Five Dickinson Wright Attorneys Named to Michigan Super Lawyers 2020 Top Lists

TROY, Mich., – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that five of the firm’s attorneys have been recognized in Michigan Super Lawyers 2020 Top Lists.

The Michigan Super Lawyers Top Lists are listings of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement as well as the highest point totals during the Michigan Super Lawyers nomination, research and blue ribbon review process.

Dickinson Wright attorneys recognized on this year’s Michigan Super Lawyers Top Lists include:

Henry M. Grix – Estate & Probate, is ranked among the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

Elizabeth L. Luckenbach – Estate & Trust Litigation, is ranked among the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Michigan and the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

Thomas G. McNeill – Business Litigation, is ranked among the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

Edward H. Pappas – Business Litigation, is ranked among the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

Daniel D. Quick – Business Litigation, is ranked among the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has 18 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 11 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise, and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification and one of the only firms with ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management procedures, security controls and privacy processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

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52 Dickinson Wright Attorneys Named 2020 Michigan Super Lawyers, 25 Named Rising Stars

TROY, Mich., – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that 52 of the firm’s attorneys have been named 2020 Michigan Super Lawyers. Twenty-five Dickinson Wright attorneys have been named 2020 Michigan Super Lawyers “Rising Stars”.

Super Lawyers is a listing of outstanding attorneys from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Rising Stars are the top up-and-coming attorneys in the state – those who are 40 years old or younger, or who have been practicing law for 10 years or less. Only five percent of the lawyers in the state are named Super Lawyers, while only two and a half percent are named Rising Stars.

Dickinson Wright attorneys recognized on this year’s Michigan Super Lawyers list include:

Ann Arbor, MI
Michael C. Hammer, Bankruptcy: Business
Mark V. Heusel, International
James A. Samborn, Construction Litigation
Colleen M. Shevnock, Banking

Detroit, MI
Dennis W. Archer, Business Litigation
Allison R. Bach, Bankruptcy: Business
Richard M. Bolton, Mergers & Acquisitions
William T. Burgess, Bankruptcy: Business
James N. Candler, Jr., Real Estate
David R. Deromedi, Labor & Employment
Phillip J. DeRosier, Appellate
K. Scott Hamilton, Business Litigation
Mark R. High, Business/Corporate
Steven G. Howell, Bankruptcy: Business
Timothy H. Howlett, Labor & Employment
W. Anthony Jenkins, Real Estate
Thomas G. McNeill, Business Litigation
Sharon R. Newlon, Environmental
Francis R. Ortiz, Business Litigation
James A. Plemmons, Creditor Debtor Rights
William P. Shield, Jr., Banking
Theodore B. Sylwestrzak, Bankruptcy: Business
Kathryn S. Wood, Employment Litigation: Defense
L. Pahl Zinn, Business Litigation

Grand Rapids, MI
John G. Cameron, Jr., Real Estate
Geoffrey A. Fields, Business Litigation
Daniel F. Gosch, Bankruptcy: Business
Leslee M. Lewis, Real Estate
Timothy A. Stoepker, Land Use/Zoning

Lansing, MI
Peter H. Ellsworth, Administrative Law
Kester K. So, Government Finance
Jeffery V. Stuckey, Appellate

Troy, MI
Stephen E. Dawson, Real Estate
J. Benjamin Dolan, Business Litigation
Terence M. Donnelly, Government Finance
Deborah L. Grace, Employee Benefits
Henry M. Grix, Estate & Probate
Craig W. Hammond, Government Finance
Robert P. Hurlbert, Criminal Defense: White Collar
Monica J. Labe, Real Estate
Elizabeth L. Luckenbach, Estate & Trust Litigation
Anna M. Maiuri, Environmental
Cynthia A. Moore, Employee Benefits
Gregory W. Moore, Health Care
Mahesh K. Nayak, Business Litigation
Edward H. Pappas, Business Litigation
Richard W. Paul, Business Litigation
Scott A. Petz, Business Litigation
Daniel D. Quick, Business Litigation
Peter H. Webster, Eminent Domain
Mark E. Wilson, Health Care
Katheryne L. Zelenock, Real Estate

Dickinson Wright attorneys recognized on this year’s Michigan Super Lawyers Rising Stars list include:

Ann Arbor, MI
Robert L. Avers, Business Litigation
Peter J. Domas, Health Care
Gerlinde (Linda) Nattler, Intellectual Property
Christopher Ryan, Business Litigation

