Honigman Capitol Report


Slotkin Launches Campaign

With recent news that U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenew will not run for a fifth term, U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin officially announced her decision to run late last month. Following the announcement, she raised $1.2 million in the first 24 hours. Slotkin was the subject of multiple conversations about who the Democrats would support for the seat. Recognition and support from Detroit Democrats will be her toughest challenge in the race as most of her voter recognition comes from the Lansing area.  


Expanded Background Checks Passes House

A trio of bills passed the House along party lines on Wednesday that would require background checks on all firearm purchases in the state. House Bills 4138, 4142 and 4143 expand the requirements for background checks from only pistols to all firearms. Substitutions were made so that the bill would not be applied retroactively, so anyone who bought or obtained a gun prior to the law would not be required to register it. The expanded regulations emerged from the House Judiciary Committee just hours after a hearing featuring testimony from family members of MSU shooting victims, county prosecutors and organizations on both sides of the debate.


House Democrats Pass Right to Work Repeal

House Democrats passed the Right to Work Repeal and restoring Prevailing Wage on Wednesday. Democrats have sought to repeal right to work since it was passed by Republicans in 2012 and Democrat majorities in the legislature have allowed this to be the year they will finally succeed. Right to work law means employees cannot be legally required to pay union dues in order to be covered under collective bargaining agreements and prevailing wage requires union scale wages to be paid to workers on public construction projects. Both House Bill 4004 and House Bill 4005 passed along party lines and included appropriations making the bills referendum proof. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive directive (ED 2019-7) stating that she “intend[s] to veto legislation that circumvents the right to referendum.” It remains to be seen whether she will sign with appropriations in place or veto the bill.


Whitmer Signs $1.3 Billion Supplemental

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a $1.3 billion supplemental on Wednesday ensuring funding for a Ford factory site in Marshall and supplying aid to the health care industry among other projects. Ford’s electric vehicle battery plant will also benefit from a $170 million deposit into the state’s business attraction fund with could go towards preparing the factory site. Health care industry aid will be directed towards recruiting and retaining health care workers for both the Michigan Health & Hospital Association and nursing home operators. The funding also covers a 2 percent Medicaid reimbursement increase for nursing homes. Other notable allotments include establishing the Office of Community Violence Intervention Services, rehabilitation of wetlands, supporting nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and expanding employment and training programs for offenders released from prison.






Looking Ahead

Gun Safety: Next up is an 11-bill package reported in the Senate Thursday to further address provisions regarding safe storage, “red flag” laws and other Democratic priorities related to gun legislation. Opposition was expressed by Republicans and language substitutions were made during the Senate committee hearing shortly before the bills were reported.

Republican Candidates for Senator: The announcement by Representative Slotkin that she is running for the U.S. Senate has quelled most competitors on the Democratic side. The Republican side appears to be waiting on further word from former U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (Slotkin’s predecessor). Rogers, former Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has potentially the biggest fundraising arm and a national profile. Other potential Republican candidates for the Senate seat include former gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, U.S. Representative Bill Huizenga and former U.S. Representative Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids.


Right to Work: With Democrats set to repeal Right to Work and restore Prevailing Wage, expect the business groups, union critics, Republicans and free market-oriented organizations that achieved making Michigan a right to work state 10 years ago to fight back. Interest is high on pursuing a constitutional amendment that if passed would supersede any bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Whitmer. A Ballot Proposal would need at least 446,198 valid signatures to make it on the November 2024 ballot, but putting together funds to pay for the campaign would likely be easy. The same funders of the $30 million campaign from 10 years again are interested in funding again in 2024 according to Jase Bolger, a strategist who was the House speaker in 2012 and key to passing right to work. Former lieutenant governor and current president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan Brian Calley also anticipates a constitutional amendment will be pursued.

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