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In this issue:

  • Legislative summer break looks unlikely
  • Marketplace facilitator and Wayfair codification bills introduced
  • Bill to limit sales of certain cough syrups to minors discussed 
  • Snow day forgiveness
  • Record attendance at MRA reception
Legislative summer break looks unlikely

A recent three-judge federal panel ruled 34 Republican-controlled, legislature drawn legislative districts to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered the redrawing of those districts ahead of the 2020 election. The court ordered the legislature to approve new district maps by Aug. 1, an expensive exercise and tall order when the legislature and governor are still far apart in budget discussions. This makes the traditional summer break the legislature takes look less and less likely to occur.

While the legislature is appealing the cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, challenges claiming gerrymandering in districts in North Carolina and Maryland are already pending before the Court which is expected to rule on those cases in June.

Also on the agenda are discussions on no-fault auto insurance reform, which are expected to pick up soon, and republicans expect to unveil a road funding solution of their own in a few weeks at the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference.

Marketplace facilitator and Wayfair codification bills introduced

MRA priority legislation to close the marketplace loophole and codify the Wayfair v. South Dakota decision was introduced on Thursday as HB 4540-4543. HB 45404541 would close the marketplace loophole, by requiring a marketplace facilitator, like Amazon, eBay and Etsy to collect and remit sales taxes on sales of items by third party sellers on the marketplace website. These sales would be reported on one return the marketplace facilitator files with the state. HB 45424543 would codify the Michigan Department of Treasury guidance that required collection of out-of-state sales taxes allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Wayfair v. South Dakota. That ruling established an out-of-state retailer creates enough economic nexus to collect sales taxes if they have sales over $100,000 or 200 or more separate transactions in a given year.

The bills were referred to the House Tax Policy Committee, which is chaired by one of our bill sponsors, Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids). The chairwoman has told us she plans to bring the bills up for a hearing on May 22. We expect to have substitute bills ready for the hearing that incorporate some of the technical changes Michigan’s Department of Treasury have asked for as well as some changes requested by marketplace facilitators. Next steps: House Tax Policy Committee. MRA position: Support.

Bill to limit sales of certain cough syrups to minors discussed 

Legislation that would limit sales of cough syrups or other medications containing the product dextromethorphan to minors received a hearing in the House Health Policy Committee on Thursday. The bill, HB 4412 is a reintroduction of legislation from last year. It will require retailers to check ID for any individuals who appear under age 25 before selling the product. An initial violation of the act will be penalized first with a warning letter and subsequent violations will carry a fine of $50-$100. Individuals attempting to illegally purchase the product will receive a fine of $50.

Some committee challenged the necessity of limiting sales of products containing this drug and asked which other legal products could fall into this category in the future. MRA has been assured that any bill that moves on this issue will include time for retailers to implement the necessary POS changes and staff training. The committee is likely to add a Jan. 1, 2020 implementation date to achieve that goal. Next steps: House Health Policy Committee vote. MRA position: Support.

Snow day forgiveness sparks school calendar discussion

Last week, the legislature passed HB 4206 to count the four extreme cold days during which Gov. Whitmer declared a state of emergency as snow days that don’t count against schools six snow days allocated annually. If the legislature had not acted, many school districts would have had to extend their school calendar further into June. Pundits mentioned it’s likely that the unique situation that required this legislation will spark additional debate over when the school year starts. Starting school before Labor Day has always been an area of concern for retailers dependent on students to fill summer jobs and geographic areas reliant on tourism. Next steps: Governor’s signature. MRA position: No position.

Record attendance at MRA reception

MRA held its annual legislative reception on April 23 and hit record attendance numbers of nearly 170. The reception had a Buy Nearby theme and features food prepared by MRA’s Grocers Division members Busch’s fresh food market and VG’s including sushi, beef brisket, decadent desserts, Mediterranean food from Beirut Bakery, and Michigan-made beer, wine and spirits. The event wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our sponsors; Amway, Arctic Glacier, Busch’s Fresh Food Market, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, Dykema, Juul, Kroger, Lipari, Mary Kay, Meijer, National Confectioners Association, National Retail Federation, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Retailers Insurance Company, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Rite Aid, SpartanNash and Walgreens. For more photos of the event, visit our Facebook page.

The post Bills to close the marketplace loophole introduced appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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Stationed in “The Cheese Capital of Michigan,” Pinconning Cheese Co. and Fudge Shoppe continues the tradition of making old-fashioned, Pinconning Cheese using the same formula Dan Horn created in 1915.

