The Michigan Legislature has returned from its summer recess and traditionally would be in session for the rest of the year. This year, however, there are rumors that the Legislature could adjourn for the year as early as November or even late October. The impetus for an early adjournment would be to start the 90 day clock on the effective date of legislation earlier than the usual late December adjournment. This could allow controversial items such as moving up the Presidential Primary to February and various tax reductions to take effect in January or February rather than the usual March or April.
This week the Michigan Legislature completed work on the Fiscal Year 2023-4 state budget. This process began in February when Governor Whitmer issued her budget proposal, and ended on June 28 when the House and Senate sent their final budget bills to the Governor for her approval. The Governor has two weeks to issue line-item vetoes if there is funding that she opposes. However, because this year the House and Senate are led by Governor’s political party, it is not expected that many line-item vetoes will occur – if any.
We are excited to announce a new MAGE newsletter, The Quarterly Report! This newsletter will be posted at the beginning of each quarter. Visit the "Newsletter" tab at the top of the screen to see the latest version!
From one point of view, it has been a slow start to the 2023-4 Legislative session. Many House and Senate committees are only now beginning to take up legislation, and the House and Senate have missed several session days due to weather, illnesses, and a tragedy at Michigan State University. On the other hand, the Michigan Legislature has already sent several bills to the Governor’s desk, including a supplemental bill which marked the first time a bill became a public act in the first month of a session since 1947. The Governor delivered her State of the State address in late January and presented her budget proposal in early February, and the Legislature has continuously increased its pace of passing large packages of legislation since then.
Enclosed in this article are links to the 2023 OPEIU Scholarship applications, rules and regulations. Please remember to complete the application fully, then send to the MAGE office so we can verify for OPEIU that your membership is in good standing. Read on for the link to the applications.
On Wednesday, January 11, the first Democratic “trifecta” opened the new session. Though legislative leadership was actually elected in November, 2022, after the elections, the opening votes of the 102nd legislature made official Michigan’s first woman elected to the post of Senate Majority Leader (Winnie Brinks, D - Grand Rapids), and Michigan’s first Black Speaker of the House (Representative Joe Tate, D - Detroit). The greater Lansing region is also experiencing a quite a spike in influence, as Governor Whitmer, the Senate Appropriations Chair (Senator Sarah Anthony, D - Lansing), the House Appropriations Chair (Representative Angela Witwer, D - Grand Ledge), and the Senate Majority Floor Leader (Senator Sam Singh, D - East Lansing) are all from the Lansing area.
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2022 MAGE Scholarship and Student Debt Reduction Awards. Every year MAGE offers our members and their families a chance to be awarded a $1,000 scholarship or student debt reduction award. Applications are accepted beginning June 1st through the last weekday of August every year. These awards help ease a small portion of the financial burden that is tied to higher education. MAGE wishes all recipients of this year’s scholarships and student debt reduction awards the best on their future endeavors. Read on to learn a little bit about our 2022 award winners! It pays to belong!
Finally, after 4 years of providing irrefutable, incontrovertible documentation demonstrating that our licensed professionals are woefully underpaid. After 4 years of showing that the mandatory overtime problems of our nurses were the direct result of the recruitment/retention problem. After 4 years of watching our licensed professionals leave state service for better compensation. Finally, we have some success.
Important Update for Physicians, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Nurses. Posted July 18th, 2022
This is to inform you that MAGE continues to advocate vociferously for special wage raises and classification grade increases in your classification. Please monitor the MAGE webpage for updates.
Any members who are considering giving up and seeking employment elsewhere, please wait. Be patient. Changes are on the horizon.
The Michigan Legislature completed work on the FY 2022-3 budget for the fiscal year starting on October 1. The combined appropriation including state departments, K-12 School Aid, Community Colleges and Universities will total over $75 billion. Even so, the Legislature decided to leave approximately $7 billion unspent. These dollars will be subject to future negotiations to take place in the ensuing months.
Overall, the budget passed last night represents moderate increases across nearly all departments. In cases where departments saw a reduction in revenue, it was due to the expiration of one-time appropriations in the current year budget. The budget also saw a substantial commitment to reducing pension liabilities, a move that will save state and local governments billions over the next decades.
