Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – February 23, 2024

  1. Michigan Awarded Nearly $23 Million for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

The State of Michigan recently announced that nearly $23 million has been awarded to multiple locations across Michigan for electric vehicle infrastructure. The funds are being allocated via the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program.

Why it Matters: Electric vehicle growth and EV infrastructure is an important clean energy and economic growth priority in Michigan. However, recent reports suggest the market for EVs is slowing, and the issue has become a hot-button topic in this year’s presidential campaign. A New York Times article discussed the contentiousness of the issue in a story this week titled, “For Michigan’s Economy, Electric Vehicles are Promising and Scary.”

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  1. Increase in the Small Business Property Tax Exemption

Eligibility for the so-called “Small Business Property Tax Exemption” has expanded. Legislation passed last October 2023, expands the exemption by increasing the eligibility limit to from the $80,000 true cash value limit to $180,000.

Why it Matters: The exemption is only for commercial and industrial personal property (residential/individuals are not subject to personal property taxes). Once filed, and if granted, the exemption will remain as long as the small business still qualifies. In other words, there is no need to file an exemption claim every year. Read more.

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  1. Michigan CRA Publishes January 2024 Data: Average Price Decreases

Per data released by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), the average retail price for adult-use sales of an ounce of cannabis in January was $93.20, a decrease from $95.08 in December 2023. This is an increase from January 2023, where the average price was $80.16.

Why it Matters: While the prices of cannabis and cannabis-related products continue to decrease and make consumers happy, growers on the other hand are seeing profits decrease resulting in them seeking ways to halt new licenses to be granted in an effort to steady prices. Contact our cannabis law attorneys if you have any questions.

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  1. Michigan’s Repealed “Right-to-Work” Law Takes Effect

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Michigan’s repeal of the prior “right-to-work” law governing private-sector workers went into effect.

Why it Matters: The result of the repeal is that private-sector unions may permissibly negotiate to impasse, and enforce, “union security” provisions requiring membership in, or financial support through “Beck Objector” fees, of those unions. Read more.

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  1. Retroactive PPT Exemption

Some Michigan manufacturers who were not able to claim their 2021 ESA-PPT exemption due to COVID-19, have until March 14 to request approval from the State Tax Commission.

Why it Matters: The ESA is a State specific tax on personal property that is exempt from property taxes at the local level because the property meets certain eligibility requirements, such as being qualified manufacturing or industrial personal property. In order to elect out of local personal property taxes and into the ESA regime, manufacturers must file the required forms with their local assessing office by February 20th of each year. Learn more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Sean Gallagher
Business & Tax | Paul McCord
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – December 8, 2023

  1. Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order for State Vehicles to be Zero-Emission by 2040

On Tuesday, Governor Whitmer signed an executive directive mandating the state government to convert its fleet of cars and trucks to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

Why it Matters: In a statement accompanying the directive, Governor Whitmer stated that the transition would reduce air pollution, help boost demand for Michigan-made electric vehicles, and lower fuel costs. The directive comes on the heels of Governor Whitmer signing legislation that will impose a new 100% clean energy standard for utilities to hit by 2040.

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  1. Patentable vs. Infringing: What’s the Difference?

The patent system is intended to spur innovation, incentivize inventors, and protect against infringement. One of the big challenges innovators face in this realm is understanding patentability and what constitutes infringement.

Why it Matters: The distinction between what is patentable and what is infringing is defined by the scope of the patent claims. For instance, a new invention that improves upon a patented product may still be patentable even though the envisioned product itself may infringe on the patented claims. On the other hand, a product that is not patentable may also infringe granted patents. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Michigan Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Minimum Wage

Earlier this week, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the “adopt-and-amend” actions on two ballot initiatives from 2018 that alter the state’s minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements were constitutional.

Why it Matters: The Michigan Supreme Court is anticipated to make a decision in 2024. If the Supreme Court upholds the adopt-and-amend process that the Court of Appeals deemed constitutional, then employers will operate under the current minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements. However, if the process is found unconstitutional and the Supreme Court overrules the lower court’s decision, then it would reinstate the original 2018 initiatives on minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements.