Opened in 1948 by Harry and Marie (Horn) Bennett, the daughter of Dan Horn, took her father’s recipe and built Pinconning Cheese Company. In 1953, Alex McCourt Jr. and his wife Evelyn purchased the store and renamed it The Pinconning Cheese Store. After their retirement in 1971, the Mastroianni family, led by Richard and Rose, bought the store, added a deli and started selling their famous Pinconning Pizzaloaf.

Current owners Brian and Debby Saha, born and raised in Pinconning, bought the store in 1987 and the Pinconning Cheese Co. and Fudge Shoppe was afoot. Brian shares that even after all the name and ownership changes, one thing always stayed the same: original, homemade Pinconning Cheese.

[READ MORE]

The post In his own words: Pinconning Cheese Co. and Fudge Shoppe appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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By John Mayleben

Wall or no wall? That is the question.

Current politics aside, should your credit card terminal have a wall around it or not? Should it be on a deserted data island?

My advice: Don’t let a wall shut down your business.

In today’s world, your systems shouldn’t be on their own islands or have walls built around them. For efficiency’s sake, they need to talk to each other (as long as it follows PCI compliance).

In the old days, your credit card terminal sat, disconnected, from your inventory system. Only the largest, most sophisticated merchants were able to afford an integrated system that “talked” to the merchant processing system.

Today, that has changed.

With the movement of tablets and touch screens into the business world and then into the point of sale, more and more merchants are able to leverage a complete package for a very small cost. This allows you, as the business owner, to give your customers a retail experience that in the past was associated only with the large multi-store, multi-state retailers.

MRA has partnered with TSYS, one of our merchant processing vendors, and is offering a solution that is made for the small merchant community. The Vital point of sale system sits on a single powerful platform that gives business owners the tools they need to be successful.

It all starts with the redesign of the traditional cash register. This tablet system is designed to sit on the counter at the cash-wrap station and handle all of your customer interactions, including a customer-facing signature capture and/or gratuity tool.

This system will handle all of your customer facing needs, from ringing up a sale, to payment processing (cash, check, or card), to capturing the relevant information about your customer so you can market to them in the future.

And when you aren’t open for business, you can keep doing business (since business owners never sleep, right?) The cloud-based back-office tools allow you to manage all aspects of your business from almost anywhere.
*Access to all data elements in one spot
*Real time sales reporting
*Inventory management*Pricing controls
*Scalability to support a growing and
changing business

The system can even support mobile solutions, if your business model demands it. We can help, whether your mobile is just Wi-Fi, or a cellular away-from-the-office solution.

This new system will support business solutions that require you to take the cash-out process to the consumer, such as pay at the table for restaurants, or other unique retail experiences designed to fit your vision of the purchase experience.

And since more and more consumers are not interested in taking a “receipt” with them at the point of sale, you can email the receipts to the customer.

In addition to the traditional card-processing solution that your old credit card terminal supported, these new systems can support “apps” that you choose to download. These apps will allow you to leverage the hardware sitting on the counter to do things like time and attendance, inventory, customer databases, etc.

Thankfully, gone is the day that your credit card terminal, your cash register, your timeclock, and your inventory ordering system don’t talk to each other.

Both the MRA customer service team and the MRA sales team are ready to answer questions and help design the best solutions for your needs. Please feel free to contact either of them at 800-366-3699. Paraphrasing the immortal words of President Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Retailer, tear down the wall!”

The post Should your credit card terminal be on a deserted data island? appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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Legislators return from break, prepare for summer budget showdown

Legislators have returned from a two-week break and legislative activity seems to be picking up. The House and Senate are expected to report their respective versions of the state budget in early May. This will set the stage for a potential budget showdown between the Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Whitmer.

Legislators seem to have little interest in some of the main components of the governor’s budget – namely the 45-cent gas tax increase and an increase in taxes on small businesses. The governor hasn’t been shy in telling legislators additional road funding is a requirement for any budget that reaches her desk. In fact, she’s been so direct she’s told the legislature not to leave over the summer if the budget isn’t done. One can assume by “done” she means something she will actually sign, but that remains to be seen.

Senate brings back tobacco tax cap debate

The Senate Finance Committee discussed legislation last week that would ensure the current 50-cent per individual cigar tax cap stays in place permanently. The bill, SB 58, is a reintroduction of legislation that the legislature approved last session but was vetoed by out-going Gov. Snyder.

