July 1 | This Week in Government: Detroit Chamber Endorses Meijer, Stevens in U.S. House Races; Groups Urge Leaders to Raise EITC to 30%

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. Detroit Chamber Endorses Meijer, Stevens in U.S. House Races
  2. Groups Urge Leaders to Raise EITC to 30%
  3. Budget Moves Without Tax Cuts; $7B Left on Balance Sheet
  4. Tax Credit Deals Must Be Public, Supreme Court Rules
  5. After Huge Court Loss, Attorney General Vows Flint Cases Not Over

Detroit Chamber Endorses Meijer, Stevens in U.S. House Races

The Detroit Regional Chamber PAC released a set of endorsements Thursday, including two hotly contested U.S. House races, opting to support U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer and U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens.

The Chamber describes Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) as “the kind of leader Michigan needs in Congress” and praised his efforts to “craft positions with conservative principles that have broad bipartisan appeal.”

Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Chamber, said, “Rep. Meijer represents a new and effective breed of Congressional representatives that will benefit his district, the state, and the nation.”

Stevens (D-Waterford Township) is facing off against U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township), who is further to her left on several issues and recently received an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

The Chamber said in its statement that “with two qualified candidates and friends of the Chamber in the race for the 11th District, this decision came down to who is more pro-growth and job creation-friendly.”

Williams said that Stevens’ “commitment to Michigan’s manufacturing industry and insight into business issues on a national and local level” earned her the Chamber’s endorsement in this contested race.

The Chamber notably declined to weigh in on the race in the 8th U.S. House District, where Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) is facing an effort from local and national Republican resources to unseat him.

The Chamber also released endorsements for state Legislature races, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. The House endorsements include:

  • Reggie Davis in the 5th District;
  • Rep. Helena Scott of Detroit in the 7th District;
  • Mike McFall in the 8th District;
  • Ricardo White in the 11th District;
  • Rep. Stephanie Young of Detroit in the 16th District;
  • Caprice Jackson in the 18th District;
  • Noah Arbit in the 20th District;
  • Rep. Alex Garza of Taylor in the 29th District;
  • Kevin Whiteford in the 38th District;
  • Rep. Pauline Wendzel of Watervliet in the 39th District;
  • James Johnson Jr. in the 47th District;
  • Joshua Shriver in the 66th District;
  • Rep. Philip Green in the 67th District;
  • Rep. Michael Mueller of Linden in the 72nd District;
  • Rep. Kara Hope of Holt in the 74th District;
  • Rep. Angela Witwer of Delta Township in the 76th District;
  • Jon Horford in the 77th District;
  • Rep. Greg VanWoerkom of Norton Shores in the 88th District;
  • Rep. Bryan Posthumus of Cannon Township in the 90th District;
  • Rep. Graham Filler of Greenbush Township in the 93rd District;
  • Rep. Curtis VanderWall of Ludington in the 102nd District;
  • Rep. Jack O’Malley of Lake Ann in the 103rd District;
  • Rep. John Roth of Interlochen in the 104th District; and
  • Rep. Ken Borton of Gaylord in the 105th district.

 

In the Senate, the Chamber endorsed:

  • Sen. Sylvia Santana of Detroit in the 2nd District;
  • Sen. Stephanie Chang of Detroit in the 3rd District;
  • Rep. Darrin Camilleri of Brownstown Township in the 4th District;
  • Sen. Dayna Polehanki of Livonia in the 5th District;
  • Sen. Jeremy Moss of Southfield in the 7th District;
  • Sen. Michael MacDonald of Macomb Township in the 11th District;
  • Sue Shink in the 14th District;
  • Rep. Joe Bellino of Monroe in the 16th District;
  • Sen. Kim LaSata of Niles in the 17th District;
  • Rep. John Cherry of Flint in the 49th District;
  • Sen. Mark Huizenga of Walker in the 30th District;
  • Sen. Roger Victory of Georgetown Township in the 31st District;
  • Sen. Jon Bumstead of North Muskegon in the 32nd District; and
  • Rep. Roger Hauck of Mount Pleasant in the 34th District.

Related: Detroit Regional Chamber PAC Releases Bipartisan Endorsements for 3rd, 11th Congressional Districts, Michigan Legislature for the 2022 Primary Election


Groups Urge Leaders to Raise EITC To 30%
Tax cut negotiations are ongoing as the Legislature is poised to pass a fiscal year 2022-23 budget Thursday, and a group of proponents of raising the Earned Income Tax Credit is continuing to push for such a change to be part of any final deal between lawmakers and the governor.

In a Tuesday letter to officials including Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican leaders of both legislative chambers, members of a group called the Michigan EITC Coalition urged leaders to expand the credit from six percent to 30 percent as part of any tax deal.

The coalition includes the Michigan Catholic Conference, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Grand Rapids Chamber and the Small Business Association of Michigan.

“As you work to find common ground, the EITC is a bipartisan proposal that is simple, effective and one that will have the most positive, significant impact,” the groups wrote. “From our view, increasing the EITC will provide a large mutual benefit for kids, workers, businesses and the local and state economy.”

The group went on to call the EITC a “pro-family, pro-work policy” that can provide assistance for people who can then move up to a higher income level.

At least one legislative proposal, SB 417, has been taken up for hearings recently in the Senate, which calls for raising the EITC to 30 percent by 2024. The original fiscal analysis of the proposal put the estimated reduction in General Fund revenue at $460 million per year beginning in fiscal year 2025-26 and in subsequent years if enacted.

The proposal received strong support during committee testimony but has not been reported to the Senate floor.

Raising the EITC has also been an area that appears to have bipartisan interest. How it may factor into a final deal remains to be seen.

Earlier this week it was reported that while the Legislature is expected to move on the budget, no tax cut votes would be taken.

