Review our new Government Relations Update - Caucus Call: Lansing

Peter J. Langley
Week of Feb. 21, 2022

Caucus Call Lansing

This Week's Updates

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

Legislators Gone Wild

  • Who needs to know: Citizens interested in good government
  • Potential impact: A series of misdeeds by current and former legislators are increasing scrutiny on the legislative branch and bringing heightened awareness about their activities.

Last week brought guilty pleas by two current state legislators and the execution of a search warrant relative to a former legislator. Former Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield is currently fielding allegations from his sister-in-law of an inappropriate relationship that started when she was an underage student attending the school he taught at, as well as potential financial crimes.

The Michigan State Police are currently investigating that claim. A search warrant was executed at the home of Chatfield’s former chief of staff’s home. The chief of staff and his wife operated a campaign business that oversaw operations for Chatfield’s fundraising efforts. It was reported that a computer and numerous boxes were taken from the home during the execution of the search warrant and no reason has been given for the seizures other than the ongoing investigation.

State Senator John Bizon pled guilty to a criminal assault charge this week. It stems from an incident during a medical appointment where a nurse claimed that  Bizon had touched her inappropriately.  Bizon, who is a licensed physician, admitted he touched the nurse, not believing it was inappropriate at the time, and called the entire situation regrettable.

State Representative Jewell Jones also pled guilty this week to resisting and obstructing a police officer, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, reckless driving, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and attempted escape while awaiting trial. Jones’ saga has been ongoing from months and stems from a series of incidents starting in April. Jones now awaits sentencing.

While interactions between law enforcement and the Legislature aren’t new, this week’s reports seem higher than normal.

Senate Votes to Cut Income Tax and Corporate Tax

  • Who needs to know: Individual and businesses that pay income or corporate taxes.
  • Potential impact: The Michigan Senate voted to advance legislation that would cut individual income taxes and corporate income tax levels to 3.9%.

The Michigan Senate approved Senate Bill 768 along a party line vote. Following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget presentation calling for tax cuts for working people, the Senate passed legislation that would reduce Michigan’s income tax rate from 4.25% to 3.9% and the state’s corporate income tax rate from 6% to 3.9%. The bill would also allow in 2022 tax year for people aged 67 and older to be eligible for a deduction against all types of income of $30,000 for an individual return and $60,000 for a joint return. Starting in tax year 2023, the deduction would rise with inflation to the nearest $100 increment.

The Senate Fiscal Agency estimated the revenue reduction would be between $1.77 billion and $1.81 billion for fiscal year 2021-22. The reduction would increase to between $2.48 and $2.54 billion in fiscal year 2022-23 with the amount increasing from there each fiscal year.

Senate Republicans have been calling for tax cuts in the face of extraordinary state revenue and rising inflation. Senate Democrats called the legislation a campaign year tactic. The legislation was immediately derided by Whitmer, which has left it’s fate uncertain as part of the overall budget negotiations.

The Week Ahead:

  • Tuesday, the Michigan Strategic Fund Board will meet.
  • Tuesday, numerous House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees will start taking testimony on departmental budgets.
  • Wednesday, the Rural Development Fund Board will be meeting.
  • Friday, Administrative Rule 2021-057 dealing with Veterinary Medicine has a public meeting.

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