CHECK IN at the Capitol October

Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave – What’s Next?

Even though the minimum wage and paid sick leave (PSL) issues aren’t on the ballot, they are getting quite a bit of focus in the media. Political campaign rallies, protests and continued court motions leave many to wonder what’s happening next.

A legislative fix to the new laws during the Lame Duck session is still seen as the best option. While the exact language for a legislative fix could change, Check In Michigan has taken the steps to make sure our members’ voices are heard.

Check In Michigan’s Legislative Action Summit has been rescheduled to November 28. The first day voting is anticipated during the Lame Duck session. Save this date on your calendar and watch for registration materials in coming weeks.

This is our opportunity to come together and show the combined strength of the lodging, tourism and hospitality industry. This is a critical issue to your businesses and it’s important to make sure lawmakers and your stakeholders, including your employees, understand what it would mean to your business if these laws take effect in their current form.

Short Term Rental Bills Could See Lame Duck Action

With a gubernatorial change and massive changes in both the Michigan House and Michigan Senate, speculations range across the board on what the political landscape will look like after the polls close on November 6.

The one thing everyone agrees on is that the ‘Lame Duck’ session following the election will be at best unpredictable.

As more communities experience problems with the growing number of unregulated short-term rentals, Check In Michigan expects the Michigan Realtors to push for passage of legislation during Lame Duck.

Please make sure to talk to your State Representative, State Senator and the candidates for those positions as you see them in their districts and on the campaign trail.

STR legislation will be a hot topic for the November 28 Legislative Action Summit! We need to show our combined voice on this issue. Additional information is coming soon!

Please make plans to join us for the CHECK IN MICHIGAN Legislative Action Summit on November 28!

Legislation to Protect Tourism Bureau & Lodging Fee Agreements Clears Senate

A package of bills, introduced by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), has cleared the State Senate and will go to the Michigan House for action. SB 703 – 707 amend state statutes to ensure the current fee agreements between convention and visitor bureaus and lodging properties can continue without threat of legal challenge.

Two separate lawsuits, one involving the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau and another the Indian River Tourist Bureau, have been dismissed. However, without legislative changes, additional legal challenges of the agreements were likely.

Check In Michigan is strongly supportive of our convention and visitor bureau (CVB) members. The overwhelming majority of CVBs have a very good partnership with their primary stakeholders, the lodging community. The fee agreements provide opportunities for communities of all sizes to market unique tourism opportunities and accommodations to tourists from across the state and beyond.

These bills will correct technical issues in the current agreements that could leave CVBs vulnerable to legal challenge.

Check In Michigan applauds Sen. Schmidt for his leadership on this issue.

Agreement Reached – Tunnel to Protect Great Lakes

Last week, agreement was reached on a long-term solution to protect the Great Lakes. The controversial Line 5 pipeline has been an increasing concern as recent incidents exposed its vulnerabilities and reinforced the need to protect our State’s fresh water, pristine beaches and fishing that are representative of Pure Michigan.

A tunnel, designed and built as a public private partnership, will be constructed to house the aging Line 5 pipeline and other utilities under the Straits of Mackinac. The project would be paid for by Enbridge, owned by the Mackinac Bridge Authority and maintained by Enbridge. The Mackinac Bridge Authority will allow a forum for public comment and take up the proposal at their November meeting.

While the Great Lakes and taxpayers will benefit from the agreement, the process to secure permits and construct the tunnel could take up to 10 years.

In the meantime, Enbridge will be required to take steps to protect against damaging leaks including:

  • increase monitoring for leaks;
  • ban operations when waves hit 8 feet for one hour and have staff available at the Straits to shut down the line anytime waves reach 6.5 feet for one hour;
  • install new radar equipment to provide real-time wave height data;
  • install new cameras to track vessels that may violate the no anchor regulation and report to the U.S. Coast Guard; and
  • maintain nearly $2 billion in financial coverage should the pipeline rupture or for other environmental disasters related to the pipeline.

In an election year, this issue is yet another political football with some friends of tourism heralding the agreement as a proactive solution to protect our treasured Great Lakes and environmental groups calling for the immediate shutdown of the pipeline.

House Passes Bills Providing Additional Protections

A package of bills that passed the Michigan House last week would provide additional safety measures to increase accountability and provide additional safety nets apart from the tunnel agreement.

HB 6201, sponsored by Rep. Lee Chatfield, would require spill-prevention and contingency plans, and outline reporting requirements for oil spills beneath the Straits.

HB 6187, sponsored by Rep. Sue Allor (R-Wolverine); HB 6199, sponsored by Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona); HB 6200, sponsored by Rep. Lee Chatfield; and HB 6398, sponsored by Rep Sue Allor, would restrict anchor used in the Straits. The package of bills would make it a felony to drop an anchor in the Straits of Mackinac; require buoys and other signs to be installed to notify vessel operators; and provide whistleblower protection for those reporting dropped anchors.