The Legislature will now enter its summer recess period, and lawmakers who are running for reelection will spend the next two months campaigning in their districts. The Legislature will return to full session in September.
Attached you will find the rules, regulations and application for the OPEIU 2022 Student Debt Reduction Program.
All applications must be sent to MAGE and signed by the MAGE Local 2002 President or Secretary/Treasurer before submission to OPEIU. Any application that is incomplete or unsigned will be returned to the Local Union Office for follow up with the member/application. This may cause the application to be delayed or even denied if it is not timely submitted.
More information can be found on the OPEIU Website.
The application deadline is June 30, 2022. Take advantage of these benefits, it really does pay to belong!
The Michigan Legislature has passed both House and Senate responses to the Governor’s budget proposal, and the final negotiations on the FY 2022-23 appropriations bills are expected to take place over the next four to six weeks. The pending Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference is taking place on May 21, and it is expected to show another increase in revenue estimates. Just how large an impact this will have on state spending is yet to be determined, but the new numbers will certainly factor into ongoing budget negotiations. Indeed, it has already sparked new proposals from the Governor and the Legislature on how to spend this surplus.
Legislation making changes to rules for retired MPSERS members who return to work has also seen action in the House and Senate. The bills would remove many of the myriad criteria that MPSERS retirants must meet in order to come back to work in a school setting while continuing to receive pension benefits. More on these and other issues below.
Please remember to keep an eye on your spam email folder for any emails from MAGE. MAGE utilizes email for communicating important updates to our members. If you find that you have an email from MAGE in your spam folder, please make sure you flag the email as “not spam or junk” this will allow our emails to go right to your inbox.
The Michigan Legislature has returned from the winter break and (despite a few COVID-related delays in the Michigan House) are back in full session. Governor Whitmer’s State of the State Address and her subsequent budget recommendation laid out her goals for the upcoming year and the next fiscal year. Highlights of her proposals include the elimination of the so-called “retirement tax” as well as increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit, credits for electric vehicles, and large increases in mental health funding.
Republican leaders in the Michigan House and Senate, meanwhile, have focused on legislation that would reduce Michigan’s Income Tax rate from 4.25% to 3.9%. They have also targeted COVID-relief funds to shore up the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and provide grants to small businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Whether or not the two branches of government will be able to find agreement on any of these competing proposals (even at a time when Michigan revenues are sky-high) remains to be seen. It is, after all, an election year.
More on these issues and others below.
The first year of the 2021-2 Michigan Legislative Session has come to a close, and the House and Senate went out with a bang. On the last session day of the year, the Legislature sent Governor Whitmer a large package of economic development bills aimed at attracting and retaining large business operations in Michigan. They also passed a series of budget supplemental bills that use a portion of the remaining federal COVID-relief dollars combined with surplus state funds to distribute money to a variety of state and local projects.
Speaking of COVID-19, although cases and hospitalization numbers stemming from the pandemic remain high, the loudest rhetoric in Lansing continues to come from individuals opposed to mandatory masking and vaccinations. While public health leaders continue to urge individuals to get vaccinated (and the majority of Michiganders have done so), and despite the fact that vaccine requirements remain popular with the general public, legislative leaders in Lansing continue to give deference to the vocal minority who decry vaccination. Michigan remains on the low-end of vaccination rates in the US, which could very well be driving our high hospitalization rates.
More on these issues and others below.
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2021 MAGE Scholarship and Student Debt Reduction Awards. Every year MAGE offers our members and their families a chance to be awarded a $1,000 scholarship or student debt reduction award. Applications are accepted beginning June 1st through the last weekday of August every year. These awards help ease a small portion of the financial burden that is tied to higher education. MAGE wishes all recipients of this year’s scholarships and student debt reduction awards the best on their future endeavors. Read on to learn a little bit about our 2021 award winners! It pays to belong!
The Michigan Legislature has completed its work on the FY 21-22 state budget, and not a moment too soon. The October 1 deadline is fast approaching, but on September 22 the House and Senate agreed on omnibus budget bills to fund state government, local revenue sharing and higher education for the upcoming fiscal year. The Governor has announced her support for the plan, although there still may be a few line-item vetoes before she signs the bills into law.