Detroit, MI
Farayha Arrine, Civil Litigation: Defense
Aaron V. Burrell, Business Litigation
Patrick B. Green, Business Litigation
Salina M. Hamilton, Business Litigation
Nicole Sappingfield, Mergers & Acquisitions
Adam J. Wallace, Business/Corporate

Grand Rapids, MI
Christina K. McDonald, Business Litigation
Emily A. Rysberg, State/Local/Municipal
Alexandre Zucco, Estate Planning

Lansing, MI
Nolan J. Moody, Business Litigation
Ryan M. Shannon, Business Litigation

Troy, MI
Alison Duffy, Personal Injury – General: Plaintiff
Eric W. Gregory, Employee Benefits
Erin Johnson, Real Estate
Michael J. Lusardi, Real Estate
James A. Martone, Business Litigation
Eric McGlothlin, Government Finance
Joseph Owens, Estate Planning
Joseph Pytel, Intellectual Property
Alma Sobo, Business Litigation
Rose Willis, Health Care

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has 18 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 11 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise, and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification and one of the only firms with ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management procedures, security controls and privacy processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

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Rehmann Ranks Among Best and Brightest in Statewide, Wellness Categories

Contact: Holly Shier
248.458.7923
holly.shier@rehmann.com

Rehmann Ranks Among Best and Brightest in Statewide, Wellness Categories

TROY, Mich., Sep. 18, 2020 – Rehmann, a fully integrated financial services and advisory firm, ranked nationally among the 2020 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in the Nation and Best and Brightest Companies in Michigan for Wellness by The National Association for Business Resources. The recognition marks the third consecutive year Rehmann has earned the overall ranking and fourth consecutive year the firm achieved the wellness ranking.

“At Rehmann, we are committed to empowering purpose—among our clients and our associates,” said Katie Strehler, chief talent resources officer at Rehmann. “That begins with ensuring our team has access to the resources they need to succeed, comprehensive wellness programs and a supportive network of peers and leadership.”

The winning companies were assessed by an independent research firm that reviewed several key measures relative to other nationally recognized winners. Companies were assessed through various categories, including compensation, benefits and employee solutions; employee enrichment, engagement and retention; employee education and development; recruitment, selection and orientation; employee achievement and recognition; communication and shared vision; diversity and inclusion; work-life balance; community initiatives; and strategic company performance.

The summer Best and Brightest National winners included 147 organizations across the country, out of 1,300 nominations.

“Through the first half of 2020, the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For have demonstrated leadership and forward thinking as they pivoted their business and workforce through Covid-19. As the conversation and focus has shifted, our Best and Brightest winning companies have also been a voice for important actions regarding Race. It is in these unique times, the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For excel and share their knowledge with others” said Jennifer Kluge, President and CEO, Best and Brightest Programs.

In wellness, companies were evaluated by an assessment created and administered by
SynBella, the nation’s leading wellness systems firm. Company entries are examined statistically
for quantitative and qualitative data. Each survey was scored on a point system based upon criteria
to benchmark and improve wellness program effectiveness. They include outcomes, analysis,
tracking, participation & incentives, benefits and programs, leadership, employee input, culture and
environment.

Rehmann has nearly 900 associates across locations in Michigan, Ohio and Florida.

About Rehmann
Rehmann is a fully integrated financial services and advisory firm that provides accounting and assurance, comprehensive technology, accounting and human resource solutions, specialized consulting and wealth management services. For more than 75 years, Rehmann has provided forward-thinking solutions and made it a priority to anticipate our clients’ daily and future needs. Rehmann has nearly 900 associates in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Rehmann is an independent member of Nexia International, offering clients a global approach. Find us online at rehmann.com.

About the Best and Brightest Programs
The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® competition identifies and honors organizations that display a commitment to excellence in operations and employee enrichment that lead to increased productivity and financial performance. This competition scores potential winners based on regional data of company performance and a set standard across the nation. This national program celebrates those companies that are making better business, creating richer lives and building a stronger community as a whole. There are numerous regional celebrations throughout the country such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Houston, Milwaukee, San Diego, San Francisco, Miami, New York, Charlotte, Denver, Seattle, Nashville, and Portland. Nominations are now being accepted for all programs. Visit thebestandbrightest.com to nominate your organization.

