Dec. 4 | This Week in Government: Giuliani Testifies at MI Election Hearing; Shirkey on COVID Relief Package

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.

  1. House GOP Gives Giuliani Platform to Continue Election Falsehoods
  2. Municipalities Urging Legislature to Adopt Community Stabilization Plan
  3. Income Tax Reporting Bill Moves Out of House Committee
  4. Supreme Court May Be Asked to Rule on DHHS Epidemic Order Powers
  5. Shirkey: State COVID Package Likely Will Mirror Summer Relief

House GOP Gives Giuliani Platform to Continue Election Falsehoods

At the end of a four-plus hour hearing with Rudy Giuliani, a Republican lawmaker asked President Donald Trump’s lawyer if he came to Room 519 of the House Office Building to ask Michigan’s GOP-led Legislature to hand Trump the state’s 16 electoral college votes.

Giuliani responded: “I didn’t ask that.”

Then he went on a spiel about how the Legislature should take back its power because the state’s election was fraudulent – he claimed to show the panel a sampling of evidence showing such fraud, though it was not new information and many of those speaking to the House Oversight Committee have filed affidavits in lawsuits that have not succeeded for lack of credibility – and said, “don’t let it just get taken from us.”

Jenna Ellis, a legal advisor for the president, told legislators at the beginning of the committee: “At the end of the evidence and the testimony that we present today, we are going to be asking you to take action. … We will be asking you after taking a look at the testimony presented today to take that oath you have made as legislators very, very seriously. The law is on your side.”

But the law is on the side of Michigan voters who gave Democratic President-elect Joe Biden the state’s 16 electoral votes by a 154,000-vote margin. There has been no credible evidence of fraud. Even if Republicans feel their election workers were not treated fairly at the TCF Center where Detroit counted its absentee ballots, that is not fraud. And there are other workers the GOP chairs of both Oversight panels have not brought in who say Republican challengers were agitators looking for fraud, leading to cheers when they were ejected and other potentially rude reactions from those in the room.

Wednesday night’s meeting was a bizarre event that simply appeared to give the president’s campaign another official platform to make false claims about the election. It began with Democratic Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) seeking to put Mr. Giuliani under oath, which was gaveled down by Chair Rep. Matt Hall (R-Emmett Township). Gaveling down Democratic members was the only control Hall appeared to have over the room as he essentially turned over control of much of the meeting to Giuliani.

Giuliani spent more than an hour questioning a woman named Jessy Jacob who told stories of what she perceived as fraud, but a judge and long-time election officials described as a misunderstanding of the process. As the next witnesses spoke it went more to a traditional committee format.

Mellissa Carone, who has also filed an affidavit a judge deemed not credible, who was a contractor for Dominion Voting Systems at the TCF Center, at one point said, “Democrats want to ruin people’s lives.” She also began talking back to Republican Rep. Steve Johnson of Wayland, who asked why the pollbook in Detroit was not off by 30,000 votes if she saw ballots being recounted that many times, by responding with: “What’d you guys do, take it and do something crazy with it?”

It is virtually unheard of for someone testifying before a legislative committee to begin interrupting and hectoring a member of the committee without getting severely admonished or ejected. Hall did neither.

And while Giuliani told Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), the lawmaker who asked what Trump’s attorney was requesting, he was not asking for the Legislature to hand the president the state’s electoral votes, a letter from a Trump campaign official to GOP lawmakers earlier Wednesday said quite plainly: “The time for dramatic and Constitutional measures to right this injustice is now. A joint resolution from the State House and Senate can allow Michigan to send electors for Donald J. Trump to the Electoral College and save our country.”

Furthermore, prior to Wednesday’s committee meeting, Giuliani appeared with Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox via Zoom to recap what precisely the president was alleging regarding voter fraud in Michigan and what he hoped the Legislature would do in response – that is, award the state’s 16 Electoral College votes to Trump rather than Biden.

The dubious legal theory is that because the U.S. Constitution says legislatures shall direct the manner in which states award their electoral votes that the Legislature could vote to award Michigan’s electoral votes to Trump. However, Michigan has a law – passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor – that says the winner of the popular vote in Michigan receives its electoral votes. This many legal experts say is how the Legislature directed the manner in which the state would award electoral votes.

Some Republican lawmakers seemed queasy about Giuliani’s request, though. Johnson, a lawmaker who was among the first to ask for an investigation into the state’s election, asked why the president’s campaign did not request a recount, which could have proven the claims if they were in fact true.

“Looking at the votes in Detroit. The votes that are reported. In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 234,871 votes. Biden, this year, in a high, record turnout year, 233,908. That means Biden received 1,000 less votes than Hillary Clinton, one of the most despised candidates of all time,’ Mr. Johnson said. “Trump, 2016, 7,682 votes. 2020, 12,654, a 5,000-vote increase. So, Mr. Giuliani my question to you is looking at all of the issues with Detroit, and there are a lot of them, how can we still justify that there was that mass cheating when still Trump’s numbers increased by net 5% versus the year before. If someone were cheating with those numbers not go in the exact opposite direction?”

Giuliani responded by saying maybe Trump would have received 10% more votes out of the city if it were a valid election.

Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis), who is not a member of the committee, watched the meeting and said he was “utterly embarrassed” by it.

“If Rudy Giuliani wants to come in and be a credible attorney leading this questioning, he would avoid, this is just Aaron Miller’s book, he would avoid going crazy and making all these political accusations because what it says to me as a political observer is he left the reservation and he went for insults,” he said. “He’s wrecking his credibility as an attorney who wants to talk about the facts.”

Miller credited Johnson as a hero for his line of questioning that shows the numbers simply do not support fraud occurred.

“I’d say congrats to President Trump, he did something that very few Republicans can do and that’s overperform the Detroit Republican base. Where’s the effect?” he said. “If I had the power to steal an election, I’m going to go full bore, and I just can’t help myself, I’m going to take all the categories you can possibly imagine. I’m going to get the state House, I’m going to get all the local races I possibly can. The evidence just does not point to their being an actual result that was accomplished by fraud in the first place.”

Former Rep. Martin Howrylak, a Troy Republican, called the meeting out of control.

“It’s rather sad actually,” he tweeted. “Nearly five hours of delusion.”

Clerks and election officials from around the state also tweeted along Wednesday on falsehoods they heard during the committee. Democrats attempted to push back as well, but members were limited to one question each.

Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) asked Giuliani at the end of the hearing if he thought he was an honest man before being gaveled down. She was also gaveled down when wanting to speak – but not really asking a question – though Giuliani had called Detroit one of the most corrupt cities in the country. Johnson has lived in the city her whole life and is a representative there.

“You’re allowing people to come in here and lie. And I know they’re lying,” Johnson said at one point.

As the case is for many hearings under a GOP-majority, Republican members were given more latitude. Their members were allowed to make statements without asking questions.

Camilleri blasted the hearing later Wednesday after it ended, saying Republicans on the committee know, “Mr. Giuliani is not capable of delivering evidence when none exists.”

“Throughout this hearing, my colleagues continued to speak in circles about ‘getting to the bottom of this,'” he said. “But we’re already at the bottom, and there’s nothing down here. There’s no evidence of what Mr. Giuliani and the president claim. Down here at the bottom of all this, it’s just a dark, empty place.”

Municipalities Urging Legislature to Adopt Community Stabilization Plan

Changes to the state’s Open Meetings Act, how income tax from at-home workers is collected and addressing property tax loss are the main areas of need municipal leaders say must be addressed by the Legislature to keep communities afloat in the coming months as the state continues to contend with the coronavirus.

During a round table with local leaders and members of the Michigan Municipal League on Monday, mayors and community partners from across the state maintained the Legislature must act in passing a COVID-19 relief package or risk pushing cities into financial distress resulting in budgetary cuts, layoffs, or more.

Of the most pressing were three areas: income tax loss, property tax loss, and amending the extended changes to the Open Meetings Act.

The ability to meet virtually and still comply with the Open Meetings Act was approved earlier this year in October, though it does have a finite end date of Dec. 31 should no further action be taken. As it is expected a vaccine will not become widely available and the pandemic will still be a health crisis after next month, local leaders are urging the Legislature to again extend the ability to meet virtually though they did not offer an expanded timeframe.

There’s also the issue of a municipality’s ability to collect local income tax. As non-essential employees are mostly working from home, and are expected to continue doing so into 2021, current state law does not allow municipalities to collect income taxes from those workers on days they are not working in an employer’s physical locations.

Coupled with the losses in tax collection from unemployment income for local governments, it is projected that Michigan’s 24 local income tax communities – which include the likes of Detroit, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Flint and more – will lose up to $250 million in revenue this year alone, according to estimates from the Department of Treasury.

The MML is calling for the Legislature to pass a law for these communities to continue collecting income tax as if the virus were not a factor. It’s also asking for lawmakers to restore the original allowance within the Headlee Amendment for upwards and downwards fluctuations in millage rates based on actual inflationary activity and allow communities to truly benefit from increases in real estate values.

By doing this, MML believes the change will allow Proposal A and the Headlee amendment to “work as intended” by limiting existing millage and value growth to inflation but allow for the economic catch up after sales. This is largely due to the fact COVID-19 has caused permanent business closures and has reduced occupancy for retail or commercial office space, which could in turn lead to declining property values and inevitable cuts to property tax revenue.

Should that not happen, cities could be staring down the possibility of drastic cuts to public safety and delays to, or outright cancellations of, infrastructure projects.

“Cities went into this crisis, not in great shape. We’ve faced, still, aftermaths from the Great Recession (with) many communities still digging out from that crisis over a decade ago,” said Eric Scorsone, with the Michigan State University Center for Local Government Finance and Policy. “Coming into this new crisis … 2020 wasn’t as bad as it could have been because of federal aid. Federal aid did help us offset some of the higher costs of running city government during the pandemic, however 2021 looks to be quite challenging – 2022 even, as well.”

The coming years are “going to be some of the toughest times facing municipal governments, certainly since the Great Recession,” Scorsone went on to say, adding that not only was movement at the federal level necessary to combat that as much as possible but at the state level, too.

