WWJ NewsRadio: Brad Williams Talks State of the State Address

February 12, 2019

Michigan Matters

CBS Detroit

 

Brad Williams was on WWJ to talk about the State of the State address on February 12. 

Detroit chamber PAC backs Whitmer for governor

October 17, 2018

Crain’s Detroit 

By: Chad Livengood

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s political action committee is splitting its ticket this year in election endorsements at the top of the November ballot.

The chamber PAC’s board of directors on Wednesday endorsed Democrat Gretchen Whitmer for governor over Republican Bill Schuette, while siding with Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard to succeed Schuette as attorney general over Democrat Dana Nessel.

In endorsing Whitmer, the chamber PAC cited Whitmer’s support for the group’s priorities in regional transit, infrastructure funding and construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge as well as her past votes as a state senator for Detroit’s bankruptcy “grand bargain” and expansion of the Medicaid program for the working poor.

“Gretchen has a better record on those and a better plan,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Whitmer’s commitment to seeing through construction of the Gordie Howe bridge was stronger than Schuette’s publicly stated support for both the Gordie Howe project as well as the Moroun family’s desire to construct a replacement span for the aging Ambassador Bridge, Williams said.

“That’s certainly an acceptable opinion,” Williams said of Schuette’s support for multiple new bridges over the Detroit River. “But for us, getting the Gordie Howe bridge is going to require laser focus getting that done.”

Whitmer’s support of a citywide education commission in Detroit to manage public and charter schools in the city was another factor in the chamber’s endorsement, Williams said.

The chamber PAC’s endorsement of Whitmer is the first time the regional business organization has backed a Democrat for governor since 1990, when the group endorsed then-Gov. Jim Blanchard’s re-election over Republican John Engler, Williams said.

The Detroit chamber’s endorsement of Whitmer for governor makes it one of the only major business groups in Michigan to buck Schuette’s campaign to occupy the governor’s office next year.

To date, Schuette has racked up endorsements from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Business Leaders for Michigan, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Manufacturers Association, the Michigan Restaurant Association, the Small Business Association of Michigan and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

In the August primary, the chamber’s PAC endorsed Whitmer over her two primary opponents and backed Lt. Gov. Brian Calley over Schuette. Since soundly defeating Calley in the primary, Schuette has not been able to win the endorsement of outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who has been closely aligned with the Detroit Regional Chamber during his eight years in office.

“This endorsement was about Senator Whitmer, not about the attorney general,” Williams said in a conference call with reporters. “Certainly, (Schuette) has served this state honorably for 34, 35 years and is certainly qualified to be governor of this state.”

The Detroit Chamber’s PAC previously endorsed Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s re-election before Detroit businessman John E. James won the August primary.

“Her leadership and willingness to work across the aisle in Washington has helped move Michigan in a positive direction,” Williams said in a statement.

The Detroit chamber PAC did not endorse in the secretary of state’s race between Democrat Jocelyn Benson and Republican Mary Treder Lang after the PAC’s board could not reach a consensus.

The PAC’s bylaws requires a two-thirds supermajority among board members to issue an endorsement, Williams said.

In competitive congressional races, the chamber’s PAC also is not endorsing in the hotly contested 11th Congressional District race between Vesco Oil Co. co-owner Lena Epstein and Haley Stevens, a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama’s auto bailout task force.

“This two-thirds threshold we put in place is a high bar to clear — as I learned today,” Williams told reporters. “It’s not always neat and tidy.”

In the 8th Congressional District, the Detroit chamber’s PAC endorsed U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop’s re-election against Democratic challenger Elissa Slotkin.

The contentious Bishop-Slotkin race is now the most expensive congressional race in Michigan history, with spending topping $16.5 million and three more weeks to go before the Nov. 6 election, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

View the original article here

Michigan House, Senate Pass ‘Good Jobs for Michigan’ Legislation

Today, Michigan legislators passed the “Good Jobs for Michigan” bill package, Senate Bills 242-244. This is one of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s legislative priorities as the government relations team has continuously urged legislators to adopt all three bills. A leading regional economic development organization, the Chamber leveraged its influential public policy voice as a key advocate for the legislation’s passage.

“The Chamber is thankful for the leadership of Governor Snyder and the Legislature to create this policy that will allow Michigan to compete with every state in the nation for job growth,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.


MORE: Read the Chamber’s testimony to the House Policy Committee in support of House Bills 242-244.


