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News & Events


MNA Legislative Update #9

06.24.2011

House Bill 4572 Passes House of Representatives

The House passed HB 4572 yesterday which would put in place a cap on the amount a public employer can spend on health benefits for their employees.  There were a few changes to the bill.  The cap was raisedto $5,500 for single coverage and the 2-person cap is now $11,000. The cap for full family coverage was not changed from the original $15,000. 

Earlier the Senate passed SB 7, which requires public employees to pay at least 20% of cost of their health care plan.  Now the House and Senate must negotiate whether to do a hard cap like the House wants or go the 20% route like the Senate passed.  Governor Snyder is on record supporting the 20% option.  Please contact your state legislators and tell them that a worker’s health benefits should be decided at the bargaining table, not the halls of the Capitol!

Unemployment Benefits Under Attack

House Bills 4781-4782 and Senate Bills 500-501 are legislation that changes the method in which unemployment benefits are calculated.  These bills use a 47% of “prior average weekly wage.”  The prior average weekly wage is calculated by using total wages credited during base period, divided by 52.  This has a two-fold effect.

  1. Anyone who makes less than $40,000 will see a reduction of 12% of their UI benefits.
  2. Workers who have unevenly distributed earnings, such as seasonal workers, will not have their unemployment calculated by 4.1% of the “highest quarter” as done today. Instead, the bill would use the 52 week average. This could cause a reduction in benefit amounts as well.

It wasn’t long ago that this legislature passed a bill to reduce UI benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.  That in itself is about a 23% cut in benefits.  When you combine these legislative changes, the unemployed workers in Michigan will realize about a 33% or more reduction in the dollars they would be eligible.  This will affect unemployed families who are trying to keep their home and put food on the table.  Please contact your state legislators and tell them you do not support this attack on unemployment benefits!

Bill Allowing Community Colleges to Offer BSN Passes House of Representatives

The House approved yesterday HB 4496, which would allow community colleges to grant baccalaureate degrees in nursing, cement technology, maritime technology, energy production technology, and culinary arts.

Proponents of the bills note that in other states where community colleges offer baccalaureate degrees in work-related technical areas such as nursing, higher education becomes accessible for adult working students who cannot attend a traditional university.  The students can earn the degrees closer to home, and their tuition is lower than in most four-year colleges and universities.

The bill now goes to the Senate where a similar bill died last session.

Staying informed is critical, as well as getting involved at the local level. Get yourself out there, call or write your legislators, let us help you set up in district meetings with them, and take some time to go to their monthly coffee hours. It is imperative that we all get involved and stay involved with this process.