About the Best and Brightest in Wellness® Program
The Best and Brightest in Wellness®, a program of the National Association for Business Resources, celebrates those companies that are making their businesses flourish, the lives of their employees better and the community a healthier to place to live. The Best and Brightest program provides yearlong education, benchmarking, assessment tools and interaction amongst the best employers. Nominations are now being accepted for 2021 programs. Visit www.thebestandbrightest.com for more information.

Butzel Long attorney Paul Mersino named to DBusiness magazine’s ‘30 in Their Thirties’

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Paul M. Mersino has been named to DBusiness magazine’s “30 in Their Thirties,” which profiles metro Detroit business professionals who have achieved notable success in their respective fields. Mersino is profiled in the September/October 2020 edition.

Mersino was elected to Butzel Long’s Board of Directors in March, 2020. He also serves as Practice Department Chair of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. As a board member, he is responsible for the operations and management of the 150+ attorney firm, including budgeting, setting strategic goals, and more. As Litigation Practice Department Chair, he is responsible for the management and oversight of the firm’s Commercial Litigation attorneys who report to him as well as for the strategic goals, budgeting, forecasting, and direction of the practice group.

In his practice, he represents public and private companies, both as plaintiff’s attorney and defendant’s attorney, in a number of areas including complex commercial litigation, contract disputes, non-competition and trade secret disputes, automotive supplier disputes, construction litigation, and First Amendment litigation. He has seen a number of successes in trials and cases across the country.

Mersino represents and advises a number of startup companies, assisting them with their legal needs and matching them with potential venture capital funding. He also handles appeals in the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court, and in federal courts across the country.

Further, Mersino has been recognized as a Michigan Super Lawyer, as a Top Lawyer by DBusiness Magazine, as one of Oakland County’s Elite 40 under 40, and as an “Up and Coming Lawyer” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
Mersino also has served on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Bar Association, has served as an advisor to the Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Litigation Advisory Board, and is a Trustee of the Butzel Long Charitable Trust.

Mersino is a 2008 graduate of Ave Maria School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and was a member of Law Review and the State Championship Moot Court team. He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Northwood University (B.A., 2005).

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 165 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing, and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Sept. 18 | This Week in Government: PPE Tax Relief Legislation, State Budget Updates

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more. See below for this week’s headlines.

  1. Peters, James Outline Visions During Detroit Chamber Event
  2. Treasury Opposed, But Talking With Stakeholders on PPE Tax Exemption
  3. Dems, Labor Oppose COVID-19 Liability Bills as They Clear Committee
  4. State Opens ‘Spread Hope, Not COVID’ Ad Campaign
  5. House Gets Budget Ball Rolling; Passes Other Bills

Peters, James Outline Visions During Detroit Chamber Event

Health care and the new coronavirus pandemic took center stage Wednesday during a U.S. Senate town hall featuring U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and Republican challenger John James.

Held by the Detroit Regional Chamber as part of its series of MPC20 Conversations: Respond and Rebuild discussions, Peters (D-Bloomfield Township) and James appeared in separate conversations to provide an outline of their views on several topics. Few barbs were tossed by either candidate in their respective remarks.

Peters, when asked about what additional COVID-19 relief is needed from Congress, said the Democratic-controlled U.S. House had passed a comprehensive package but the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate then pushed a much smaller package unsuccessfully that does not meet the needs of the public or economy.

He was also asked about how to pay for another significant relief package and how to reconcile that with the large increase in the national deficit.

“You do need to put money into the system. But then you’re going to have to take a look after we get through this crisis as to how that we can get back on a sound financial footing,” Sen. Peters said. “We’ve got to first deal with the public health aspects … and then we’ve got to focus on the economy to make sure that we’re helping families get through this, making sure small businesses get through this.”

James, an executive at his family’s business, was asked about what the business community needs from the government to recover from the damages caused by COVID-19.

“What government needs to provide business is certainty,” James said. “I think we can do that with common-sense, science-based tax reform, regulatory reform, tort reform, so that we can have positive, sustainable, inclusive economic growth that incentivizes businesses to come back and thrive in Michigan.”

When asked about the recent unsuccessful U.S. Senate COVID-19 relief package, he said he would have supported it as well as relief that is directly tied to COVID-19 related shortfalls. James added that efforts need to be made to broaden the tax base rather than raising taxes on certain individuals or businesses.

“We’re not going to be able to tax our way to prosperity,” James said. “We need to grow our way to prosperity, but make sure more people can gain access to it.”

