From the CEO: Win, Place, and Show

MRA President and CEO William J.Hallan
William J.Hallan, MRA President and CEO

Every year my family watches the Kentucky Derby. We draw names, put a few dollars in the pot, and pretend like we follow horse racing year-round as we watch the fastest two minutes in sports. I love all of it, the bugler’s call to post, the mint juleps, hats, seersucker suits and pageantry. But it’s the race strategy that I enjoy the most. Will the pace be fast and furious? Will the favorite hang back to use its closing speed?

The 2022 winner, Rich Strike, was a long shot at 80-1 odds and as the race unfolded it appeared that the odds were right on the mark. With 3/4ths of mile to go, Rich Strike was in 14th place in a 20-horse field. Jammed between two other horses, three wide of the rail, victory seemed impossible. But as the field broke for home, a lane to the inside opened, and the jockey expertly guided Rich Strike around a fading horse. A closing surge propelled Rich Strike past horses Epicenter and Zandon, making him the longest shot to win the Derby since 1913.

First, second, and third in a horse race is known as win, place and show. If you pick them in order, it’s called a trifecta, and the payout is huge. The retail industry had its own trifecta recently, and it wasn’t due to a lucky bet, rather, it was the result of many hours of hard work.

Organized Retail Crime (ORC) continues to plague our industry, but the recent passage of three pieces of legislation represents a significant victory that protects both retailers and consumers.

Hallan, Drumm with Gov. WhitmerOn July 19, Governor Whitmer signed the INFORM (Integrity Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces) Act, HB 5486-5487 into law. The act requires online marketplaces to verify their high-volume third-party sellers and provide the seller’s contact information to purchasers. Criminals often use online marketplaces to sell stolen property, and new transparency requirements will make it more difficult for them to fence those goods.

On July 20, Governor Whitmer signed a bipartisan budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which includes $3.5 million in funding to be used for a dedicated ORC task force within the Attorney General’s department. Organized Retail Crime frequently occurs across multiple counties, and this budgetary expenditure vests additional resources within the AG’s department to prosecute ORC offenses.

On July 21, Governor Whitmer signed SB 691, which adds Organized Retail Crime to the list of crimes that can be charged as a racketeering offense. Racketeering in Michigan is a 20-year felony, so prosecutors now have additional tools (with significant teeth) to prosecute Organized Retail Crime.

Moving legislation in Michigan requires a clear strategy. Michigan is one of only 10 states with a full time legislature, so the process can require a steady pace, endurance, and some closing speed. Obtaining multiple legislative victories takes months of planning and we’re happy to report our own version of win, place and show. Trifecta’s are rare, so a celebration is appropriate. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be having a mint julep.