Where Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) are in negotiations with the administration is not clear.

Whitmer has called for targeted cuts and an overall smaller package than Republicans. Her proposals have included rebate checks to an unspecified group of taxpayers, expanding the EITC and repealing the so-called pension tax. What the rebates would cost is unclear, but the other proposals are estimated to be in the ballpark of $800 million.

Republicans have wanted more broad-based cuts on a larger scale, twice passing packages without negotiations of more than $2 billion in yearly costs. Their packages have included an income tax rate cut and a child tax credit and more. Whitmer vetoed the most recent GOP tax cut package earlier this month.

The Legislature has also pushed legislation to suspend the state’s fuel taxes and sales tax collected on fuel purchases.

In its letter, the coalition said an increase in the EITC would provide families with an estimated $750 and spur an estimated $443 million in spending on essential needs at local businesses.

“The billions of dollars in state revenues provides a major opportunity for you to define your respective and collective legacies,” the group wrote. “As future Michiganders look back at the decisions you will be making in these next few days, weeks or months, increasing the EITC would be a major win for bipartisanship, kids and parents, and workers and businesses. The benefits will immediately pump through our economy. And the direct boost to parents’ incomes will benefit our children for decades to come, creating a better future for the state as a whole.”


Budget Moves Without Tax Cuts; $7B Left on Balance Sheet

The Legislature took it down to the wire during a marathon session Thursday where most of the day was spent waiting for budget language to be drafted so lawmakers could approve the 2022-23 budget.

Convening at 10 a.m., lawmakers did not vote on the budget until 2 a.m. Friday. Conference committees did not meet on SB 845 and HB 5783, until shortly before and after midnight Friday, pushing the release of budget details until just hours before final votes.

Both bills passed overwhelmingly. SB 845 was adopted in the Senate 35-2 and 99-7 in the House. HB 5783 passed the Senate unanimously and 97-9 in the House.

The budget passed with little drama – other than the House Fiscal Agency putting the total spend at $75.7 billion and the Senate Fiscal Agency at $76.7 billion. The House is not counting intradepartmental grants as new spending and the Senate is.

Either way, the roughly $76 billion overall budget includes $19.6 billion in School Aid Fund spending and $15.3 billion in General Fund. It also makes a $180 million deposit into the Budget Stabilization Fund.

Officials also took the opportunity to provide more than $1 billion in various special grants for a smattering of in-district projects.

The budget also pays down $2.6 billion in debt, something House Appropriations Chair Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) said he was most proud of in the budget.

“I’m not aware of any state in the history United States making this level of commitment to reducing liability,” he told reporters. “So, I think this is putting us on a good foundation going forward.”

Lawmakers and the administration are leaving an astonishing $7 billion on the balance sheet, with roughly $3.8 billion in General Fund and $3.3 billion in School Aid Fund. The leftover money is a mix of what is thought to be one-time surplus dollars and ongoing funding.

As lawmakers wrap up the budget before their self-imposed deadline of July 1 – just barely as both chambers passed the budget after midnight – conversations will continue on tax cuts and other spending with the leftover cash.

“This is our fourth collaboration on a fiscally-responsible budget delivers on the kitchen-table issues that matter and lowers costs for families struggling with inflation,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “I am proud that the budget will grow Michigan’s economy and workforce, make record investments in every student and classroom, protect public health and public safety, expand mental health resources, and empower working families and communities.”

Whitmer called on all parties to continue “in this spirit of collaboration,” in spending the available dollars on the balance sheet.

Budget Director Chris Harkins called the budget financially sound and responsible.

“In addition to prioritizing funding for our students, schools, public health, natural resources, and communities, we are paying down debt, shoring up pensions and setting money aside for a rainy day,” he said in a statement. “I am proud to have a budget that invests in both our current needs and looks toward our future as we continue to move Michigan forward.”

All sides have been clamoring for some kind of tax change with varying costs. Whitmer’s administration has pushed for an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, a repeal of the so-called “pension tax,” and a $500 rebate for undefined taxpayers.

The Legislature, meanwhile, has thrown several proposals to Whitmer, which she has vetoed. Those plans would have cut taxes by more than $2 billion annually and were anchored by an income tax reduction and a child tax credit, among other things.

Whitmer has also been pushing for more money to be deposited in the state’s new economic development fund, House Republicans want more debt relief and Senate Republicans are pushing for a fuel tax pause.

“A budget is a statement of priorities, and this budget prioritizes education, safe schools, road repairs, and job training,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said. “It also sets aside a substantial sum that Republicans are ready to return to Michiganders struggling with record-high inflation and gas prices.”

House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) said lawmakers and the administration “absolutely had to nail this budget,” to give residents the support they need.

“I’m glad we were all able to take our time and work together across party lines to build a real plan and move Michigan forward,” he said. “Our budget prioritizes school funding, road repairs, healthcare access, job training, and even sets aside billions for tax relief. This plan has everything Michigan families need to get ahead and stay ahead in the coming year.”

Thursday’s budget plan also includes $2.2 billion in supplemental spending for the current fiscal year.

That immediate spending includes $10 million for a new state psychiatric hospital complex and $7 million to help courts with current backlogs.

Finally, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will see $2.2 million for its ongoing litigation.


Tax Credit Deals Must Be Public, Supreme Court Rules

Details about tax credits the state has awarded to businesses as incentives to locate or remain in Michigan must be made public under the Freedom of Information Act, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday in a significant victory for public records access.

David Sole requested the tax credit agreement between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and General Motors LLC via a FOIA request. GM, however, did not want the agreement disclosed, and the MEDC rejected his request.

