Legislators set to return--what's on their agenda?

Vacationing legislators will be back at work soon. Up until their summer break, they were busy focusing on attacking school employees and the middle class. And the picture doesn’t look much brighter when they return.

Expected on their agenda is:

  • SB 7 which requires public employees to pay a portion of their health insurance. The legislation was moved to a joint House/Senate conference committee where debate over an 80/20 contribution versus a hard cap has been taking place. The bill is on a fast track with a goal of getting it through the Legislature Aug. 24.
  • Right-to-Work would allow workers who don’t want to pay union dues the right to freeload—they would get the same benefits as union members without paying any union dues. Back in February, Republicans introduced HB 4054, SB 116 and SB 120 establishing “Right to Work” zones. A new group, Michigan Freedom to Work, has emerged in support of a statewide law. Gov. Snyder claims the issue is not on his agenda but he would sign it. With anti-union sentiment running so strong, he may get that chance.
  • School Employees’ Retirement continues to be an issue for the Legislature. Even though school employees are now paying an extra 3 percent of their salary for retiree health care, the Legislature still is looking for ways to reign in pension costs and subsidize their cut to state aid. If they can tax senior pensions to pay for a $1.8 billion tax cuts for big business, they certainly will look for other groups to “share in the sacrifice.”
  • HB 4588 which prohibits public employers from collecting union dues from all public employees. Similar anti-union legislation was passed in Alabama and Wisconsin this year. Members would have to sign up every year to be union members and an alternative method of collecting dues would have to be established.
  • A package of education bills lifting the charter school cap on university-chartered public academies; requiring all school districts to be schools of choice; and expanding cyber schools. All of these issues were covered in Snyder’s education message this spring.