If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion won’t immediately be banned in Michigan – for now, at least.
That’s because the Michigan Court of Claims granted a preliminary injunction this week that would bar Michigan prosecutors from enforcing the state’s 1931 abortion ban if the Supreme Court ruling is overturned as expected.
The ruling is only temporary until the court case can be fully resolved, but it gives abortion advocates some time to collect signatures for a ballot initiative that would explicitly affirm the right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution.
RELATED: Abortion-rights ballot proposal needed to ensure abortion access in Michigan long term, advocates say
Also this week, Michigan lawmakers announced various tax cut proposals in response to a higher-than expected budget surplus this year. The proposals would take some of those surplus dollars and put it back in the pockets of Michigan residents amid rising inflation costs.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed a $500 tax rebate for working families, while the House Republicans are suggesting a $2.5 billion relief plan that would slash taxes and establish targeted exemptions.
Here’s what you might have missed this week in Michigan politics:
Michigan’s abortion ban temporarily blocked by state court
The Michigan Court of Claims granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday in Planned Parenthood of Michigan v. Attorney General Dana Nessel, a case where Planned Parenthood wants Nessel and county prosecutors to be barred from enforcing Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban.
The ruling is only temporary, until the court case can be fully resolved.
Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, who granted the Planned Parenthood motion, said the ruling simply preserves “the status quo” while the issues are worked out in court.
“The court finds a strong likelihood that plaintiffs will prevail on the merits of their constitutional challenge,” the ruling said. “Should the United States Supreme Court overrule Roe v. Wade, plaintiffs and their patients face a serious danger of irreparable harm if prevented from accessing abortion services.”
RELATED: ‘A million steps back:’ Women contemplate a Michigan without legal abortion
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer previously announced a lawsuit against 13 county prosecutors in Michigan in an attempt to make abortion a constitutional right in the state.
Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban “was rooted in a desire to control women and reinforce patriarchy and therefore is not substantially related to an important governmental objective,” Whitmer’s lawsuit claims.
Whitmer argues the ban violates the Michigan Constitution’s due process clause, which provides a right to privacy and bodily autonomy. The ban violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause, and the ban “was adopted to reinforce antiquated notions of the proper role for women in society,” per a news release from Whitmer’s office.
Gov. Whitmer wants to give $500 to working Michigan families
As Michigan faces a budget surplus this year, state lawmakers have announced various tax cut proposals this week that would give some of that money back to residents amid rising inflation costs.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her own plan Thursday that would issue a $500 tax rebate for working families. Whitmer sent a letter to legislative leaders, urging them to work with her on this plan.
Neither the news release nor the governor’s letter specifies who would be eligible for the $500, or how much the plan would cost. When asked who might be eligible for this money, officials from the governor’s office said it’s up for negotiation.
If all 10 million Michiganders received $500, the plan would cost $5 billion. If all 4.6 million employed Michiganders got $500, it would cost $2.3 billion.
“From Macomb to Marquette, Michiganders are facing rising prices on food, gas, and other everyday expenses,” Whitmer said in the release. “While the causes are varied, from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia to ongoing supply chain challenges caused by the pandemic, the pain being felt by people is tangible.”
U.S. inflation is at 8.3% for the past 12 months, according to the Consumer Price Index. The crux of the problem is a lack of supply – mostly due to the pandemic – and a surge in demand, as people have more money to spend because of rising wages, stimulus dollars and pent-up pandemic savings.
The state House suggested its own $2.5 billion plan this week, which Republican lawmakers say would slash taxes and establish targeted exemptions to help people keep more of what they earn.
Michigan projects $3B budget surplus for 2022 as economy, work force continues to grow
State economists are feeling cautiously optimistic about the financial forecast for Michigan’s economy as the state is expected to bring in an extra $5 billion in tax revenue over the next two years.
Michigan is projected to bring in a total of $31.5 billion in state general fund and school aid revenue this fiscal year, which is up $3 billion from previous projections, according to estimates shared at the state’s May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference on Friday.
Another $2 billion in additional revenue is expected to come in fiscal year 2023, bringing the state’s total surplus to around $5 billion, the state’s top fiscal experts agreed Friday.
The rosy budget picture is a stark contrast from two years ago, when experts feared the worst as the coronavirus pandemic shut down wide swaths of the economy.
“Just a few years ago, we were looking at a budget deficit. The outlook was not good,” said state budget director Chris Harkins. “Now we are in a much stronger financial position. We’ve received tremendous news today that we’re looking at $5 billion worth of additional revenues in our current and future fiscal year.”
At the state’s semi-annual Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, the state treasurer, budget director and legislative analysts come up with an updated estimate on how much money the state can expect in tax revenue. The estimates help inform the state’s top officials as they work through state budget negotiations.
Friday’s estimates do not include any of the proposed tax cuts or the rebate proposed by Whitmer and House Republicans this week.
House leadership condemns video stunt tying Michigan lawmakers to ‘debunked election conspiracies’
Leaders in the House condemned a video stunt this week that connected Michigan lawmakers to disproven claims of election fraud from 2020.
On Wednesday, a black van adorned with video screens sat outside the Capitol blasting a trailer promoting an upcoming book – “The 2020 Coup” – written by former Republican state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, which alleges a conspiracy to overthrow President Donald Trump.
The video ties comments by state Reps. Cynthia A. Johnson, D-Detroit, and Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck, from around the 2020 election to that meritless claim.
Johnson is shown in a self-taken video that went viral in December 2020 where she gave a “warning to you Trumpers” after facing violent and racist threats. Her comments were condemned by both Michigan Democratic and Republican officials at the time.
