Legislature on break for most of October/November
Following three, short weeks of fall session, legislators will mostly be home in their districts through the November 8 election. The Senate has three scheduled session days, October 18-20, while the House will only return October 19. Both chambers will return the Wednesday and Thursday following the election and then “lame duck” session will begin in full force on November 29. It could run through December 22.
House Committee votes to stop “Bag Tax”
On September 21 the House Commerce Committee voted along party lines to report SB 853, legislation to pre-empt local ordinances banning or requiring a fee on plastic bags or carryout containers. MRA was pleased to see the committee take quick action on the bill following testimony the week before. The House is expected to take up the bill when it returns in November or December.
Committee okays new pseudoephedrine limits
Legislation that would set monthly and annual limits on the amount of pseudoephedrine an individual can purchase was reported by the House Criminal Justice Committee on September 20 as HB 5667. The current monthly limit is 9 grams in a 30-day period. MRA worked with the bill sponsor and committee members to amend the bill from 4.8 grams per 30-days to 7.2 grams per 30-days and 61.2 grams annually. The amendment follows similar guidelines in other states without limiting families’ access to the medication. The annual limit is based on a patient or family using the 30-day limit every month during allergy season (estimated at 8.5 months out of the year). Patients who take products containing pseudoephedrine regularly and would exceed the monthly or annual limit could still obtain the medication with a prescription. The legislation is another attempt to limit access to materials that are used to make meth.
Other important items to note:
- Michigan Craft Beverage Council membership and duties: SB 671 and HB 5025 were reported by the House Agriculture Committee on September 21. The bills seek to expand membership on the newly renamed Michigan Craft Beverage Council (formerly known as the Grape and Wine Council) and the duties of the council. There is currently a position on the council for a retailer holding an SDM license or a restaurant with a class C license and would expand to include a nonvoting position for a retailer with an SDM or SDD license that does not hold an on-premises license.
- Third party delivery of beer and wine: Legislation allowing a retailer located in Michigan with a Specialty Designated Merchant (SDM) license to use a third party to deliver beer and wine was introduced on September 20 as SB 1088 and approved by the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee on September 21. The bill is similar to HB 4125 but includes beer as well as wine.
- Auto parts: On September 20, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reported HB 5857, a bill that seeks to codify numerous current administrative rules into the Motor Vehicle Repair Act. The intent is that by codifying the provisions into statute they will be more accessible and familiar to the general public. The bill was reintroduced by the original House sponsor following the governor’s veto of HB 4344. HB 5857 no longer includes a key anti-competition piece retailers had expressed concerns with and that led to the governor’s veto in early July. The bill was moved quickly in honor of the sponsor and former chair of the committee, who passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident last month.
- Discount cards: HB 5895, introduced on September 20, would regulate prepaid discount cards or programs that purchase goods, services or classes at a discounted rate the same way as gift cards/gift certificates. Under current law, gift cards/certificates cannot expire within five years of purchase and businesses cannot charge an inactivity fee or other service fee. Pre-paid discount cards are currently exempt from Michigan’s gift card/certificate requirements. The bill was referred to the House Commerce Committee.
- Drones: The Senate Transportation committee reported SB 992 on September 21. The legislation would allow and regulate the use of drones except to interfere with law enforcement or if used for stalking or surveillance. Local governments would not be permitted to enact an ordinance, policy or resolution regulating ownership or operation of a drone, but could promulgate rules, regulations and ordinances within the boundaries of the political subdivision.
- Tax capture changes: The House Local Government Committee reported a package of bills (HB 5851–5856) on September 21 that would make a number of changes to how tax-capture entities like Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs) operate. The legislation would prevent the capture of revenues from millages approved by voters after December 31, 2016, require entities to use revenue captured within five years or return the revenue, require an annual meeting and access to certain documents, and establish penalties for noncompliance.
- Tax increment finance authorities: SB 1026, a bill that would roll all of the current tax increment finance authorities into a single act, was approved by the Senate Economic Development and International Investment Committee on September 20.