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Advocacy Corner: Week of 03/01/19 Bookmark

Advocacy Corner: Week of 03/01/19

2019 State Budget

Next Tuesday, March 5th, Governor Gretchen Whitmer will present her 2019-20 fiscal year budget recommendation.

Speaking at a meeting of the Michigan Townships Association, Governor Whitmer did not discuss specifics but did say it would be “tethered” towards closing the state’s skills gap and fixing the state’s infrastructure.

As the first of her administration’s budget proposals, a combination of the Governor’s mounting list of campaign promises, immediate challenges since assuming office, and previously announced legislative priorities have developed an air of particular anticipation from professionals and association executives across the state as to what the 2019-20 proposal will contain.

A brief forecast of the possible budget line items to be included is the following:

  1. Road Funding
  2. Clean water & Water Infrastructure
  3. Revisions to the School Aid Fund
  4. Health Prevention Program Funding
  5. Repeal of the Pension Tax & Restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit
  6. K-12 Education

Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) said it will be a difficult budget, “I think we all agree on what the problems are. The question is how we fund it. There’s not a magical solution. There’s not a money tree in the back of the capitol.”

No-Fault Auto Insurance

On Wednesday, February 27th the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee held opportunities for testimony from business groups and other parties interested in another attempt at revising the state’s current no-fault auto insurance system.

Proponents in favor of revising the system intend to focus on changing drivers’ choices in selecting Personal Injury Protection (PIP) plans.

Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) noted personally that when he was a young driver in the 1990s his annual premium for an “old junky car” was about $600 per year and is now about $2000 per year. Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) said, non-driving factors including credit scores, marital status, income and ZIP codes as being not only a predatory practice in poorer communities but also a discriminatory and even a civil rights issue.”

Opponents of the revisions argue that changes to PIP will not solve the problems as intended; noting the most recent failed push for auto insurance reform in the House made in 2018.

The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault posited that setting up fee schedules, eliminating non-driving factors from being used to set insurance premiums, combating fraud, and setting standards for attendant care would create the desired effects, instead.

Unrelated Business Income Tax

The unrelated business income taxes (UBIT) on nonprofits, which took effect on January 1, 2018, imposes an income tax on expenses of nonprofits.

The tax was imposed largely to reduce the overall costs of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a law that provided large tax cuts to corporations and wealthier taxpayers. Further, the tax is exceedingly vague, and requires complex analysis and cost calculations to determine whether nonprofits expend enough on parking to be liable for the tax.

With payments coming due for this tax in only a couple of weeks, American Society of Association Executives President and CEO John Graham says “These new tax liabilities create numerous compliance challenges for nonprofits and threaten the financial security and missions of organizations that provide countless services to communities in need and to society as a whole.”

On February 14th, House Majority Whip Clyburn (D-SC) introduced H.R. 1223, the “Stop the Tax Hike on Charities and Places of Worship Act,” to repeal the nonprofit transportation tax.

Redistricting

Final briefs were filed February 22 and 23 at the U.S. District Court in the League of Women Voters v. Benson case, which is now in the hands of a three-judge panel that will decide whether Republicans violated the U.S. Constitution in 2011 by deliberately and significantly tilting the state's political maps in their favor.

The plaintiffs point to several examples of Democratic voters being packed into a smaller number of districts so that Republicans would have a durable majority of districts overall and that such districts violate the U.S. Constitution.

The defendants – Republican members of Congress, the Senate and the House – contend there is no precedent for challenging on the basis that current district maps favor one political party. They also argue based on the results of 2018 elections, in which Democrats gained two U.S. House seats, five Senate seats, and five House seats, shows the maps not to be unfair.

It was not until February 25 that the plaintiffs made clear they will also call for the court to order special elections for the Senate in 2020. “A remedial special election is appropriate and necessary…The severity of the constitutional violations is extreme,” said the plaintiffs.

The remedy the plaintiffs seek claims their motion will not require an unworkable timeline. “Remedial special elections for the Senate can be ordered to coincide with the 2020 election cycle, resulting in only de minimis costs and disruption."

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson later reiterated her opposition to special Senate elections in 2020.

Oral Arguments Scheduled in MSAE Amicus Curiae

In September 2018, MSAE submitted an amicus curiae in a case pending before the Michigan Supreme Court to clarify the criteria under which associations have standing to litigate on behalf of their members.

MOAA 1563737 oral arguments have been scheduled for the March 2019 Session of the Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday, March 7th.

The session is open to the public and also available through live streaming.

American Associations Day

MSAE and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) invite you to join us at American Associations Day on March 28-29, the only legislative fly-in for association professionals.

Join us at American Associations Day to ensure that members of Congress know how our associations are improving Michigan’s districts and communities. Too often associations are viewed as just another “special interest” by lawmakers, and this is wrong. Tell your Members how your association is driving the economy and improving society in Michigan.

Providing you with the training and resources to effectively share our message as association professionals, ASAE invites you to register at no cost and even provides a scholarship of up to $300 to attend.

To join the Michigan Delegation or for more information, contact Taylor Benavente at (517) 332-6723 or at Benavente@msae.org.



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