MLA Advocacy - April 28, 2016

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A Victory for Free Speech and Michigan Libraries: Temporary Injunction is Now Permanent

Libraries are once again free to educate and inform voters about upcoming millage elections. Today a permanent injunction was signed by a federal judge in U.S. District Court. This means the section of PA 269/SB 571 prohibiting voter education is not enforceable. The bill in effect had banned the dissemination of factual information 60 days prior to a millage election.

Immediately after the bill was passed, MLA joined a coalition of associations and groups opposed to the bill and filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the act. A federal judge issued a temporary injunction declaring the section in question was an infringement of constitutional rights.

Thousands of library supporters from Michigan and across the country came out in support of free speech and the library’s right to provide access to information. After a robust campaign for a veto of the bill, the governor signed it into law. MLA continued to work with legislators to amend the bill and MLA Board of Directors approved participation in the lawsuit as well as an amicus brief to defend our first amendment rights.

Thanks to all who took action to let our elected officials know they can count on librarians to ensure the flow of information and education to our communities is accurate and timely.

This important victory highlights the significance of MLA advocacy, our GCSI lobbyists and the grassroots efforts of our members. A synopsis of our advocacy efforts is available here: http://www.milibraries.org/gov-snyder-signs-sb-571-into-law/

Tax Tribunal and Dark Stores Legislation Has Hearing in House Tax Policy Committee

Yesterday a packed hearing in the House Tax Policy Committee examined HB 5578 sponsored by Sen. Dave Maturen (R-Portage). The comprehensive bill addresses two of the major library concerns including the deed restriction and covenant issue from the big box stores as well as the problem determining a value that is credible and not speculative. Testimony is expected to continue over the next two weeks. Whether the bill is passed as presented remains to be seen. The bill enjoys bi-partisan support. However, the final version may take some time to iron out.

Tax Capture Bills Await Action

The Michigan Senate and Senate leadership recognized the importance of supporting the funding structure for Michigan’s libraries and voted 36-2 to pass the seven-bill package allowing libraries to protect their dedicated special millages. The bills, SB 579 and SB 619-624, are now awaiting introduction in the House Tax Policy Committee.

A number of work groups are currently working on a more broad-based solution to the tax capture issue that would impact all special millages. As a result, House leadership is looking to those potential bills as a solution prior to moving the library package. While we would prefer immediate action on our tax capture package, we understand the significance of a comprehensive fix to the tax capture issue and are awaiting the outcome of the work group’s efforts.

MLA has been working on the tax capture issue for more than two decades. It became a priority for MLA three years ago. Over the past eight months there has been an intensive campaign to introduce legislation that would enable libraries to choose participation in tax captures. We know many of these locally dedicated taxes currently are being withheld against the library’s choice and in many cases without the voting taxpayers’ knowledge or approval. In some districts up to 47 percent of the library’s dedicated annual operating budget has been netted by tax capture districts.

On average, nearly 80 percent of library funding comes from locally dedicated special library millages. The library community conservatively estimates that more than $8 million per year is lost to tax capture. We see these bills as a step toward taxpayer accountability, tax capture transparency and ensure dedicated library millages go to support the voters’ choice.

Thank you to the MLA Legislative Committee and Committee Chair Lance Werner, our GCSI lobbyists Gary Owen and Chris Iannuzzi and all of you who engaged with your legislators to let them know how important it is to keep our libraries funded.

Personal Property Tax Reimbursement Issues Resurface

Some libraries are expressing concern about what to expect from their PPT reimbursement this year. MLA and many members fought long and hard to get libraries included in the reimbursement. We were able to get libraries included in PA 86 of 2014. It was part of a 10 bill package that provided for reimbursement to those entities being harmed by the elimination of the PPT. It was SB 821 and it included libraries. It took effect when proposal 14-1 State Use Tax – Ballot Issue passed in August of 2014.

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2013-2014/publicact/pdf/2014-PA-0086.pdf

We are finding that a number of municipalities do not understand that libraries should be included in the reimbursement. They are under the impression that only essential services are included. We recommend that you share information about PA 86 of 2014 with them. MLA is working with our contact in Treasury to see if we can get further clarification on the inclusion of libraries in the reimbursement and what we can do about libraries being excluded.

MLA Supports Carla Hayden’s Librarian of Congress Confirmation to Senate Rules Committee

MLA recently signed onto an ALA letter of support advocating for Carla Hayden’s appointment as Librarian of Congress. In addition, more than 135 national nonprofit and library groups, schools, and academic libraries urged her rapid confirmation. Earlier this year the MLA Board of Directors also voted to provide a letter to President Obama outlining suggested requirements for the position. Ms. Hayden meets those requirements and would be an outstanding addition to our national library.

Read entire article and see list of supporters 

Overtime Rule Will Change Payroll Costs for Many

The U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rule – barring any changes before it’s finalized this year – would require businesses to pay overtime wages to employees making $50,440 or less per year, which would be a 113 percent increase over the current threshold and would make an additional 5 million workers newly eligible for overtime pay. In March, the Department of Labor sent the rule to the Office of Management and Budget for a final review and Administration officials say the final rule could come as early as next month.

The Administration’s plan to drastically expand overtime eligibility has emerged as a top concern for small businesses, colleges and universities and tax-exempt organizations – many of which are struggling to see how they will afford a surge in payroll costs and still maintain their bottom line. The proposal also has implications for employees, who could be denied opportunities to participate in any work-related activities at which their attendance is not essential, thus restricting their professional growth. 

Officials from YMCA of the USA and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities both said their members across the country would not be able to absorb the cost of expanding overtime eligibility without cutting staff, reducing hours and potentially scaling back services.

We will keep you informed of any developments on this important issue. 

 

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