Readiness

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

This bill would eliminate statewide use of an assessment to evaluate how well-prepared students are to enter the workforce post high school graduation. Although the state pays significant attention to college readiness, workforce readiness is often overlooked. This mandatory assessment (currently the WorkKeys Assessment) is designed to assess a pupil’s ability to apply reading and mathematics competencies in the workforce and for students to earn talent endorsements on their high school diplomas. These endorsements are currently being used by many employers in the hiring process. Both the assessment and endorsements would be eliminated if this bill were to pass. 

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Reilly
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. This bill is being pushed in the name of “streamlining” Michigan’s student testing regimen, including the amount of time students spend taking assessments and the number of tests they take. While we agree this is a laudable goal, we oppose eliminating the only statewide test that measures career readiness. We hear far too often that Michigan students aren’t graduating from high school with the skills necessary to be either career or college ready. Eliminating our only assessment on career readiness isn’t going to change that but it also isn’t going to make it any better. Without this mandatory assessment the state will no longer be assessing our student’s deficiencies and compiling data that could be used to better prepare our students for their next step.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Passed by the House Committee on Education, pending before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Employer Rights
Key Issue Employer Rights
Overview
For Michigan to be a leader in job creation and economic growth, our state's employment laws must be fair, practical and affordable. Michigan job providers need the flexibility to operate their businesses - and attract and retain good and talented employees - without intrusive government mandates, regulations and restrictions. Supporting the right of employers of all sizes to manage their workplaces free of undue interference by local, state and federal governments is a top legislative priority of the Michigan Chamber.

$12 Minimum Wage

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Would increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour over four steps, raising labor costs significantly.

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Sowerby, Sen. Alexander
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Michigan’s minimum wage law was last updated in 2018 and the rate is set to increase gradually to $12.05 by 2030. Michigan already has one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country. Any further increases would make Michigan uncompetitive in the race for jobs and force many employers to make tough business decisions, including cutting back staffing hours, increasing costs and reducing other investments in employees or the business.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and Senate and referred to committee.

$16 Minimum Wage

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Takes wage decisions out of employers’ hands and establishes a minimum wage rate of $16 per hour for individuals with five years of “relevant” work experience and a high school diploma or equivalency certificate.

Sponsor(s):
Senator Betty Jean Alexander
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Michigan’s minimum wage law was last updated in 2018 and the rate is set to increase gradually between now and 2030. Michigan already has one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country. Any further government-mandated increase would make Michigan uncompetitive in the race for jobs and force many employers to make tough business decisions, including cutting back staffing hours, increasing costs and reducing other investments in employees or the business. This policy has the potential to hurt the very workers its intended to help.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced and referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.

Repeal Right-to-Work Law

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Repeals Michigan’s 2012 Right-to-Work law which ensures workplace fairness and equality by giving every employee the ability to decide for themselves if joining or financially supporting a union is the right choice for them. 

Sponsor(s):
HB 4033: Reps. John Chirkun, Brian Elder, Terry Sabo, William Sowerby, Sara Cambensy, Lori Stone, Kevin Hertel, Nate Shannon, Ronnie Peterson, Kristy Pagan, Matt Koleszar, John Cherry, Laurie Pohutsky, Yousef Rabhi, Cynthia Johnson, Donna Lasinski, HB 4034: Reps. Brian Elder, John Chirkun, Terry Sabo, William Sowerby, Sara Cambensy, Lori Stone, Kevin Hertel, Nate Shannon, Ronnie Peterson, Sarah Anthony, Kara Hope, Joseph Tate, Karen Whitsett, Issac Robinson, Sheldon Neeley, Kristy Pagan, Matt Kolesz
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Michigan's Right-to-Work law is good public policy that protects all employees from being forced to join a union and pay dues against their will. It does not prohibit a union's right to exist or prevent collective bargaining.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

Legal Reform
Key Issue Legal Reform
Overview
Michigan has long been considered a leader in the national legal reform movement and must continue to work proactively to strengthen and improve the state's legal climate. Commonsense reforms should be pursued to protect job providers against frivolous lawsuits and excessive legal bills. Supporting reforms to Michigan's auto insurance system to drive down Michigan's highest-in-the-nation auto insurance costs is a top legislative priority of the Michigan Chamber.

Reform Auto Insurance System to Bring Down Premiums

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Legislation works to drive down Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation auto insurance rates by giving drivers a choice in the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits they buy; instituting a fee schedule to control reimbursement rates for medical services; and mandating a rollback in auto insurance rates for eight years. 

