McCall Hamilton Advocacy and Public Affairs

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Michigan’s Primary Election Results

Michigan’s primary election on August 2 was the first election in the state since the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission put forward new district maps. Below we provide some of the main takeaways.

For the gubernatorial election, conservative commentator Tudor Dixon overwhelmingly won the Republican race. She will face Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November, making this the first time in Michigan history that two women will be running against one another for Governor.

The U.S. House election had numerous highlights. Republican Congressman Peter Meijer, who voted for the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, lost to Trump-endorsed candidate John Gibbs for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District. Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten of Grand Rapids in November. In the 11th District, Congresswoman Haley Stevens beat out Democrat incumbent Andy Levin after redistricting pit the two against each other for the seat. Additionally, State Representative Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) won the 13th District primary against State Senator Adam Hollier (D-Detroit).

In the Michigan Senate primary race, incumbent Senators Kim LaSata (R-Niles) and Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) will not return in 2023. LaSata lost to Trump-endorsed candidate Jonathan Lindsey, and Bullock lost to incumbent Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak). Three Republican House Members will likely move to the Senate after winning their primaries: Representative Annette Glenn (R-Midland), Representative Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe), and Representative John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs).

In the Michigan House, Representative Rodney Wakeman (R-Frankenmuth) lost to former Tuscola County Commissioner Matthew Bierlein. Representative Andrew Beeler (R-Fort Gratiot) defeated Representative Gary Eisen (R-St.Clair) in the only House Republican race featuring two incumbents. Representative Richard Steenland (D-Roseville) lost his race against Kim Edwards in the Democratic primary. Finally, Senator Douglas Wozniak (R-Shelby Township) beat out Representative Terence Mekoski (R-Shelby Township) in the Republican primary after Wozniak’s district was drawn into that of Senator Ruth Johnson (R-Groveland Township).

All unofficial results of the 2022 Primary Election can be found here

Michigan’s 1931 Abortion Ban Law Injunction Remains in Place

Michigan continues to grapple with the new reproductive health landscape in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.

Most recently, on July 29, Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, who issued the injunction temporarily blocking the state’s 1931 abortion ban, denied a motion from Republicans in the Legislature to disqualify her from the case Planned Parenthood vs. Attorney General, challenging the constitutionality of the 1931 law. Concerns from Republicans stemmed from Judge Gleicher’s previous ties to Planned Parenthood and personal campaign contributions to Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

On Monday, August 1, pro-choice advocates were dealt a temporary blow when the Court of Appeals ruled that the abortion ban does not apply to local county prosecutors (who are not under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Attorney General), potentially opening the door for felony charges to be brought against physicians who perform abortions. Hours later, however, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham granted Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request for a temporary restraining order to prohibit enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 statute criminalizing abortion. In effect, local county prosecutors remain prohibited from criminally prosecuting abortion in Michigan while the order is pending.

During a hearing on August 3 in the Oakland County Circuit Court, the restraining order was extended and another hearing on August 17 was scheduled. It is possible the order could be extended for an indeterminate period of time. Separately, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s newest filing calls on the Supreme Court to immediately consider the April lawsuit which asked the court to decide if the state’s constitution protects the right to abortion.

Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

On Thursday, July 29, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 2 decision that denial of goods, services, etc. on the basis of sexual orientation violates Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA). The majority opinion was written by Republican-nominated Justice Elizabeth Clement. The ruling significantly expands protections for the LGBTQ community as ELCRA has jurisdiction over employers of all sizes and prohibits discrimination beyond employment, in places of public accommodation, such as housing. A lower court ruling separately found the ELCRA to apply to gender identity as well.

While the ruling on Thursday and the lower court ruling were celebrated by those in the LGBTQ community and allies, the protections are not yet enshrined in law – something Democrat lawmakers, such as State Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), hope to change.

It is important to note that the Michigan Supreme Court opinion was silent on whether enforcement of the protections violated constitutional religious liberties. Groups, like the Michigan Catholic Conference, expressed concern that the ruling could pose a threat to religious liberties under the state Constitution. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey also expressed concern regarding possible infringement on “those with firmly held religious beliefs”.

Michigan Supreme Court Rules on Juvenile Life Sentences

On July 28, in a 4 to 3 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in People v. Parks that 18-year-old defendants convicted of first-degree murder to a life sentence without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. The same 4 to 3 majority also ruled in People v. Stovall that it is unconstitutional for juveniles, those 17 and under, to be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for second-degree murder.

The decision in Parks, written by Justice Elizabeth Welch and joined by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, and Justices Bernstein and Cavanagh found that the sentence imposed did not take into account characteristics of youth, including adolescent brain development.

In Stovall, Justice McCormack wrote that a life sentence with the possibility of parole for a juvenile committing second-degree murder is often more severe than the minimum sentence for a juvenile committing first-degree murder.

The same four justices also ruled in People v. Taylor, which found rebuttable presumption against sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This presumption will be the prosecutor’s burden to overcome by presenting clear and convincing evidence in a hearing

Justice Viviano dissented, writing that the majority “used this brutal kidnapping and murder case as an opportunity to drastically limit the discretion sentencing courts have traditionally held to impose a sentence on a defendant convicted of one of our state’s most serious crimes.”

Whitmer Issues Gun Safety Directive

On Tuesday, July 26, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Directive 2022-7 in an effort to reduce crime and gun violence following the passage of the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act designates funding for local and state governments to combat gun violence. Under the executive directive, state departments are required to designate a representative within 30 days to develop a response to gun violence. The state police will be required to improve their processes for reporting criminal, mental health, and juvenile records, as well as establish the Community Violence Intervention Office, which will coordinate grants for agencies involved in community violence intervention programming.

The directive is effective immediately.

Michigan Unemployment Numbers Increase

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) reported that most of Michigan’s regional unemployment rates increased in June. In 15 of Michigan’s labor markets, not seasonally adjusted jobless rates rose. However, associate director Wayne Rourke of the Bureau of Labor Market and Information Strategic Initiatives stated that it is common to see increases in jobless rates in June with more seasonal hiring.

Unemployment rates ranged from 3.9 to 6.5 percent during June. Regional employment saw a median decline of 0.9 percent. Lansing saw the largest employment reduction since May, while the Ann Arbor metro region saw the strongest employment increase since June 2021 with 5.7 percent.

Judge Grants Employers Time to Implement Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Time Laws

On Friday, July 29, Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro granted a stay of his ruling in Mothering Justice vs. Dana Nessel until February 2023.

The decision in Mothering – issued on July 19 – found that the Legislature violated the constitution when in 2018 it amended two citizen initiatives. One initiative would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour over a period of years with an inflation adjustment in place once the maximum was reached. It would also eliminate the lower tipped minimum wage. A separate initiative would allow employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 72 hours per year.

The purpose of the stay granted by Judge Shapiro is to give employers time to implement the necessary changes to comply with the new laws.

Michigan Sees Credit Rating Increase

For the first time in almost ten years, Fitch Ratings boosted Michigan’s credit rating from AA to AA+ with a “stable outlook”.

In its report Fitch increased the credit rating to reflect Michigan’s higher level of fiscal resilience and diversified economy, as well as fiscally responsible budgeting and efforts to address debt. The state has also managed economic risks through increased fiscal reserves, paying down liabilities, and practicing conservative budgeting and revenue forecasting. With the rainy-day fund having been replenished, Michigan has maintained structural balance.