In 2015, during the administration of Governor Rick Snyder, the MEDC and the three Detroit automakers rewrote their Michigan Economic Growth Authority tax credits to provide greater certainty about their total value (See Gongwer Michigan Report, December 15, 2015). Ford Motor Company and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (now Stellantis) agreed to make public key details of their agreement, but GM refused, leading to Sole’s FOIA request.

For years, the MEDC refused to disclose its tax agreements with companies like GM unless the company agreed to do so, saying that the FOIA section in the Michigan Strategic Fund Act allows for the redaction of records that related to financial or proprietary information.

The Supreme Court, ruling unanimously, held that while that is true, the Michigan Strategic Fund Act carves out an exception.

Documents to which the MSF is a party in an agreement, under the Michigan Strategic Fund Act, are not considered financial or proprietary information that can be exempted from disclosure, the court ruled in Sole v. Michigan Economic Development Corporation (SC Docket No. 161598).

The MEDC argued it could hand over the agreement but redact all the information in it, an argument the Supreme Court rebuked.

“Here, defendant’s preferred construction of MCL 125.2005 raises serious doubts about its constitutionality under Const 1963, art 9, § 23,” the per curiam opinion from the court said. “Under the statute, defendant cannot ‘disclose financial or proprietary information not subject to disclosure pursuant to subsection (9)’ without the applicant’s approval. Thus, if MCL 125.2005(9) applies, the unredacted tax credit agreement is not available to the public absent GM’s approval. This potentially conflicts with Const 1963, art 9, § 23, which commands that “[a]ll financial records, accountings, audit reports[,] and other reports of public moneys shall be public records and open to inspection.”

The decision reversed the Court of Appeals and the Court of Clai The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Claims for further proceedings.

Asked about the MEDC’s reaction to the decision and whether it had transmitted the document to Sole, MEDC spokesperson Otie McKinley said only that the organization’s attorneys are reviewing the opinion and had no further comment.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which fights many FOIA cases in court, hailed the ruling as a win for taxpayers and transparency. It submitted an amicus brief in the case in which the Michigan Press Association participated.

“Taxpayers deserve to know who is receiving their money,” said James Hohman, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in a statement.


After Huge Court Loss, Attorney General Vows Flint Cases Not Over

Public officials charged with crimes in the Flint water crisis won a resounding and massive victory Tuesday when a 6-0 Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Attorney General misused the one-person grand jury system to charge them.

The court, in one of its most significant rulings in the past 25 years, held that a one-person grand jury cannot issue indictments, and anyone charged under the system must have the opportunity for a preliminary examination. The ruling throws into question the future of the cases, which Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud insisted would continue despite major statute of limitations questions, that include former Governor Rick Snyder, the first known current or former governor to be charged with a crime for actions while in office.

For some of the Flint defendants, like former Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, the ruling represented an emotional triumph after six years of being under criminal charges. They have long contended it was wrong to charge them for policy decisions leading up to and during the Flint water crisis.

For Flint residents, the ruling was the latest kick in the face some eight years after a state-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s water source to the Flint River without corrosion control treatment. That unleashed a large amount of lead from the city’s lead pipes into the drinking water. It also may have – and this point is hotly disputed – caused a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2014-15 that killed 12, sickened scores and prompted involuntary manslaughter charges against Lyon and former DHHS Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells in early 2021.

The opinion written by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, in People v. Peeler, People v. Baird and People v. Lyon (SC Docket Nos. 163667, 163672 and 164191) directly affects just three of several defendants in the state’s prosecution of former state actors accused of willful neglect of duty and other charges related to actions taken and not taken during the Flint water crisis. But it seems likely the other defendants will echo the same arguments at the Genesee Circuit Court to have their cases dismissed.

Justice Richard Bernstein wrote a separate concurring opinion to highlight what he stated was the significant interest in the case and the need to get the preliminary examination function right in criminal proceedings large and small.

The appeals were filed by Lyon, former DHHS subsection manager Nancy Peeler and Richard Baird, a top aide to Snyder. Also charged in the prosecution were Wells, Snyder director of communications Jarrod Agen and ex-Flint director of public works Howard Croft.

Each had questioned the use of a single judge to issue the indictments, but it was Baird and Peeler who directly challenged the grand jury’s ability to do so without first giving them a chance to poke holes in the evidence or have the case dismissed for lack of probable cause.

Lyon had appealed the denial of a motion to dismiss from the Genesee Circuit Court, where the trial is taking place. The others wrote amicus briefs essentially proffering similar arguments as they were all indicted by the same judge.

The high court granted those appeals in full, with McCormack and the entire bench (save for Justice Elizabeth Clement, who did not participate because she was once legal counsel for Snyder) ruling that the trial court erred by denying motions to remand the case for preliminary examination – or rather, a hearing to weigh evidence and determine probable cause.

In a statement, Lyon – who has been under criminal charges in some form for six years – said he was grateful that the court “took the extraordinary step of finding time to hear our case, and I am particularly satisfied that the decision to dismiss all the charges against me was unanimous.” He also thanked his family, various “supporters” and friends “from across all parts of the political landscape for their steadfast belief that the only just and right result was dismissal which has now occurred.”

While the Department of Attorney General initially said it was reviewing the opinion when it was released Tuesday morning, Hammoud later said, “The citizens of Flint should know that these cases are not over.”

“Public commentary to the contrary is presumptive and rash. Our reading is that the court’s opinion interprets the one-man grand jury process to require charges to be filed at the district court and include a preliminary examination,” Hammoud wrote. “Our team is prepared to move forward through that process. We relied upon settled law and the well-established prosecutorial tool of the one-man grand jury, used for decades, to bring forward charges against the nine defendants in the Flint water crisis. We still believe these charges can and will be proven in court.”