With health care taking center stage during the pandemic, Sen. Peters was asked what changes he would support to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Peters said the ACA state exchanges should have been opened for an extra enrollment period months ago by the president, which has not happened.

The senator said that he believes talk by Republicans to repeal the ACA is unacceptable especially during a pandemic. He also took a jab at James.

“People who say that we’ll still protect pre-existing conditions but have no plan. You actually have to have a plan,” Sen. Peters said. “You can’t have hollow words. Shallow talking points aren’t going to deal with the immensity of this problem with healthcare.”

Sen. Peters also said he does not support Medicare for All, a proposal being pushed by the Democratic Party’s more liberal wing. He did say he would support people being able to enroll at a younger age, such as 50, which has been proposed in legislation. He also would support adding Medicare to the state exchanges as an option for individuals.

James said that since his 2018 campaign he has supported a market-based, patient-centered system that covers those with pre-existing conditions while also supporting tort and regulatory reforms to lower costs and expand competition.

“We need to keep the parts of Obamacare that work, and we need to fix the parts of Obamacare that don’t, and the part of Obamacare that works is covering pre-existing conditions,” James.

On police reform, James said he would support increasing spending, not defunding, law enforcement and public safety. He said increased training and recruiting better officers is important, as well as finding more individuals willing to work in law enforcement who live in the communities they serve.

Regarding a police reform bill that the U.S. Senate rejected earlier this year from even coming up for debate, he accused Sen. Peters of putting politics before progress by not voting for a bill related to a topic he has spoken in support of in the past.

“He chose his party,” James said. “He voted against further debate on police reform to improve that bill, and I think that was wrong.”

On trade, Sen. Peters said providing a level playing field is extremely important as well as holding other countries, such as China, accountable for reneging on aspects of trade deals. Sen. Peters also took aim at the president’s trade policies, which he said have been harmful to agricultural producers and the manufacturing sector.

“You certainly shouldn’t be doing things like punishing friends, which is what we have seen from this administration,” Sen. Peters said. “We should not go after friends, and make sure we have allies when we’re dealing with those folks who violate trade agreements.”


Treasury Opposed, But Talking With Stakeholders, On PPE Tax Exemption

A trio of bills exempting personal protective equipment purchased by businesses from sales and use tax – while also creating an income tax credit for employers that increased their workforce during COVID-19 – was discussed in the House Tax Policy Committee on Tuesday with the Department of Treasury opposed, but willing to continue work with stakeholders.

HB 6033 and HB 6034 would exempt personal protective equipment and supplies, like disinfecting cleaners, from sales and use tax when purchased for business use. The exemptions under the bill would be retroactive from March 10, 2020, and last until Dec. 31, 2021.

Employers that qualify for the exemption would have to adopt a COVID-19 safety protocol plan that complies with laws or executive orders providing safeguards for COVID-19.

The House Fiscal Agency estimates the bills would reduce revenue by $4 million to $5 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year, $8 million to $10 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year and $3 million to $4 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

More costly is HB 6035, sponsored by Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit), which would provide a tax credit for employers for money spent on personal protective equipment and supplies if the employer increased its employees by 10 percent during the tax year. The increase in employees would be based on how many people were working for the employer on February 10, 2020.

This bill would cost an estimated $35 million to $40 million in Corporate Income Tax revenue, according to HFA. It would cost an additional $2 million to $3 million in individual income tax revenue from sole proprietorships, HFA said.

“We all know the challenges small businesses continue to face during the COVID-19 crisis. The added expense of enhanced workplace cleaning and providing PPE their employees is an unforeseen expense that many employers didn’t account for when planning their budgets for 2020 and beyond,” said Rep. Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills), one of the bill sponsors. “These bills would exempt PPE and workplace disinfecting products from the … sales and use taxes. Similar tax breaks already exist for PPE in manufacturing. PPE is used to slow the spread and protect employees from COVID-19 should be included in this tax exemption.”

Rep. Tate said the bills would assist employers as they seek to keep employees and customers safe.

Committee members also had questions on the specific definition of personal protective equipment in the bill, how the retroactivity piece would work and how businesses would show how much they spend in sales tax on the equipment.

Reps. Tate and Webber said conversations on ongoing to determine some of those specifics.

Rachel Richards with Treasury said the department opposes the bills as written but is continuing conversations. She noted the cost of the bills would have to be worked out during the budget process and is at “top of mind” when discussing concerns with the bills.

Other concerns were more technical, like figuring out how to make the retroactive piece of the bills work and how to ensure the state complies with other sales and use tax agreements.

