News Manager

December 2012 Legislative Report

Right to Work Bills Pass in House, Senate

Following Governor Snyder’s public announcement of his support for Right to Work legislation in Michigan, both the House and the Senate passed Right to Work legislation.  The Senate passed two bills, HB 4003 (Rep. Paul Opsommer R-DeWitt), the vehicle bill for public sector unions, and SB 116 (Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive), A bill affecting private sector unions.  The bills received no Democratic support, and four Republican members stood up for union members by voting “no”:  Senator Tom Casperson (Escanaba), Senator Mike Green (Mayville), Senator Mike Nofs (Battle Creek) and Senator Tory Rocca (Sterling Heights).

On the House side, HB 4054 (Rep. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy) affects private sector unions, and passed with a 58-52 vote.  As in the Senate, no Democratic House members voted for the bill and six Republican members cast “no” votes against Right to Work.  Republicans voting “no” were:  Rep. Anthony Forlini (Harrison Twp.), Rep. Ken Goike (Ray Township), Rep. Ken Horn (Frankenmuth), Rep. Ed McBroom (Vulcan), Rep. Patrick Somerville (New Boston) and Rep. Dale Zorn (Ida).  Supporters of these bills claimed that they weren’t “anti-union” but wanted “more freedom for workers.”  Opponents speaking in the House and Senate blasted the legislation as anti-worker and anti-union, reminding the proponents that these bills would allow employees to choose not to join unions but receive services as “freeloaders.”

It is expected that the two Senate bills will be the ones that are finalized, given that a procedural motion to reconsider HB 4054 kept that bill from being sent over to the Senate in time to meet the “five day” deadline in the Constitution.  Under Michigan’s constitution, a bill must “lay over” for five days in its second chamber before that body is allowed to vote on it.

Tuesday is expected to be the day when the legislature completes its work on Right to Work, a sad day for a state with a proud tradition of having a large middle class, thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of others before them in Michigan’s labor movement.

State Budget Transparency Legislation Reported from Committee

Two Senate-passed bills were reported out of the House Oversight and Reform Committee in early December.  They have as their goals creating “more transparency” in the state’s budget.  Here’s a rundown:

SB 21 (Sen. Schuitmaker – R, Antwerp Twp) requires each department to have a strategic mission, vision, goals, and a balanced scorecard. A balanced scorecard is a tool that allows for performance to be monitored on activates that are vital to success. The scorecard shall also include a metric for each state enhancement budget recommendation. Each metric shall be in either customer service, financial, internal business process, or learning and growth.

SB 802 (Sen. Colbeck – R, Canton) requires each line item in the state budget to be placed in one of three categories: core services, support services, or work projects. From each category, state budget requirements must be identified for state employee wages, state employee benefits, materials and equipment, facilities and utilities, direct payments to clients, medical payments on behalf of clients, educational expenses on behalf of clients or students, other contracts, and all other costs. Each revenue source and amount for each appropriation unit must also be identified. Each reporting unit shall submit its spending plan to the state budget office within 60 days of enactment of the state budget. Within 30 days of receiving the spending plan, the state budget office shall either approve or return with requested changes to the reporting unit. The reporting unit has 2 weeks to make the requested changes after the spending plans return from the state budget office. The state budget office shall submit each approved plan to the appropriate appropriations committee or subcommittee, the HFA, and SFA, and then post it on the department’s website.

SB 21 and SB 802 are tie-barred, and both are on the House floor, having already passed the Senate.

Some Retired DOC Workers Could Return to Work

Legislation loosening the prohibitions on returning to state work after retirement—at least for some DOC retirees-- has passed the House and is now on the Senate floor.

HB 5881 (Rep. Haveman – R, Holland) would add an exemption that would allow retired Department of Corrections (DOC) workers to return to work as a corrections officer while still drawing their State Employee’s Retirement System (SERS) pension. There would be a cut off date of September 30, 2013 for employment while receiving a pension, and all retirees who returned to work would have to receive bona fide termination by that date. They could receive no more than 80% of standard pay for their position, and receive no benefits. Retirees’ healthcare benefits would be covered by their SERS pension. The total time worked cannot exceed 1,040 hours in a 12 month period of employment. This bill was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee with no changes from the House version and is now on the Senate floor.