McCormack stated that the prosecution in this case “chose to proceed … using what have become known as the ‘one-man grand jury” statutes” and that by doing so, the department and Genesee Circuit Court that authorized the indictments were considered “in secret, a Star Chamber comeback.” The reference is to proceedings that occur privately, behind closed doors or generally not in public view.

The legal reasoning there was that that previous precedent from the Court of Appeals regarding one-person grand juries was wrongly decided to the extent that it states that the process serves the same function of a preliminary examination and must therefore be overruled.

“We agree with Peeler and Baird that the statutory language provides a right to a preliminary examination,” McCormack wrote. “We have said so before, although in dictum: In People v Duncan, overruled in part on other grounds by People v Glass, we identified (the Criminal Code Procedure) as a statute with ‘specific statutory language’ providing for a preliminary examination. (The Code) refers to a ‘hearing on the complaint or indictment’ and disqualifies the judge who conducted the inquiry from being the ‘examining magistrate’ at that hearing. It is unclear what ‘hearing’ that language could be referring to other than a preliminary examination. Moreover, ‘examining magistrate’ is a term of art used in other statutes, so we need not guess what it means – an examining magistrate is a judge who conducts a preliminary examination.”

The chief justice further explained that the Code requires that once apprehended, the accused must receive proceedings that follow in like manner to a formal criminal complaint.

“In other words, the judge should treat the one-man-grand-jury-charged case the same as a case in which a formal complaint has been filed” she wrote. “We know how that process works too: When a formal complaint is filed, an arrest warrant is issued, the accused is apprehended, and the court holds a preliminary examination before an information may issue. … There is more evidence in historical practice. We see in our cases evidence that preliminary examinations were routinely conducted after a one-person grand jury returned an indictment.”

Although the Department of Attorney General argued because the statutory scheme requires the judge to make a finding of probable cause that the defendant committed the crime, the chief justice continued, a preliminary examination “would be redundant, after all, as a preliminary examination’s main function is for a court to determine whether there is probable cause.”

“But the argument confuses some basics,” McCormack wrote. “Probable cause to arrest (which the Criminal Code requires and authorizes the judge to order) is different from probable cause to bind over (which must be found at a preliminary examination to bind the defendant over on felony charges). So, the Court of Appeals was wrong in People v Green when it held that the one-person grand-jury procedure ‘serves the same function’ as a preliminary examination. We overrule Green.”

As to Lyon’s motion to dismiss, the high court reasoned the trial court erred when it denied the motion and remanded the case for further proceedings in line with the ruling. McCormack wrote that the bench parsed two sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure (MCL 767.3 and MCL 767.4) and found that while those two sections authorize the use of a one-man grand jury to investigate, subpoena witnesses, and issue arrest warrants, those statutes do not authorize that one-man grand jury to issue an indictment initiating a criminal prosecution.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, the statute never says a judge may issue an indictment, in specific contrast to the statutes governing citizens grand juries,” the chief justice wrote. “Indeed, the Legislature amended the statutory scheme to authorize judges to issue indictments, but later removed that authority. In 1949, the Legislature amended the statute to provide for three-judge grand juries and gave them express authority to issue indictments. But it repealed that provision several years later.”

The statute is also clear about what it does authorize judges to do, McCormack added.

“In other words, the judge may authorize an arrest warrant. The statute didn’t authorize the judge to issue an arrest warrant explicitly and issue an indictment at the same time implicitly,” she wrote. “The circuit court and the Attorney General’s office have emphasized the purported parallels between the one-man grand-jury and the citizens grand-jury procedures. Thus, the argument goes, because the citizens grand-jury statutes authorize the issuance of indictments, so too must (the Criminal Code). But we find the differences between the statutes more important.”

Thus, it appears that Lyon is en route to having his indictment dismissed and that Peeler and Baird could have preliminary examinations scheduled soon which would determine whether the cases move forward. Or their attorneys will move to have the Genesee Circuit Court judge dismiss the cases based on the reasoning the court used in the Lyon case.

In concurrence, Bernstein wrote the department invoked obscure statutes “to deprive these defendants of their statutory right to a preliminary examination.”

“Clearly, and as this court’s decision aptly recognizes, a preliminary examination serves a crucial function for criminal defendants in our adversarial system. It allows defendants to learn about the specific criminal charges they face, confront allegedly incriminating evidence, and prepare a defense,” he wrote. “The prosecution argues that the Legislature, through the statutes in question, has given it the discretion to opt out of a preliminary examination, as the prosecution did here. This assertion is quite alarming, and were it true, the prosecution would have the power to decide whether to grant a defendant permission to probe and challenge the charges against them before being formally indicted. Such a result runs afoul of the basic notions of fairness that underlie our adversarial system. I do not believe we can tolerate such a procedural offense.”

Attorneys for Baird and Lyon expressed also gratitude to the high court following the ruling.

All of this, however, amounts to a major loss on the part of the department and the legal strategy put together by the team Attorney General Dana Nessel put in charge of the Flint water criminal cases.

A spokesperson for the department said early Tuesday that the office was still reviewing the ruling when asked if this completely upends the state’s second attempt to seek criminal accountability for the Flint disaster. The spokesperson also did not respond to when asked if the state would or even could bring charges back to the table for Lyon, or if it was confident that it could move the cases to trial again after preliminary examinations for Baird and Peeler.

However, Hammoud said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon that the department was “prepared and determined to prove the allegations against the defendants in court and are committed to seeing this process through to its conclusion.”

Hammoud also quoted a more favorable portion of Bernstein’s concurrence, which said: “If the allegations can be proved, it is impossible to fully state the magnitude of the damage state actors have caused to an innocent group of people – a group of people that they were entrusted to serve. The Flint water crisis stands as one of this country’s greatest betrayals of citizens by their government.”