Matt Patton, with the Detroit Regional Chamber, supports the bills and said they assist in continuing the conversation on how to address the economic and health crisis COVID-19 created.

“The goal of these bills is straightforward to make PPE more affordable. Right now, in our state, PPE is only exempt for industrial processors. Meaning if your business does anything other than manufacture goods for retail, but still deals with the same challenges to stay open, you pay taxes on PPE,” he said. “These bills are an opportunity to change that. … As long as we live with COVID-19, businesses will be purchasing the items named in these bills because they want to stay healthy and stay open. These bills recognize that reopening sectors of our economy … safely means businesses should not be punished by taxes for simply and courageously doing what is needed to stay open.”

Patton also said while there will be a fiscal impact, the dollars come from those who took risks to open their business or keep their business operating safely.


Dems, Labor Oppose COVID-19 Liability Bills As They Clear Committee

Legislation providing liability protections for Michigan employers cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday with Democratic members voting no or abstaining and the AFL-CIO asserting labor is united in opposition to the bills.

HB 6030, HB 6031, HB 6032, and HB 6101 were sent to the House floor on 8-3 votes with Rep. Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw), Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), and Rep. Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield) voting no. Rep. Brian Elder (D-Bay City) and Rep. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) abstained.

While Rep. LaGrand abstained, he also said it was a collaborative process and worked with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and others on changes to the bills. The legislation did see various changes before being reported.

“I have been incredibly impressed with how collaborative this process has been,” Rep. LaGrand said.

Changes to the bills clarify various definitions, including the kinds of sanitizers businesses are using, ensuring businesses are complying with state and federal COVID-19 regulations to see the liability protections and eliminating the “clear and convincing” evidence threshold employees would have to meet to bring a claim.

The bills outline employers’ immunity from certain COVID-19-related civil actions. HB 6032 codifies certain employee protections if they test positive for the virus or come into close contact with someone who does. The bill specifies when employees should not report to work due to COVID-19 exposure and allow civil action for aggrieved employees.

Still, while Republicans, business groups, and university groups have indicated support of the bills, the state’s unions said Wednesday they remain united in their opposition.

AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber said in a statement the bills would give special treatment to businesses that “infect their workers or customers” with COVID-19.

“Passing this proposed legislation would destroy accountability and responsibility for the negligent actions of the bad employers and it would create special classes of individuals and businesses who receive special treatment,” Bieber said. “It would allow corporations, businesses, and nursing homes to act recklessly, with no way for them to be held accountable for failing to take the necessary precautions to protect people from the risks of COVID-19. This lack of accountability creates an incentive for businesses to behave badly – essentially rewarding them for cutting corners at a time when we should all be sacrificing to help quickly get back to something like what we used to call normal. It would also provide no remedy for workers, even if they themselves have taken all the necessary and appropriate precautions to keep themselves safe and healthy.”

Proponents of the legislation have said the bills would help ensure employers are not inundated with frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19 even while taking all precautions required to keep establishments safe.

Under the bills, employers would not be liable from an employee’s exposure to COVID-19 if the exposure happened during the COVID-19 state of emergency and the employer was in compliance with federal or state law or regulation, executive order or public health guidance. This language was changed from the original requirement that employers be in “substantial compliance.”

There was some concern that the “substantial compliance” language could allow employers to cherry-pick what they are in compliance with when potentially fighting a lawsuit.

Immunity would not apply if the employer willfully exposed the employee to the disease.

The committee also reported HB 6159, which would provide immunity for health care providers and facilities providing services in response to COVID-19 between March 9 and July 15, 2020.

Rep. Elder offered an amendment, which was adopted, that would ensure worker’s compensation claims are not included under the bill. Rep. Elder said he thought the bill was in line with what Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had in place earlier in the pandemic and what she outlined in a veto letter of a different immunity bill.

HB 6159 was sent to the House floor on a 9-3 vote with Rep. Elder joining all Republican in voting yes. Reps. LaGrand, Guerra, and Bolden voted no. Rep. Yancey abstained.


State Opens ‘Spread Hope, Not COVID’ Ad Campaign

A new series of public service announcements sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services urges residents to wear masks to protect each other from the new coronavirus with different messages to target different audiences.

“The virus has taken so much away from us, but every action that a united Michigan takes to contain the spread moves us closer to resuming normal, to moving our economy and lives forward,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “While some of the actions we must take are personally uncomfortable and inconvenient, there is broad consensus that they will contain COVID-19 cases to levels that will enable us to safely reopen our economy, our schools and other institutions – and keep them open.”

