Honigman Capitol Report


Healthier Michigan Plan

Last month Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to protect the Healthy Michigan Plan. The legislation, referred to as the “Healthier Michigan Plan” passed with bipartisan support and prevents the Healthy Michigan program from being repealed based on operating costs. It also eliminates “unnecessary conditions and paperwork” for enrollees according to a news release from Whitmer. Additionally, Whitmer signed legislation allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines. While pharmacists were able to independently provide vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, their authority to do so would have been lost without updating state law. Whitmer also signed legislation making Michigan the first state in the country to allow individuals to register as an organ donor on their state income tax returns.


State Board of Education Requests AG Opinion

Michigan’s Board of Education members unanimously requested an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office last week regarding Governor Whitmer’s executive directive to create the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential (MiLEAP) and the impact it has on the Board’s ability to oversee subjects they historically have handled. The request questions language in Executive Order 2023-6 that would establish a statewide vision for life-long education from preschool to postsecondary, which potentially gives two departments overlapping authority over all public education, preschool public education in particular. The Board’s president, Pamela Pugh, introduced the motion to ask Attorney General Dana Nessel about the constitutionality of MiLEAP stating “[i]f we yield our educational system to the ever-shifting landscape of politics of the Governor’s office, we potentially jeopardize the integrity of an institution that holds the key to our children’s aspirations.”


Local Election Results

Last week, local voters agreed to bond out approximately $330 million for school projects. Overall about 87% of ballot proposals passed throughout the state, with the largest bonding proposals passing in Berkely School District and South Lake in Macomb County. In Mayoral Races, both Representatives Kevin Coleman (D-Westland) and Lori Stone (D-Warren) have advanced to the general election in their respective races which potentially puts House Democrats one step closer to losing their majority for eight weeks at the beginning of 2024. In another local race of note, Eastpointe mayoral candidate Michael Klinefelt defeated incumbent mayor Monique Owens, marking the second win by a Klinefelt over Owens and advancing him to the general election.


Foreign-owned Real Estate Restrictions

The Michigan legislature is working on a legislative initiative to restrict foreign investment in Michigan real estate. SB 260 and HB 4134, as currently drafted, would prohibit the direct or indirect purchase of rights by foreign governments or state-sponsored enterprises. The proposed restrictions would apply to land that is zoned for agricultural uses. These bills are drafted to become effective on October 1, 2023. Any farmland already owned or interests held by foreign persons prior to the effective date of the legislation will be grandfathered, but new parcels cannot be acquired. Each of these bills have been referred to committee. Honigman is monitoring for updates on this important issue.






Looking Ahead

Despite the signing of a record budget, legislative leadership still have some remaining fund balance that would allow further spending legislation this fall. Additionally, Governor Whitmer is expected to deliver an unorthodox fall policy address. Exactly what this address will cover remains to be seen, however, the early year State of the State address and presentation of the executive budget recommendations are the primary public addresses that typically outline administration priorities. Negotiations and timing of spending and policy priorities will heat up entering September. How smoothly, (or roughly), these conversations go will be a major factor in the pace and breadth of the remaining legislative year.



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