Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – March 17, 2023

  1. Business Education Series – Teaching Leadership

Hosted at the Lansing Regional Chamber on Wednesday, March 22 at 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., the March Business Education Series will have Brain Town, founder and CEO of Michigan Creative, who will discuss how to inspire your staff to be the leaders they all have inside of them.

Why it Matters: Brian will also show you how to write core values that can guide your business and help form an unstoppable team. Attendees will learn how to write and use core values, leadership tips, and ways to inspire greatness. Business owners and leaders are encouraged to attend! Learn more.


  1. How Patents Protect Your Business

A patent is a legal monopoly for protecting a utilitarian device, system, machine, composition or process. A patent owner has the right to prevent others from making, using, selling or importing a protected invention for a limited time.

Why it Matters: The U.S. is a “first-to-file” system, so it is imperative that an inventor keep the details of their invention confidential until a patent application has been filed. Also, timing is of the essence to prevent a competitor from winning the race to the Patent Office. Learn more.


  1. Noteworthy Michigan Cannabis Brand Put into Receivership

Skymint Brands, a high-profile Michigan consumer cannabis brand, was placed into receivership on March 7. According to a lawsuit filed by Tropics, LP against Skymint’s parent company, Green Peak Industries, Inc., Tropics is owed more than $127 million in loans that are in default.

Why it Matters: While Michigan has experienced strong sales of recreational marijuana as a whole, prices per ounce have fallen significantly, making it difficult for many dispensaries to generate profits. The fact that Skymint’s assets were put into receivership is also noteworthy, as state court receivership has become an alternative to bankruptcy for distressed cannabis companies. Because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, companies can’t access federal bankruptcy to reorganize or liquidate.


  1. CRA Publishes February 2023 Data, Average Price Hovers Near All-Time Low

The Cannabis Regulatory Agency recently published its latest monthly data, showing that the average price for an ounce of cannabis is $86.00, an increase from the all-time low of $80.16 in January of this year.

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.


  1. Ten Reasons You May Want to Consider a Family Cottage Succession Plan

The goal of cottage succession planning is to set up legal ground rules that provide the best chance to keep a cottage in the family for future generations.

Why it Matters: Here are a few reasons why you and/or your family may want to consider a family cottage succession plan. Prevents a joint owner from forcing the sale of the cottage through an action for partition, prevents transfer of an interest in the cottage outside the family, protects owners from creditor claims, and establishes a framework for making decisions affecting the cottage. See the complete list from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Intellectual Property | Jared Roberts
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Cottage Law | Mark Kellogg

Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – February 24, 2023

  1. $35 Million in Grants Available for Small Nonprofits

The State of Michigan, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) have teamed up to help Michigan charities whose operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it Matters: Under this initiative, called the MI Nonprofit Relief Fund, grants in amounts between $5,000 and $25,000 will be awarded to selected entities with annual revenues total under $1 million. In addition, eligible entities must be based in Michigan and recognized by the IRS under Section 501(c)(3). Learn more.


  1. Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency Suspends Licenses, Issues Advisory

The Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) recently suspended the licenses of a marijuana processor and issued a safety advisory for items manufactured with “illicit product.”

Why it Matters: This action is an important reminder to marijuana businesses in Michigan that the CRA is active in regulating businesses and taking enforcement action when appropriate. TAS Asset Holdings is the second processor to have its license suspended by the CRA this month. The CRA also announced disciplinary action against 10 marijuana businesses on February 10.


  1. CRA Publishes January 2023 Data, Average Price Drops

Per recent monthly data published by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency, the average retail flower price of an ounce of cannabis is $80.16, an all-time low, and almost a 50% decrease compared to last year’s average price of $152.74.

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.


  1. DOL Issues Telework Guidance to Employers

On February 9, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (Bulletin) addressing several questions related to compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when a business employs teleworkers.

Why it Matters: The Bulletin provides that the protections under the FLSA apply equally to employees who telework as to employees working at an office, factory, construction site, retail outlet, or any other worksite location.