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  1. Ohio Senate Passes Bill Altering Legal Cannabis Program

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate voted on a proposal that would alter the state’s legal cannabis program, after voters passed Issue 2 in November, allowing the sale of recreational cannabis to adults 21 years or older.

Why it Matters: The bill now moves onto the House, and if it passes, the Governor has indicated he will sign it. Some of the proposed changes include reducing the number of homegrown plants allowed to 6 (from 12), increasing the tax on sales from 10% to 15%, allowing medicinal shops to sell to recreational users, and altering the way tax revenue would be spent, allocating funds to different programs.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Sales in Third Quarter Nearly $75 Million More than Second Quarter

Michigan cannabis sales totaled $827,737,257.25 in the third quarter of 2023, a nearly $75 million increase from the second quarter in which sales totaled $752,770,513.25.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Sean Gallagher
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – December 1, 2023

  1. Michigan Overhauls K-12 Evaluation Process

Governor Whitmer signed two bills into law (SB 395 & SB 396) on November 22, 2023, transforming the evaluation methods for teachers and school administrators in K-12 education.

Why it Matters: This new legislation substantially alters how teachers are evaluated, including streamlining rating categories, adjusting the evaluation criteria to prioritize teacher performance, and requiring educator participation in creating evaluation instruments.

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  1. Governor Whitmer Signs Package of Clean Energy Bills

Earlier this week, Governor Whitmer signed a package of clean energy bills, including one that would require companies to make 100% of their energy through renewables such as solar and wind by 2040, and also seeks to reduce energy waste, among other objectives.

Why it Matters: Clean energy legislation is a major priority for Michigan Democrats but is opposed by Republicans and has received pushback from many business groups, who argue the legislation would increase energy costs.

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  1. Cannabis Consumption Lounges Set for Detroit

The City of Detroit back in August announced its second round of recreational cannabis licenses, which included licenses for consumptions lounges. These lounges would be a place for adults 21 years or older to meet and safely consume cannabis that was legally purchased elsewhere.

Why it Matters: For some residents in Detroit, these consumption lounges can be the only safe and legal spot to consume cannabis. It is important to understand the rules and regulations tied to these lounges to ensure compliance.

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  1. Michigan Minimum Wage Set for Increase for 2024

Michigan’s minimum wage is set to increase on January 1, 2024, per the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act of 2018 which establishes the annual schedule of increases. The minimum hourly wage will increase to $10.33 per hour; the 85% rate for minors aged 16 and 17 will increase to $8.78 per hour; the tipped employee rate of hourly pay increases to $3.93 per hour; and the training wage of $4.25 per hour for newly hired employees ages 16 to 19 for their first 90 days of employment remains unchanged.

Why it Matters: As we approach the new year, t’s important to be aware of new laws, and changes to existing laws, that are set to take effect as of January 1, 2024. Contact us with any questions.

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  1. Streamline Corporate Transparency Act Reporting with a FinCEN Identifier

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), announced and elaborated on the use and availability of FinCEN identifiers. Under this new guidance, FinCEN identifiers may be crucial for business owners, particularly for those managing multiple entities.

Why it Matters: A FinCEN identifier is a unique number assigned by FinCEN to individuals and reporting companies, streamlining the reporting process under the CTA. Businesses will need to be prepared come 2024 for the new reporting requirements. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorneys.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Sean Gallagher
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Business & Tax | Robert Burgee

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – November 17, 2023

  1. Withdrawing Your Employee Retention Credit Claim: Navigating the New IRS Process

The ERC is a refundable tax credit intended for businesses that kept employees on their payroll while facing economic hardships caused by the pandemic. However, not long after its introduction, issues surfaced. Some businesses, influenced by the aggressive marketing of ERC promoters, have filed claims without fully meeting the eligibility criteria, leading to a slew of inaccurate claims.

Why it Matters: In order to provide a safe harbor to those entities that may have filed such false or inaccurate claims, the IRS has established a new withdrawal process. This measure is designed to aid businesses in re-evaluating the accuracy of their ERC claims and wish to avoid the penalties and other complications of incorrect filings. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. CRA Suspends Licenses of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Processor

On November 15, the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) suspended the medical and adult-use marijuana processor licenses of Michigan Investments 10, Inc, after it was determined that both businesses violated various administrative rules.