The Legislature and Governor also continue to spar over COVID-19 policies. The question around mask and vaccination mandates continues to dominate many discussions in Lansing and it has now spilled down to local government and school board levels. Although COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Michigan are not yet at the level currently being seen in the southern US, there has been a spike of new cases in children since schools opened in late August. This has prompted vicious debates at school board and county commission meetings sometimes ending with threats of violence. The Legislature has weighed into the fray by including language in the budget bills that seek to neuter vaccine and mask mandates, and prohibit “vaccine passports” in all departments. They are also currently moving separate legislation that would ban vaccine and mask mandates altogether. That budget boilerplate language and the separate legislation is expected to be vetoed by Governor Whitmer.
A more detailed breakdown of key budget decisions is below.
Governor Whitmer lifted COVID-19 restrictions for all locations other than health care facilities on June 22. While there are still concerns about the growing spread of the Delta-variant which is more contagious and possibly more damaging to health, for the time being at least things are returning to normal in Michigan. Many state workers who have been working from home will begin to return to in-person work on July 12. However, many departments will be phasing in the return to work plans with some workers not expected to be back to in-person work until September.
In Lansing, the Michigan Legislature continues to work on the Fiscal Year 2022 budget that would begin on October 1, 2021. With the July 1 self-imposed deadline to pass a budget rapidly approaching, the House and Senate have scheduled June 30 for one last session day to complete the work. Discussions on the over $6 billion in federal funds the State of Michigan received from the American Rescue Plan Act have also been ongoing. It is likely that work on allocating those federal dollars will continue over the summer.
More on these issues below.
Please take a moment to read the attached Lansing State Journal article regarding overtime in our state hospitals. Labor Relations Director John DeTizio is quoted in this article advocating for the removal of mandatory overtime and a special wage increase for our RN’s.
The State of Michigan has announced that all career employees of the State of Michigan will receive a one-time grant of 8 hours of sick leave. This one time grant is intended to be used by the employee to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination. Follow the link to view Civil Service Regulation 5.10 for more detailed information.
As the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines continues, Governor Whitmer announced last week that pandemic restrictions will be lifted based on percentages of Michiganders who have been fully vaccinated. The plan, dubbed “Vacc to Normal,” will gradually eliminate limitations on gatherings, in-person work, mask usage and other restrictions based on milestones of vaccine distribution. This is the first indication that there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel, though it comes at a time when much of Michigan is experiencing another wave of infection.
The Michigan Legislature is devoting most of its attention to the 2022 budget process, while at the same time preparing to pass supplemental bills for the current year that would appropriate federal COVID-relief funds. Over $1 billion in relief funds passed in Washington last December remain unspent, and that is in addition to the over $5 billion the state received recently as part of the American Rescue Plan federal legislation. Michigan lawmakers find themselves in a strange position of having to distribute huge amounts of one-time federal funds while at the same time having to balance long-term projections for state revenues.
More on these issues below.
Whenever you have the Legislative and Executive Branches of government controlled by different political parties, some acrimony is expected. There is always tension and competition to win not only favored policies, but also to win the public relations battle. However, a solid year of pandemic restrictions have raised the temperature to unprecedented levels in Lansing. The Legislature has already been victorious in one lawsuit against Governor Whitmer, and it is possible that another may be coming soon to a courtroom near you.
As you all know MAGE has been advocating for the restoration of sick leave hours lost due to mandatory quarantine procedures in the DOC. We have taken a number of these to hearings and have notified our MAGE lobbyists to address this issue at the highest levels.
The last month has seen a budget agreement reached between Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature, the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the law upon which the Governor based her emergency powers was unconstitutional, and a frantic effort to reinstate certain Executive Orders that protected things ranging from unemployment benefits to the ability of public bodies to meet remotely. It is a lot to process.
Although the Legislature has a handful of session days scheduled between now and the election, it is widely presumed that little legislating will take place in the days leading up to the election. The “Lame Duck” session, in which many lawmakers who will be leaving office on December 31 still have a chance to make laws, will begin soon after the election and run through mid-December.