  1. ERISA Health and Welfare Plan Voluntary Audit Service

Fraser Trebilcock is excited to introduce our Health and Welfare Plan Voluntary Audit Service to help businesses ensure their health and welfare plans are compliant with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Why it Matters: ERISA is a complex set of regulations that governs employee benefit plans, including health and welfare plans. Failure to comply with ERISA can result in costly fines and penalties, not to mention damage to your company’s reputation. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Aaron Davis
Employee Benefits | Robert Burgee

Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – December 30, 2022

  1. NIL Legislation Takes Effect December 31, 2022

Michigan House Bill 5217 which was passed into law in 2020, takes effect December 31, 2022 and sets new standards for how student-athletes can earn compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”) in Michigan.

Why it Matters: Student-athletes, covered higher education institutions, and businesses must ensure that NIL deal comply not only with NCAA rules and regulations, but also with the new standards that will apply in the State of Michigan starting in 2023. For example, higher education institutions are prohibited from paying a student-athlete compensation directly for the use of their NIL rights, or revoking or reducing a student-athlete’s athletic scholarship because they earned compensation from an NIL deal.


  1. CRA Unveils Cannabis Market Taxation and Regulatory Compliance Analysis Grant Program

Stemming from the state’s 2022-2023 budget, the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency must award a grant to a selected party to start a program that is intended to analyze tax reporting, collection, and regulatory compliance within the Michigan cannabis market and provides up to $500,000 for performing the required work.

Why it Matters: Illegal cannabis flooding the market is still a major issue that is troubling Michigan’s cannabis market. This new program will identify relevant areas with information gathered from tax reporting to investigate for possible misconduct and other regulatory noncompliance.


  1. Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget Prevailing Wage Policy Upheld by Court of Claims

The Michigan Court of Claims sided with the state and ruled that DTMB did not violate the law when it implemented its prevailing wage policy on March 1, 2022.

Why it Matters: In July, 2021, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan (“ABC”) filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan with a motion for preliminary injunction asking the Court to enjoin DTMB from requiring prevailing wages for state contracts. ABC argued that Michigan cannot require the wage rate of its contractors because of the repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage law in 2018. In October, the Michigan Court of Claims sided with the state. ABC has appealed the ruling. For the time being, pending the outcome of the appeal, DTMB’s prevailing wage policy remains in effect for construction projects financed in whole or in part by State of Michigan funds. Learn more on the subject.


  1. Bills Seeking to Expand Affordable Housing in Michigan Are Passed

Governor Whitmer signed a package of bills (Senate Bills 362364422 and 432) intended to support the development of more affordable housing units in communities across Michigan, with a particular focus on creating new housing units in cities.

Why it Matters: Lack of affordable housing is a big problem in Michigan and throughout the country. From an economic standpoint, when there is a lack of affordable housing, it makes it difficult for employers to attract and retain workers. Data from the Resilient Homes Michigan coalition says that Michigan is short about 203,000 affordable rental homes for the 320,000 renting households in the state that have incomes at or below 30% of the median income for their area.


  1. Officials Unveil $2 Million Grant to Support High-Tech Talent Workforce in Michigan

Earlier this month, Governor Whitmer along with officials from the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, and the Detroit Regional Chamber, unveiled a two million dollar grant program to MichAuto to support and build up the high-tech talent workforce in Michigan.

Why it Matters: Investing in Michigan’s workforce and talent pipeline is key for the state to keep workers from leaving and relocating to other states. It builds on the state’s MI Future Mobility Plan to continue attracting businesses and workers to work in the state related to the future of transportation.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Higher Education | Ryan Kauffman
Business & Tax | Ed Castellani
Real Estate | Jared Roberts
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Aaron Davis

Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – December 16, 2022

  1. Cabinet Changes Announced for Governor Whitmer’s Second-Term

Last week, Governor Whitmer announced changes in leadership for several state departments. Some of the changes include Dan Eichinger taking over as acting director of the Department of Environmental, Great Lakes and Energy, Shannon Lott will become the acting director of the Department of Natural Resources, Michelle Lange chosen as the acting director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and Brian Hanna will become director of the Cannabis Regulatory Agency.

