Honigman Capitol Report


Special Election Results

House Democrats regained their full 56—member majority after special election results came in. Macomb County Commissioner Mai Xiong and Westland City Council member Peter Herzberg secured victories, ending the 54-54 split that has been in place since two members won Mayoral elections in November 2023. The 25th District was called first with Herzberg winning 59.5 percent of the vote with 60.5 percent in the city of Westland, the largest city in the district. His Republican opponent, Josh Powell, earned 37.50 percent of Westland’s vote. In the 13th District, Xiong won 77.6 percent of the vote with 95 percent in Wayne County. While Herzberg secured the win, earlier in the day he found the election-day crowd to be more Republican led, potentially indicating that a larger percentage of Democratic voters chose to vote absentee. Herzberg stated that he has “been through so many elections over the past 15 years or so…either as a candidate or volunteer” and he’d “never seen the Republicans organize and get out the vote as much as this time, so it's definitely nerve-racking.” In Westland alone, 1,720 votes were in-person while 6,394 were case absentee with Herzberg receiving 4,338 of the absentee votes.


Hotel Tax Rates Amended

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 5048 earlier this month which authorizes counties to collect tax or increase a current tax rate on hotels. Michigan has a patchwork of laws that allow multiple regions and counties to enforce different taxes on hotel accommodations. One example is the Convention and Tourism Marketing Act which authorizes up to 2% on rooms in facilities with 35 or more guests in Wayne County or a neighboring county. The newly signed legislation amends a past law that allowed counties to tax hotels up to 5% of total charges if the county has a population between 40,000 and 600,000. Currently Calhoun, Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Saginaw and Washtenaw levy a tax under the law. The amendment increases the permitted tax rate to 8% and authorizes cites and townships in Kent County to collect an excise tax up to 2% of total accommodation charges if approved by local voters. The bill’s primary sponsor, Representative John Fitzgerald (Democrat) expects a vote to take place in Michigan’s second largest city, Grand Rapids, this year. Officials in Grand Rapids hope to use the money collected to build an amphitheater along the Grand River and a soccer stadium.


Public Official Disclosure Website Live

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced the launch of a new online government transparency tool last month. The Michigan Transparency Network (MiTN) makes financial disclosure reports filed by state elected officials, candidates and their spouses publicly available. The tool is part of the process for implementing Proposal 1 adopted in 2022 by Michigan voters which requires the Bureau of Elections to create and maintain an online system for personal financial disclosure reports. Benson explained that “[u]nder the new laws, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Senators, and State Representatives are required to file financial disclosure reports with MiTN. Candidates for these positions must also file reports. A limited amount of financial information for the spouses of officials and candidates must also be reported.” All reports will be available to the public through a public search tool, available here. The most recent filings are now available for viewing. Later this year, the system is expected to be upgraded to include campaign finance, lobbying and legal defense fund information.


Looking Ahead

With the slim 56-54 democratic majority restored in the House, expect the typical spring budget activity to accelerate over the coming weeks. Budget subcommittees will begin moving their first drafts out to the full appropriations committee in anticipation of the May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. Expectations are for underperforming revenue from tax collections, which will further tighten flexibility for next fiscal year and influence more conservative budgeting choices. The unknown factor is which (and how many) policy priorities the House will undertake in advance of an expected prompt summer recess. With a fall election on the horizon, leadership will prefer to maximize time for candidates to be home from Lansing working their districts. However, in addition to the budget, we are watching what other bill may advance to “set the table” for candidates to campaign. Message wars between the parties start months in advance and roll out in earnest over the summer and fall during an election year.


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