Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – July 1, 2022; Legal, Legislative, and Regulatory Insights
- Bills Easing Regulations on Michigan Child Care Providers Signed Into Law
Governor Whitmer recently signed into law Michigan House Bills 5041-5048, which increase the number of children family child care and group care homes can serve, and also lowers the minimum age for workers at such businesses.
Why it Matters: Many families struggle to find quality, affordable child care, which is partly to blame for the difficulty businesses in Michigan, and across the country, have had in finding workers over the last several years. In a statement, Governor Whitmer described child care as “the backbone of our economy.” The signing of this package of bills is also significant because it had support from Republicans and business groups, which may be a sign that more bipartisan legislation is on the way in the runup to the November elections.
- Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Texting While Driving Bills
The Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved a package of bills expanding the scope of Michigan’s texting while driving laws, which would make requirements more stringent and penalties for violations more costly. The bills explicitly address social media use and live streaming.
Why it Matters: Distracted driving is dangerous. In 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Distracted driving is also costly for drivers, as those who violate distracted driving laws tend to see their insurance rates shoot up.
- Marijuana Prices Plummet 41% in Michigan
In a recent public meeting, Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency Director Andrew Brisbo stated that legal marijuana prices fell 41% over the past year in Michigan.
Why it Matters: With inflation surging across the economy, falling prices in the marijuana industry mean that profits may be hard to come by. One of the secondary effects of price deflation is the risk of what is called “potency inflation.” In general, marijuana that is more potent—higher THC levels—is more expensive. That can lead to “lab shopping,” which involves producers trying to find a testing lab that will deliver high THC results so that more can be charged to the consumer.
- Housing Market Cools Following Historic Run-Up
The National Association of Realtors recently reported that existing-home sales in May dropped 3.4% from April (four consecutive months of declining sales) and by 8.6% since May of last year. The latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index also shows home price growth slowing, as well as a jump in the inventory of homes for sale.
Why it Matters: The residential real estate market is an important indicator of, and driver of, economic vitality across the broader economy. The early signs of a slowdown in the real estate market correlates to increases in mortgage rates due to inflation. Rates for a 30-year mortgage have rocketed higher, from around 3% earlier this year to over 6%, which has significantly reduced buying power for many people.
- Sixth Circuit Draws the “State Action” Line at a City Manager’s Personal Facebook Page
The Sixth Circuit issued an opinion earlier this week in a case involving a city manager who shared both personal and city-related content on his personal Facebook page. After the city manager deleted comments made by a disgruntled citizen on posts about city policies, the citizen sued alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated. The lower court dismissed the citizen’s lawsuit, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed, ruling that under the facts of this case the city manager’s actions did not constitute “state action.”
Why it Matters: In this 21st Century digital era, where there are virtually no barriers to communication, it’s said that we are all “publishers,” especially on social media. This case helps draw the line for municipalities and their employees as to what communications they engage in may constitute personal action vs. state action.
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