The reason for the legislation is to ensure Michigan cigar shops can compete with out-of-state, online cigar sellers. These out-of-state sellers don’t all collect Michigan’s tobacco taxes, putting Michigan retailers at an automatic disadvantage. Keeping the tax capped keeps the price discrepancy at a minimum. The cap on the tax is scheduled to expire on Oct. 31, 2021. Next steps: Senate Finance Committee vote. MRA position: Support.

House committee wants to end post-Labor Day school start

Bills to eliminate the current requirement for schools to start classes after Labor Day received a hearing in the House Education Committee last week. The bills, HB 43684369, are sponsored by the committee’s chair, Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield) and Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland). The tourism industry’s arguments about the difficulty in retaining enough workers and traffic to keep their doors open fell on mostly deaf ears. Many schools already have obtained waivers to the post-Labor Day start date requirement and of those that haven’t, most fall sports start practicing at the beginning of August. Next steps: House Education Committee vote. MRA position: Oppose.

Compromise reached on multi-line phone regulations 

Business groups reached the best compromise possible with the 9-1-1 commission on changes to pending regulations on multi-line phone systems. HB 4249 makes corrections to a rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission and the State’s 9-1-1 Committee requiring software updates to multi-line phone systems ensuring they can pinpoint the location of a caller.

The compromise changes will require all buildings over 7,000 square feet that contain a multi-line phone system to identify the location of the caller within the building by Jan. 1, 2020. Buildings under 20,000 square feet with fewer than 20 phone lines do not have to meet the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline but must make the updates the next time a new phone system is installed.  The compromise also reduced the potential fines for noncompliance to $500-$5,000 per offense, removed future rule-making authority, and exempts businesses in areas where enhanced 9-1-1 services are not available. The committee is expected to report the bill this week.  Next steps: House Communications and Technology Committee vote. MRA position: Neutral.

Format changes

Starting with this update, we’ve made some changes to make the Government Affairs News updates easier to read. The “other important items to note” feature has morphed into a full bill tracking document that is uploaded to MRA’s website with every two weeks. Bills are categorized by topic and those with changes are highlighted. This tracker will be linked to every email update in the right-hand column. Members should be able to tell from a quick glance what MRA’s position is on any given bill and to see where it is in the legislative process.

We welcome member comments regarding the email format change and the bill tracker. Our goal is to make it easy for you to stay informed without having to be at the Capitol every day.

The post Back to school debate, phone system upgrades and cigar tax caps appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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Stationed in “The Cheese Capital of Michigan,” Pinconning Cheese Co. and Fudge Shoppe continues the tradition of making old-fashioned, Pinconning Cheese using the same formula Dan Horn created in 1915.

Opened in 1948 by Harry and Marie (Horn) Bennett, the daughter of Dan Horn, took her father’s recipe and built Pinconning Cheese Company. In 1953, Alex McCourt Jr. and his wife Evelyn purchased the store and renamed it The Pinconning Cheese Store. After their retirement in 1971, the Mastroianni family, led by Richard and Rose, bought the store, added a deli and started selling their famous Pinconning Pizzaloaf.

Current owners Brian and Debby Saha, born and raised in Pinconning, bought the store in 1987 and the Pinconning Cheese Co. and Fudge Shoppe was afoot. Brian shares that even after all the name and ownership changes, one thing always stayed the same: original, homemade Pinconning Cheese.

[READ MORE]

The post In his own words: Pinconning Cheese Co. and Fudge Shoppe appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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Chesaning’s landmark business one of Carhartt’s oldest accounts

One hundred years ago, Ed Rehmann and wife, Eva, began a clothing business in downtown Chesaning, a small, rural town located southwest of Saginaw. For three generations, the business has operated in the same spot and under the same name, Ed Rehmann and Sons.

n a bucolic town, with a cold winter climate, many customers gear up with Ed Rehmann and Sons’ Carhartt merchandise. Carhartt brand materials have been sold at the store since the beginning, making Ed Rehmann and Sons one of the Dearbon-based company’s oldest accounts. Many customers even travel across the state to stock up.

[READ MORE]

The post Ed Rehmann & Sons named Centennial Retailer appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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Spring break

Legislators are currently on a two-week spring break. They will return on Tuesday, April 9 and are scheduled to meet through the end of June. With the budget about a month behind schedule thanks to the new administration, the legislature may need to stay in session through July and maybe even August. Once the House and Senate start approving their versions of the budget towards the end of April we’ll have a better idea of how much negotiation will need to occur between the legislative and the executive branches.

