Paid Sick Time Legislation Moves In Lame Duck
The bi-annual ‘lame duck’ session began in the legislature this week. Every two years between Election Day and the end of the year when new lawmakers are sworn into office, current legislators scramble to pass last minute legislation. The term “lame duck” refers to those individuals who are at the end of their final legislative terms and seemingly have less accountability to those they represent, as they will not have to seek out votes in the future. Many controversial pieces of legislation have been passed during lame duck over the years. This year’s lame duck session is particularly intriguing because there will be a shift in power in the Governor’s office next year, and many lawmakers in both chambers are leaving office at the end of the year.
One issue that will have an impact on the heavy construction industry deals with paid sick time. During 2018, signatures were collected for a ballot initiative that would put into place very onerous paid sick time laws. The legislature passed the measure alongside a new minimum wage requirement. However, it was widely speculated that the Republican controlled legislature would turn around after the elections and pass a less restrictive measure for employers. This week, the Senate Republicans confirmed that speculation by passing a new measure.
The new legislation significantly scales back the original initiated act. Instead of requiring employers to provide one hour sick time for every 30 hours worked up to 72 hours earned per year, SB 1175 requires one hour every 40 hours worked and caps sick time at 36 hours annually instead of 72. Furthermore, the bill limits the application of the requirement to employers with at least 50 employees. Most significant to some MITA members is that private collective bargaining agreements are exempt from the law.
The new measures are heavily supported by the business community. The legislation is expected to move quickly in the House, potentially next week, and will go into effect 90 days after the end of this legislative session, which is close to the end of this year. MITA staff will continue to advocate for more business-friendly changes to the initiated act and will keep the members posted if there are additions to the legislation as it moves through the House.
Water Fee Bill Being Discussed
Over the summer, Governor Rick Snyder recommended a statewide water fee of $5 per citizen to raise approximately $110 million for underground infrastructure throughout the state. During the campaign cycle, the idea received little attention, as candidates did not want to commit to supporting a new fee on residents. However, Governor Snyder has upped his pressure on the legislature to include this in the lame duck session.
Money raised from this fee would be used in a variety of ways under the introduced version of the legislation. Most of the money would be used for grants to communities to improve their water, sewer and stormwater capital projects. Some money will also go towards asset management programs, water assistance programs, and for infrastructure failures that threaten public health or the environment. In addition, 80% of the revenues must be put back into the communities that they were raised from.
The money raised by this fee, $110 million annually, won’t fix all of our underground infrastructure problems in Michigan. However, this is a step in the right direction, as well as the first time in decades that the state would dedicate annual resources to our underground systems, rather than relying solely on local communities to raise enough revenues to fund improvements if passed.
Line 5 Tunnel Project
MITA staff also continues to keep a close eye on developments surrounding the Line 5 Tunnel proposal for the Straits of Mackinac area. This potential major project is a huge opportunity for the industry and therefore is a high priority for MITA.
Currently, the legislation has moved through its first hurdle as it was passed out of Senate committee and awaits action in the full Senate. Leaders from both chambers (House and Senate) have indicated their support, and staff will be working aggressively throughout the lame duck session to secure passage.
MITA will continue to update members on these developments, or any others that may come up during the lame duck session that could potentially impact the industry.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President, at email@example.com, or Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. They both can be reached at 517-347-8336.