Sponsor(s):
Sen. Nesbitt, Rep. Sheppard
Chamber Position:

NO POSITION ON FINAL BILL. At the beginning of the 2019-20 legislative session, the Michigan Chamber called for bold action to drive down Michigan's exorbitant auto insurance rates. Michigan drivers currently pay auto insurance rates that are, on average, 83 percent higher than the national average. Although both the House and Senate passed bills that the Michigan Chamber could support, the legislation was amended following negotiations with the Governor. While there are many good components to the plan, we have concerns about how this bill will impact competition and choice in the marketplace over the next several years.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Signed by the Governor.

Tax Climate
Tax Climate
Overview
Michigan has made significant improvements to its business tax environment and must continue to do so to stay economically competitive for jobs and investment. Protecting and building on past reforms will continue to promote Michigan’s strengthening fiscal health. Ensuring the state-level administration of taxes continues to be customer friendly and centered on compliance, as opposed to maximizing revenue collection, is vitally important. Opposing efforts to expand or increase Michigan's corporate and personal income taxes and preserving Michigan's longstanding property valuation methodologies are top legislative priorities of the Michigan Chamber.

Exempt Sales/Use Tax on Aviation Repair Parts

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Nothing is more frustrating for Michigan’s businesses than when our state’s tax policy makes them uncompetitive within their industry; that is exactly the case for aircraft repair facilities. Under current law, Michigan aircraft repair facilities do not enjoy a Sales and Use Tax exemption on aircraft parts like every other state offers in the Great Lakes region; this causes both private and commercial operators to seek repairs in surrounding states rather than right here in Michigan. The current law regarding the taxability of aviation repair parts makes it so that planes registered in Michigan are incentivized to go out of state for repair work. 

Sponsor(s):
Representatives Kahle and Bryd
Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Businesses should compete on a level playing field both regionally and nationally. The Chamber supports changing this unfair tax burden on Michigan aviation repair facilities.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Personal Property Tax Exemption on Certain Broadband Infrastructure

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

It’s hard to believe that many parts of Michigan do not have access to broadband internet services. Unless you live in an area without access to broadband you would not know how wide spread the problem is. In the past, legislators have introduced bills to allow for local units of government to offer broadband services with revenues collected from a special millage. The Michigan Chamber always looked at this proposal with concern. Most recently, however, Chamber-backed legislation was introduced to provide for personal property tax relief for broadband service providers who expand their network into areas that currently do not have access. House Bill 4268 would exempt "eligible broadband equipment that resolves lack of broadband service."

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Griffin, Sen. Nesbitt
Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. The Chamber believes incentivizing private investment is a better solution to the lack of broadband than raising property tax millages for a government-run service.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and sent to the House Communications and Technology Committee.  Introduced in the Senate as well and sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

Increase the Corporate Income Tax and Tax on Passthroughs

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

HB 4781 will increase taxes on ALL Michigan employers. 

Corporate Income Tax Increase: The proposed legislation would increase Michigan’s 6% Corporate Income Tax to 8.5% starting in tax year 2020.  Increasing the Corporate Income Tax by 42% would put Michigan’s rate near the Country’s highest joining States like Illinois and California. 

New Entity Level Tax on Passthroughs:  HB 4781 would apply a new 8.5% tax on passthrough income. Currently, passthrough owners pay 4.25% on business income through their personal income tax. This proposal doubles the rate passthrough owners would pay starting in tax year 2020.

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Rabhi
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Increasing taxes on job providers would send our State’s economic recovery to a screeching halt. Michigan had been 49th in business tax competitiveness not that long ago and through enacting aggressive, pro-business reforms, our state is now top 10 in business tax competitiveness.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Adopt a Graduated Income Tax Rate

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

Michigan currently has a single, flat income tax rate of 4.25%. Adopting a graduated rate would create several different income tax rates. As individuals earn more, their tax rate would go up. In Michigan, many businesses do not pay a specific business tax but pay tax on business profits through the owner’s individual income tax. A graduated income tax would hit these businesses and their owners especially hard. While specific rates are not outlined in this proposal, past proposals have seen rates as high as 10% - more than double the current income tax rate.

Sponsor(s):
Senators Irwin, Moss, Alexander, Geiss, Wojno, and Hertel
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. The Michigan Chamber opposes creating an income tax that punishes success. Michigan’s current flat tax structure taxes everyone’s income the same. Creating several different rates according to income is an obvious mechanism to redistribute wealth. In addition to punishing success, a graduated income tax diminishes the entrepreneurial incentive to be bold and pursue one’s ambitious goals.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Manipulate Property Tax Assessments

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

In an effort to increase taxes, local governments across Michigan are urging the Legislature to legitimize recent attempts by assessors to artificially increase property assessments. Instead of going through the normal process for a tax increase, which requires a vote of the people, local governments have been inflating the value of property to yield higher property tax assessments. After losing in the courts for this practice, local governments are attempting to amend the Tax Tribunal Act to force judges to rule in their favor instead of the taxpayer's. The overassessments have primarily been seen with large retail property; however, this practice could snowball to include all property.

