Lansing Update: Catholic Grassroots, Tell Your House Member to Approve Immediate Tax Relief for Working Families

In this update:

Grassroots Pressure Needed to Get Immediate Tax Relief to Working Families

Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) is urging members of the Catholic Advocacy Network like you to contact your House member to urge swift passage of a bill that would bring immediate tax relief to hundreds of thousands of working, lower-income Michigan families.

Senate Bill 144, sponsored by Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) would ensure Michigan families could benefit from the newly increased Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) immediately this year. The increase to the EITC was approved earlier this year as part of a bill that contained other unrelated tax items, but without immediate effect, meaning families wouldn’t benefit from the newly increased tax credit until 2024.

This new standalone bill has already cleared the Senate, and if it cleared the House with enough votes and signed by the Governor, people who have already completed their taxes for 2022 and who qualify for the EITC would get the extra cash sent to them.

One of the main reasons for advocating for the legislation this year was to help lower-income families struggling to keep up with high inflation by providing them extra tax relief to help with their groceries and other day-to-day expenses.

Without passage of Senate Bill 144 soon, the point of getting people help faster is lost if they must wait until 2024 for the boost to their 2022 EITC credit. According to United Way, passage of Senate Bill 144 would provide an average boost of $600 to families through their state tax refunds.

Click or tap here to send a message to your state House member to take up this bill and pass it with enough votes to get it to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

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MCC Backs Bill Requiring Transparency on Predatory Payday Lending

Legislation aimed at ensuring transparency from the payday lending industry in Michigan was supported by MCC in a committee hearing this week.

MCC was invited to testify in support of House Bill 4343, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor) before the House Insurance and Financial Services Committee. The committee took testimony only on the bill, which also heard support from the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM).

The bill would require the state insurance regulator to produce an annual report for each of the next seven years on several key data points on the payday lending industry, such as how many businesses are engaged in providing these loans and where these businesses are located, as well as how many customers are using these loans and how much in fees they are paying to access these loans.

MCC Vice President for Public Policy Tom Hickson testifying before the House Insurance and Financial Services Committee in support of House Bill 4343.

As MCC noted in its testimony to the committee, requiring the state to publish this information about the industry should better help lawmakers to determine the impact that repeat borrowing from payday lending has on the financial standing of people in Michigan.

MCC has noted in the past the dangerous and harmful impacts of payday loans, which are offered as an advance on a customer’s next paycheck but come with exorbitant interest rates, which trap people in a cycle of debt that often involves them taking out new payday loans to repay old ones.

The intent of this bill is to better capture the scope of the harm inflicted on low-income people in Michigan by payday lenders.

MCC has repeatedly advocated for other available, lower-interest alternatives to be promoted rather than expanding the payday lending industry, which MCC has advocated against.

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House Panel Approves Legislation to Ensure Safe Drinking Water for Kids

A House committee advanced several MCC-backed bills intended to ensure safe and clean drinking water in schools and childcare centers.

The House Heath Policy Committee approved House Bills 4340–4342, which mirror a Senate package of bills that has already cleared the Senate and landed in the same House committee.

The bills would require both public and nonpublic schools to develop a drinking water management plan, require the water from water sources to be sampled and tested for the presence of lead, and allow only filtered bottle-filling stations and filtered faucets to provide water for human consumption by the end of the 2025–2026 school year, among other provisions.

Childcare centers would be required under the legislation to develop a drinking water management plan, and require a water inspection to be conducted at least once every two years.

MCC has offered its support to these bills because ensuring access to safe drinking water for children is good public policy. MCC previously commended the Legislature for its intent to put funding behind the initiative and for including nonpublic schools in the legislation.

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Senate, House Approve Initial Drafts of Next Year’s Budgets

This week’s budget action saw both the full House and Senate pass spending bills for state departments as well as for schools and colleges, but only with support from Democrats in the legislative majority.

The next steps to finishing the budget will involve members of the House, Senate and Governor’s office coming to an agreement on a final product.

One outstanding question is the extent to which Republican lawmakers will give their support to the budget to have it take effect on time for the fiscal year that starts October 1. For legislation to take immediate effect, two-thirds of lawmakers need to approve it, otherwise the legislation would take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, which is typically in December each year. The budget being crafted right now is for the fiscal year that starts October 1.

However, Republicans have voted against the budget bills, and Democrats have rejected more than 100 amendments proposed by GOP lawmakers to the spending plans. So, it remains to be seen what will be done to ensure enough votes are secured on the final budgets to gain immediate effect and to get the budget plan in place before Fiscal Year 2024.

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