Review our new Government Relations Update - Caucus Call: Lansing

Peter J. Langley
Week of Feb. 14 2022

Caucus Call Lansing

This Week's Updates

The Michigan House and Senate will be in session Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week.

Judiciary Gets Significant Budget Increase in Governor’s Proposal

  • Who needs to know: Attorneys working across the state of Michigan
  • Potential impact: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal included significant budget increases to judicial operations, the most significant is a $175 million allotment for a statewide case management system.

Last week, Whitmer laid out her proposal on state spending. In the proposal was a significant budget increase for the judiciary. One of the proposals was for a new statewide case management system that would be used by all courts. This proposal has been suggested for numerous years by the State Court Administrator’s Office; however, funding has been the main issue. With this budget proposal, it seems the state is ready to make the commitment to connecting all the local courts in order to share real time data.

In supporting the proposal, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said, “[b]y connecting courts and creating a common platform to manage case files, data collection will be less time-consuming, more accurate, and available in real time to generate reports and drive decision-making. By working together on one system, waste and duplication of efforts will be eliminated and courts will be more efficient.”

Other highlights from Whitmer’s budget recommendation for the judiciary include:

    • $1.7 million for the State Appellate Defender’s Office;
    • $1.1 million to expand access to the civil justice system;
    • $1 million to the Supreme Court for management, support and guidance of the entire judicial branch;
    • $467,000 to implement the Supreme Court’s mandatory judicial continuing education requirement; and 
    • $393,000 to increase the staffing for the Judicial Tenure Commission.

Payday Lending Issue Heating Up

  • Who needs to know: Attorney’s counseling banks, credit unions or payday lending businesses
  • Potential impact: Legislation is being debated that would loosen restrictions on payday lending operations, while the State Board of Canvassers just approved language for a ballot initiative that would cap interest rates on these types of loans.

Payday lending isn’t a new topic in Lansing. The issue has been debated for years and bills are regularly introduced making changes to Michigan’s Deferred Presentment Service Transactions Act, which governs these types of transactions. Last week saw the topic before two different bodies for debate.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee took testimony on House Bill 4004, which would increase loan amounts from $600 to $2,500 under the Act. In addition, the bill would also create a fund to be used for promoting financial literacy education programs. The sponsor said the goal of the bill was to modernize the lending industry in Michigan and put into place safeguards against misuse of the practice. Opposition to the bills came from the Community Economic Development Association, the Michigan Poverty Law Program, the Michigan Credit Union League, Michigan Catholic Conference and Michigan’s Department of Financial Services. The bill did not receive a vote.

The same week as the House was discussing changes to the Act, the Michigan Board of Canvassers approved language to a ballot initiative that would cap the interest of these types of loans at 36% APR. Michiganders for Fair Lending is the group pushing the initiative that would prohibit services fees on loans that are above the 36% threshold. The attorney for the group said that payday lenders are currently allowed to charge interest rates and fees equivalent to 340% APR or more. The group now needs to gather 340,047 signatures to get on the November 2022 ballot.

The Week Ahead:

  • Monday the Utility Consumer Participation Board will be meeting.
  • Multiple House and Senate Committees will receive budget presentations by specific state departments for their Fiscal Year 2023 budget requests.
  • Tuesday the Michigan Gaming Control Board will meet.
  • Tuesday the Michigan Tax Commission will meet.
  • Wednesday the Marijuana Regulatory Agency will meet.
  • Wednesday the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority will meet.
  • Thursday the Certificate of Need Commission will meet.
  • Thursday the Environmental Rules Review Committee will meet.

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