Under the legislation, business expansions or new locations that create a minimum of 500 new jobs and pay wages at 100 percent or more of the regional average wage would be eligible to capture up to 50 percent of the personal income tax withholdings of the new employees for up to five years. In addition, business expansions or new locations that create a minimum of 250 new jobs and pay wages at 125 percent or more of the regional average wage would be eligible to capture up to 100  percent of the personal income tax withholdings of the new employees for up to 10 years. There is a cap of 15 projects per year with a rolling cap of $250 million for all projects.

“The passage of this legislation creates a vital tool as the Chamber travels the nation and globe to attract companies to grow in our region,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

This is the Chamber’s second major economic development victory in the state this year, following the MIThrive package that will incentivize transformational brownfield developments in cities across the state.

Report: Michigan’s roads, bridges rapidly deteriorating

The Detroit News 

By Shawn Lewis 

April 4, 2017 

Michigan’s roads and bridges will get worse over the next half decade despite a boost in infrastructure funding from the Legislature, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report conducted by TRIP, a Washington D.C.-based national transportation advocacy organization, looks at what has happened with roads and bridges since lawmakers in 2015 approved expanded funding for roads.

The TRIP report says 20 percent of state-maintained roads were in poor condition in 2016 and are expected to deteriorate significantly over the next three years, projecting 46 percent will be in poor condition by 2020.

“About one in 10 bridges in Michigan are structurally deficient,” said Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research for TRIP.

According to the report, the Michigan Department of Transportation estimates the number of bridges rated in poor condition will increase by 50 percent between 2016 and 2023. This means the number of bridges in poor condition will increase from 236 to 354 in that time frame.

According to the report, funding for state state roads, bridges and transit will increase from $2.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $3.4 billion in 2023.

The 28-page report says despite the 2015 funding boost, numerous needed transportation projects in Michigan remain unfunded.

The value of these needed transportation projects is $3.3 billion, including $2 billion in Metro Detroit, $483 million in the Lansing area and $234 million in the Grand Rapids area, according to TRIP.

The list of unfunded projects in the Metro Detroit area include: reconstruction of Interstate 94, from I-96 to Wyoming, at a cost of $110.5 million; M-10, Griswold to M-3, for resurfacing at a cost of $15.8 million; and U.S. 12, from Rosa Parks to Cass, for reconstruction and overlay at a cost of $14.8 million.

Tuesday’s press conference where the report was released was held at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the chamber, said the business community has been focused on transportation needs for decades.

“We still have a long way to go because we all know the condition of our roads is severely damaging our ability to progress economically,” Williams said. “While we made a down payment two years ago, our infrastructure requires more funding.”

He said the 20 percent of Michigan roads already in poor condition is 20 percent too much.

“The lack of investment costs us in time, repairs and in customers,” he said.

View the original article here: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/04/04/report-michigan-roads/100023430/

Congress Passes the Water Resources Development Act in its Final Vote of the Year

On Dec. 9, the U.S. Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 prior to adjourning for the year. The legislation is highly supported by the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC), in which the Detroit Regional Chamber is a member and Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Chamber also serves as the executive director.

The bill authorizes 25 critical Army Corps projects in 17 states, Michigan being one of them, and provides critical investment in the country’s aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, assists poor and disadvantaged communities in meeting public health standards under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, and promotes innovative technologies to address drought and other critical water resource needs.

The bill also responds to the drinking water crisis in Flint by providing emergency assistance to Flint and other similar communities across the country facing drinking water contamination.

The bill will now be sent to the President for signature.

Biz groups push plan to raise $1.2B for state infrastructure repairs

From Crain’s Detroit Business

February 25, 2013

By Chris Gautz

Business groups representing the state’s largest industries gathered Monday morning to again urge the Michigan Legislature to act on a plan to increase revenue by about $1.2 billion annually for infrastructure repairs in the state.

The point was clear from those in the room: Doing nothing is not an option.

The form of the plan crafted by the Legislature to increase revenue is open for debate. Most business leaders prefer a system based on user fees that would affect both individuals and businesses and would be similar to what Gov. Rick Snyder put forward in his proposed budget this month.

Snyder’s plan would raise both gas and diesel taxes at the pump to a flat 33 cents a gallon and increase registration fees for vehicles and heavy trucks.