Why it Matters: After onsite inspections and reviews of the statewide monitoring system (Metrc) data, the CRA discovered that the businesses incorrectly entered data into the monitoring system and failed to properly track large quantities of product as well as other violations.

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  1. CRA Publishes October 2023 Data: Average Price Hovers

Per data released by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), the average retail price for adult-use sales of an ounce of cannabis in October was $97.62, a decrease from $100.14 in September. This is still a decrease from October 2022, where the average price was $102.65.

Why it Matters: While the prices of cannabis and cannabis-related products continue to decrease and make consumers happy, growers on the other hand are seeing profits decrease resulting in them seeking ways to halt new licenses to be granted in an effort to steady prices. Contact our cannabis law attorneys if you have any questions.

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  1. Package of Clean Energy Bills Head to Governor’s Whitmer’s Desk

A package of bills, including one that would require companies to make 100% of their energy through renewables such as solar and wind by 2040, and also seeks to reduce energy waste, among other objectives, is on its way to Governor Whitmer’s desk for signature after passing both the Senate and House.

Why it Matters: Clean energy legislation is a major priority for Michigan Democrats but is opposed by Republicans and has received pushback from many business groups, who argue the legislation would increase energy costs.

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  1. Corporate Transparency Act Takes Effect January 1, 2024

The federal Corporate Transparency Act (the “CTA”) takes effect on January 1, 2024. It will require many companies, including small businesses, to report certain beneficial ownership information to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is a division of the Treasury Department. We previously summarized key aspects of the CTA in a post on our blog, which you can find here.

Why it Matters: Willful failure to file an initial or updated report with FinCEN is subject to a $500/day fine (up to $10,000) and imprisonment for up to two years. If you have any questions about your compliance obligations, filing deadlines, or any other questions, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Business & Tax | Paul McCord
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – November 10, 2023

  1. Michigan House of Representatives Soon to be Divided Equally Between Democrats and Republicans

As a result of two Michigan House representatives winning mayoral races in this week’s elections, the House will soon be divided equally, 54-54, between Democrats and Republicans.

Why it Matters: A year after taking full control of the Michigan legislature for the first time in decades, Democrats will now have a harder time moving their agenda forward. Any legislation in the House will now, assuming Democrat unity, require support from at least one Republican House member. Expect greater legislative gridlock moving forward given that legislation must pass both the Senate and the House in order to be sent to Governor Whitmer for ratification.

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  1. Ohio Passes Ballot Measure; Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

Following Tuesday’s results, Ohio has become the 24th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Why it Matters: The measure will take effect in 30 days, meaning Ohio residents over the age of 21 will be able to use, grow, or sell marijuana under the supervision of the state’s regulatory body. Additionally, individuals are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and will be allowed to cultivate up to six marijuana plans at home. Learn more.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Named a Tier 1 Law Firm in Lansing in Six Practice Areas for 2024

Fraser Trebilcock has received a First Tier ranking in Lansing in six practice areas by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” in 2024.

Why it Matters: In addition to the First Tier ranking in six legal practice areas, Fraser Trebilcock has been named a Tier Two firm in Lansing for four practice areas and has also been named a Tier Three firm in Lansing for three practice areas. Learn more.

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  1. Michigan Senate Passes Package of Clean Energy Bills

Three bills recently passed by the Michigan Senate would require companies to make 100% of their energy through renewables such as solar and wind by 2040, and also seeks to reduce energy waste, among other objectives. The bills have now moved to the Michigan House.

Why it Matters: Clean energy legislation is a major priority for Michigan Democrats but is opposed by Republicans and has received pushback from many business groups, who argue the legislation would increase energy costs.

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  1. November Member Mixer in the Boji Tower

Join us for the November Member Mixer on Tuesday, November 14, at the historic Boji Tower, Lansing’s tallest and most historic building.

Why it Matters: Averaging 100+ attendees, Member Mixers occur on the second Tuesday of every month and provide an opportunity to gather and network, meet other members and business professionals and get a glimpse of a local business. Learn more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Election Law | Thaddeus Morgan
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Sean Gallagher