State of Michigan issues and concerns facing broadcasters:
Time Change Bill Back Again
(11/12/19) The House passed a bill to stop the biannual time change leaving Michigan on Daylight Savings Time. Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-102) introduced the bill (H.B. 4303) which now moves to House Ways and Means Committee.
This bill was introduced a year ago too. According to MAB Government Relations Consultant Rob Elhenicky, this bill will not pass unless the whole region makes the same change. Michigan will not be the odd state out.
DOL Issues Final Rules on Overtime Pay
(11/12/19) On January 1, 2020, the threshold for white-collar workers to be exempt from overtime pay will raise from $23,660 to $35,568 annually. It is estimated that 1.3 million additional workers will be eligible for overtime.
Governor Whitmer directed the Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity to submit a request for rule-making to expand the right to overtime in Michigan to look more like the one President Obama developed which was not implemented. If approved this would make employees in Michigan eligible for overtime making up to $47,000.00. Several business groups are coming out against this bill. We will wait to see what happens before lending our name to such a movement. This does not impact our creative personnel exemption from overtime.
Court Rooms to Prohibit Cell Phones
(11/12/19) The MAB has filed comments in a proposed rulemaking that would allow each judge to make their own rules on cellphones in their courtrooms. MAB Attorney John Ronayne explained in his comments how cell phones are now reporter notebooks replacing pen and paper, they are our cameras, video and audio recorders and a device to send video footage of interviews back to the station. Ronayne asked the Court to eliminate any language in the proposed amendment which encroaches on or conflicts with current administrative rules and to maintain the current state standard for cell phones in Court rooms.
(11/12/19) H.B. 4311 has been introduced by Representative Brent Iden (R-61). This is a bill that defines and legalizes “Internet gaming” in Michigan. Though the MAB likes the bill, John Ronayne believes there needs to be language that clearly defines internet gaming from Internet gambling. The bill uses these words interchangeably.
Members are starting to get involved in Internet gaming contests and they do not want to have a requirement that all internet gaming must be held in conjunction with a Casino.
Sales Tax Exemption of Additional Broadcast Equipment
(11/12/19) The MAB has been meeting with the Michigan Dept of Treasury to get them to update their list of broadcast equipment that receives a tax exemption under the manufacturing exemption. MAB’s Rob Elhenicky, President White, Manager of Technical Services Dan Kelley and station engineers met with the Department and presented them with a list of equipment that was outdated and explained why other equipment should be on the exempt list. Transmitters are now a part of the integration of the broadcast signal and should be tax exempt.
A second meeting was held where MAB staff presented an economic impact study. We have been asked to set up a local station visit so treasury personnel could get a better idea of how the equipment we hope to have switched to nontaxable status works. That meeting is being scheduled.