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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of November 23, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

Republicans will control state government for two more years, enabling Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature to continue enacting their agenda and leaving Democrats to regroup after another election setback.  At the top of the GOP's priority list includes for the "Lame Duck" legislative session is public employees' retirement benefits.

Republican legislators want to switch newly hired teachers into 401 (k) accounts, despite Governor Snyder's past resistance due to the large upfront costs of closing the pension system to new hires.  New school employees now are providing a combination of a traditional pension and a 401 (k) plan.  Governor Snyder in turn wants to target unfunded liabilities in municipalities that provide health care to their retired workers.  The retirees could instead be given stipends to buy their own insurance, similarly to what happened with Detroit retirees when the city filed for bankruptcy protection, thorough the fate of exchanges established under President Obama's health care law is uncertain.  Speaker-elect Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt said one of his three top priorities is reforming the "broken" Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. Very lofty issues for the "Lame Duck" session. 

Legislation that could be finalized in December includes a long debated update to energy laws, regulations on ride-hailing companies such as Uber and their drivers, possibly the allowance of a 75 mph speed limit on some freeways where it now is 70 and a 60 mph limit on some highways with a 55 limit today.  Major policy reforms recommended in the wake of the Flint water crisis are unlikely to be considered until next year.  A legislator I talked to today shared with me that there are over 100 bills scheduled for action on Tuesday before the House of Representatives--Lame Duck is in full swing....

On Tuesday, November 29, 10:30 AM, Room 521, HOB, legislation nicknamed the
"driveway" bills are scheduled for testimony before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.  SB 706, 707 & 708, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. The bills prohibit a local government from requiring a special permit for transporting forest products in and out of a state or federal forest.  If you are interested in testifying or attending the hearing, please meet me at 10:00 AM, reception area of the House Office Building so we can review committee testimony. View the legislation at

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