Review our Government Relations Update - Caucus Call: Lansing

Peter J. Langley

Caucus Call Lansing

This Week's Updates

The Michigan House and Senate will be in session Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Next week is “tentative” for the Legislature, so it is uncertain whether they will be in session or not.

House / Senate End of the Year Spending

  • Who needs to know: Local governments looking to replace aged infrastructure and recruit first responders
  • Potential impact: The Senate passed a spending bill that would increase funding for water related expenses in Michigan, and the House passed a bill to increase funding for the recruitment and retention of first responders.

The Senate bill allocates more then $3 billion in supplemental funding for water infrastructure. The bill includes $1 billion for lead line replacement, $680 million for dam improvement, $400 million for Great Lakes Water Authority sewer and water upgrades, $250 million for Midland County dams, $100 million for PFAS remediation, and $86 million for water filters in schools. The plan anticipates allocating these dollars within existing programs that allow local governments to apply for project assistance.

The House bill spends nearly $370 million for first responder recruitment and retention efforts. Included in the proposal is a $57 million grant program to encourage officers to move to Michigan, $40 million in public safety academy assistance programs, $10 million for police officer bonuses and $10 million in volunteer fire department gear. The bill also includes $50 million for new school resource officers, in response to the shooting at Oxford High School last week.

Both spending plans received nearly unanimous support in their respective chambers and will now be negotiated with the administration. It is likely that both of these bills will be sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by the end of the year.

Unemployment Agency Under Fire

  • Who needs to know: Businesses that pay into Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency
  • Potential impact: Numerous legislative proposals are starting to take shape after widespread fraud was identified within the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA).

The UIA came under fire in a rare joint meeting of the House and Senate oversight committees. The joint committee meeting focused on the recently published Office of Auditor General (OAG) report that indicated that nearly 350,000 claimants “improperly” received almost $4 billion in assistance for which they weren’t eligible. The report cited a failure by the agency to adhere to federal guidelines, as well as internal deliberations that favored expediency in getting payments out over accuracy.

Most damning from the OAG report was a PowerPoint presentation by the UIA to the governor’s executive office. The presentation outlined pros and cons of making payments while establishing eligibility versus establishing eligibility then making payments. Listed as a benefit to paying claimants immediately was the “benefit” that any money paid in error “likely would not need to be reclaimed.” Committee members focused much of their time and attention on the issue that the administration knew mistakes were being made and made no effort to fix the problems.

In response to the ongoing UIA issues, legislators have discussed numerous statutory changes. A package of bills has already been introduced in the House and you should expect to see additional proposals in the near future.

Week Ahead:

  • The Utility Consumer Participation Board is meeting Monday.
  • Proposed Administrative Rule 2021-031 to address the Michigan Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment will have a public hearing on Monday.
  • The House Regulatory Reform Committee will meet on Tuesday to consider legislation regarding horse racing.
  • Proposed Administrative Rule 2021-069 to address commercial fertilizers will have a public hearing on Tuesday.
  • The Senate Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday to consider legislation that makes changes to the Tobacco Products Tax.
  • The House Health Policy Committee will meet on Thursday to discuss legislation dealing with lead poisoning.
  • The Michigan Certificate of Need Commission will meet Thursday.
  • The Marijuana Regulatory Agency meets on Thursday.
  • Proposed Administrative Rules 2021-003, 2021-076, 2021-077, dealing with electric and natural gas service, will have public hearings on Thursday.

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