Some stated that the ruling was a stunning turnaround for the Supreme Court, as less than three years ago, the court unanimously declined to hear an appeal in the Green case McCormack referenced. In that case, a defendant out of Wayne County challenged the one-person grand jury system but the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of that system.

The department cited that case, People v. Green, within its own arguments before the high court ruled Tuesday that the Court of Appeals wrongly decided the case and overruled it in total.

 

#MPC22 | Mackinac Policy Conference 2022 | MICHauto, Glenn Stevens

Chris Holman speaks with Glenn Stevens, Executive Director, MICHauto, from Media Row, at the Grand Hotel, while at the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference.

MICHauto Strategic Agenda For The Mackinac Policy Conference
MICHauto stakeholders and staff are headed to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference with a game plan and strategic agenda to raise awareness of the automotive and mobility industry’s most pressing issues. In an era of routine global disruption and cutthroat competition for talent, our economic development and political leadership need to position Michigan’s signature industry to win for the future.

While at the Conference MICHauto stakeholders and staff will advocate that Michigan take the following actions to ensure a path for long-term growth and prosperity for the automotive and mobility industry.

  1. Build the Talent Pipeline: Michigan must secure the high-tech talent pipeline to develop, retain, and attract the knowledge economy jobs and the people to fill them.
  2. Strengthen the Business Climate: Cultivate a stronger startup and mobility business climate through competitive incentives and minimal regulation to attract game-changing economic development projects.
  3. Champion the Electrification Revolution: Lead the nation in the electrification revolution by deploying a more economically competitive power grid, building out the state’s EV charging infrastructure, and securing more electric battery production and recycling facilities in Michigan.
  4. Invest in Communities: Prioritize funding for infrastructure, recreation, broadband, educational, and cultural assets to strengthen placemaking across the state to ensure there are an abundance of premier destinations to live, work, and play.

Detroit Regional Chamber PAC Releases Bipartisan Endorsements for 3rd, 11th Congressional Districts, Michigan Legislature for the 2022 Primary Election

DETROIT (June 30, 2022) – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) announced its bipartisan endorsements for Michigan’s 3rd and 11th Congressional Districts, as well as for the state’s House and Senate ahead of the Aug. 2, 2022, primary election.

The endorsements announced today are:

U.S. House of Representatives
3rd Congressional District – Rep. Peter Meijer (R)

“Congressman Peter Meijer is the kind of leader Michigan needs in Congress. In his short time in office, he’s established himself as a national leader through efforts like his bipartisan work to uncover errors made in the Afghanistan withdrawal, his membership in the Problem Solvers Caucus, and his ability to craft positions with conservative principles that have broad bipartisan appeal,” said Brad Williams, vice president of Government Relations at the Chamber. “Rep. Meijer represents a new and effective breed of Congressional representatives that will benefit his district, the state, and the nation.”

11th Congressional District – Rep. Haley Stevens (D)

“With two qualified candidates and friends of the Chamber in the race for the 11th district, this decision came down to who is more pro-growth and job creation-friendly – with a voting record to match. That is why Congresswoman Haley Stevens is our pick for the 2022 primary election,” said Williams. “Her commitment to Michigan’s manufacturing industry and insight into business issues on a national and local level earned her an endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2020 and make her the best candidate in the Democratic primary for the 11th District.”

Michigan Legislature

For Michigan House and Senate races, the Chamber PAC endorsed 38 pro-growth candidates, split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. These selections reflect the Chamber’s bipartisan leadership and commitment to supporting candidates that represent its business membership and its diverse needs.

Michigan House of Representatives Michigan Senate
5th District – Reggie Davis (D)

7th District – Helena Scott (D)

8th District – Mike McFall (D)

11th District – Ricardo White (D)

16th District – Stephanie Young (D)

18th District – Caprice Jackson (D)

20th District – Noah Arbit (D)

29th District – Alex Garza (D)

38th District – Kevin Whiteford (R)

39th District – Pauline Wendzel (R)

47th District – James Johnson Jr. (D)

66th District – Joshua Schriver (R)

67th District – Philip Green (R)

72nd District – Michael Mueller (R)

74th District – Kara Hope (D)

76th District – Angela Witwer (D)

77th District – Jon Horford (D)

88th District – Gregory VanWoerkom (R)

90th District – Bryan Posthumus (R)

93rd District – Graham Filler (R)

102nd District – Curtis VanderWall (R)

103rd District – Jack O’Malley (R)

104th District – John Roth (R)

105th District – Kenneth Borton (R)

2nd District – Sylvia Santana (D)

3rd District – Stephanie Chang (D)

4th District – Darrin Camilleri (D)

5th District – Dayna Polehanki (D)

7th District – Jeremy Moss (D)

11th District – Michael MacDonald (R)

14th District – Sue Shink (D)

16th District – Joe Bellino (R)

17th District – Kim LaSata (R)

27th District – John Cherry (D)

30th District – Mark Huizenga (R)

31st District – Roger Victory (R)

32nd District – Jon Bumstead (R)

34th District – Roger Hauck (R)

These endorsements from the Chamber’s PAC are the latest in a series of endorsements for the Michigan primary election on Aug. 2, 2022.

The Chamber PAC Board of Directors regularly meets to identify and support candidates and policies that support the Chamber’s public policy priorities. After careful consideration, the Chamber PAC Board makes its endorsements based on responses to a Chamber PAC survey, input from Chamber PAC members, and individual interactions. The Chamber PAC Board comprises business leaders representing bipartisan views and reflecting industry, business size, and location diversity. The Chamber PAC historically makes bipartisan endorsements based on alignment with the Chamber’s legislative policy priorities.

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Webinar: Using the Tri-Share Child Care Program for Talent Retention and Attraction

On June 28, the Detroit Regional Chamber co-hosted a live webinar that offered employers a chance to learn how they can participate in Michigan’s Tri-Share program and offer child care support to their employees. In a critical time for talent attraction and retention, Tri-Share is one solution to attracting and retaining talent and addresses one of the largest barriers to employment.