More on these issues below.
The Michigan Legislature, after making alterations to the current year budget to close holes created by the global pandemic, is now working to present next year’s budget to Governor Whitmer by the September 30 deadline. The traditional budget process has been almost completely derailed this year as the COVID-19 virus has not only wreaked havoc on the economy, but has also made the normal conduct of legislative business much more difficult. After last year’s debate over road funding that nearly led to a government shutdown, we had hoped for a more orderly process in 2020. Obviously, 2020 had other ideas.
More on the budget process and other issues affecting state workers is below.
The Michigan Legislature worked through the last two weeks in July, and plans to be in session for at least parts of August. They completed work on a deal to balance the current year budget, and are now working toward preparing the FY 20-21 budget. They also passed legislation that would provide immunity from liability for health centers and nursing homes for any negligence related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will likely be working to extend that immunity to all businesses with another round of legislation in August. The Civil Service Commission also adopted a rule with the sole goal of undermining state employee unions. More on these issues below.
The Michigan Legislature has gone into a mini-recess that will last for most of the month of July. Before they left Lansing, they passed a supplemental budget bill that will spend approximately $800 million in federal funds the state received from the CARES Act on a variety of COVID-19 related programs. They did not, however, address the shortfall in the current year budget (although an agreement in principle has been reached on that), nor did they present a budget for FY 21 to the Governor. Those issues will have to be addressed in July, August and perhaps even September.
The results of the 2020 MAGE General Council Elections are in! This year MAGE delegates placed their votes for State Officers, District Directors, District Deputy Directors, and a Resolution that has been proposed to move the MAGE General Council from a biennial meeting to a quadrennial meeting.
After the economic crash of 2008, many retirees who had already performed a lifetime of work and were living on a fixed income experienced a reduction in the amount of their income. During the same 2008 downturn, many companies suffered a loss in revenue. Congress enacted legislation that assisted those companies to the point where many were making record profits before the current COVID-19 crisis. It has now been shown that some of those companies invested the assistance by conducting stock buy-backs. Unfortunately, Congress did not provide such assistance to those retirees or the pension plans where they had placed their life savings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the greatest crisis Michigan has faced in recent memory. The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference taking place on May 15 is expected to show that Michigan’s revenues are down anywhere from $1 billion to $3 billion in the current fiscal year. Losses from the shutdown of most commercial activity will have a devastating impact on the state’s General Fund and School Aid Fund. It is expected that Governor Whitmer will issue a series of executive order budget cuts in the coming weeks.
While the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order has been extended to May 28, the reduction in the spread of the virus has led for a call to reopen Michigan’s economy. Some sectors, like construction, have already reopened, and some industrial and commercial businesses are expected to be allowed to reopen soon. However, Legislative leaders from the Republican majorities are claiming that the reopening should move faster since the economic impact of the shutdown is proving to be devastating not only on state revenues but also on a huge number of individual Michiganders.
See below for more information on these issues, and more.
It’s National Nurses Week! Nurses dedicate their lives to caring for those who fall ill. Now, more than ever, nurses are needed. They stand on the front lines in these uncertain times putting their own health at risk to help others. This dedication should not go unnoticed. MAGE would like to send a big THANK YOU to all nurses for their continued hard work.
Michigan policy makers are 100% focused on the Coronavirus pandemic, as officials are scrambling to deal with the rapid spread of the disease. Governor Whitmer has issued multiple executive orders ranging from school closures, prohibitions on price gouging, restrictions on public gatherings, and – most recently – a Stay Home, Stay Safe order requiring all Michigan residents to shelter at home unless they are “essential employees” or are obtaining personal needs like food, supplies, medication or medical treatment. The Michigan Legislature responded last week with a $75 million response package aimed at increasing Michigan’s preparedness for the impact of the increasing spread of the illness.
The MAGE General Council is our biennial meeting where members meet to elect officers, get information and vote on policy. If you would like to attend the MAGE General Council on May 16, 2020 at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Mt. Pleasant MI, please contact the MAGE office for reservations at 1-800-477-6243.