Quiet spring so far

While you wouldn’t know it looking at the calendar full of meetings we’ve had with legislators, it’s been a fairly quiet spring in terms of legislation. For MRA, the beginning of each new session is full of “meet and greet” meetings with new legislators and getting to know new committee chairs/leadership. Those meetings filled our scheduled through the end of February and then we shifted our focus to working on proactive legislation and addressing bills introduced by legislators.

To put the slower than usual spring in perspective, this year the House has only passed 29 bills and the senate has passed six bills. Only two bills have been enrolled and sent to the governor’s desk and only one has been signed into law. Compare this with last session where by this time, the House had passed 37 bills and the Senate 71 bills. 24 bills had been enrolled by the same time and 22 signed into law. In former Gov. Snyder’s first term (2011) the House had passed 35 bills and the Senate had passed 29 bills.18 bills had been enrolled and 14 had been signed into law. This could be due in part to the changes in the committee process in the house where they’ve added a secondary review committee system. It is more likely due to divided government. The Republican controlled legislature and Democratic administration are still determining which items they can work together on jointly.

The 20-cent question: which law changes take effect on March 29?

Michigan’s minimum wage will increase from $9.25 an hour to $9.45 an hour beginning on Friday. Employers with more than 50 employees must also begin offering 40 hours of annual, paid medical leave benefits to full time (non-seasonal) employees. There is also an updated minimum wage poster and paid medical leave posting requirement (see story below).

New labor law posters coming soon

Thanks to updates to Michigan’s minimum wage and new paid leave benefits that take effect on March 29, employers must update their labor law posters. In addition to the changes in employee benefits, the state has updated its minimum wage poster and added a new paid medical leave poster. These posters are required by law to be posted somewhere visible to all employees (typically located in the break room, back room or near employee bathrooms).

MRA members receive free labor law posters as a member benefit and updated posters are in progress. However, we are waiting to see if the courts will weigh in on the laws that may result in any changes. Meanwhile, MRA members can print off the PDF posters provided by the state to stay in compliance.

AG will not weigh in on min wage, paid leave…yet

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said yesterday she would follow the tradition of the office and not issue an opinion on an issue that is currently before the courts. The legislature asked the Michigan Supreme Court to review the legality of the process used to adopt and amend the laws last year. Nessel was asked last month by a state senator to opine on the legality of the minimum wage and paid leave changes that take effect on Friday. Her decision to not weigh in while the issue is before the Michigan Supreme Court follows precedent set by previous AGs. Nessel’s statement does signal that she will likely issue an opinion if the Michigan Supreme Court does not take up the review.

Legislative round-up:

 GROCERY

  • E-cigarette sales to minors: Legislation to ban sales of e-cigarettes and vapor products to minors was recently reported by the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. SB 106 would increase the penalties for selling to minors from $50 per violation to up to $100 for a first offense, up to $500 for a second offense and up to $2,500 for a third or subsequent offense. A similar bill, HB 4164, was also reported by the House Regulatory Reform Committee. The bills received push back from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Lung Society who all want vapor products to be classified as tobacco. Next steps: Senate floor/House Judiciary Committee. MRA Position: Support.
  • Liquid nicotine sales: SB 155, recently approved by the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee would require liquid nicotine containers be sold in child-resistant packaging and require retailers sell these and other vapor products behind the counter. Violating the packaging requirements is a $50 civil fine and violation of selling the products not behind the counter would be a $500 civil fine. Next steps: Senate floor. MRA Position: Support.
  • Pregnancy and alcohol warning posting requirements: The House approved legislation that would require retailers selling alcohol to post a warning of the potential problems of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. MRA was successful in getting an amendment added to HB 4112 to add clarity in requiring the new warning be on an existing posting requirement. We’ve been told the bill is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate. Next steps: Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. MRA Position: Neutral.

HUMAN RESOURCES

  • Criminal history: Legislation to make it illegal for an employer to request information related an arrest, criminal accusation or criminal convictions of a job applicant before making a conditional offer of employment was recently introduced as HB 4326. The bill creates a new act but is unlikely to see legislative action. Next steps: House Commerce and Tourism Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • Minimum wage increase: Legislation that seeks to create a $16 minimum wage for individuals with five years relevant experience and a high school diploma or equivalent credential was recently introduced as SB 233. It is highly improbable that this bill will move, especially given the committee it was referred to. Next steps: Senate Government Operations Committee. MRA Position: Oppose.

