Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – June 3, 2022; Legal, Legislative, and Regulatory Insights
Michigan Senate Votes to Suspend Gas Taxes this Summer
- The Michigan Senate, in a bipartisan vote, passed a series of new bills that would temporarily pause gas taxes from June 15 to September 15. The bills pause collections on the 6% sales and use taxes on gas purchases and the 27 cent per gallon excise gas tax. According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas in Michigan as of June 1 was over $4.70.
Why it Matters: These bills reflect the sense of urgency—within both parties in Michigan and across the country—to address surging gas prices, as well as inflationary pressures more broadly, before the upcoming elections. According to reporting by Crain’s Detroit, Governor Whitmer, at the Mackinac Policy Conference, indicated her general support for the legislation, although she raised concerns about the impact of suspending tax collections that would otherwise be allocated for road repair.
Court of Appeals Rejects Michigan Public Body FOIA Exemption
- The Michigan Court of Appeals recently held that a public body in Michigan that is a plaintiff or defendant in litigation cannot deny a Freedom of Information Act request by the legal counsel to another party to the litigation based on a FOIA exemption for requests pertaining “to a civil action in which the requesting party and the public body are parties.” Learn more about this case here.
Why it Matters: MCL 15.243(1)(v) allows a public party to assert a FOIA exemption for requests pertaining “to a civil action in which the requesting party and the public body are parties.” However, as this case makes clear, the exemption will be strictly construed. If the FOIA requester does not meet the precise legal definition of a “party” in litigation, and instead is merely a friend, agent or legal counsel to a party, then the exemption will likely be denied. Accordingly, before asserting this or any other exemption, a public body should consult with legal counsel. Learn more about this case here.
Michigan Legislature Passes Bill to Fund Security Enhancements at Schools
- The Michigan House and Senate passed legislation that would provide $27 million in funding for safety and security assessments at public and private schools around the state. The legislation was passed in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The bill would also set aside nearly $10 million for additional support to the Oxford Community School District following the November mass shooting at the district’s high school.
Why it Matters: Expect an increase in legislation, from security enhancements at schools to “red flag” laws meant to identify potential threats, being debated in Michigan and across the country.
Full Principal Residence Tax Exemption Available Even if Portion of Home is Rented
- The Michigan Court of Appeals, in the case of Keith W. DeForge v. Township of Allouez, recently ruled that homeowners in Michigan can still claim 100% principal residence tax exemption even if the homeowner rents out a portion of their home.
Why it Matters: This ruling clarifies a tax question that impacts the rapidly increasing number of homeowners in Michigan who generate rental income from their homes using services such as Airbnb.
Michigan’s Movers and Shakers Meet on Mackinac Island
- Michigan’s Mackinac Policy Conference wrapped up this week, and from this year’s election for governor to healthcare to housing in Michigan, a wide range of important issues were discussed and debated.
Why it Matters: The Mackinac Policy Conference has always been the place to take the pulse of politics and business in Michigan. A group of Fraser Trebilcock professionals were in attendance this year, and next week we’ll be sharing some of the key takeaways from the conference.
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