“That (aid) needs to be done soon, otherwise we are going to see the impacts coming very quickly,” he said.

Asked later if panelists – which included Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Port Huron Mayor Pauline Repp, and Westland Mayor William Wild, who also serves as the League’s board president – thought they could count on timely federal aid, hopes did not seem high.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes that we’re going to get in another relief package that provides direct support with flexibility to cities,” Bliss said. “And so, for all of us that work in local government and who represent cities, relying on D.C. to come through with the solution isn’t … the best way to move forward. We need to act now, and we need to do it in partnership with the state. We have some real solutions here that don’t raise taxes that can have an immediate impact on our city’s positive impacts in our cities as we move forward.”

Income Tax Reporting Bill Moves Out of House Committee

A bill providing a method to report federal tax adjustments associated with partner-level audits, which changed on account of new federal legislation, was moved out of a House committee Tuesday evening.

At least one supporter of SB 1035, sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), and Department of Treasury staff gave testimony Tuesday before legislators on the House Tax Policy Committee referred the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Senate passed the bill 38-0 in late September.

Legislators also took testimony on two others, SB 1097 and SB 970, but did not vote on either bill. Several other bills on the agenda were not addressed before the meeting was adjourned.

On SB 1035, Dan Papineau, director of tax policy with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said the amendments requested are lengthy but simple in concept.

Congress in 2015 enacted changes to how partnerships were audited by the Internal Revenue Service, Papineau said. The new law, instead of auditing partnerships at the individual partner level, allows the IRS to audit just one partnership as opposed to, for example, potentially 1,000 partners at the entity level.

“So due to that change at the federal level, Michigan, and all states for that matter, will need to figure out how to handle an IRS audit for a partnership that changes a tax payer’s state tax liability under this new scenario,” he said. “Based on model legislation developed by the multi-state tax commission for states to adopt, Senate Bill 1035 establishes a process to rectify situations for federal audits and changes to taxpayer state tax liability.”

The bill would be good for Michigan taxpayers, Papineau added, because it puts in place a single process they can follow when discrepancies are discovered.

“And the Department (of) Treasury likes it because it will provide an efficient way to collect taxes owed to them where one currently does not exist,” he said. “We’ve worked closely with the Department to ensure the language fits their needs and appreciate their willingness to help get this problem solved and the legislation adopted.”

David Foos, an administrative law specialist in the tax policy division of Treasury, said that he agreed, as the bill would help simplify many of the tax reporting obligations that partners may have while simplifying some of the obligations that partnerships may have to communicate that they otherwise would have to pool from individual partners.

“And then obviously, it simplifies everything on the department’s end because we’re getting one centralized return and one payment, rather than, you know, hundreds or even thousands of different returns resulting from these various partnership adjustments and administrative adjustment requests that are made at the federal level,” Foos said.

Other businesses testified on SB 970, also sponsored by Runestad, and a bill sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), SB 1097.

Runestad’s bill would require out-of-state tobacco vendors to remit tobacco excises taxes in addition to state sales tax and would also require licensure to ensure compliance.

Some out-of-state tobacco sellers are not currently licensed in order to remit excise tax and have objected to doing so even though, as Treasury legislative liaison Paul Connors noted in testimony, they should already be licensed if they’re selling products to Michigan.

Connors also noted – upon questioning from Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) – that the mechanism of licensure is the only one available in the Tobacco Products Tax Act that allows the state to collect excise tax on out-of-state cigars and tobacco products.

Johnson had called the need for licensure to pay excise tax on top of sales tax “convoluted,” but Connors said that the law was already convoluted and that Treasury would welcome conversations to rewrite what he said was an antiquated act written before the rise of mail-order catalogs and the Internet marketplace.

However, that wasn’t the conversation at hand, nor did the bill address those issues, Connors said, adding that this would make clear that such out-of-state vendors need to be licensed to pay state excise tax.

SB 1097 would modify the time frame required for the completion of certain multiphase construction projects under the Michigan Business Tax Act. The bill was inspired, Schmidt said, by contractor Great Lakes Capital, which would not be able to complete a new $25 million mixed-use development in downtown Traverse City and remediation of the contaminated site without the proposed 18-month credit extension.

Great Lakes Capital Managing Director and Principal Jeff Smoke spoke during the meeting and confirmed that the project would not move forward if the extension was not granted.

Supreme Court May Be Asked to Rule on DHHS Epidemic Order Powers

A federal judge Wednesday said he is considering sending certified questions to the Michigan Supreme Court on whether the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ power to issue emergency epidemic orders violates the non-delegation clause of the Michigan Constitution.

The mention of sending two certified questions to the state’s highest court came in a Wednesday order from Judge Paul Maloney of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association v. Gordon(USWDM Docket No. 20-01104).

Maloney denied the MRLA’s motion for preliminary injunction, which sought to end the temporary state-ordered closure of bars and restaurants to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

MRLA had contended that bars and restaurants were being treated unfairly and differently than similarly situated establishments that were not closed in the Nov. 15 order issued by DHHS Director Robert Gordon that shuttered them through Dec. 8.

