Honigman Capitol Report


"Lame" Lame Duck Ends in Failed Supplemental

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The 101st Legislature ended last Wednesday after a potential agreement between Republican leaders in the Legislature and Governor Whitmer failed to pan out. The failed supplemental would have allocated more money to the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund (SOAR) for a yet-to-be-announced paper mill project in Delta County. While the Governor was hopeful that the SOAR fund allocation would pass, the Republicans wanted a pair of bills stopping the Department of Treasury from collecting sales taxes on service deliveries and installations in exchange. The Governor had no motivation to negotiate with the outgoing Republican majority when a Democratic majority takes over the Legislature in a few weeks. The “Lamest” Lame Duck in at least 20 years ended after only two active session days and only a handful of bills compared to previous sessions.


Noteworthy Lame Duck Legislation

Along with the Failed Supplemental, proposals to change Michigan’s presidential primary date, scale back tipped minimum wage and expand a tax break for lower-wage workers failed and were left for the next session. However, Legislators did send some bills on for Governor Whitmer’s consideration including bills regarding Recycling and Nursing home visits. The Recycling legislation is an eight-bill package designed to boost Michigan’s 18 percent recycling rate which falls behind the national average of 34 percent. The bills revise landfill and waste diversion center regulations, increase fees for landfill construction and operating permits and mandate counties to have materials management plans. The Nursing home legislation limits how long state and local public health officials can prohibit family visits. The bill is in direct response to concerns raised during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Detroit’s Huntington Place & QLine get Legislative Boost


Detroit’s Huntington Place convention center and QLine also received attention during Lame Duck. New convention center legislation would allow Huntington Place to enter into public-private arrangements and authorizes new borrowing. The convention hall is currently working to encourage hotel construction on the nearby former site of Joe Louis Arena. The legislation would also expand the definition of a convention facility to include bike paths, plazas, green space and roads needed for use in connection with the facility. The convention bills also include the extension of a $5 million subsidy to the QLine for an additional 17 years. The subsidy, funded through the state’s Convention Facility Development Fund, ended in the last budget year under current law; the new legislation would continue the subsidy through the 2038-39 fiscal year. The Convention Facility Development Fund is funded by hotel and liquor taxes, taking in approximately $100 million annually.

Governor Whitmer Selects New Cabinet & Agency Leadership for Second Term


Governor Whitmer has announced several changes to leadership for state departments and agencies to start her second term in office. Senator Adam Hollier, who is leaving the Senate at the end of the year, will be the new director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. Hollier is currently serving his second term and will replace current Director Zaneta Adams who is stepping to down to pursue other opportunities. The Governor has also named Dan Eichinger as acting director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE); Michelle Lange as director of the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB); Brian Hanna as executive director of the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA); Brad Wieferich as acting director of the Department of Transportation (MDOT); Kathy Angerer as acting director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD); and Shannon Lott as acting director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The current directors of MDOT and MDARD were both retiring at the end of the year. Circumstances regarding the other departures weren’t made clear, but it is not uncommon for a Governor to “shake-up” leadership for their second term.

Electronic Voting Opinion Request


Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has asked Attorney General Dana Nessel to issue an AG Opinion on whether active military are the only residents who can turn in overseas ballots electronically or if the right can be expanded to include military spouses and other Michiganders who live overseas.  The November 10th letter request asks for clarification regarding Senate Bills (“SB”) 8 and 311 which became law on October 7th. SB 311 requires rules to be in place before January 1, 2024 allowing military stationed overseas to vote electronically in the next presidential election.

Snyder Charges Dismissed


Misdemeanor charges against former Governor Rick Snyder connected to the Flint water crisis were dismissed last week by Genesee Circuit Court Judge Kay Behm. Judge Behm’s order addressed the one-person grand jury aspect of the case, holding that while a one-person grand jury has authority to conduct formal investigations, the language of the statement does not give that entity the power and authority to issue an indictment. The Department of Attorney General has vowed to appeal the dismissal, but Honigman LLP attorney and former U.S. attorney Matthew Schneider in an interview with Gongwer News Service stated that “[t]he problem is they’re going to be running up the chain and the same appellate system that has said no before…I think that’s going to be a really difficult row to hoe and makes you wonder, if you're a prosecutor, whether you decide to say, 'I'm not sure that's going to work out for me. Should I stop now?'"

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