LANSING – Legislation requiring public sector unions to biennially hold decertification elections is dead for the current term from a lack Senate Republican votes but may be pursued by the Legislature in the upcoming term, the majority leader told reporters following session Thursday.
Another major bill, Governor Rick Snyder‘s proposal to increase the tipping fee on landfills to pay for brownfield clean-ups, also died. Unlike the House, which passed a shell bill for a separate but related plan to create a new fee on water bills to pay for water infrastructure to keep the discussion alive into next week, the Senate took no such action. However, there is continued talk of finding one-time funds in the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill.
Under SB 1260, all unions in the state would have been required to hold a decertification election that would mean the dissolution of the union every two years beginning in 2022.
Democrats had decried the move as the latest attempt at undermining unions by Republicans. Included in the now-dead proposal was a $500,000 appropriation for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to oversee the change, which would have made the law referendum-proof as outlined in a 2001 Supreme Court opinion that any appropriation regardless of size makes a bill immune from referendum.
“We don’t have the votes ready to do that one,” Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-Grand Haven) told reporters after the Senate adjourned Thursday.
Mr. Meekhof said the bill he introduced would have had to pass the Senate Thursday to provide enough time for the House to take it up during the final week of the lame-duck session next week.
The bill was thrashed by unions when heard in committee last week as being nothing more than an attempt to undermine and destabilize unions.
Union leaders have said the bill would create unnecessary upheaval and disruptions and upset the collective bargaining process. Further, union officials have said under right-to-work a worker can already leave a union at any time and workers already can call for a decertification election at any time.
Mr. Meekhof said as things stand, most everything that is in play for the final week of session has been moved and is ready to go, adding he expects long session days next Tuesday through Thursday.
When asked about priorities for next week, he said HB 5526, assigning letter grades to the state’s public schools, will be given a serious look.
“I know we’re going to be addressing that first part of next week,” Mr. Meekhof said.
Proposed changes to the state’s signature-gathering process in HB 6595, which passed during an overnight House session Wednesday, is also expected to be given a serious look next week.
When asked about legislation to support local water infrastructure programs, or tipping fees that Mr. Snyder has been pushing, Mr. Meekhof said conversations continue on finding a way to get some money if lawmakers are not on board with approving a tipping fee. He said one option may be to use internet sales tax dollars that the state can now collect as the result of a federal court decision months ago.
This story was published by Gongwer News Service.