The campaign was designed based on a survey of 2,047 Michigan residents 18 and older conducted July 8-13 to identify and quantify behaviors and attitudes related to wearing masks and facial coverings.

One spot features a combination of empty entertainment venues, a restaurant, a high school football stadium, and a school hallway as a narrator says what’s happening now is just an intermission. Two other spots feature one or more military veterans discussing how masks protect freedom.

DHHS Director Robert Gordon in an interview said it is important with college resuming, children in many districts going back to school and cooler temperatures sending more people indoors to underscore the need for people to wear facial coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Broadly, there’s two groups that we really want to reach,” Gordon said. “There’s folks who usually wear masks but not always and we want to get them to always and offer that reminder that wearing your mask every time matters and the one time that you don’t could be the one time that you get COVID or transmit COVID.”

The other group is those who do not wear masks, Gordon said.

“We have a specific ad and a set of messages with veterans speaking and folks who have served the public in the military, believe profoundly in American freedom and they believe that masks protect freedom,” he said. “It’s our hope that that will resonate with a lot of folks who aren’t wearing masks right now. We want them to see that masks are not a threat to freedom, but a way to protect freedom.”

The state will spend $5 million on the campaign, which runs to December.

The survey found that 72% of respondents say they always wear a mask in public. Eighty-eight percent said they were aware of Gov. Whitmer’s executive order requiring masks to be worn indoors in public.

Black Michiganders were more likely to always wear a mask. While 81% said they always wear a mask in public spaces, 69% of all others answered the same. This was the case even though 81% of Black residents responding to the survey said they were aware of Gov. Whitmer’s mask order compared to 90% of others.

Of those who said they never or only sometimes wear a mask, the group was 69% female. Sixty percent were parents. The most popular reason this group gave of what would motivate them to wear a mask was being denied entry or service for not wearing a mask. In explaining their reasoning, 33% said they don’t believe a mask helps and 31% said it was their right to decide.

The ad with the veterans is designed to appeal to those who rarely or never wear masks, Gordon said.

“How can we connect with people who are skeptical about masks and acknowledge their concerns and still speak to them in a way that is respectful and compelling,” he said. “Even if we only increase the number of people wearing masks by 5%, 10%, 20%, that’s going have a very real impact on the number of COVID cases and the number of lives lost.”


House Gets Budget Ball Rolling; Passes Other Bills

The House on Tuesday acted on omnibus appropriations bills without any real substance just yet to get the budget process moving as lawmakers hope to finalize the process next week.

SB 927 passed 58-51 with $100 placeholders. The House also did not concur in the Senate substitute to HB 5396, setting up the beginning of the conference committee process.

The moves come as lawmakers and the administration announced Monday an agreement on the 2020-21 fiscal year budget framework. Lawmakers plan to finish up budget action next week (See Gongwer Michigan Report, September 14, 2020).

The House also unanimously passed HB 5298, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) to establish psychiatric residential treatment facilities for Medicaid patients under 21 years old. The bill stipulates this would depend on getting sufficient funding via the appropriations process.

DHHS indicated support for the bill during the committee process.

The House also unanimously passed substitute versions of HB 4954 and HB 4955, which would modify the protest process and procedures for unsuccessful bidders for state contracts. The Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB) supports the bills.

The first bill would require DTMB to develop a process for an unsuccessful bidder to protest an award decision. The second bill would require DTMB and all agencies delegated procurement authority to publicly announce all procurement contract awards resulting from publicly posted solicitations within 48 hours of awarding the contract.


Related:

Chamber Testifies on PPE Tax Relief Package

Business Organizations Provide Testimony on Liability Protections

Michigan Launches ‘Spread Hope, Not COVID’ Campaign, Emphasizes Mask Usage in Public

Resource for Seniors and their Caretakers During Pandemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—September 17, 2020

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – The COVID-19 pandemic over the past six months has caused disruption everywhere but has been an especially difficult struggle for seniors as many have had to continue to shelter in place, away from their friends and families.

To help supplement some of the services that seniors are provided, the Foster Swift law firm has created a free ‘Elder Organizer’ digital notebook to provide seniors and their caretakers with a toolkit that helps organize doctors’ appointments, medications, and more that can be shared online.

