michigan chamber of commerce

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is launching a private health insurance marketplace September 1st.

Jason Russell is the senior director of the chamber’s Department of Insurance Services.

He says the intent of the new marketplace is to help small businesses and insurance agents deal with an increasingly complex health insurance landscape under the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama is expected to talk about raising the federal minimum wage in his State of the Union address tonight.  Across Michigan, there’s also increasing focus on raising the minimum wage for the first time since 2008.   The Raise Michigan campaign is working to get an initiative on the ballot that would raise the minimum wage to somewhere between $9 and $10.10 per hour. But the Michigan Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes raising the minimum wage.  Joining us to explain why is Wendy Block, director of health policy in human resources at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.   We also spoke with Michigan State University economist Charles Ballard.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Union officials say a set of bills in Lansing are an attack on employees’ ability to strike and protest.

The state House Oversight Committee approved the legislation Tuesday. It now goes to the full state House.

House Bill 4643 would increase penalties for protesters who violate current picketing laws. It would also allow business owners to get a court order banning a demonstration without first having to prove picketers were doing something wrong.

Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak) is the top Democrat on the panel. He called that language unconstitutional.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Several groups are calling for an increase in the Michigan minimum wage to ten dollars an hour.

The current rate in Michigan is $7.40 an hour. That's higher than the national minimum wage.  Michigan is among more than a dozen states with minimum wage rates higher than the federal benchmark. 

Danielle Atkinson is with ‘Mothering Justice’, one of the groups calling on state lawmakers to increase Michigan’s minimum wage.

“We believe a hard day’s work deserves a fair pay. And it’s time for the Michigan legislature to support that as well,” says Atkinson. 

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Medical marijuana dispensaries could be revived in Michigan

A state House panel is soon likely to take up a bill that would revive medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan. Earlier this year, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled to stop most marijuana dispensaries; but now state lawmakers say they’re close to a deal on legislation that would allow and regulate the facilities.

Republican representative Mike Callton told Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher, “without the dispensaries, patients will have very limited access to medical marijuana.”

Free trade with E.U. could benefit Michigan manufacturing

Michigan businesses will be closely watching free trade talks starting today between the United States and the European Union. The proposed trade deal would open markets between the U.S. and the 28 E.U. countries. Rich Studley is the president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Studley told Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody, "an E.U. free trade deal would primarily benefit Michigan’s manufacturing industry."

Last chance to register for 2013 local elections

Today is the deadline to register to vote for the 56 local elections in Michigan this summer. Elections range from local primaries to school boards to city council votes. The Michigan Secretary of State is urging Michiganders to get out to vote in their local elections. Residents can go to their county or local clerk's office or a Secretary of State office to register.

eurocartans.org

Trade talks between the United States and the European Union start Monday.

The talks could have major ramifications for Michigan’s economy.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic are trying to hammer out a deal that could mean tens of billions of dollars in new trade.

Rich Studley is the president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. He says a free trade deal with the 28 European Union nations would be very important for Michigan.

gov.cbia.com

A state House committee this week will discuss whether to prevent local cities and towns in Michigan from passing laws requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

San Francisco, Seattle and several other major cities have passed ‘paid sick leave’ ordinances in recent years.  The intent is to protect people in low paying jobs, who stand to lose their job, if they try to take a sick day.

MEA

Michigan's Proposal 2 ballot campaign is being watched across the country. The proposal seeks to enshrine collective bargaining rights for public and private employees into the Michigan Constitution.

Steven Greenhouse wrote about the implications of Michigan's Proposal 2 in a recent New York Times piece.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce hopes the legislature will pass several pro-business laws before election year politics starts throwing obstacles in the way this year.   

Rich Studley is the president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. He said there’s probably only a small window before this year’s elections start affecting the ability of the legislature and the governor to get any work done.   

"We believe that between now and the May filing deadline …between now and the end of May and the start of June…there are five months that the legislature and the governor can still work on key issues," said Studley.    

The chamber is pushing for the elimination of Michigan’s ‘personal property tax’ and would like to streamline environmental and other regulations.    

The state’s largest business industry group is also encouraging the governor to move ahead with plans to build a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, even  if he has to do it without the legislature’s approval.  

One major issue not on the state Chamber of Commerce’s agenda is ‘Right to Work’. Chamber officials say their members have not reached a consensus on the issue.  More than 20 states prohibit agreements between employers and unions that require workers to join the union or pay union dues.

Rep. Paul Scott's official website

The Michigan Supreme Court is being asked to stay a lower court ruling and allow Genesee County voters to decide if they want to recall State Representative Paul Scott.   

Last week, a judge issued a temporary injunction halting next month’s recall vote.    

Bobbie Walton is with the recall campaign.  She’s optimistic that the state supreme court will allow the vote to go forward.   

“We are hoping, through our efforts, we can bring the vote back to the people in District 51," says Walton.