Tuesday, September 20th, 2022Senate Session Day
Wednesday, September 21st, 2022House Session Day
Wednesday, September 28th, 2022Senate & House Session Day
Board of Canvassers Certify Voting and Abortion Ballot Measures
As previously reported in Updates from the Capitol, the Board of State Canvassers failed to approve the Promote the Vote 2022 and Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiatives during an uncharacteristically contentious meeting on Wednesday, August 31. The move temporarily blocked the measures from being placed on the November general election ballot.
Both proposals met the requisite signature requirements to qualify for the ballot, however, two Republican members of the board cited concerns regarding the formatting and clarity of the proposals’ language. The Board ultimately deadlocked in a 2 to 2 vote, prompting appeals from the ballot proposals supporters to the Michigan Supreme Court to intervene.
On Thursday, September 8, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 2 opinion that the actions of the Board of State Canvassers were not within its purview, among other things, and it was the duty of the Board to certify the two constitutional ballot initiatives for the November ballot.
In response to the Supreme Court decision, the Board unanimously approved the measures on Friday, September 9 for inclusion on the November general election ballot.
Court of Claims Rules 1931 Abortion Law is Unconstitutional
On September 7, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ruled that Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban law is unconstitutional. In the ruling, Judge Gleicher found that the current law violates the due process and equal protection clauses in the Michigan Constitution.
Following the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization issued by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, which returned abortion decisions back to the states, Michigan’s abortion ban has not gone into effect due to multiple injunctions. The 1931 law in Michigan bans abortions except in the case where the mother’s life is in danger.
In the ruling, Gleicher stated that enforcement of the 1931 law would “deprive pregnant women of their right to bodily integrity and autonomy, and the equal protection of the law… Enforcement also threatens pregnant women with irreparable injury because without the availability of abortion services, women will be denied appropriate, safe and constitutionally protected medical care.”
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice McCormack Announces Retirement
On Monday, September 12, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack announced that she would be retiring from the bench at the end of the year after 10 years of service.
Michigan Supreme Court justices are listed on the ballot under the non-partisan section, but they are nominated by the parties. As they serve eight-year terms, McCormack was two years into her second term, with six years remaining.
Democrat-nominated justices currently hold a 4 to 3 majority. McCormack’s retirement paves the way for Governor Gretchen Whitmer to appoint her first justice since taking office and allows Democrats to retain the majority on the court regardless of the outcome of the November election.
Governor Signs Inflation Reduction Act Directive
On September 6, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive titled ‘Lowering Costs for Families with the Inflation Reduction Act’, presented as an effort to utilize opportunities from the federally passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Executive Directive 2022-9 instructs state departments to identify ways to educate Michiganders on opportunities to lower costs on energy upgrades, electric vehicles, transportation, and prescription drug costs.
Under the directive, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) are expected to ensure that eligible residents have the information needed to apply and receive tax credits for health insurance purchased on the marketplace. MDHHS is also encouraged to continue efforts to decrease the cost of prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients.
Muskegon Prosecutor to Lead Election Fraud Investigation
As previously reported in Updates from the Capitol, Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a petition for a special prosecutor with the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council (PACC) to investigate alleged statewide election fraud. On September 8, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson was assigned to review the investigation.
Nessel submitted the petition to the PACC asking for a special prosecutor to investigate fraudulent activity surrounding unauthorized access to voting machines following the 2020 general election. Notable targets of the investigation include state Representative Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), Attorney General candidate Matthew DePerno, and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.
Under current law, if conflict exists within the Office of the Attorney General, a petition must be filed with the PACC to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the case. The PACC will review the materials and identify proper placement of the investigation.
House Fiscal Agency Issues August Revenue Report
The House Fiscal Agency issued its August revenue report showing General Fund tax revenue for FY 22 came in $1.2 billion above projections made during the May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC); $85.9 million above CREC projections for the month. Must of the higher than anticipated revenues were attributed to income tax refunds not yet being paid out. In August, sales and use tax revenues came in at $25 million; continuing to exceed expectations.
Cash collections from Michigan’s taxes, penalties, interest, and lottery transfers totaled $2.7 billion, or $135.1 million more than the previous year. Fiscal year-to-date collections for 2021-22 were cited at 16.1% higher than fiscal year 2020-21.
The School Aid Fund revenue came in around $1.4 billion in August, approximately $67.8 million above the estimated amounts from the May 2022 Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. Lottery transfers, however, were about $28.1 million below estimated amounts.