Issues and legislation

Information on the current legislation and legislative news.

Bill Tracker

Retirement Issues and Legislation

Education Reform 

Legislative Updates (PDF)


 

MEA, AFT score wins against SB 1040

The Governor's ink was barely dry on PA 300 (originally SB 1040) yesterday afternoon when MEA and AFT/Michigan were in court winning two temporary restraining orders on parts of the new law. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina issued the TROs and promised a full hearing on the constitutionality of the new law this fall.

Collective bargaining ordered onto ballot by Court of Appeals

 

Today, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided 2-1 to let the constitutional amendment protecting collective bargaining and working families go before the voters on Nov. 6. The Michigan Supreme Court gave the Appeals Court until today to make a decision. It's still not certain what position the issue will have on the ballot, but it is certain critics of the amendment will appeal to the Supreme Court. 
 
It may be last week's Supreme Court ruling to put the casino ballot proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot that paved the way for today's Court of Appeals' decision. The lower court rejected the casino proposal on the grounds that it would create sweeping changes to the Constitution--the same argument being used to reject the collective bargaining amendment. When the Supreme Court overturned the lower court's ruling on casinos, it seemed inevitable that the nearly 700,000 voters who signed the collective bargaining petitions would have a chance to decide the issue on Nov. 6.

Let the voters decide!

Gov. Snyder and Attorney Bill Schuette launched a formal attack on voter rights yesterday when they filed court papers to block the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining and the middle class from the November ballot. The two claim that the amendment changes too many laws to be listed in the 100-word statement of purpose for the ballot and should therefore be denied a place on the ballot.

At the request of the Governor, Schuette issued an opinion stating that “the Governor and lawmakers have enacted reforms that have led to economic growth and budget stability.” The concern is that the ballot proposal could undo all of that.

Andrew Nickelhoff, attorney for the Protect Our Jobs campaign, discounted Schuette’s opinion since it’s based on faulty legal reasoning and the proposal has already met all legal requirements.

IMPACT OF SB 1040 H-3

IMPACT OF SB 1040 H-3, as Finalized by the Legislature 8/15/12

For current retirees under age 65 and those who retire January 1, 2013 or later:

  • Will pay 20% of MPSERS health premium. Retirees currently pay roughly 10% for self and any dependents, except that retirees on Medicare pay only the Medicare premium on themselves and 10% of the MPSERS premium for any dependents.

For retirees who are 65 or older, who are Medicare-eligible and have retired by January 1, 2013

Analysis of impacts—SB 1040

Unfortunately the House voted 57-48 in favor the (MPSERS) overhaul, a compromise that includes a study to fully transition from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) system. Earlier in the day the Senate passed the bill, SB 1040, by a vote of 21-16, sending it to the House. The bill moved to the Governor's office for his signature.
 
The changes made in this version  include the following:

SB 1040 finally passes House, Senate; employees, retirees stuck with the cost

There's little good news in the Senate and House finally voting out SB 1040 today. On a 21-6 Senate vote and a 57-48 House vote, they increased current employee contributions to their pensions, increased retirees' share of their health insurance, and ended retiree health insurance for new hires.

"This bill is not fair. It just shifts costs around and solves nothing," said Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) who spoke in opposition to the bill.

Under SB 1040, new hires will not be moved to a defined contribution retirement benefit. They will stay in the current hybrid system which combines a defined benefit and defined contribution mix. New to the bill, is the call for a study of the financial impact moving new hires to the defined contribution would cause. The study will be done by Nov. 15.

One more time for SB 1040?

The Senate will try again tomorrow to take care of SB 1040, legislation dismantling the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. (MPSERS). They tried last month but were short the votes (16-22) to pass the House version.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Kahn--author of the original bill--claim "there is a deal in principle" and they have the 20 votes needed to pass the bill. Gov. Snyder has been in favor of cost-cutting changes to the system--so much so that they were included in the 2013 budget.

All along a key issue has been switching members from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution one and eliminating the current hybrid system. While some Republican legislators favored the switch, Kahn has been opposed to it because of the $300 million per year cost to do it. Just switching new hires over would cost school districts an additional $8 to $10 billion over the next 30 years.

Vote today--Make a difference

Don't buy into the idea that your vote doesn't count. Your vote is your voice and when we all vote, we send a loud and clear message to politicians and special interest groups who would prefer we stay home tomorrow.

Lists of recommended candidates are available in the Members Only area of www.mea.org. The list represents the voice of MEA members across the state who interviewed the candidates and recommended your support of them because they will stand up for public education, working families and the middle class.

School aid rewrite will change how the pie is sliced

One of Gov. Snyder’s goals in his April 2011 education message was to change how schools are funded and it seems a group he has appointed will help him accomplish that.

Richard McLellan, a former advisor to Gov. John Engler, is leading the group which intends to rewrite the 1979 School Aid Act with the focus on school aid following the student, rather than going to school districts. To accomplish that, the group is determined to make the School Code and the Act work together and incorporate changes that take into consideration “reforms” like unlimited charter schools and cyber schooling. McLellan is a strong supporter of school choice and vouchers. He helped draft the Kids First Yes! ballot proposal in 2000 that would have allowed school vouchers for students who are in supposedly “failing schools.” The proposal was soundly defeated by voters.

In a public hearing last week, McLellan announced the rewrite goal is to “provide more flexibility to families in sending their kids to the school district they wish their child to attend.” The group is getting its inspiration from Snyder’s education message of providing education “any time, any place, any way, any pace.” McLellan doesn’t intend to add any more money to the school aid fund which currently provides $14 billion for education, but instead focus funding based on performance—another item on Snyder’s wish list.

When McLellan took comments from the audience, the theme shifted away from money to how Michigan students are educated. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, a resource for the group, was joined by others who encouraged the group to consider the design of the current education system and decide what a school should look like.

Legislators still tinkering with school policies

Even though SB 1040 couldn’t get anywhere in yesterday’s one-day legislative session, some other bills affecting school districts and school employees did.

Pages