“User fees are the best and the fairest way to fund transportation,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Mike Johnston, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturers Association, said that taking no action will just make the problem bigger later, requiring an even higher gas tax increase eventually.

“We’ve addressed so many structural problems here in Michigan, and transportation stands out like a sore thumb,” Johnston said. “It’s something that has to be addressed, and we ought to do it now.”

Jim Holcomb, senior vice president of business advocacy and general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said it is comparing apples and oranges to say the business community received large tax breaks in the past two years and therefore should shoulder more of the burden in this plan.

Chamber members recognize that transportation is an essential government service and are willing to pay for it, he said, as they would under a plan to increase gas taxes and registration fees.

Williams said the need to fix the state’s infrastructure is great, especially in Southeast Michigan.

“We need the Legislature to invest to make sure that those pieces of infrastructure stay in good condition and that our businesses can make sure they get their products to market,” Williams said.

Right now across the state, the condition of the roads hurts the condition of food products that farmers ship, said Matt Smego, legislative counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Some farmers have indicated that they lose anywhere from 5 percent to 10 percent of their fresh product because it is bounced around and damaged while traveling on state roads, Smego said.

Ninety percent of agricultural freight in the state travels over Michigan’s roads and bridges, he said.

“We work in a global marketplace, and so shipping that product all over the world is important, and we’ve got to have the infrastructure necessary to do that,” Smego said.

Part of the hesitance to approve Snyder’s plan or something close to it is that everyone thinks someone else should pay for the improvements and that constituents are telling their lawmakers to vote against raising the gas tax or registration fees.

But neither the Detroit nor Michigan chambers would commit to including a vote in support of increased transportation funding on their legislative scorecards this year.

“No one vote determines whether or not you get the political support of the Detroit Regional Chamber,” Williams said.

But he noted that transportation funding is at the top of the chamber’s legislative priorities this year.

Chris Gautz: (517) 403-4403, cgautz@crain.com. Twitter: @chrisgautz

Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee Announces Endorsement of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in General Election

DETROIT, October 18, 2012 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors announced its endorsement of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in the general election in Michigan.

“Debbie Stabenow has been a tremendous champion for Michigan in Congress,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “The Chamber is endorsing Senator Stabenow because of her strong support of key business priorities such as the New International Trade Crossing, small business growth and regional transit. Senator Stabenow’s leadership in Washington has helped move Michigan in a positive direction during very difficult times.”

The Chamber PAC Board of Directors regularly meets to identify and support pro-business candidates and policies that support the Chamber’s public policy priorities. After careful consideration, the Chamber PAC Board of Directors made endorsements based on responses to a Chamber PAC survey, input from PAC members and personal interviews with leading candidates interested in the Chamber’s endorsement.

“We would also like to thank Congressman Pete Hoekstra for his public service and his willingness to stand as a candidate for the U.S. Senate,” Williams said. “His approach to taxation reform and entitlement spending is critical to our nation and should be addressed urgently. We look forward to working with him in the future.”

For a full list of Chamber-endorsed candidates, visit the Chamber’s website.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

With over 20,000 members and affiliates, that employ over three-quarters of a million workers, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the largest chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission is carried out through business attraction efforts, advocacy, strategic partnerships and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

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Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee Announces General Election Endorsements in Congressional Races

DETROIT, September 24, 2012 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors announced endorsements in congressional races for the general election in Michigan.

“Having a strong Congressional bipartisan delegation fighting for us in Washington is crucial to maintaining Michigan’s economic recovery,” said the Chamber’s Vice President of Government Affairs Brad Williams. “The business community needs advocates who will stand up for our interests and get results. Through our PAC, the Detroit Regional Chamber supports candidates and incumbents who have demonstrated their support for pushing through the partisan gridlock and working on public policy that will keep Michigan’s economy on track.”

The Chamber PAC Board of Directors regularly meets to identify and support pro-business candidates and policies that support the Chamber’s public policy priorities. After careful consideration, the Chamber PAC Board of Directors made endorsements based on responses to a Chamber PAC survey, input from PAC members and personal interviews with leading candidates interested in the Chamber’s endorsement.

