Michigan Chamber in Lansing Outlines Legislative Priorities for 2019-2020

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce will push for seven legislative priorities in 2019-2020. // Photograph Courtesy of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce in Lansing Monday identified seven issue areas as legislative priorities for 2019-2020: education and workforce readiness, employer rights, energy and environment, health care, infrastructure, legal reform, and tax climate.

The priorities were developed by the chamber’s three policy advisory committees and were unanimously approved by the chamber’s board of directors.

“2019 is the Michigan Chamber’s 60th anniversary and the start of a new legislative session,” says Arnaldo Rodriguez, chairman of the chamber. “With many new lawmakers and a new administration in Lansing, we look forward to working with policymakers to promote conditions favorable to job creation and economic prosperity.”

To address education and workforce readiness, the chamber will support efforts to narrow the skills gap and increase student achievement, increase the workforce and post-secondary readiness, and support the retention and growth of traditional and charter schools. Michigan is experiencing a shortage of talent, and employers are struggling to find skilled workers.

The chamber adds it plans to support employer rights to manage their workplaces free of undo interference by local, state, and federal governments; oppose efforts to increase the state’s minimum wage and expand Michigan’s paid sick leave law; and support the right of employers to enforce drug-free and marijuana-free workplace policies without fear of being liable for wrongful termination or charged for employment or workers’ compensation benefits.

On the energy and environment front, the chamber wants to enact legislation that will reduce utility electric rates; provide clarity on how state agencies identify emerging contaminants, develop screening levels and guidance, and implement action plans for testing and remediation; protect regulatory reforms made to the Department of Environmental Quality and ensure oversight panels are implemented as intended by the legislature; and improve the state’s energy independence by encouraging safe energy exploration conducted following state and federal guidelines.

The chamber wants to support state and federal efforts that enable employers to provide cost-effective health-care benefits, oppose taxes on health insurance claims and premiums as well as health insurance benefit and cost mandates, and support efforts to preserve Michigan’s private health insurance marketplace, opposing efforts to launch a government-run or single-payer system.

Regarding infrastructure, the chamber will support legislation to improve the state’s roads and bridges, modernize the Soo Locks, finalize construction of the new international trade crossing between Detroit and Windsor; advocate for a consistent statewide regulatory structure applied to infrastructure projects that protects taxpayers by constraining costs, limiting delays, and planning in advance for construction needs; and support the plan to protect the Great Lakes and maintain energy infrastructure by replacing the Line 5 pipeline with an underground tunnel.

To address legal reform, the chamber will support changes to Michigan’s auto insurance system, oppose efforts to expand the types of claims that can be filed against Michigan job providers, and protect and strengthen state laws that provide balance pertaining to general tort, medical liability, consumer protection, products liability, and the recovery of attorney’s fees.

Finally, the chamber will focus on tax climate by opposing efforts to expand or increase Michigan’s corporate and personal income taxes as well as the expansion of sales and use taxes and local exercise taxes; expand personal property tax relief to all taxpayers; preserve Michigan’s property valuation methodologies; and encourage the State Treasury Department to be transparent, customer-service oriented, and fair.

“The Michigan Chamber represents approximately 6,000 job providers throughout the state who employ over 1 million residents,” says Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber. “Chamber members are strongly committed to moving Michigan forward by advancing this agenda to grow Michigan’s economy and strengthen our economic competitiveness.

“The Chamber’s 2019-2020 legislative priorities reflect our commitment to delivering powerful advocacy and being the leading voice for business at the state capitol.”

The chamber plans to again publish its election year scorecard in 2020 that outlines which lawmakers it believes supported job creation.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is a statewide business organization that was established in 1959 to be an advocate for Michigan’s job providers in the legislative, political, and legal process.