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West Michigan Chamber Coalition Update – Friday, April 13

NAEP Scores Released

This week, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores were released and the results were yet another data set that highlights our education crisis. At face value, we have increased our national rankings and the results look promising. However, a closer look at the data reveals that this only happened because other states are doing worse, not because Michigan is making real improvements. Read our blog post about the NAEP scores here.

Bill Introduced to Codify the Skilled Trade Training Fund

The Skilled Trades Training Fund (“STTF”) has provided $72.9 million in competitive awards to more than 2,000 Michigan companies for short-term training that enhances talent, productivity and employment retention to increase the quality and competitiveness of Michigan’s employers and talent pool. It has been used very effectively here in West Michigan.

The STTF has been provided for in annual appropriations bills. Recently drafted legislation by Senator Horn will help ensure ongoing operations of this effective and popular program, by codifying the program in statute.

Staff is supporting the legislations and encouraged West Michigan legislators to sign on in support this week. We expect the bill to move quickly.

The legislation will:

  • Provide statutory authority for the STTF.
  • Change the name of the program to the “Going Pro Talent Program” to better reflect the broad nature of the talent being trained and to better communicate the significance of the professional trades.
  • Provide more flexibility in the period during which the training must be completed. Today, training generally must be completed in the first 4 to 7 months of the calendar year.  Under the bill, training may be conducted anytime within one year of the award being approved.
  • Ensure that prior year legislative investments in the program will stay with the program for future years.
  • Allow for leadership and management training to be covered by the program, in addition to currently allowed training for talent enhancement, increasing worker productivity, development of workforce skills and worker retention.
  • Ensure consistency in the implementation of the program across the state.

Marshall Plan for Talent

The House Appropriations subcommittee on school aid and education presented their first draft of the budget process. On the Governor’s Marshall Plan for Talent portion, the House largely concurred with the Executive recommendations with only minor tweaks. Major differences in the Marshall Plan from the House and Executive version included the CTE Skilled Trades Initiative, the University Partnerships, and the Career Navigators sections:

  • CTE Skill Trades Initiative- Executive eliminated $12.5M for equipment grants; House doubled the appropriation to $25M Talent Investment Fund for CTE equipment and maintains current law programs. House also doubled career education planning districts investment to $14M, competitive grants to $10M and mechatronics grants to $1M.
  • University Partnerships- Executive provided $4M Talent Investment Fund for competitive grants to public universities that are members of the Michigan University Research Corridor. The House did not include this section.
  • Career Navigators- Executive provided $10.1M Talent Investment Fund to districts and ISDs to hire counselors focused in career navigation/facilitation and dropout prevention/recovery. The House did not include this section.

Prevailing Wage, Marijuana and Redistricting Looking to Move Forward

Ballot proposals on marijuana, redistricting and the prevailing wage are looking to advance before the month is over.
The petitions for the initiatives have been under review for months, after their submissions in November and December created a bottleneck at the state agency tasked with reviewing signatures.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections is expected to submit a staff report to the Board of State Canvassers within the next few weeks regarding proposals that would legalize recreational marijuana and repeal the law requiring union wages and benefits for construction workers.

The Board of State Canvassers may vote before May on whether to place the marijuana and prevailing wage initiatives on the November ballot.

The ballot proposal that would create a citizens’ redistricting commission to redraw political boundaries is further behind in the approval process..

All three camps are confident they have the signatures, including prevailing wages which has been under scrutiny from opponents.

Objective, Evidence-Based’ Parole Clears Committee

The state would be required to make objective, evidence-based parole decisions under legislation that moved unanimously out of the House Law and Justice Committee this week.

HB 5377 is designed to take the subjectivity out of parole decisions by setting parole board guidelines that establish factors that would disqualify inmates from being released. It requires “substantial and compelling objective reasons” to depart from those guidelines.

This legislation is supported by a wide-range of stakeholders, including

Potential Ballot Initiatives for 2018

Repeal of Prevailing Wage – Protecting Michigan Taxpayers*

An initiative proposal (not constitutional amendment) to repeal prevailing wage.