Congress:
District 2: Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland)
District 4: Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland)
District 5: Dan Kildee (D-Flint Twp.)
District 6: Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph)
District 9: Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak)
District 10: Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Twp.)
District 12: Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn)
District 14: Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Hills)

For a full list of Chamber endorsements, visit the Chamber website.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber
With over 20,000 members and affiliates, that employ over three-quarters of a million workers, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the largest chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission is carried out through business attraction efforts, advocacy, strategic partnerships and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

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Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee Announces Endorsements for the Michigan House, Supreme Court

DETROIT, September 20, 2012 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) announced endorsements for the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Supreme Court for the general election. The Detroit Regional Chamber PAC Board of Directors regularly meets to identify and support pro-business candidates and policies that support the Chamber’s public policy priorities.

“The Chamber’s Political Action Committee selects the best candidates for elected offices who will help work toward creating good public policy that positions Michigan to prosper economically and moves our state forward,” said Brad Williams, the Chamber’s vice president of government relations. “With seats on the Michigan Supreme Court on the line, this election is critical to maintaining the momentum created by Governor Rick Snyder’s reforms. This year’s slate of endorsed candidates represents a talented and diverse cross-section of the state who will assist in continuing Michigan’s reinvention.”

The Chamber PAC Board of Directors made the endorsements based on responses to a Chamber PAC survey as well as input from PAC members and the Chamber’s government relations team. The Chamber’s top policy priorities include continued support of the New International Trade Crossing, repeal of the state’s personal property tax, implementation of a system of regional transit and increased investment in Michigan’s vital transportation system.

The Chamber-endorsed candidates are as follows:

Michigan Supreme Court:
2-Year Term: Justice Brian Zahra
8-Year Term: Justice Stephen Markman and Bridget Mary McCormack

Michigan House of Representatives:
District 6: Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit)
District 7: Thomas Stallworth III (D-Detroit)
District 8: David Nathan (D-Detroit)
District 9:  Harvey Santana (D-Detroit)
District 10: Phil Cavanagh (D-Redford Township)
District 11: David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights)
District 12: Doug Geiss (D-Taylor)
District 13: Andrew Kandrevas (D-Southgate)
District 14: Paul Clemente (D-Lincoln Park)
District 15: George Darany (D-Dearborn)
District 16: Robert Kosowski (D-Westland)
District 17:  Bill LaVoy (D-Monroe)
District 18:  Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores)
District 19: John Walsh (R-Livonia)
District 20: Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth)
District 21: Dian Slavens (D-Canton)
District 22: Harold Haugh (D-Roseville)
District 23: Pat Somerville (R-New Boston)
District 24: Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Township)
District 25: Sean Clark (R-Warren)
District 26: Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak)
District 28: Jon Switalski (D-Warren)
District 29: Tim Greimel (D-Pontiac)
District 30: Jeff Farrington (R-Utica)
District 31: Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser)
District 33: Ken Goike (R-Ray)
District 34: Woodrow Stanley (D-Flint)
District 35: Rudy Hobbs (D-Southfield)
District 38: Hugh Crawford (R-Novi)
District 39: Klint Kesto (R-Walled Lake)
District 40: Michael McCready (R-Birmingham)
District 41: Martin Howrylak (R-Troy)
District 42: Bill Rogers (R-Brighton)
District 43: Gail Haines (R-Waterford)
District 44: Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake)
District 46: Bradford Jacobsen (R-Oxford)
District 49: Jim Ananich (D-Flint)
District 50: Charles Smiley (D-Burton)
District 51: Joseph Graves (R-Argentine Township)
District 52: Mark Ouimet (R-Scio Township)
District 53: Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor)
District 54: David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti)
District 55: Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor)
District 56: Dale Zorn (R-Ida)
District 57: Nancy Jenkins (R-Clayton)
District 59: Matt Lori (R-Constantine)
District 60: Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo)
District 61: Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage)
District 62: Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek)
District 63: Jase Bolger (R-Marshall)
District 64: Earl Poleski (R-Jackson)
District 66: Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton)
District 67: Tom Cochran (D-Mason)
District 68: Andy Schor (D-Lansing)
District 69: Sam Singh (D-East Lansing)
District 70: Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes)
District 71: Deb Shaughnessy (R-Charlotte)
District 73: Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford)
District 74: Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker)
District 75: Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids)
District 77: Thomas Hooker (R-Byron Center)
District 78:  Dave Pagel (R-Berrien Springs)
District 79: Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville)
District 81:  Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway)
District 85: Ben Glarden (R-Owosso)
District 86: Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto)
District 87: Mike Callton (R-Nashville)
District 88:  Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville)
District 89: Amanda Price (R-Park Township)
District 90: Joe Haveman (R-Holland)
District 93: Tom Leonard (R-Dewitt)
District 94: Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw)
District 98: Jim Stamas (R-Midland)
District 99: Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant)
District 101: Ray Franz (R-Onekama)
District 103: Bruce Rendon (R-Lake City)
District 104: Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City)
District 106: Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle)
District 107: Frank Foster (R-Petoskey)
District 108: Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan)
District 110: Matt Huuki  (R-Atlantic Mine)