This downloadable spreadsheet is also meant as a tie-in recognition of National Senior Center Month. First beginning as a week-long celebration in 1979 by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), National Senior Center Week was then extended to the full month of September in 2007 by the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC).

Senior centers serve as a gateway, connecting the country’s network of aging adults to vital community services all in one place to help them maintain an active, healthy and independent lifestyle. Programs and services provided by these centers include volunteer opportunities and health and wellness programs.

The Elder Organizer toolkit, along with articles and other elder resources can be found on Foster Swift’s Elder Law blog at mielderlawblog.com where visitors can also subscribe to the RSS feed to see recent posts or to receive free news updates by email.
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Since 1902, Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC has provided comprehensive legal services to businesses, municipalities and individuals. The firm employs 95-plus attorneys and over 100 support staff in six locations; Lansing, Detroit, Southfield, Grand Rapids, Holland and St. Joseph. For more information about the firm, its attorneys and to access recent publications, visit www.fosterswift.com.

Miller Canfield Named Sole Michigan-Based Law Firm to Earn Mansfield Certification for Diversity

Miller Canfield has announced that it is the only Michigan-based firm to earn Mansfield Plus Certification, and one of only 24 nationwide to earn the designation three years in a row. Certification is awarded to law firms that meet high standards for significant representation of women and minority attorneys in firm leadership roles.

To earn Mansfield Certification from Diversity Lab, the leading incubator for innovative solutions to foster diversity and inclusion in law firms, firms must ensure that 30 percent of the candidates affirmatively considered in lateral hiring and promotions are women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ attorneys and attorneys with disabilities. One hundred firms earned certification in 2020. To earn the Plus designation, a firm must have also achieved representation of at least 30 percent women, minority, LGBTQ and disabled attorneys in a large number of key leadership roles and lateral hiring.

“We are tremendously proud of the work the firm continues to do in the areas of diversity and equity,” said Miller Canfield CEO Michael McGee. “Inclusivity is and always has been one of our core values. Our continued commitment strengthens us as individuals and as a firm.”

In August, Miller Canfield appointed Michelle Crockett to the newly created position of Chief Diversity Officer, deepening the firm’s pledge to create a diverse and equitable workplace.

As a result of Miller Canfield’s commitment to initiatives like Mansfield Certification and its internal goals and programs, the firm has made significant progress with respect to the representation of women and minority attorneys, specifically:

49% of Miller Canfield’s associates are women
40% of the firm’s non-equity principals are women
40% of managing directors are women
40% of resident directors are minorities and women

Diversity Lab announced on Sept. 15, 2020, that it is also partnering with more than 20 mid-sized firms (firms with fewer than 100 lawyers in the U.S.) to pilot the Midsize Mansfield Rule certification process.

Butzel Long IP attorney Ashley Glime earns CIPP/US and CIPP/E certifications weeks apart

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Ashley Glime recently passed two online examinations earning her certifications just weeks apart from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). Glime now is a Certified Information Privacy Professional concentrated on both U.S. Private Sector and European privacy and data protection law (CIPP/US and CIPP/EU). As the global gold standard for privacy professionals, the certification is a key industry benchmark.

The Certified Information Privacy Professional/Europe (CIPP/E) exam assesses knowledge of European privacy laws and regulations and understanding of the legal requirements for the responsible transfer of sensitive personal data to and from the U.S., the EU and other jurisdictions. Achieving a CIPP/E credential demonstrates the comprehensive GDPR knowledge, perspective and understanding to ensure compliance and data protection success in Europe.

Based in Butzel Long’s Ann Arbor office, Glime advises clients in the areas of data protection, intellectual property, media, and technology law.

A former IT help desk analyst, Glime’s experience with technology and coding sparked a passion in the area of data protection and security. She brings a deep understanding of the most complex and critical data privacy and security challenges faced by corporations and business entities. She counsels businesses on both domestic and international privacy compliance matters including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and other U.S. and international privacy and data protection law.

She has advised on a range of contracts, licensing agreements, and terms and conditions for transactions involving mobile app development, autonomous and electric vehicles, websites, and cloud services. She advises a wide range of clients in a variety of sectors including retail, financial services, technology, marketing, advertising, and automotive. She also addresses emerging issues in virtual currencies, and artificial intelligence and thus advises clients on the regulatory landscape for bitcoin and the application of blockchain to various industries including healthcare and automotive.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Detroit-based AaDya Security Launches the First All-in-One Cybersecurity Platform, Marzo4, and Closes $2.7M in Seed Round

Detroit, Michigan — AaDya Security, a Detroit-based startup founded by cybersecurity veteran Raffaele Mautone in March of 2019, closed a $2.7M seed round and launched Marzo4, an all-in-one cybersecurity platform designed for small and medium-size businesses which has already been adopted by customers who are transitioning to remote work. Prior to founding AaDya, Raffaele held leadership roles at McAfee, FireEye and Duo Security.