The judge found the department’s reasoning for the order convincing and that groups tend to linger more in those settings than transitional environments like a food court or airport dining area.

In a statement, Gordon said he was happy with the ruling and that it keeps in place measures “that will save lives by limiting specific indoor gatherings that greatly increase the risk of COVID-19 spread.”

“The science is settled: public health experts from around the nation and world say these types of actions must be taken to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases,” Gordon said. “These protocols on specific indoor gatherings, along with wearing face masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing, give Michigan a fact-based approach to slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can return to a strong economy and get back to normal safely as soon as we can.”

It is unclear if the order will be extended as case numbers have fluctuated since the order’s issuance from alarming record highs to cooling off following the Thanksgiving holiday.

The MRLA had also argued Gordon’s authority to issue the order and others like it under the Public Health Code was an unconstitutional grant of legislative authority.

The argument mirrors that of the Republican-led Michigan Legislature’s against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her use of the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act to renew states of emergency during the pandemic without legislative assent – an action that allowed her to issue executive orders to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Maloney was the judge who sent certified questions to the high court earlier this year asking whether Gov. Whitmer was within her authority under the EPGA and another law, the Emergency Management Act, to do so and if the laws ran afoul of the non-delegation clause.

The high court ruled 4-3 then that the EPGA indeed was an unconstitutional delegation.

Since that ruling, Gov. Whitmer has relied on Gordon’s authority under the Public Health Code to pick up the executive branch’s pandemic response.

As he did with the EPGA challenge, Maloney opted not to issue a ruling on Gordon’s authority because the state courts had not yet evaluated the issue. Instead, the judge said he was considering sending a new set of certified questions so the Michigan Supreme Court could examine the claims (subscribers please note: an earlier News Update erroneously reported that Maloney had ruled on the non-delegation clause claim).

The proposed questions include:

  • Is M.C.L. § 333.2253(1) an impermissible delegation of legislative authority such that it violates the non-delegation clause of the Michigan Constitution?
  • If M.C.L. § 333.2253(1) is a permissible delegation of legislative authority, does Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon possess the authority under that statute to develop and promulgate a comprehensive regulatory scheme, such as the Nov. 15 Emergency Order?

Maloney noted that he would schedule a hearing for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, to consider whether certification would be appropriate. Briefs on the matter are due no later than noon on Dec. 11.

In a statement, MRLA President and CEO Justin Winslow said his group was disappointed with the order but appreciated Maloney’s understanding that the order is harming bars and restaurant owners.

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, it is important to note what Judge Maloney explicitly acknowledged in his ruling, stating that ‘Michigan restaurants are at risk of, or have already suffered, irreparable harm under Director Gordon’s EO,'” Winslow said. “It is in that vein that we will now transition our efforts to preventing an extension of the MDHHS Order beyond Dec. 8 and call on Director Gordon to provide clear and specific data to justify the sustained closure of restaurants across the state. Presumptions and generalizations will not suffice and should no longer be tolerated given the significant human toll they have wrought from closing restaurants for a second time this year.”

Winslow added: “Moreover, we believe this industry, like any other that has been forced to close, deserves a clear pathway to the full reintegration of their business, with reliable criteria and metrics to be met from Director Gordon to facilitate that reintegration. We have ideas and reasonable solutions to offer and reiterate our willingness to engage in a substantive dialogue with this administration should they wish to do the same.”

Shirkey: State COVID Package Likely Will Mirror Summer Relief

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said in a Wednesday television interview he anticipates any state negotiated coronavirus relief package will likely target businesses and health care workers and be similar to relief passed earlier this summer.

Speaking on JTV’s “The Bart Hawley Show,” Shirkey (R-Clarklake) also said he anticipates, at most, that the Legislature would provide one additional temporary extension of unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks, not a permanent move to 26 weeks as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democrats have called for to be considered.

“I think we will end up sending a package to the Governor that will include additional support for supplies,” Shirkey said. “I think we will end up sending to the Governor … it will include some support for key health care workers and some of the workers associated with the industries that were, I think, misdirected and closed down, specifically restaurants and bowling alleys and theaters, for instance.”

He also expressed an unwillingness to permanently undo the previous legislative reduction of 26 weeks of unemployment insurance to 20 weeks.

“We will not extend unemployment benefits to 26 weeks for perpetuity, but we may indeed consider doing it one more time to 26 weeks because of what workers in Michigan are experiencing today with some of these shutdowns,” Shirkey said.

Shirkey also took aim at Gov. Whitmer’s administration and the Department of Health and Human Services over the recent three-week shutdown of bars, restaurants, and other facilities.

He said in Monday’s Quadrant meeting between legislative leadership and the Governor’s office, conducted via Zoom, he asked about the administration’s plan once the three-week shutdown expires at midnight Dec. 9 and was told that the administration is still weighing the data. He said there has a slight flattening of the curve, but infection rates are still high.

“They started to try to convince me that that was a causation to the shutdown of restaurants, which is crap, because there’s no way that that order could have had that kind of effect that soon,” Shirkey said. “I think what we’re going to find is that the shutdown … had no effect, and what really needs to occur is people just do what we all know are the right things to do individually.”