Sponsor(s):
HB 4025: Representatives LaFave, Brixie, Markkanen, Rendon, Yaroch, Cambensy, Bellino, Allor, Hoadley, Howell, Elder, Slagh, Ellison, Rabhi;, HB 4047: Representatives Brixie, LaFave, Slagh, Ellison, Carter, Hoadley, Hope, Markkanen, Cambensy, Wittenberg, Coleman, Lasinski, Miller, Rabhi, Elder, Paga;, SBs 26 and 39: Senator Ed McBroom
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Taxpayers have a fundamental right to appeal their property taxes in a fair court. Legislation to manipulate the Tax Tribunal to yield more favorable decisions for local governments is wrong and tips the scales against taxpayers. Allowing property tax assessments to go unchecked will give tax collectors unfettered ability to increase taxes on everyone. The Michigan Chamber opposes efforts to restrict a taxpayers right to a fair property tax appeal.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

HBs 4025 and 4047 introduced in the House and referred to the Local Government Committee. SBs 26 and 39 introduced in the Senate and referred to the Finance Committee.

Expanding Allowable Use of School Sinking Fund Millages

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

School sinking fund millages were created as a financial tool to finance large capital improvements to school buildings and property. By levying a local sinking fund millage, districts could collect revenue and save it for needed improvements as opposed to taking out debt. For large, real property improvements, this makes financial sense. Over time, however, this local taxing option has moved beyond its intended purpose, increasing the number of sinking fund millages across Michigan dramatically. School districts have found the sinking fund millage as a work around to increase local property taxes while also getting their share of state tax dollars. HB 4075 expands the allowable use of sinking fund millages to pay for school busses and would undoubtedly lead to higher property taxes.

Sponsor(s):
Representatives Miller and Meerman
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Local school districts will always be looking to raise more revenues and no amount of taxpayer dollars will ever satisfy them.Continuing to allow districts to levy more and more local property tax millages is an end run around the school funding reform passed by the voters in 1994. If allowed to continue, taxpayers will once again be taxed out of their property as was the case post 1994.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Extend the Small Taxpayer Exemption Appeal Period

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

HB 4214 would allow a taxpayer eligible for the small taxpayer personal property tax exemption (a business with less than $80,000 in personal property) to go before the July Board of Review in addition to the March Board of Review if they missed the February deadline for submitting the exemption. The bill also provides for forgiveness if a taxpayer eligible for the small taxpayer exemption forgets to file the exemption in the first year of being operational. If a taxpayer forgets to file the exemption the first year they were eligible, they can petition the March or July Board of Review in the subsequent year to receive the exemption retroactively. 

Sponsor(s):
Representative Leutheuser
Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. Businesses who are eligible for an exemption should have as much opportunity as possible to receive their duly-owed exemption. The Chamber supports this legislation as it provides a taxpayer more opportunities to get an exemption to which they are fully entitled.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Increase the Small Taxpayer PPT Exemption

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

HB 4215 increases the threshold in which a small taxpayer can benefit from a full exemption of personal property taxes. Currently, if a business has less than $80,000 in personal property, they can file for a full exemption from the personal property tax. This legislation increases that threshold to $100,000. Keep in mind that this is an all-in or all-out exemption. For example, if a business has $120,000 in personal property, they are responsible for paying tax on ALL their property, NOT just the amount over $80,000. If a business has $75,000 in personal property, they are fully exempt. This legislation does not change the all-in or all-out provision. 

Sponsor(s):
Representative Farrington
Chamber Position:

SUPPORT. While the Michigan Chamber would prefer a total elimination of all personal property taxes, we acknowledge the difficulty with this drastic policy change. Any legislation that gets us closer to full repeal will be supported by the Michigan Chamber. 

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.

Per Mile Road Tax on Commercial Vehicles

Summary of Bill & What it Means to You:

HB 4779, if enacted, would create a $.06 per mile tax on all commercial vehicles. The tax will be collected quarterly by filing a form and remitting payment to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Sponsor(s):
Rep. Greig
Chamber Position:

OPPOSE. Targeting commercial vehicles with increased fees would send shockwaves through our economy and trigger increased costs all along the supply chain. This type of economic disruption is unnecessary and harmful.

Staff Contact(s):
Status:

Introduced in the House and referred to the Tax Policy Committee.