“I am thrilled that Firebrand Ventures, 645 Ventures and Next Coast Ventures have joined us in our mission to change the way businesses address today’s cybersecurity threats.” said Mautone. “What’s unique about the way we built Marzo4, is that it has everything a business needs in a single platform that’s easy to manage and implement, without compromising on security, and at a fraction of the cost. The reality for most businesses is their internal IT, and especially cybersecurity resources are limited or non-existent, so managing multiple solutions that offer more than they need is neither efficient nor cost-effective.”

Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the Marzo4 platform is Judy. Powered by artificial intelligence, Judy functions as a virtual cybersecurity assistant, available to every employee, across all devices, around the clock. Backed by AaDya’s customer success team, and an extensive built-in knowledge base, businesses have access to cybersecurity support that was previously out of their reach.

In addition to Judy, Marzo4 includes four essential “pillars” of security that cover the most common threats.

The four pillars of security include:

– Single-sign-on
– Anti-phishing
– Endpoint protection
– Password management

“We have seen first hand how difficult it is for small and medium-size businesses to protect themselves from constant cyber attacks,” said Chris Marks, Managing Partner, Firebrand Ventures. “We are excited to partner with Raffaele and the AaDya team as they solve this problem and keep businesses safe with a simple and affordable solution. We are also thrilled to be investing in the great city of Detroit.”

“When we first met Raffaele in 2019, he laid out the product vision for what is now Marzo4 word by word. Seeing it go from a napkin drawing to a fully functioning product has been very exciting,” said Aleisso Fanelli, Director of Engineering, 645 Ventures. “We have been working closely with the AaDya team since then, and we’re very excited to see them transform what security products for small and medium-size businesses look like.”

This investment will allow AaDya to add additional team members to support their existing and future customers, as well as continue to build out Marzo4 and enhance Judy with more machine learning features.

To request a product demo and to learn more about Marzo4 aadyasecurity.com, email inquiries@aadyasecurity.org, or call (800) 918-9113.

Steven Gibson joins Rehmann as Principal in Ann Arbor

TROY, Mich., Sept. 15, 2020 – Rehmann, a fully integrated financial services and advisory firm, announced Steven Gibson has been hired as a Principal in its wealth management division at the firm’s Ann Arbor office.

“We are thrilled to have an industry leader like Steven join our wealth management team,” said Randy Rupp, CEO of Rehmann “With his extensive and innovative understanding of financial planning and retirement plans, we know Steven will be an asset to clients and advisors alike.”

In the position, Gibson will develop creative strategies to help clients work toward meeting their financial goals, integrating retirement plan design, consulting, administration and investment advisory services with overall business and financial plans. He will work with a cross-functional team to proactively guide each client, considering tax law and efficiencies, estate planning, and accounting needs.

Gibson’s service areas include investment analysis and portfolio design, fiduciary due diligence support, retirement plan consulting, plan participant education and communication, and plan design and implementation.

Gibson began his financial services career in 2008 and has consulted on a variety of different plans for corporations, not-for-profits and governments.

Gibson holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA) and the Series 65 certification. He is actively involved in professional organizations, including the National Association of Plan Advisors, Michigan Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems, Alliance Benefits Council of Detroit, CFA Institute and CFA Society of Detroit. Gibson was recognized nationally as a NAPA top retirement plan advisor under 40 from 2017-2020.

An Eastern Michigan University graduate, Gibson holds a bachelor’s degree in economics.

About Rehmann
Rehmann is a fully integrated financial services and advisory firm that provides accounting and assurance, comprehensive technology, accounting and human resource solutions, specialized consulting and wealth management services. For more than 75 years, Rehmann has provided forward-thinking solutions and made it a priority to anticipate our clients’ daily and future needs. Rehmann has nearly 900 associates in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Rehmann is an independent member of Nexia International, offering clients a global approach. Find us online at rehmann.com.

Investment advisory services offered through Rehmann Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor.

Contact: Holly Shier
248.458.7923
holly.shier@rehmann.com