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Legislative Update Dec. 15, 2021

Winning Michigan Jobs Coalition Bills Head to Gov. Whitmer

The Legislature approved a package of bills supported by Traverse Connect and the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance last night, and the bills were sent to Gov. Whitmer.

MIRS News reports that the House passed Senate Bill 85, with broad bipartisan support.

Under the plan, the new Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund will receive $1 billion from the state’s General Fund (GF) surplus. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will use the money as bait to snag large-scale industrial deals. Once they have a bite, the Legislature will review the proposal and steer money from SOAR into one of two funds to be used for the project.

One fund will be for site preparation and the other is last-dollar support to close the deal.

SB 85 includes $409 million in federal funding to assist businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will infuse $75 million in General Fund dollars to help reimburse local units of government that are taking a hit with the passage of the higher personal property tax exemptions.

In the House, SB 769, SB 771, and HB 5603 passed with bipartisan support.

Voicing support for the bills was one of the co-sponsors, Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann).

“We’ve shown that we can lead in production and labor,” he said. “These proposals only add to our willingness to deliver jobs and prosperity for our state. We’re going to be extremely mindful that within this approach, simply, if it’s not good for Michigan, it’s not good enough for Michigan tax dollars.”

The Michigan Department of Treasury will be responsible for creating and managing the $409 million “afflicted” business relief program, with individual grants that can’t surpass a business’s financial hardship in value and could not exceed $5 million.

A financial hardship would be defined as a decline in total sales “capped” at the sum of property taxes, or 17% of lease costs plus 50% of unemployment insurance taxes on top of 100% of the fees connected to liquor licenses, food inspections, and other state permits and checkups. Property taxes are also 100% reimbursed.

Businesses that certified a reduction of at least 20% from gross receipts in 2020 would receive maximum-size grants. Those who certified 15% to 20% would receive 75% of the maximum grant, and those who certified 10% to 15% would receive 50% of the maximum grant.

According to the Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA), “an afflicted business that started operations between Oct. 1, 2019, and Jun. 1, 2020, must receive 25% of the amount it would have received” if it had opened before the aforementioned 2019 date. However, a new business must also document that it was either fully or partially closed due to a state pandemic order.

Gov. Whitmer is expected to sign the bills when they reach her desk.