PHARMACY

  • Dextromethorphan sales to minors: Recently introduce legislation, HB 4412, would limit the sale or purchase of cold products that contain dextromethorphan to minors. Dextromethorphan is typically found in cough syrups. The bill contains penalties for intentionally selling to minors ranging from a warning letter for a first offense to a civil fine of $100 for a third or subsequent offense. Under the bill, minors who attempt to purchase these products could receive a $50 civil fine. MRA requested the bill sponsor consider adding time for pharmacies and stores to update POS systems and inform staff of the change. Next steps: House Health Policy Committee. MRA Position: Support with reasonable time to implement.
  • E-prescribing: Legislation MRA requested to ensure all prescriptions are sent electronically to the pharmacy was introduced last week as SB 248. The bill mirrors HB 4217 and gives us a chance to discussion the issue in both chambers. Next steps: Senate Health Policy Committee. MRA Position: Support.

REGULATIONS

  • Data breach notification: HB 4186-4187 were reported from the first committee, House Financial Services, unanimously on March 13. The bills would require businesses who have a data breach directly notify customers of that breach within 45 days after confirmation of a breach. We believe the Ways and Means Committee (a new secondary review process this year) will make the changes MRA is seeking on the legislation. There is no urgent timeframe to bring up the bills – the earliest will probably be end of April. Next steps: House Ways and Means Committee. MRA Position: Oppose. Seeking amendments.
  • Drones: Legislation to allow a local unit of government to regulate drone use was approved by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week. SB 129 is mainly focused on Mackinac Island and the unique challenges drones present to the car-free island that is powered by horse-drawn carriages. Next steps: Senate floor. MRA Position: Support.
  • Internet gaming: The House Regulatory Reform Committee reported bills earlier this month that would legalize online gaming. The bills, HB 4173, HB 4308-4312 & HB 4323 were discussed in a committee hearing on March 12 and reported the following week. They are reintroductions of legislation approved last term but vetoed by outgoing Governor Rick Snyder. Next steps: House Ways and Means Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • Repeal no stricter than federal provision: Legislation that seeks to repeal a law passed last year prohibiting rules stricter than federal standards was introduced as HB 4386. It is highly unlikely the legislature will overturn a law it recently approved. Next steps: House Oversight Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.

TAXES

  • Entertainment tax: Legislation that would create a new 10 percent excise tax on the admission charge for entertainment events for things like museums, zoos, professional sporting events, concerts, amusement parks, botanical gardens, and other cultural events was recently introduced as SB 235. The bill would exempt K-12 school events, collegiate athletic events and events sponsored by a nonprofit or charitable organization. Funds would go towards police and firefighter’s retirement benefits in the community where the event occurred. This bill is highly unlikely to move. Next steps: Senate Finance Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.

The post Legislative recap plus new laws take effect Friday appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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By AMY DRUMM

Thanks to updates to Michigan’s minimum wage and new paid leave benefits that take effect on March 29, employers must update their labor law posters. In addition to the changes in employee benefits, the state has updated its minimum wage poster and added a new paid medical leave poster. These posters are required by law to be posted somewhere visible to all employees (typically located in the break room, back room or near employee bathrooms).

MRA members receive free labor law posters as a member benefit and updated posters are in progress. However, we are waiting to see if the courts will weigh in on the laws that may result in any changes.

Meanwhile, MRA members can print off the PDF posters provided by the state to stay in compliance.

As for changes in employee benefits, employers should note that the laws passed by the Legislature in December are presumed to be constitutional and employers should assume the changes will take effect as planned.

That said, because the legislature has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to review its action, it would be wise to wait to implement any changes to employee payroll or benefits until March 29 and keep an eye out for updates.

The post New labor law posters coming soon appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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Whitmer’s first budget is a tax and shift plan

On Tuesday, Gov. Whitmer released her first state budget, a $60 billion plan that adds nearly $4 billion in new funding. The budget attempts to address some of her key campaign promises to fix the roads, increase education funding and focus on water quality issues. It also shifts funding sources in a way that the administration believes is more straightforward (e.g. education dollars going only to K-12 schools). To fund her priorities there are two proposed tax increases that may impact retailers: a 45-cent gas tax increase and an increase in the income tax rate for businesses filing as S-corps and LLCs.

First, the governor’s budget includes a substantially higher gas tax – an increase of 45 cents, phased in 15 cents at a time over a year and a half time span. These new funds would generate $2.5 billion and be used to fund critical road and infrastructure repairs each year. It’s important to note that state taxes aren’t the only tax Michiganders pay at the pump. Michigan residents also pay an 18.4 cent per gallon federal tax as well as the state’s six percent sales tax. The sales tax is levied on top of the retail price of gas and the federal 18.4 cent per gallon tax but not on the state’s 26.3 cent per gallon gas tax (see examples of the price breakdown to the left). Also important is that the new funds would be subject to a different distribution formula, less regionally-focused and more priority-based, than the current 26.3 cent per gallon Michigan fuel tax revenue.