He insisted, as he had on numerous occasions, said restaurants and other businesses have been following orders placed on them and are being unfairly targeted.

Shirkey added he believes DHHS does not have the authority to shut down entire industries in the state unilaterally in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He said the Republican-controlled Legislature might send bills to the governor’s desk testing her contention that DHHS had the ability to do so but did not provide further details.

He said individual businesses could likely be shut down by DHHS in conjunction with local health authorities for violating the law or local health guidelines, adding the same was likely the case with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In recent interviews, Shirkey has described details of his visit to the White House to speak with President Donald Trump. He had previously said that the meeting was about 90 minutes, during which he and the other Republican lawmakers that made the trip to Washington informed the president of the state’s election laws and said they were not asked to undermine the state’s elections in his favor.

The majority leader on Wednesday also provided further details about how the conversation went when Trump called him at home with the invitation to visit Washington, D.C. Trump has, unsuccessfully so far, raised legal challenges in Michigan and other states that voted for Democratic president-elect Joe Biden.

Shirkey said he informed the president of the state’s election laws but was convinced to come out and meet because Trump insisted he would have new information to present. He said he told the president the state’s election law is clear on how the state awards presidential electors and that he would not break the law. He said a significant court ruling would be the only way that the Legislature would even consider any other methods of awarding electors.

He was asked if Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and lead lawyer in his election lawsuits, might present anything new during Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing. Shirkey said he would be watching the hearing, but his expectation was it will be similar to what has been in headlines nationally in recent weeks.

Shirkey said members are now going over the information presented in Tuesday’s seven-hour Senate Oversight Committee hearing and it is possible that Chris Thomas, the former Bureau of Elections director, may be asked to testify regarding the ballot counting at the TCF Center in Detroit, which has been the center of Republicans’ complaints about the Nov. 3 elections.

So far, none of the claims of voter fraud or irregularities in the vote tabulation in Detroit presented by dozens of conservative poll challengers in Tuesday’s hearing nor those included in any of the Trump campaign’s lawsuits have been proven.

Butzel Long Attorney Aaron S. Kamlay Speaks on Importance of Technology for IP Practices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Aaron S. Kamlay was featured recently during two webinars on November 12 and 17, focusing on the use of technology for developing an efficient, client-focused IP practice. Hosted by IP Watchdog and Anaqua, the webinars presented panel discussions on how leaders in the IP field use technology to increase the strategic value of their legal advice and their clients’ IP portfolios.

Kamlay has been practicing intellectual property law for more than 15 years and has represented clients of all sizes across a wide range of technologies, including numerous successful startups and multiple Fortune 100 companies. He specializes in complex patent prosecution and portfolio management, acquisitions and divestitures of IP, and portfolio creation, with a focus on building business value through strategic IP development. Kamlay currently leads the patent prosecution group in the firm’s Washington, DC office, which is a key part of Butzel Long’s full-service IP practice. The practice supports Butzel’s clients through the full IP lifecycle, including high-stakes prosecution, litigation, and licensing of patents and trademarks, M&A diligence, patent monetization, and international trade issues.

Prior to joining Butzel Long, Kamlay founded Morris & Kamlay and worked at the IP specialty firms of Kenyon & Kenyon and Townsend and Townsend and Crew.

With a degree in physics and prior industry experience in programming, large dataset analysis, computer networking, and communications, Kamlay has obtained valuable patents for his clients in numerous fields, including artificial intelligence, high-availability databases, OLED devices, consumer electronics, optics, medical devices, robotics, and others.

In 2012, he was named a Rising Star by Superlawyers Magazine. Morris & Kamlay LLP was named IP M&A Law Firm of the year 2019 and Best in Complex IP Prosecutions 2019 by US Business News Legal Elite Awards; Best Complex IP Prosecution Specialists 2020; and Recognized Leaders in Patent Valuation 2020 by US Business News Legal Elite Awards.

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 or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

Virtual Event: Minimizing Cybersecurity Risks for Remote Working

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. —With more employees working remotely for the foreseeable future, businesses are seeing a resulting increase in spoofing and other attempts by hackers to access confidential and valuable information. Does your business have the proper protection policies and procedures in place? Join Foster Swift for a virtual training session.

Moderated by Patricia Scott, learn from attorneys Robert Hamor and Taylor Gast on ways to minimize risk and avoid disaster as more of your employees work remotely. This virtual discussion will touch on the recent rise in spoofing and other computer hacking attempts, along with strategies to protect your business and employees.

Details of the event are below:

What: Webinar on Minimizing Cybersecurity Risks for Remote Working
When: Thursday, December 10 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Cost: Free

JS Clark Agency, An AssuredPartners Company, Welcomes Three New Sales Executives

JS Clark Agency, An AssuredPartners Company, welcomes three new sales executives to the agency’s sales team: Carter Bundy, Bill Brown and Jace Clark.

Carter Bundy is a Flint native turned Detroiter. He joined JS Clark Agency, An AssuredPartners Company, as a Sales Executive in 2020. With a background in government, technology, start-ups and non-profits, Carter brings a unique skillset and passion to his work with clients.