Redistricting Changes – Votes Not Politicians*
A constitutional amendment that would put in place a 13-member commission to redraw the lines of state House, state Senate and Congressional districts after each US Census and would require the commission to create maps based on certain criteria.

Legalization of Recreational Marijuana – Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol*
An initiative proposal (not constitutional amendment) to legalize possession of marijuana, permit its cultivation and sale, tax the revenue derived commercial activities, promulgate rules, and prescribe certain penalties.

Part Time Legislature – Clean Michigan   NOT moving forward

Proposal to amend the state constitution and require a part-time legislature that must complete its regular session each year by April 15, to reduce salaries for legislators to be calculated in a manner commensurate with the average salary of public school teachers in this state, and to eliminate pensions, and health care after the term of office, for legislators.

 Mandatory Paid Sick Leave – Raise Michigan
An initiative proposal (not constitutional amendment) requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Although efforts by labor unions and progressive groups to place a mandatory paid leave proposal on Michigan’s statewide ballot in 2016 failed, the same groups are trying again for the November 2018 ballot.

Minimum Wage Increase – Michigan One Fair Wage
An initiative proposal to increase the hourly minimum wage from $10.00 in 2019 to $12.00 in 2022 and eliminate the tip credit.

Renewable Energy Mandate – Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan
An initiative proposal (not constitutional amendment) to increase the mandatory renewable energy standard for electric utilities to 30% by 2030.

Shutdown Enbridge Line 5 – Keep Our Lakes Great
An initiative proposal (not constitutional amendment) to stop crude oil from flowing through Enbridge’s Line 5.

Mandatory Straight Party and Absentee Voter – Promote the Vote
A proposed constitutional amendment to regulate the timing of issuing absentee ballots, authorize no-reason absentee voting, require a straight party voting option for general election ballots, automatic voter registration and other changes.

*Signatures turned in and being reviewed by the Board of Canvassers




West Michigan – The voice of West Michigan’s business community is getting stronger with the addition of the Grandville Jenison Chamber of Commerce and Lakeshore Advantage as members of the West Michigan Chamber Coalition.

The addition of these two dynamic organizations bolsters the organization to six regional business organizations advocating with a single voice on local, regional, state and federal legislative and policy issues impacting the business community. The active membership of the six organizations represent more than 6,000 businesses who employee a quarter million employees in West Michigan.

“Our Board of Directors is excited to join the Coalition and work together to enhance the business climate,” Grandville Jenison Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandy LeBlanc said. “This is the right time to be at the table with the other partners and strengthen our relationship. The Grandville Jenison Chamber of Commerce is excited for the collaboration and the positive impact this will have on our membership, community and the region. Together we have a stronger voice.”

“Joining the West Michigan Chamber Coalition has a direct impact on our work. It plugs us into issues occurring at the regional, state and national level, that ultimately impact our economic development efforts,” said Jennifer Owens, President of Lakeshore Advantage. “Collaboration is the name of the game, and we can have an outsized influence when we join forces.”

The Chamber Coalition joined forces in 2005 to advocate on behalf of West Michigan businesses on specific issues of a national, state or regional significance, as well as local issues with a regional impact. The West Michigan Chamber Coalition was founded by four chambers: the Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce and Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

“The West Michigan Chamber Coalition was established on the premise that we are an interconnected regional economy,” commented Rick Baker, President & CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “Issues such as infrastructure, regulatory policy and talent impact our West Michigan businesses regardless of jurisdictional boundaries, as such they should be addressed regionally to maximize the influence of our organizations and members. The Coalition will continue to provide enabling services, broaden and enhance its communications, and work as a regional collaborator and game changer on policy issues.”

“Both Lakeshore Advantage and the Grandville Jenison Chamber have tremendous leadership and are doing fantastic work,” said Jane Clark, President of the Michigan West Coast Chamber.  “They will be great partners in expanding the advocacy power of the West Michigan business community.”