Second, the budget attempts to tax all businesses, including pass through businesses like S-Corporations and LLCs the same rate, at six percent. This new revenue would be used to offset the removal of the “pension tax” on public pensions.  S-corporations and LLCs are currently taxed through the income reported on an individual’s income tax at the 4.25 percent Michigan Income Tax. An increase to six percent would be a 41 percent increase in the tax rate on mostly the small businesses who utilize the S-corporation and LLC structures.

While it doesn’t sound like a huge increase, this would be the fourth tax structure for small businesses to comply with in the last 10 years (Michigan Business Tax/MBT, Single Business Tax/SBT, Corporate Income Tax/CIT). That’s a lot of uncertainty and change for employers to handle on top of the increases in wage and benefits imposed by the state and required to retain and attract talent.

Both of these proposals and the entire budget were met with skepticism from the legislature which now will get to work preparing its own budget. Ultimately, expect a lot of compromise in these budget areas on both sides and remember that the governor shared some alternatives for raising the $2.5 billion needed for roads that may be less attractive to businesses and residents. These alternatives include a 7.4 percent sales tax rate (an increase of 1.4 percentage points) or a 19 percent personal income tax rate.

Legislature asks Supreme Court to address min. wage and paid leave changes

Following a state senator’s request for an attorney general opinion, the Michigan legislature passed resolutions HR 25 and SR 16. These resolutions formally asked the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on the legality of adopting then amending initiated laws raising the minimum wage and creating medical leave benefits. The legislature took this action since it was likely this question would ultimately fall to the courts to make a final determination. With the legislation slated to take effect in late March (March 29) employers need certainty on what new regulations they will be asked to comply with. Employers should note that laws passed by the legislature are presumed to be constitutional and should assume the changes will go into effect as planned. That said, it would be wise to wait to implement any changes to employee payroll or benefits until March 29 and keep an eye out for updates.

Data breach bill back for discussion

Legislation MRA was active on last year that would change the notification requirements when an entity is the victim of a data breach was reintroduced as HB 41864187. MRA testified before the House Financial Services Committee last week on the reasonable amendments retailers need added to the bill in order to be supportive. These amendments include language ensuring third party vendors are held equally accountable by clarifying who must notify and pay for notification if a breach occurs, allowing flexibility in investigation requirements and ensuring only the state can regulate notification requirements. It sounds like changes will be made to the bill but it is uncertain whether those changes will be made in the original committee or in the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill will likely be reported to Ways and Means next week. Next steps: House Financial Services Committee vote. MRA Position: Opposed as introduced, seeking amendments.

Legislation requiring e-prescribing introduced

MRA priority legislation to require all prescriptions be sent electronically to the pharmacy directly by the prescriber was introduced as HB 4217. This legislation will help reduce fraud and errors, improve workflow, and create a better system to track whether a patient has picked up their medication or not as well as potential interactions between various medications. The bill would require prescriptions be sent electronically to pharmacy in most circumstances and includes a hardship waiver for prescribers who cannot reasonably meet the requirements. Other states that have implemented electronic prescription requirements have seen reductions in the amount of fraud particularly related to controlled substance prescriptions like opioids. MRA is meeting with committee members and working to secure a hearing for the bill this spring. Next steps: House Health Policy Committee. MRA Position: Support.

DOL publishes final overtime rule for comment

Last week, the Department of Labor (DOL) published its final proposed overtime rule for comments. The proposed rule can be found here and a fact sheet here. This rule impacts which employees are eligible for overtime and which are exempt. Covered employees must be paid time and a half for any hours worked more than 40 in a workweek. Employees who meet the salary threshold (currently $23,660 or $455/week) and whose job duties also primarily involve executive, administrative or professional duties as defined by the regulations are exempt from overtime pay. [Read more]

MRA members may recall that under the Obama administration the DOL attempted to increase this threshold to $47,476 annually or $913/week but the rule was struck down in court ahead of Pres. Trump taking office. The new proposed changes follow 2004 methodology to update the standard salary level threshold to $35,308 annually or $679/week. There will be a 60-day comment period and the estimated effective date is January 2020. The DOL encourages any interested members of the public to submit comments about the proposed rule electronically at www.regulations.gov, in the rulemaking docket RIN 1235-AA20.