During the webinar, Cheryl Bergman, chief executive officer of the Michigan Women’s Commission led a presentation about the Tri-Share program, followed by discussions about employer perspectives and working with facilitator hubs.  The discussions were led by Erica Phelps, health and wellbeing specialist at Shape Corporation, Catrina Rule, Tri-Share program manager at Goodwill West Michigan, and Jeanette Hoyer, president and chief executive officer at Goodwill West Michigan.

What is Tri-Share?

Bergman introduced Tri-Share as an innovative public-private partnership that shares child care costs between employees, employers, and the State of Michigan. Initially conceptualized by the Grand Rapids Chamber, Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-MI 91), and a coalition of business and community partners, the pilot program’s mission is to provide Michigan families with access to reliable and affordable child care to remove barriers to employment.

“The Michigan Women’s Commission got involved in late 2019 and early 2020. We traveled the state asking women what their priorities were,” Bergman said. “Wherever we went, from Grand Rapids to Detroit to Flint to Traverse City, it was all economic security issues. They were citing paid leave, a pathway to higher wage jobs, and pay equity. But at the top of their list wherever we went was affordable, accessible child care.”

With over 300,000 Michigan women having left the workforce between Feb. 2020 and Dec. 2021, this has started the conversation among policymakers and the business community about child care as an economic driver and not just a family decision.Since March 2021, with investment from the state, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Ballmer Group, Tri-Share has expanded its service area to 13 pilot regions which include 59 counties and the City of Detroit.

Tri-Share benefits employers by:

  • Helping with employee recruitment and retention
  • Removing a significant barrier to employment
  • Developing and strengthening the talent pipeline

Tri-Share benefits working parents by:

  • Providing financial relief by reducing out-of-pocket child care costs
  • Alleviating the burden of finding available licensed child care by providing solutions or readily accepting existing licensed child care providers
  • Removing a barrier to seeking and maintaining employment

Tri-Share benefits child care providers by:

  • Depositing regular payments collected from the employer, employee, and the state from Tri-Share’s hub
  • Assisting in the promotion of child care services
  • Engaging in a program that aims to improve and expand future funding for childcare

Tri-Share’s model relies on facilitator hubs to serve as the central point of connection by recruiting employers to participate, assisting employers with recruiting eligible employees, helping eligible employees find licensed child care providers, and collecting payment from employers, employees, and the state.

Bergman closed by highlighting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s goal to open 1,000 new child care programs by the end of 2024 because “it doesn’t matter how much child care costs if you can’t find it in your neighborhood,” she said.

An Employer’s Perspective

Phelps is the health and wellbeing specialist at Shape Corporation, a Tier 1 automotive supplier in Grand Haven. Her company was one of Tri-Share’s early participants that joined in January 2022 after struggling to develop a child care solution independently. Phelps shared that in addition to the program’s income eligibility criteria, employers can instate their own requirements, such as type of employment and length of time with the company. Shape Corporation has been flexible with work schedules, Phelps explained, citing an example of an employee whose poor attendance was directly related to his lack of child care which has improved since participating in the program.

Phelps shared that Shape Corporation’s participation in Tri-Share has been an overall positive experience. While they have primarily used it as an employee retention tool up to this point, they intend to incorporate it into their recruitment tactics in the future, considering the 100% positive feedback they have received from employees.

Working with Facilitator Hubs

The Tri-Share program utilizes facilitator hubs to administer the program in 12 regions and serves as the central liaison to facilitate connections between employers, employees, and providers. Goodwill of West Michigan was the first in the state to begin executing the program. Its president and chief executive officer, Jeanette Hoyer, said the hub functions to educate and enroll child care providers and employers into the program to ensure clear expectations.

As part of the enrollment process, hubs assist in determining an employer’s level of financial commitment and additional eligibility criteria. Employees serve as a third party when determining eligibility so that HR doesn’t get access to their personal household income information. Hoyer emphasized that successful connections are created and maintained through consistent and clear communication with all participants.

Although, Rule, Goodwill of West Michigan’s Tri-Share program manager, said that to keep communication seamless when determining eligibility, they connect through employers first since they know best what additional requirements are necessary and whether an employee is meeting them.

“Engaging with the employers for me is basically having lots and lots of communication and ensuring them that they do not have to do all the work,” Rule said. “I will do all of it. All that I need for them to do is put it out there that Tri-Share is available through their organization.”

When asked what the average costs per person that the participating agency is expected to cover, Hoyer said, “we are making the assumption that child care costs $10,500 annually, so the employee and the employer would each pay about $3,500 per year.” She emphasized that this is just an estimate and that child care costs may vary based on the child’s age and the type of child care facility.

Webinar: Using the Tri-Share Child Care Program for Talent Retention and Attraction

On June 28, the Detroit Regional Chamber co-hosted a live webinar that offered employers a chance to learn how they can participate in Michigan’s Tri-Share program and offer child care support to their employees. In a critical time for talent attraction and retention, Tri-Share is one solution to attracting and retaining talent and addresses one of the largest barriers to employment.

During the webinar, Cheryl Bergman, chief executive officer of the Michigan Women’s Commission led a presentation about the Tri-Share program, followed by discussions about employer perspectives and working with facilitator hubs.  The discussions were led by Erica Phelps, health and wellbeing specialist at Shape Corporation, Catrina Rule, Tri-Share program manager at Goodwill West Michigan, and Jeanette Hoyer, president and chief executive officer at Goodwill West Michigan.

 What is Tri-Share?

