Honigman Capitol Report


“Red Flag” Bills Heading to Governor

The Senate voted Wednesday along party lines to send legislation to Governor Whitmer creating a red flag law, which enables people deemed at risk to have their firearms temporarily confiscated. The so-called “Red Flag” laws would create a process where a court could order seizure of firearms from those who are deemed to be risk to themselves or others. The Extreme Risk Order Protection Act follows bills signed last week that require safe storage of firearms and provide for universal background checks. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the legislation package quickly. As of January 2023, 19 states and the District of Columbia had red flag laws. According to Senator Mallory McMorrow (Democrat) several more possible firearms law changes are still being looked at among legislative Democrats.


Private Industry Controls Back on the Agenda for 2023-24 Session

Two unresolved issues from last year’s session are coming back to the forefront in the new session. House and Senate Democratic leaders believe compromise can be reached dealing with local government’s control over private industry regarding mining aggregates and regulating short-term rental properties. Representatives on both sides are seeking solutions that are balanced and common sense. Conflict has arose in the past with conservatives who believe that the government closest to the people governs best but they also believe in personal property rights. Regarding aggregates, there is conflict on what should be done when a local government tells a private company that it cannot mine minerals from its own personal property.


Gotion Funding Clears the Senate Appropriations Committee

After much controversy and several hurdles, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee gave final approval this week for $175 million in incentives for a proposed Gotion, Incorporated project in Mecosta County. Three Democrats sided with all six Republicans on the panel in opposition. Of the $175 million in funding, $125 million would come from the Critical Industry Program with the remaining $50 million coming from the Michigan Strategic Site Readiness Program. Objections have been raised concerning national security because the battery manufacturer is a subsidiary of an EV battery company based in China. Former chief of staff and Honigman LLP Government Relations and Regulatory Advisor Dennis Muchmore told Michigan's Big Show that it's hard to tell whether the controversy over Gotion is overblown because it's hard to know how much control the Chinese Communist Party has over Gotion and the extent to which the company can operate independently. Local officials testified in support of the project citing the potential for high-paying jobs in the region.


Looking Ahead

While the first couple budget subcommittees, including those dealing with higher education along with environmental and natural resources agencies, have sent budgets to the full appropriations committee, the bulk of this work awaits. Given the full agenda this legislature has fast tracked, including several high profile bills sent to the Governor in the first quarter, many budget subcommittee chairs are giving themselves a little more time to complete work. Previous targets were set for completing subcommittee work this week. Instead, look for the majority of budget bills passing their subcommittees in the coming two weeks.

Additionally, testimony began in House Ethics and Oversight Committee on financial disclosure and other ethics requirements for government officials in Michigan. Nancy Wang from Voters not Politicians testified that the organization behind Michigan’s citizen initiative reforming redistricting is advocating that ethics reforms touch all branches of state government, including the judiciary. Expect more activity in this space as the legislature looks to build policy implementing 2022 proposal 1. Along with term limit reform, Proposal 1 required financial disclosure from state legislative and executive officials.

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