Oct. 4. 2023
A coalition of business groups announced its intention Wednesday to work against paid family leave and other proposals it says threaten Michigan’s economy, while House Speaker Joe Tate declined to commit to the policy, which was a key item floated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in August.
This week, Tate (D-Detroit) outlined the House’s priorities for the fall, saying the chamber would focus on codifying portions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and passing the Reproductive Health Act, energy proposals and the land value tax plan supported by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Asked about paid family leave, Tate said discussions are “ongoing.”
“Conversations are still being had,” Tate said. “I think that’s where we’re at right now. There’s a lot of other items and priorities, but that’s something we are continuing to have conversations on.”
The paid family leave proposal Whitmer called for in an August speech to lawmakers is a key concern of the new Great Lakes Growth Coalition. The group includes the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Grand Rapids Chamber, among others.
“The business groups that are here today with you have been trying to work with the new majorities in Lansing. We’ve been working in the middle and trying to find positive policy outcomes for our members, but also for our state and for its citizens,” Wendy Block with the Michigan Chamber said during a Wednesday press conference. “And you’ll notice that we use the word ‘growth’ in our coalition name and that’s because we do share the governor’s vision for growing Michigan’s population and making Michigan a place that everyone wants to call home. But we are increasingly concerned that the policies being pushed in Lansing are putting Michigan’s path to economic and population growth at risk.”
Block said the coalition is urging the Legislature not to rush and to listen to both sides of an issue to truly understand potential impacts of policy changes.
Other than paid family leave, the group is concerned about Democrats considering energy proposals that would increase mandates on renewable energy production, bills setting penalties for misclassifying “independent contractors” and legislation repealing a ban on local governments setting individual minimum wage levels.
Brad Williams with the Detroit Regional Chamber said the Legislature should remain focused on things that make the state more competitive, citing wins in economic development and the expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act as items Democrats have championed this term.
“We’d encourage them to continue to do those types of things. There’s plenty of things that are available on their agenda that will grow Michigan’s population, as opposed to some of the things that we’re talking about today,” Williams said.
Andy Johnston with the Grand Rapids Chamber said he recently spoke to a small business owner who was visibly upset about the paid family leave proposal and what it would mean for their business.
“Everyone across the nation is talking about population growth because of the demographics,” he said. “So, this is fierce competition. We can’t afford a whipsaw state economy or policies.”
Mike Johnston with the Manufacturers Association said retaining the state’s existing businesses and attracting new investment is key.
“If we can’t do it effectively, we will continue to lose population and lose our economic vitality going forward,” he said.