Bergman introduced Tri-Share as an innovative public-private partnership that shares child care costs between employees, employers, and the State of Michigan. Initially conceptualized by the Grand Rapids Chamber, Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-MI 91), and a coalition of business and community partners, the pilot program’s mission is to provide Michigan families with access to reliable and affordable child care to remove barriers to employment.

“The Michigan Women’s Commission got involved in late 2019 and early 2020. We traveled the state asking women what their priorities were,” Bergman said. “Wherever we went, from Grand Rapids to Detroit to Flint to Traverse City, it was all economic security issues. They were citing paid leave, a pathway to higher wage jobs, and pay equity. But at the top of their list wherever we went was affordable, accessible child care.”

With over 300,000 Michigan women having left the workforce between Feb. 2020 and Dec. 2021, this has started the conversation among policymakers and the business community about child care as an economic driver and not just a family decision.Since March 2021, with investment from the state, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Ballmer Group, Tri-Share has expanded its service area to 13 pilot regions which include 59 counties and the City of Detroit.

Tri-Share benefits employers by:

  • Helping with employee recruitment and retention
  • Removing a significant barrier to employment
  • Developing and strengthening the talent pipeline

Tri-Share benefits working parents by:

  • Providing financial relief by reducing out-of-pocket child care costs
  • Alleviating the burden of finding available licensed child care by providing solutions or readily accepting existing licensed child care providers
  • Removing a barrier to seeking and maintaining employment

Tri-Share benefits child care providers by:

  • Depositing regular payments collected from the employer, employee, and the state from Tri-Share’s hub
  • Assisting in the promotion of child care services
  • Engaging in a program that aims to improve and expand future funding for childcare

Tri-Share’s model relies on facilitator hubs to serve as the central point of connection by recruiting employers to participate, assisting employers with recruiting eligible employees, helping eligible employees find licensed child care providers, and collecting payment from employers, employees, and the state.

Bergman closed by highlighting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s goal to open 1,000 new child care programs by the end of 2024 because “it doesn’t matter how much child care costs if you can’t find it in your neighborhood,” she said.

An Employer’s Perspective

Phelps is the health and wellbeing specialist at Shape Corporation, a Tier 1 automotive supplier in Grand Haven. Her company was one of Tri-Share’s early participants that joined in January 2022 after struggling to develop a child care solution independently. Phelps shared that in addition to the program’s income eligibility criteria, employers can instate their own requirements, such as type of employment and length of time with the company. Shape Corporation has been flexible with work schedules, Phelps explained, citing an example of an employee whose poor attendance was directly related to his lack of child care which has improved since participating in the program.

Phelps shared that Shape Corporation’s participation in Tri-Share has been an overall positive experience. While they have primarily used it as an employee retention tool up to this point, they intend to incorporate it into their recruitment tactics in the future, considering the 100% positive feedback they have received from employees.

Working with Facilitator Hubs

The Tri-Share program utilizes facilitator hubs to administer the program in 12 regions and serves as the central liaison to facilitate connections between employers, employees, and providers. Goodwill of West Michigan was the first in the state to begin executing the program. Its president and chief executive officer, Jeanette Hoyer, said the hub functions to educate and enroll child care providers and employers into the program to ensure clear expectations.

As part of the enrollment process, hubs assist in determining an employer’s level of financial commitment and additional eligibility criteria. Employees serve as a third party when determining eligibility so that HR doesn’t get access to their personal household income information. Hoyer emphasized that successful connections are created and maintained through consistent and clear communication with all participants.

Although, Rule, Goodwill of West Michigan’s Tri-Share program manager, said that to keep communication seamless when determining eligibility, they connect through employers first since they know best what additional requirements are necessary and whether an employee is meeting them.

“Engaging with the employers for me is basically having lots and lots of communication and ensuring them that they do not have to do all the work,” Rule said. “I will do all of it. All that I need for them to do is put it out there that Tri-Share is available through their organization.”

When asked what the average costs per person that the participating agency is expected to cover, Hoyer said, “we are making the assumption that child care costs $10,500 annually, so the employee and the employer would each pay about $3,500 per year.” She emphasized that this is just an estimate and that child care costs may vary based on the child’s age and the type of child care facility.

Connect 313 Fund expands ‘technology hubs’ to Detroit neighborhoods

Crain’s Detroit Business
Nick Manes
June 27, 2022

In the run up to next month’s Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament, a partnership of corporate and philanthropic entities is expanding “technology hubs” around the city of Detroit.

The Connect 313 Fund, which consists of Rocket Mortgage, the city of Detroit, Microsoft, and United Way for Southeastern Michigan and aims to “bridge the digital divide in Detroit,” announced the expansion of the hubs in a news release on Monday.

The technology hubs offer Detroit residents access to computer hardware, internet access, and digital literacy training initiatives.

The expansion will add 17 hubs, bringing the effort to a total of 22 technology hubs, according to a news release. The expansion aims to put at least one hub in each of Detroit’s seven City Council districts.

“We set a goal two years ago to provide Detroiters vital access to the tools and technology they need to thrive. The opening of these new technology hubs is a huge step toward that goal,” Bob Walters, CEO of Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, said in the release. “These additional neighborhood tech hubs will help even more Detroiters connect to education and employment opportunities, unleash their potential, and grow community.”

The expansion is part of Rocket’s “Changing the Course” initiative, now in its third year, and aims to ensure that every Detroit resident will have access to the internet, technology, and digital literacy programming within a 10-minute walk of their home.

Since launching in 2019, the Rocket Mortgage-sponsored PGA golf tournament, held at the Detroit Golf Club, has invested more than $5.25 million into local nonprofits, including $3.2 million through the Changing the Course initiative, which was first launched in 2020.

