James Hallan: Late-Spring musings

By JAMES P. HALLAN – MRA President and CEO

As the opening lyric in the old Lovin’ Spoonful tune goes, “Hot town, summer in the city” my prediction is that this is going to be a long legislative summer. Like potholes, tough issues are popping up almost daily. Between the proposed gasoline rate hike to fund roads, the recent sixth court of appeals opinion mandating legislative redistricting, on-going budget issues, the Line 5 controversy, no-fault reform and impeachment threats, it is clear that the legislative agenda is becoming increasingly complex and contentious.

Our annual legislative reception in April was by any measure widely successful as we set an attendance record. The purpose of the event is to showcase our industry to elected officials and others that are involved in retail. Our Buy Nearby Guy served as the “greeter,” reminding everyone of the importance of keeping dollars in the Mitten. The event featured many Michigan products. A heartfelt thanks to all our sponsors that helped make our reception so successful.

A remnder that the open enrollment period for MRA’s Retailers Insurance Company dental plan, administered by Delta Dental of Michigan, and vision plan, administered by VSP Vision, is June 15. So you still have time to join our plans, with an effective date of July 1. Both are part of MRA’s Private Insurance Exchange. Members with two to 50 employees can learn more at retailers.com/private-exchange or call 800.366.3699, ext. 681. If you have more than 50 employees, call us directly.

Members of Michigan Grocers, a division of Michigan Retailers, have two strong Michigan-based options to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. The Michigan Grocers Fund is an excellent dividend-paying group self-insurance fund that was organized in 2014. It has a strong track record. Likewise, members of Michigan Grocers have the opportunity to participate with Retailers Insurance Company, which is rated by Demotech as A Prime, Unsurpassed. They can be checked out at migrocersfund.org or retailersinsurance.com.

Thank you for renewing your membership. As part of your membership, you are eligible for one free, updated labor law poster that includes recent changes to the minimum wage and paid leave laws. Extra copies are available for $15 each. For information on how to request your free poster visit bit.ly/MRAposters.

As my retirement date looms, I promised to share some of my embarrassing memories from my early days in Lansing. In some ways, Lansing is a big town, and in other ways it’s a very small town, especially for those in the legislative circle. At this year’s Easter brunch with the family, I happened to run into former Gov. Jim Blanchard and his wife, Janet. He looks as young and vibrant as he did when he served as Governor and later as Ambassador to Canada. Our visit reminded me of an early encounter with him. One afternoon, I was playing a “business” round of golf at the now defunct Walnut Hills Country Club and a breathless young golfing attendant came barreling up in his golf cart while I was on a tee box and said the Governor wants to talk to you. Now this was in the 1980s, long before cell phones, and the young man popped me in the cart to take me to the hot dog stand where they had a landline so I could take the call. Needless to say, I was embarrassed to be on the golf course while the governor was calling. The governor, an avid golfer, chuckled and I was able to answer his question. We have remained good friends over the years and he was always a terrific supporter of Michigan Retailers.