Legislative round-up:
  • Alcohol serving hours: HB 4213 would allow a city, township or village to vote to allow sales of alcohol at on premise locations between 2:00-4:00 a.m. Next steps: House Regulatory Reform Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • E-cigarette and vapor product taxes: A bill to tax e-cigarettes and vapor products the same as tobacco products was recently introduced as HB 4188. The bill would add these products into the definition of “smokeless tobacco” beginning Oct. 1, 2019. Next steps: House Regulatory Reform Committee. MRA Position: Under review.
  • E-cigarette sales to minors: Legislation to ban sales of e-cigarettes and vapor products to minors was introduced as SB 106. The bill would also increase the penalties for selling to minors from $50 per violation to up to $100 for a first offense, up to $500 for a second offense and up to $2,500 for a third or subsequent offense. The bill would also require liquid nicotine containers be sold in child-resistant packaging and require retailers sell vapor products behind the counter. In addition, minors would be prohibited from purchasing, possessing or using vapor products and would be subject to a $50 civil fine per incident. For a third violation a minor would receive a misdemeanor and be required to participate in a health and risk assessment program. The bill is scheduled for a hearing next week in the Senate. Next steps: Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. MRA Position: Under review.
  • Liquid nicotine sales: SB 155 would require liquid nicotine containers be sold in child-resistant packaging and require retailers sell these and other vapor products behind the counter. Violating the packaging requirements is a $50 civil fine and violation of selling the products not behind the counter would be a $500 civil fine. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate next week. Next steps: Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. MRA Position: Under review.
  • Pregnancy and alcohol warning posting requirements: The House is poised to take action on a bill next week that would require retailers selling alcohol to post a warning of the potential problems of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. MRA was successful in getting an amendment added to HB 4112 to add clarity in requiring the new warning be on an existing posting requirement. Next steps: House floor. MRA Position: Neutral.

  • Emergency responder work absences: Legislation introduced as SB 162 would allow an employee to be absent from work without fear of punishment if the employee is an emergency responder and the absence was due to an emergency. Next steps: Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • Homeschool child work permits: HB 4262 would allow a parent or legal guardian to issue a child who is educated at home via homeschool or other similar arrangement a work permit. Next steps: House Education Committee. MRA Position: Neutral.
  • Minimum wage increase: Legislation that seeks to restore the timing of the $12 minimum wage increase prescribed by a ballot proposal last year was introduced as HB 4299. It is highly improbable that this bill will move, especially given the committee it was referred to. Next steps: House Government Operations Committee. MRA Position: Oppose.

  • Maintenance drug refills: A bill that would ensure patients can receive refills of maintenance medications towards the end of the calendar year was introduced as HB 4293. Similar legislation has been introduced in the past. Next steps: House Health Policy Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • Pseudoephedrine limits: Legislation introduced as SB 170 would lower the current allowable monthly limit of pseudoephedrine an individual can purchase from 9 grams to 7.2 grams as well as setting a 61.2-gram annual limit. Next steps: Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.

  • 9-1-1 phone systems: Legislation to rescind a rule with an expensive price tag for businesses was introduced as HB 4249. The legislation would rescind a requirement and administrative rules scheduled to go into effect at the end of this year. The rules state any business over 7,000 square feet that has a multiline phone system must install special equipment that can direct 9-1-1 services to the specific location in the building or series of buildings. These systems are costly and the rules were vague on which technology would meet the requirements leaving businesses to guess at compliance and risk penalties if they got it incorrect. MRA will be testifying in support of this legislation to remove this costly requirement and urges members to share examples of what impact this will have on your business. Next steps: House Communications and Technology Committee. MRA Position: Support.
  • Drones: Legislation to allow a local unit of government to regulate drone use was introduced as SB 129. This bill is mainly focused on Mackinac Island and the unique challenges drones present to the car-free island that is powered by horse-drawn carriages. Another bill, HB 4300 would prohibit the use of drones for natural resources investigations without the property owner’s consent. Next steps: House Communications and Technology Committee. MRA Position: Support SB 129. Monitoring HB 4300.
  • Internet gaming: Reintroductions of legal online gaming legislation were introduced as HB 43074312 & SB 186190. The bills were approved by the legislature last term but vetoed by outgoing Governor Rick Snyder. Next steps: House and Senate Regulatory Reform Committees. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • Tanning ban for minors: HB 4205 would prohibit minors from being able to use tanning facilities. Each violation would carry a $150 fine for the owner of the tanning business. Next steps: House Regulatory Reform Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.