“We are proud that the Rocket Mortgage Classic can continue its critical Changing the Course mission in such an impactful way, moving Detroit one step closer to closing its digital divide,” stated Jason Langwell, executive director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “The Rocket Mortgage Classic is about more than golf – it’s about giving back to the city we call home and each resident across Detroit’s neighborhoods.”

Joshua Edmonds, the city of Detroit’s director of digital inclusion, said the technology hub initiative thus far represents a total investment of $300,000, which includes $15,000 grants for the neighborhood locations and $45,000 for various marketing initiatives for the program.

View the full article here.

Opinion: Hudson site must move forward

The Detroit News
Sandy K. Baruah and Patrick J. Devlin
June 28, 2022

Business and labor do not always see eye to eye. But we stand united when it comes to supporting game-changing infrastructure and development projects that create thousands of family-wage construction jobs today, support thousands of new jobs across multiple sectors tomorrow, and create a vibrant sense of place in the core of the greater Detroit region. Make no mistake — the successful completion of the transformational Hudson’s Site development is absolutely critical to our region’s future and the business and labor communities stand in solidarity behind this project.

For the last decade, Detroit’s story has been one of remarkable growth. We continue to capture the world’s imagination for our resilience, diversity, and innovation. Of course, much more work remains, especially in increasing economic mobility and in providing Detroiters opportunities for the careers of today and tomorrow. Accomplishing this critically important work is only possible when there are more opportunities for jobs and when the city’s economy continues to grow.

This work will be set back, perhaps irreversibly, if Detroit’s signature development becomes stalled, incomplete, or is not allowed to reach its full potential. The message that decision would send to the development and investment community would reverberate across the region and the country.

In the last decade, tremendous strides have been made to repurpose buildings and historic sites that had fallen fallow. Imagine the signal a rejection of this project would send about where Detroit stands on welcoming and supporting investment, let alone the impact on the future of Michigan’s iconic central city. Imagine the devastating impact a suspended or scaled-down Hudson’s Site would have on Detroit’s reputation and morale — just as we emerge from COVID-19 and must make our central cores once again dynamic.

Detroit remains Michigan’s image to the country and the world. As we compete nationally and globally for investment, the Hudson’s site is the ultimate symbol that Detroit remains on the rise and is reaching new heights. We must not send the exact opposite message.

The importance of the Hudson’s site project lies not only in its symbolism and future economic impact, but also in the jobs and careers being created today. The team behind the Hudson’s site project has used the opportunity to ramp up training and recruitment efforts over the last several years, leveraging the momentum from the project to promote jobs in the skilled trades. This effort is a true testament to the commitment made by the unions affiliated with the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, as well as Bedrock and its contractors, to creating economic opportunity for Detroit residents through lasting careers in the skilled trades.

What’s missing from the debate around this issue is that the very tax incentive package before City Council today is what was approved by the City Council and mayor in 2017. All that is needed by council now is to simply codify the agreement to which they previously agreed — and which the project’s financial feasibility relies upon.

By doing so, the city preserves its reputation for honoring its commitments, stands with the skilled trades, and ensures the entire city benefits from the tax base generated by the new office, residential, shopping, dining, and experiences at this new signature development. Of course, in the absence of this tax abatement, the specific property taxes at issue would be captured by the city’s Downtown Development Authority and could only be used for other downtown projects.

Finishing the new Hudson’s site development is a win for Detroit and Detroiters and for our economy into the next generation. Business and labor don’t always agree — but we do on this.

Sandy K. Baruah is president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Patrick J. Devlin is secretary and treasurer at the Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council.

View the original article.

Attorney specializing in tax law joins Butzel; Daniel Soleimani joins firm as a shareholder

TROY, Mich. – Butzel continues to grow with the addition of tax law attorney Daniel Soleimani. He joins the firm as a shareholder in the firm’s Troy office.

He specializes in tax matters related to merger and acquisition and commercial real estate transactions. Soleimani’s work is focused on maximizing tax efficiencies, maintaining protections for his clients and structuring transactions. His clients trust his creative approach to understanding and addressing challenges.

Soleimani’s honors include recognition by Super Lawyers Magazine, Michigan “Rising Star” 2021 and he was named to the Detroit Jewish News/The Well, “36 Under 36” 2021.

He serves on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit. He also is a member of the State Bar of Michigan.

Soleimani received his law degree from the Emory University School of Law in 2011, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and an Articles Editor for the Emory Law Journal. He also received his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University and his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Buffalo.

About Butzel

Butzel 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, Troy, 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 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Dennis Archer Receives Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 Burton Awards

DETROIT, Mich. – Dickinson Wright is pleased to announce that Dennis Archer, Chairman Emeritus of the firm, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 Burton Awards Ceremony. The ceremony took place at the Library of Congress on June 13, 2022.

“I’m honored and humbled to receive the Lifetime Achievement award from the Burton Foundation and its partners. This year’s list of honorees exemplify the best in the legal profession and it is my privilege to be among them,” says Mr. Archer.

Mr. Archer served two four-year terms as mayor of the City of Detroit (1994-2001) and earned national and international respect for his success in changing Detroit’s image and direction. He is past president of the American Bar Association, breaking the color barrier as the first African-American ABA president in 2003, and has been active in several bar associations, eventually serving as president of the State Bar of Michigan, the Wolverine Bar Association and the National Bar Association. In addition to his service to the legal profession, Mr. Archer serves on the Board of Directors for Alix Partners, Inc. and has served on numerous charitable and civic boards, including the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan.

The Burton Awards program, annually held at the Library of Congress, recognizes jurists, outstanding general counsel, legal writers, lawyers in the military, attorneys in the executive branch of government, legal journalists, law firm and law school writers, managing partners in the nation’s finest law firms and public service recipients. To learn more about the Burton Awards, visit https://www.burtonawards.com/.

About Dickinson Wright
Dickinson Wright is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. The firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; 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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