About the Detroit Regional Chamber
With over 20,000 members and affiliates, that employ over three-quarters of a million workers, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the largest chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission is carried out through business attraction efforts, advocacy, strategic partnerships and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

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Biz battles ballot measures: Groups say constitution not place to set policy

From Crain’s Detroit Business – 8/26/2012

In legal venues and the court of public opinion, business groups are waging an all-out assault.

Their target: Keeping some proposals from reaching the November ballot and defeating those that already have a spot.

Major groups have put tens of thousands of dollars into opposition coalitions, and that’s likely to be just a start, as they fight measures ranging from collective bargaining guarantees in the state constitution, to increased renewable-energy mandates, to repeal of the state’s emergency manager law.

In most cases, it’s a “no” vote they seek. But with Michigan’s emergency manager law, keeping that law, as business supporters want, will require a “yes” vote at the ballot.

Not every group has weighed in against everything. But the groups share a common refrain: The state constitution is not the place to set policy in such areas as energy, labor or transportation.

“Michigan’s constitution is under attack by special interests,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

As of Friday, four measures had spots on the ballot. They are the repeal of the state’s emergency manager law and three constitutional amendments that would ensure collective bargaining rights for Michigan’s home help workers and require a statewide registry; require 25 percent of Michigan’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025; and add eight casinos in the state.

A hotly contested, union-backed proposal that would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution, prevent right-to-work laws and nullify other laws and reforms remained in play.

Today, the Board of State Canvassers was scheduled to decide whether two other measures would be on the ballot. One would require a public vote on the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Canada; another would require a two-thirds majority vote of both the House and Senate or statewide voter approval for tax increases.

Both measures have financial backing from companies associated with the Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge and other ventures.

Last week, separate groups of opponents levied legal challenges on both proposals, saying that, among other things, they fail to meet certain legal requirements for ballot initiatives and should not be approved by the board.

Defend Michigan Democracy, a group that includes the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, Presidents Council State Universities of Michigan and Michigan Municipal League, said the petitions for the tax increase proposal err in not publishing all sections of the constitution that would be altered.

The main financial backing for the ballot proposal has come from Liberty Bell Agency Inc., a subsidiary of Sterling Heights-based Oakland Financial Corp., a company of which Detroit International Bridge Co. Vice Chairman Matthew Moroun is chairman of the board, according to federal records.

Moroun has endorsed the proposal and encouraged others to support, saying it “cuts off politicians’ ability to raise our taxes and requires government to live within its budget — just like Michigan families have to do.” It will force government to control spending and reduce debt, Moroun said in an endorsement letter.

As for the bridge proposal, the Detroit chamber and Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce are founding members of a new opposition coalition called Taxpayers Against Monopolies. The group filed a complaint with the state canvassers board that the bridge proposal fails to republish constitutional provisions affected.

The group also says the ballot language could jeopardize newly constructed or planned state and local bridge projects around Michigan and subject them to public vote, not just affect the New International Trade Crossing or other international bridges or tunnels.

“We can’t afford to jeopardize rebuilding Michigan’s infrastructure because one company wants to protect their monopoly, and this proposal simply must be stopped,” said Andy Johnston, vice president of government affairs at the Grand Rapids chamber. The Grand Rapids and Detroit chambers support the New International Trade Crossing.

But Mickey Blashfield, director of the People Should Decide ballot committee and director of governmental relations at Detroit International Bridge Co., or DIBC, said in a statement that the asserted impact on domestic projects is “a gross mischaracterization of the plain meaning” of the initiative and “is nothing but a deliberate attempt to mislead Michigan voters with the hope that the voters will abandon common sense.”

He said the proposal has been appropriately submitted to voters and that the language will stand up to challenge.

DIBC Holdings has financed the ballot campaign. The bridge company has fought the new $2.1 billion bridge that would compete with the Ambassador Bridge.