His creative approach allows for the delivery of comprehensive and cost-effective benefit solutions every time. A proud graduate of the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, Carter holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance. Carter has a true passion for service and enjoys bringing that enthusiasm to various community organizations. He is currently Chair of the Board for the Detroit Young Professionals and serves on the Board for the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit. Carter can be reached at 248.663.1043 or at

Bill Brown joined JS Clark Agency, An AssuredPartners Company, as a Sales Executive in 2020. Bill has previous experience with worksite and voluntary benefits, as well as experience working as a business consultant. His professional background is an asset to his role at JS Clark where he manages a portfolio of health and welfare employee benefit plans.

His experience handling multi-state enrollment processes allows him to identify employee education needs and the planning/direction needed to ensure a smooth open enrollment process. Although he works across industries, Bill has specific insights and knowledge in startups, tech companies, and enterprises within the transportation sector. Bill can be reached at 248.663.1044 or at

Jace Clark joined JS Clark Agency, An AssuredPartners Company, as a Sales Executive in 2020. His history with the agency spans several years. Jace worked as an intern at JS Clark Agency every summer from 2007-2012 during his high school career before leaving to attend and graduate from Michigan State University (MSU).

After receiving his degree from MSU, Jace joined Blue Care Network as an underwriter for both small and large groups. After some time away, Jace is excited to be back at the agency helping organizations create successful employee benefit plans. Jace can be reached at 248.996.1830 or at

JS Clark Agency, An AssuredPartners Company, is a full-service employee benefits firm located in Southfield, Michigan. Since 1987, JS Clark has been providing employee benefit services to more than 300 clients. The agency specializes in the design, communication, administration, compliance and overall management of group benefit programs. Learn more at

Butzel Long attorney Mitchell (“Mitch”) Zajac named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2020 Class of ‘Up & Coming Lawyers’

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel Long attorney Mitchell (“Mitch”) Zajac is one of 25 attorneys in the state named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2020 Class of “Up & Coming Lawyers.” The attorneys will be honored during a virtual program on December 8 and profiled in the December 14 edition.

Attorneys recognized for this honor have distinguished themselves in the practice of law. The honorees were evaluated based on nominations by their peers, colleagues, and associates. The recipients were selected by a committee based on their outstanding professional accomplishments and their mentoring/ community involvement.

Zajac is an associate and registered patent attorney, focusing his practice in the areas of automotive, intellectual property (IP), compliance, and international trade law.

Before joining Butzel Long as a summer associate in May 2017, while attending law school full time, Zajac was an engineer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). He moved quickly through the ranks at FCA. He was responsible for multiple ground-breaking development projects, led the international engineering team producing the Ram ProMaster City, and had a leading role in FCA’s corporate audit group with responsibilities in safety/regulatory compliance, quality and purchasing.

Zajac has practiced in six federal courts, the U.S. Patent Office, and the U.S. International Trade Commission. Zajac’s career as an attorney builds on his strengths and experiences he gained while at FCA and has helped him to grow his practice beyond the automotive industry. Zajac has helped several clients manage and craft IP portfolios in other unique industries, like medicine, light-weighting, and industrial manufacturing. He also has experience in complex patent, trade secret and commercial litigation cases.

His clients include automotive and transportation companies developing IP portfolios, multiple start-up companies with $4M+ capitalization developing strategic national partners, and multi-million-dollar global automotive clients navigating international trade issues.

Between trials and hearings in Detroit and Washington D.C. on behalf of Detroit auto suppliers, sitting first-chair and taking depositions across the U.S. and around the world (including London, Singapore, and Taiwan), Zajac also spends time presenting across the country in remanufacturing, automotive IP, and automotive contracting and supply agreements.

Zajac attended WMU-Cooley (J.D., 2017) after graduating from Western Michigan University with Bachelors’ degrees in Mechanical Engineering and German (2012) and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering (2013). He was a Rhodes Scholar finalist (2012); interned for Congressman Fred Upton; and was a four-year starter on the Division 1 football team at WMU. Zajac also is completing his Master’s degree in Corporate Law and Finance. He received the Detroit Bar Association’s “One to Watch” Award in 2019.

Notably, Zajac is very active in the community. He recently was elected to the Livingston County Board of Commissioners. Earlier this year, Zajac was appointed to serve a four-year term on the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School Board of Directors.

He also is an advocate for continuous education and public service. He’s the Association for Child Development (ACD) President, a non-profit organization facilitating ~$30M/annum through the USDA CACF Program providing healthy meals to children across the Midwest. He has helped this organization achieve financial stability, organizational structure, and leads strategic expansion of ACD programs to more children and to provide education to more families.
Moreover, Zajac dedicates hundreds of hours each year coaching high school football in Howell, turning his standard 12-hour workdays into 15+ hour days in order to work with and mentor young athletes. Zajac is an adjunct professor and curriculum coordinator for the engineering project management graduate programs at Trine University; serves on the WMU Lee Honors College Board; and, volunteers as a Challenge Master for Destination Imagination – a creative problem-solving program for kids around the world.