  • Feminine hygiene products: Legislation exempting feminine hygiene products from the state’s sales and use taxes was introduced as HB 41654166 and SB 123124Next steps: House Tax Policy Committee and Senate Finance Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • Unemployed workers credit: A bill that would create a new tax credit for hiring unemployed workers was introduced as HB 4180. Similar legislation was introduced last year but did not move. Next steps: House Tax Policy Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • Child care credit: Legislation that would create a new tax credit for businesses that offer child care to workers was introduced as HB 4182. Similar legislation was introduced last year but did not move. Next steps: House Tax Policy Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • PPT exemption threshold increase: Legislation to increase the exemption threshold from the Personal Property Tax filings for small businesses from $80,000 in commercial personal property to $100,000 in personal property was introduced as HB 42144215. MRA supports the legislation but wonders if it goes far enough in addressing the challenges of the commercial personal property tax. Next steps: House Tax Policy Committee. MRA Position: Support.

  • Alcohol on rivers: A resolution that seeks to overturn a U.S.D.A Forest Service order banning alcohol consumption on or within 200 feet of the shores of certain Northern Michigan rivers (the National Wild and Scenic River sections of the AuSable, Manistee, and Pine rivers) was introduced as SR 12. MRA members have expressed concerns about the impact this will have on nearby stores and is working with the resolution sponsor and others to see this order overturned. Next steps: Senate Natural Resources Committee. MRA Position: Support.
  • Broadband funding: Legislation to exempt broadband companies’ equipment from the Personal Property Tax and to provide additional funding for broadband expansion in underserved areas was introduced as HB 4268, HB 4288 and SB 163. HB 4288 would create a grant program to award funds to local governments or educational institutions to own, purchase, construct, operate or maintain a communications network. Next steps: House Communications and Technology Committee. MRA Position: Under review.
  • Daylight Savings Time: As we just set back our clocks for Daylight Savings Time this weekend, it’s only fitting that the legislature has once again introduced a bill to end Michigan’s participation in Daylight Savings Time as HB 4303. Similar bills attracted a lot of discussion last session but little movement.Next steps: House Commerce and Tourism Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.
  • Texting while driving: Several bipartisan bills, introduced as HB 4181, 41984199, would increase penalties on drivers who send texts or other messages while driving. Texting while driving is already illegal and drivers can receive both that penalty and distracted driving charges which carries a larger fine and impact on one’s driving record. Next steps: House Transportation Committee. MRA Position: Monitoring.

The post Budgeting via tax increases and legislative round up appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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Getting a business loan is made easier, thanks to a new partnership between Michigan Retailers Association and Lendio.

In a new pilot program, MRA members who are part of the association’s merchant processing program can now access Lendio, the nation’s leading marketplace for small business loans.

Lendio is an online service that connects business owners with loan options from a network of more than 75 lenders. The company itself does not finance any loan products; instead, it has created a marketplace of vetted lenders to match with businesses looking for loans.

“Lendio is a trusted platform that has a strong reputation for pairing experienced lenders with businesses in need of capital,” says MRA Executive Vice President Bill Hallan. “At times our members need access to funds to buy equipment, expand, open a new location, and so forth. With this new partnership, we can offer our members a simple, fast, safe way to secure a small business loan.”

Since its inception in 2011, Lendio has facilitated over $1 billion in financing to more than 22,000 small businesses across the country. Its network of

lenders offers 12 types of financing including business lines of credit, short term loans, business acquisition loans, commercial mortgages, and equipment financing.

Find out more about the program and apply for a loan here.

Applying for a loan is fast and simple with Lendio’s streamlined online application process. Completing the application takes about 15 minutes; there’s no fee or obligation, and it won’t impact an applicant’s credit score.

Personal funding managers are available to discuss funding needs and help ensure that applicants have collected the right documents and forms to complete the application.

Then the company’s proprietary algorithm matches applicants to the best loans; and again, personal funding managers are available to walk applicants through each option and help choose the perfect one.

While there is no guarantee that an applicant will be approved for a loan, once approved, access to capital can be available in as little as 24 hours.

“This alliance marks another milestone in MRA’s commitment to providing the programs and services retailers need to start, build, and grow their business,” adds Hallan. “MRA members who are part of our Merchant Processing Program can take advantage of this new program.”

MRA members who are not yet part of the Merchant Processing Program should contact MRA’s Harmony Clouse at (800) 366-3699 or hclouse@retailers.com for more information and a no-cost quote.

The post Lendio, MRA partner to offer easy access to business loans appeared first on Michigan Retailers Association.

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