“Targeting any state official for attention or political gain is obviously wrong,” Michigan House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, said in a statement. “Attacking Reps. Johnson and Aiyash as enemies of democracy or accusing them of stealing an election puts them at risk and threatens our entire institution. We won’t stand for it.”
Aiyash, as well as Wayne State University vice president Ned Staebler, were shown briefly in the video, as it brought up old claims of them threatening and “doxing” Wayne County Board of Canvassers Chair Monica Palmer.
State Senator among 15 candidates disqualified from Michigan primary ballots
A current state senator, a notable 2020 election denier and a congressional candidate are among the 15 candidates who were disqualified from the 2022 primary election ballots this week over various election law violations.
The Michigan Department of State announced the disqualifications on Tuesday.
One of the disqualified candidates was Sen. Betty Alexander, D-Detroit, who was one of 11 candidates that made false statements about complying with the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, according to the state department.
She was running for reelection in the 6th state Senate district, which after redistricting covers Detroit suburbs like Redford Township and Farmington Hills.
RELATED: Michigan House candidate vows legal challenge after being disqualified from ballot
Other candidates among those 11 include John Rocha, a Republican endorsed by former President Donald Trump running for the 78th state House district, and 11th state Senate district candidate Mellissa Carone, who pushed false claims of election fraud in statehouse testimony after the 2020 election.
The other eight candidates disqualified over false statements about complying with campaign finance requirements were:
- Ronald Cole (7th state House district)
- Kahlilia Davis (36th District Court Judge)
- Eddie Kabacinski (14th state House district)
- Chris Martin (54B District Court Judge)
- Vernon Molnar (7th state Senate district)
- Alberta Talabi (3rd state State district)
- Chase Turner (49th state House district)
- Lawanda Turner (11th state House district)
In addition to those 11, the remaining four candidates disqualified on Tuesday were nixed from Michigan’s Aug. 2 primary ballot because their filings indicated they were not eligible to run in the districts they chose, the state department said.
They include Faiz Aslam, a newcomer to the 6th Congressional District race, a seat held by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell. The other three candidates were Michael Shallal (57th state House district), Steven Thomas (31st state Senate district) and Howard Weathington (3rd state Senate district).
GOP governor candidate boycotts debate, cites ‘extremist’ COVID policy
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley is officially out of the summer debate where the five most well-known GOP gubernatorial hopefuls were scheduled to face off ahead of the November general election.
Kelley, an Allendale real estate broker, cited a disagreement over the event’s COVID-19 policies in his decision to back out of the June 2 debate on Mackinac Island.
People attending the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference are required to prove vaccination or a negative COVID test; however, there are no requirements for the debate, which is happening outside.
Kelley previously said he would attend the debate but skip the rest of the conference because of the COVID requirements. But Kelley changed his mind Thursday night, releasing a statement saying he will skip the debate.
“Republicans, or any freedom loving American, should not be participating in a conference that is requiring these left-wing extremist policies,” Kelley said. “Michiganians are ready to move on from the pandemic and COVID tyranny. Republicans that show up to this conference are nodding their approval of these radical left-wing extremist policies.”
The other five candidates on the debate roster are James Craig, Perry Johnson, Kevin Rinke and Garrett Soldano. It is unclear who will take Kelley’s spot.
Organizers couldn’t be reached for comment Friday morning, but Kelley’s name was removed from the list of “invited candidates” on the conference’s website.
What Michigan voters should know about ballot proposal to reform term limits, financial disclosure laws
Michigan voters will consider a ballot proposal in the Nov. 8 election that would change the state’s constitution by reforming term limits for lawmakers and increasing financial disclosure requirements in Lansing.
Proponents of the ballot initiative say the proposal would bring “sweeping reforms” to a broken Lansing legislature by ensuring lawmakers are working on behalf of constituents rather than using their elected position as a stepping stone for higher office.
But opponents argue the term limits reforms in the proposal would actually increase the number of years lawmakers can spend in either the state House or the Senate, which would only benefit lobbyists and special interest groups – not the people.
Last week, the Michigan House and Senate agreed to place a proposal on the November ballot that would amend the state’s constitution so a person could not be elected as a state legislator for terms totaling no more than 12 years in either the House or the Senate. That is a slightly shorter stint than the total 14 years in office allowed under the legislature’s current term limits.
However, the current laws limit the number of years politicians can serve in either chamber – to six years, or three terms, in the House; and eight years, or two terms, in the Senate.
The proposal would allow lawmakers to spend their entire 12 years in one chamber, meaning they could spend more time in either chamber than under the current law.
Read more about what proponents and opponents of the ballot initiative say voters should know before heading to the polls in November.
Election policy changes needed ahead of 2022 primaries, Secretary of State Benson says
With the 2022 primary and general elections just months away, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson outlined changes she believes will meet the needs of voters while confronting escalating challenges associated with elections.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Benson called on the state legislature to implement four policies to conduct the upcoming elections in a safe, secure and accurate manner.
“We need to take action rather than continuing to spread misinformation with legislation proposals that are in search of non-existent problems,” Benson said. “It is time for our allies and teammates, I hope, in the legislature to do the people’s work and pass nonpartisan election policies that serve all voters on both sides of the aisle.”
Benson’s first policy recommendation to the Michigan legislature was to allow unofficial election results on election night, something the state law doesn’t currently allow. Oftentimes, voters have to wait up to 24 hours after the polls close to get them, Benson said.
She also said lawmakers should provide consistent and sufficient funding to keep elections secure, accessible and funded.
Benson urged the state to ensure the safety of election officials and volunteers who have come under attack in recent years due to misinformation surrounding elections.
Finally, Benson said Michigan should allow U.S. voters who are overseas, like military personnel and their spouses, to cast their ballots by mail.
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