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 or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

Chamber Weighs In: COVID-19 Relief Must Be a Lame Duck Priority

As the Michigan Legislature enters lame duck, COVID-19 relief is top-of-mind. There is a lot at stake for Michigan’s businesses as the state continues to battle the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. In the wake of the pandemic’s latest surge and a three-week pause issued by the state, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on legislators to pass a $100 million stimulus to boost unemployment payments, offer aid for hospitals and businesses across the state during lame duck. This state-level approach comes as ongoing requests for additional Federal support from Congress remain entangled in a stalemate.

The Governor’s call for targeted COVID-19 relief is in line with the Chamber’s perspective on support needed for the state’s businesses to endure the economic implications of this public health crisis. The Chamber’s Vice President of Government Relations, Brad Williams, recently shared this sentiment in Crain’s Detroit Business with a lame duck lookahead outlining five key areas of legislation that could help Michigan accelerate its economy including COVID-19 relief measures.

Among those is helping employers provide life-saving PPE for employees and customers – a cause the Chamber’s government relations team continues to champion. The Chamber was instrumental in the formation and movement of a package of bills that would exempt purchases of PPE from the sales and use taxes and provide a refundable income tax credit to employers, alleviating some of the crippling financial strain COVID-19 has imposed. Including these Chamber-backed measures in Gov. Whitmer’s proposed $100 million stimulus plan would offer businesses some relief from the additional burden of PPE-related expenses.

Further, the Legislature and Governor should prioritize renewing the Good Jobs for Michigan package as part of the stimulus plan to best equip Michigan to attract and grow jobs as the state emerges from the public health crisis. The Chamber has long supported this program as a key tool in building Michigan’s workforce and long-term economic prospects. Making efforts to bolster the state’s talent pipeline, especially under these complex circumstances, will better position Michigan for the recovery it needs to continue moving the economy forward.

As legislators return for session this week, it is imperative that executive and legislative leadership works collaboratively to make progress toward COVID-19 relief for businesses – to help them stay open in the safest possible way for employees and patrons alike and continue bolstering the local economy. As this crisis approaches the nine-month mark, the division between Michigan’s executive and legislative leaders has become glaring and unproductive as businesses grapple with the continuously mounting challenges of COVID-19. A unified approach and clear strategy to usher the state’s economy through and beyond this crisis cannot wait and must take precedence during lame duck.


Brad Williams: 5 Ways Lawmakers Can Help Michigan’s Economy in Lame Duck


A Special Message From Former Board Chair Patti Poppe: Patti Poppe: “Keep Up the Impactful Work”

The Detroit Regional Chamber extends a special congratulations to our friend and valued advisor, Patti Poppe, as she transitions to her new role with PG&E. Having served as the Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference, Poppe leaves an indelible mark on the organization and region.

“Patti has been one of the most passionate and engaged Board Chairs we’ve seen in the role, and one of the finest leaders we have had the honor and privilege of working with,” said Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah. “On behalf of the entire Chamber staff, I express our gratitude for the leadership she has provided our organization and the business community. The Chamber team will miss her dearly but look forward to her success in this new venture.”

As Chair of the 2019 Conference, Poppe spearheaded a vision of “One Michigan” and focused on the Conference themes of Prepare Michigan, Grow Michigan, and Love Michigan. Poppe joined the Chamber’s Board of Directors in 2016 and began serving on its Executive Committee in 2017. Poppe has championed Consumers Energy’s engagement in the Conference, notably recruiting Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics, as a keynote speaker in 2015 and hosting Michigan-based FIRST teams to conduct demonstrations at Grand Hotel. Poppe has served on the Conference CEO Advisory Committee since 2017.

“As I transition to my new role as CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation, I will hold Michigan close to my heart as home. You can take me out of Michigan, but you can’t take the pride I have for the state of Michigan out of me,” Poppe said. “The Detroit Regional Chamber is an incredible asset to not only Southeast Michigan but the entire state. You are a voice for business and a driving force for Michigan’s economy – keep up the impactful work!”

Poppe was named President and CEO of Consumers Energy and CMS Energy in 2016, leading a company that serves 1.8 million electric customers and 1.7 million natural gas customers. After serving in management roles with General Motors and DTE Energy, Poppe joined Consumers in 2011 and went on to hold multiple positions on the senior management team.

“It has been an honor to serve as CMS Energy and Consumers Energy’s president and CEO,” Poppe added. “The company is deeply committed to Michigan’s success and I know incoming president and CEO, Garrick Rochow, will continue to deliver on the triple bottom line of people, planet, and prosperity. Garrick has robust industry knowledge and a heart of service for the Consumers Energy team and communities they serve. You will continue to see world-class performance delivering hometown service from Consumers Energy.”

Detroit Regional Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah on Supporting Black Owned Business during and after Small Business Saturday

The CEO of The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Sandy Baruah, spoke with Fox 2 Detroit to talk about the importance of supporting black-owned businesses. He notes that half the businesses on Yelp have shut their doors for good because of the pandemic – and businesses owned by people of color are experiencing a disproportionate hit.

“It’s always been the case that our businesses owned by Black Americans and other people of color are generally smaller businesses,” Baruah said. “They have less resources available to them, so they’re a bit more fragile.”