One out of many

On nearly every ballot issue, on every side, are coalitions making jobs and economic arguments. But one umbrella organization, formed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, is leading the business-community campaign against the proposals involving union collective bargaining, renewable energy and home help.

Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution financial contributors include the Michigan chamber, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Small Business Association of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan, Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, West Michigan Policy Forum and the Grand Rapids and Detroit chambers.

The coalition has been running TV and radio ads and is an intervening defendant opposing the collective bargaining proposal, in a court fight over the proposal’s right to be on the ballot.

Jim Holcomb, senior vice president and general counsel of the Michigan chamber, said that proposal puts at stake “the ability of job providers across the state to control their own work environment, as well as the operation of government.”

Also running a TV and radio campaign in opposition to that proposal is the recently formed Protecting Michigan Taxpayers.

The group isn’t identifying its backers other than to say they are state taxpayers, but it plans to raise enough funding “to be competitive and defeat” the collective bargaining proposal and to inform citizens “in all corners of the state,” said President Jared Rodriguez. He is also president of the West Michigan Policy Forum, a separate and unaffiliated organization that advocates pro-business policy reforms.

Supporters of the collective bargaining proposal say rebuilding Michigan’s economy includes strengthening workers and protecting collective bargaining rights and other aspects that they say have been under attack in Lansing.

Dan Lijana, communications director for the Protect Our Jobs campaign, said in a statement: “Collective bargaining helped save the auto industry because employers and workers came together to negotiate an agreement that kept the auto companies in business and saved jobs from being sent overseas.”

Numerous unions are among the proposal’s financial backers, including the United Auto Workers, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Battle over energy

Two other proposals are drawing broad business group opposition.

One is the constitutional amendment that would require utilities to derive 25 percent of their energy from renewable energy sources by 2025. Under current law, utilities are required to hit a 10 percent threshold by 2015.

As Crain’s has reported, supporters, who include renewable energy and other businesses, labor unions, environmental interests and the American Wind Energy Association, say Michigan needs to keep up with many other states that have more aggressive renewable requirements. They say the higher standard will mean more business and jobs for existing Michigan companies and could bring some $10 billion in investment and new opportunities.

The Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs campaign’s largest supporter was the San Francisco-based Green Tech Action Fund, with other large contributors including the Natural Resources Defense Council Fund in New York, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and other environmental and renewable-energy interests.

Opponents, including DTE Energy Co., CMS Energy Corp. and leading business associations, say the higher standard is a costly idea that will increase electricity prices. They say placing an energy mandate in the constitution sidesteps the responsibility and ability of the Legislature to set policy and limits flexibility to manage the state power landscape.

The opposing Clean Affordable Renewable Energy for Michigan coalition says reaching the higher standard could cost at least $12 billion and that Michigan’s current standard was set after lengthy debate and is working.

DTE and CMS have been the major financial backers of the opposing campaign.

Dues or no dues?

The second proposal drawing broad business opposition would allow unionization of workers who through a state program provide services to Medicaid-eligible individuals. They also would be listed on a state registry.

Such a registry previously existed through the Michigan Quality Community Care Council, and workers at that time became organized through the Service Employees International Union. But critics said the council was a way to provide dues to the SEIU.

State funding for the council was eliminated in fiscal 2012 and legislation passed earlier this year ended the collection of dues and invalidated the home help workers union by excluding private workers who receive a government subsidy from the definition of public employees who can form labor unions.

SEIU challenged the law, and a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the union and ordered the state to continue the collection of union dues. The state is appealing.

Dohn Hoyle, co-chairman of Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care and executive director of Arc Michigan, a statewide organization that assists people with developmental disabilities, said it’s important to provide a registry where people who are aging or disabled “can find trained, background-checked” aides. Coalition supporters include the SEIU and senior and disability rights organizations.

Hoyle said the home help workers are “grossly underpaid” and belonging to a union would assist them, but the ballot proposal “isn’t in my mind about unions. To my mind, it’s an issue about the registry.”

The primary contributor to the campaign is Home Care First Inc., an entity that incorporated with the state as a nonprofit in March and has the same Southfield address as the campaign. According to its articles of incorporation, Home Care First is organized to promote social welfare through activities that include educating the public and promoting public policies supporting Michigan medical assistance programs that provide home personal assistance services to elderly people and people with disabilities.

Hoyle declined to provide information on Home Care. He is listed as one of the incorporators.