Why it Matters: Further changes may be in the future as the new directors in their respective departments take over and implement their policies. Fraser Trebilcock attorneys will monitor and report on any important situations.


  1. Michigan Slips Slightly in Economic Benchmarking Report

Michigan dropped two spots, to 31st nationally, in the Business Leaders for Michigan’s annual benchmarking report that ranks states’ economic performance. While Michigan improved over last year in some key metrics, other states did as well, leading to Michigan falling slightly in the rankings.

Why it Matters: As the national economy softens, it’s more important than ever for Michigan business and government leaders to focus on sound economic policy to help maintain—and improve—the state’s competitiveness. The report highlighted, for example, how Ohio jumped from 33rd in the rankings last year to 23rd this year.


  1. Tax Changes Incoming for Research & Experimental Expenditures

For tax years beginning in 2022, research and experimental (R&E) expenditures are no longer immediately expensed but rather must be amortized over five years (15 years for foreign expenditures). This change to the tax treatment of R&E expenditures was included as a revenue raiser for the federal government to help pay for other tax breaks in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed at the end of 2017.

Why it Matters: Guidance is needed immediately for the 2022 tax year, especially for corporations that must prepare financial statements. The post-2021 tax treatment of R&E expenditures is inconsistent with financial accounting principles that requires most research and development costs to be expensed immediately. Learn more on the subject.


  1. Parties Ask Court to Decide on Paid Sick Leave / Minimum Wage Increase by February 1

Earlier this week, a 3-judge appellate panel heard arguments from both parties on whether to overturn the July 2022 ruling to adopt and amend two 2018 ballot initiatives that would increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour, increased tipped wages, and would significantly alter paid sick leave laws in the state forcing businesses to have to change their policies.

Why it Matters: Both parties have requested a decision by February 1 from the Court of Appeals, as the July 2022 ruling had a stay enforced until February 19. Depending on the court’s decision, businesses in the state may have to alter their paid sick leave policies and increase their minimum wage and tipped wage levels. We will continue to monitor the situation and report on any new developments.


  1. CRA Publishes New Monthly Data, Average Price Lowest Ever Been

According to recent monthly data published by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency, the average retail flower price of an ounce of cannabis is $95.12, an all-time low and a 50% decrease compared to last year.

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.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Election Law | Garett Koger
Business & Tax  | Paul McCord
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Aaron Davis
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – November 18, 2022

  1. Proposed Modifications to Michigan Court Rules Seek to Make Pandemic-Inspired Changes Permanent, Making it Harder to Evict Tenants

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan’s court rules related to landlord-tenant eviction procedures were modified in some ways to utilize video conferencing and to make certain proceedings more efficient, and modified in other ways that made it more difficult for landlords to evict residential and commercial tenants.

Why it Matters: Pursuant to recently proposed amendments to Michigan Court Rule 4.201, Michigan’s State Court Administrative Office has taken steps to make many pandemic-era changes to minimize evictions permanent. Some of the proposed rules are allowing a judge to adjourn trial for at least seven days if a default judgment is not entered, and staying an eviction case if a tenant has applied for rent assistance. Learn more from our Fraser Trebilcock real estate attorneys on the matter.


  1. Michigan Small Business Growth Remains Strong

According to a recent report from the small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan’s entrepreneurial economy continues to grow. Among other things, SBAM’s Entrepreneurship Score Card shows that Michigan small businesses have outperformed U.S. averages in terms of the percentages of businesses being opened and revenue.

Why it Matters: Small businesses have always been the backbone of economic growth in Michigan and across the country. This report highlights the resilience of Michigan entrepreneurial economy.


  1. Business Planning for the Future

A lot of small-to-medium size businesses devote time and focus on their near-term future but may not think of what 5-10 years will bring. The value of a business can often be in the ability to transition it to a new owner, but some business owners are unsure how to set themselves up to be successful in this arena.

Why it Matters: Capitalizing on the ability to plan for the long-term will aid your business in any transitions that may occur. Learn more here.


  1. CRA Issues Michigan Consumer Advisory

Earlier this week, CRA issued a bulletin giving notice to consumers that a marijuana business that operates as both a state-licensed medical and adult-use recreational, Green Culture, sold unregulated products that may have contained several contaminants, such as mold and/or bacteria.

Why it Matters: Following the investigation, the CRA suspended both of Green Culture’s licenses. Marijuana businesses should heed this as a warning, the CRA are cracking down on businesses that do not follow the strict guidelines and rules laid out by the state agency.


  1. IRS Announces 2023 Cost-of-Living Adjustment for Retirement and Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

The Internal Revenue Service recently announced 2023 cost-of-living adjustments for retirement and health and welfare benefit plans. The significant adjustments reflect the increase in inflation over the last year. The adjustments are detailed in IRS Notice 2022-55. For example, the contribution limit for a Simple 401(k) will increase to $15,500 in 2023 from $14,000 in 2022, and for a Health FSA, limits will increase to $3,050 in 2023 from $2,850 in 2022.

Why it Matters: Business owners and employers should be aware of these adjustments and share this information with employees as we approach the new year. If you have any questions regarding these adjustments, please contact our Employee Benefits team.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Real Estate | Jared Roberts
Business & Tax | Mark Kellogg
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Employee Benefits | Robert Burgee

Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – September 23, 2022

  1. CRA’s Fines Eight Cannabis Businesses Over Late Financial Reports

The Cannabis Regulatory Agency recently published their monthly disciplinary reports and eight cannabis businesses across the state have been fined for failing to submit annual financial reports by the required deadline.

Why it Matters: What comes with the territory of operating a business in a highly regulated arena, business owners both medical and recreational will need to be aware of deadlines for required financial reporting of their cannabis business operations.


  1. Majority of Legislators Could Run Again If Prop 1 Passes

A new analysis from the Citizens Research Council says that a majority of legislators, 89% of the 737 Michigan legislators, could run again for a seat if the Prop 1 (term limits and financial disclosures) ballot proposal passes.

Why it Matters: If this ballot proposal passes, the majority of past legislators have the option of running again for a legislative seat. Fraser Trebilcock election law attorneys will continue to follow and update news surrounding this ballot proposal.


  1. Importance of Signing an Operating Agreement for Your LLC

It happens more often than individuals think and something small businesses should heed is the need to adopt an operating agreement at the start of your LLC. It may seem like an unnecessary step when you’re starting out but waiting until the time is right or until you get big enough, can often lead to forgetting about it completely.

Why it Matters: Failure to sign an operating agreement for your LLC may lead to issues for your small business that would otherwise be avoided. Learn more from a Fraser Trebilcock attorney on this topic.


  1. Whitmer Names New Head of Cannabis Regulatory Agency

Brian Hanna, formerly an analyst in the Lansing Computer Crimes unit at the Michigan State Police, and deputy for the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, was tapped by Governor Whitmer to lead Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (“CRA”). Immediately prior to his interim appointment, which took effect September 19, Hanna was the CRA’s manager of field operations, inspections and investigations.

Why it Matters:  Hanna replaces former CRA executive director Andrew Brisbo, who will now lead the state’s Bureau of Construction Codes. In a statement, Hanna said “I look forward to reconnecting with stakeholders to ensure we have a clear and concise regulatory framework for oversight of this industry to promote continued growth in Michigan.”


  1. Will Electric Vehicle Incentives Under Inflation Reduction Act Actually Hurt Sales?

The Inflation Reduction Act includes billions in incentives for electric vehicle adoption, including $7,500 tax credits for EV purchases. However, many automotive manufacturers are not happy with the rules the bill imposes for vehicles to qualify for the credits.

Why it Matters: The opposition argue that the manufacturing, sourcing, and pricing rules, which require significant domestic sourcing of raw materials and manufacturing, are too aggressive and could result in most EV’s not qualifying for the federal incentives – therefore stifling sales for many manufacturers.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication | Michael Ashton

Business & TaxRobert Burgee

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Election LawGarett Koger