Check out the full interview below.

*Source – Fox 2 Detroit

Detroit Regional Chamber, General Motors Announce Largest Cohort of NeighborHUB Grant Winners to Date

Detroit Regional Chamber, General Motors Announce Largest Cohort of NeighborHUB Grant Winners to Date

  • $300,000 in grants awarded to Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park neighborhood nonprofit organizations.
  • In response to the COVID-19 crisis, available funding was doubled to support additional organizations.

DETROIT, (Nov. 30, 2020) – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber and General Motors (GM) announced the third cohort of awardees for the NeighborHUB grant program. This year’s awards doubled to support eleven neighborhood nonprofit organizations who proposed the most innovative solutions to problems facing their communities.

The following nonprofits will receive grants, PPE, and other in-kind support from the Chamber and GM:

“The NeighborHUB grant means to us the opportunity to provide an area where people can connect with nature for physical and mental restoration,” said Tammy Black, president of the Community Treehouse Center. “Detroit Greenspace improves physical health as it decreases pollution, encourages exercise, improves immune function. The Bird Watcher’s Garden will be especially important as an area where children and adults can explore nature and make their own experience-based discoveries.”

“This year has been a hard year for everyone, especially communities of color, small businesses, nonprofits, and artists because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this pandemic, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation’s (DHDC) 28,000-square-foot-facility has sat as a virtually empty, underutilized space, that is still a cost the organization,” said Lex Zavala, director of DHDC. “We settled on the concept of a Ghost Food Hall/Market, which will be named ‘Fantazma Market.’ Utilizing our outdoor and underutilized indoor spaces, restaurants and small businesses will be able to safely deliver their food or sell their merchandise in our space, all while artists perform, helping to expand their customer base. This is a great opportunity where nonprofit, community, and small businesses can come together to help each other during this crisis, helping DHDC regain lost funds, while supporting struggling local businesses and artists.”

The NeighborHUB program is an annual, collaborative effort between the Chamber and GM that is designed to empower residents in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park to affect change in their neighborhoods through physical presence and innovative programming. This year, small businesses, among the hardest hit financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, were also eligible for the first time to partner with nonprofits that met the criteria on an application.

Now in its third year, the NeighborHUB has awarded grants to 24 neighborhood organizations. Through a collaborative process, an advisory selection committee comprising representatives from the Chamber, GM, the City of Detroit, BLAC Magazine, and Michigan Community Resources, reviewed and voted on the proposals.

“The work of this cohort’s grant recipients is more important than ever as our regional communities face the challenges of a global health crisis,” said Tammy Carnrike, chief operating officers for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “It is our hope that this support will allow them to continue serving as pillars of these communities and usher in recovery and enduring positive change.”

“On behalf of everyone at GM, we are proud to support the visionary organizations driving measurable progress in their communities,” said Terry Rhadigan, executive director of Corporate Giving at General Motors. “NeighborHUB was born out of a desire to take a residents-first approach to progress in the Detroit region, and it is a privilege to be able to continue to help bring these impactful projects to life.”

More than 100 grant applications were submitted, and the selection process was very competitive. Project work will begin this month and continue through fall 2021. Learn more about the projects at


About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out through creating a business-friendly climate and value for members, leading a robust economic development strategy, and convening Michigan’s most influential audience at the nationally unique Mackinac Policy Conference. Learn more at

About General Motors

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) has leadership positions in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at

WATCH | 2020 NeighborHUB Grant Winners

Butzel Long adds attorney specializing in financial litigation and enforcement actions; William J. Kraus represents individuals and businesses involved in governmental and regulatory investigations

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – William J. Kraus has joined Butzel Long as a shareholder in the firm’s Ann Arbor, Mich. office. He concentrates his practice on disputes relating to the financial industry, with a particular focus on legal and regulatory issues related to digital currencies (e.g., Bitcoin) and blockchain technology.

Kraus represents individuals and businesses involved in governmental and regulatory investigations, U.S. state and federal litigation, and alternative dispute resolution.
Notably, he represents diverse parties before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), National Futures Association (NFA), CME Group Market Regulation; and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Additionally, Kraus assists clients with all aspects of litigation in state and federal forums, and has experience practicing before the Northern District of Illinois and Circuit Court of Cook County; Southern District of New York; Eastern District of Michigan; the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation; Courts of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits; and the U.S. Supreme Court. He also has a successful record of resolving disputes before the American Arbitration Association and JAMS, as well as before NFA and FINRA hearing panels.

Prior to joining Butzel Long, Kraus was an attorney in the Chicago office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, where he focused on financial litigation and enforcement actions.
He continues to maintain an active pro bono practice focusing on fair housing and civil rights litigation, and was recognized by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. as “not only a skilled attorney, but a valued ally in affirmatively furthering fair housing and increasing awareness of fair housing rights and responsibilities.”

Kraus is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 2009) and the University of Michigan (B.A., 2005). While attending law school, he was selected by a faculty panel for placement at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development in Geneva, Switzerland, where he worked to further the participation of developing nations in the World Trade Organization through litigation and dispute settlement training.

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 or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: