Whitmer signs labor organizing, fishery regulation manoomin bills and more ⋆

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a series of bills Wednesday implementing new policies to support union organizations and their right to organize, as well as connecting residents to English language services and regulating fisheries.

Unions can struggle to get in contact with new hires as hire information isn’t always accessible, sponsor of SB 169 state Sen. John Cherry (D-Flint) said in a statement from the governor’s office.

SB 169 will require public employers to provide collective bargaining representatives with certain contact information such as their full name, personal phone number, email address and home address.

“The intent behind Senate Bill 169 is to ensure employees receive the representation they are entitled to. Thanks to Gov. Whitmer signing it into law, represented Michigan workers will now have better access to services from their union,” Cherry said.

Under SB 185, graduate student research assistants and independent contractors at the university will be permitted to unionize like many of their other peers working at universities.

Terrence Martin

AFT Michigan President Terrence Martin applauded Whitmer for signing the legislation Wednesday via a statement. AFT Michigan is a union composed of educators and health care providers in schools and hospitals across Michigan.

“The passage of this bill is a significant step forward in restoring the rightful status of Graduate Student Research Assistants as public employees who are eligible to be represented by their local union,” Martin said in a statement from the governor’s office.

HBs 4230 and 4234 remove a provision that prohibits public bodies from administering payroll deduction plans and outlining what resources can be used for administration.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jimmie Wilson Jr. (D-Ypsilanti), said the legislation will help to empower Michigan’s workforce.

“This bill gives public employees the opportunity, if they choose, to participate in payroll deductions for their labor union’s PAC [political action committee] — giving workers an additional way to advocate for their needs and support the organizations that support them in the political sphere,” Wilson said in a statement from the governor’s office.

SB 441 creates systems in fisheries that comply with the 2023 Great Lakes Fishing Decree, a 24 year agreement between Michigan, the federal government and tribal governments to manage resources. 

HB 4720 and SB 382 creates the Statewide Meaningful Language Access Coordination Act requiring state agencies and departments to pursue steps to connect residents in Michigan with limited English language proficiency to language services. 

Manoomin, also known as wild rice, will be the state of Michigan’s official native grain under HB 4852.

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council applauded the legislation in a press release from the governor’s office saying it places importance on the preservation and education surrounding native culture.

“Manoomin provides deep cultural roots to our ancestors through teachings passed down generations, describing the food that grows on water. We remain committed to working with our partners to provide education and outreach on its importance to all residents of Michigan,” the tribal council said.

Sault Tribe citizen Nathan Wright picks manoomin, Sept. 15, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Every Michigander deserves to be able to access state resources and services when they are eligible, bill sponsor Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) said in a statement from the governor’s office.

“This legislation will facilitate equal access to state services for those who are English language learners or have limited English proficiency,” Puri said. “These bills go a long way toward building a more inclusive state and ensuring those who are working to make a better life have the opportunities they need to thrive.” 

Entities that provide car charging for electric vehicles will be able to operate without being considered a public utility under HB 4706.

In order to prepare for the future of electric vehicles, bill sponsor Rep. Sharon MacDonell (D-Troy) said in a press release from the governor’s office that Michigan needs to update its law with evolving technology.

“By accelerating the growth of Michigan’s EV charging network, we can stimulate green business and job growth while eliminating range anxiety and encouraging more drivers to choose this cleaner form of transportation,” MacDonell said.

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authored by Anna Liz Nichols
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