MLA Advocacy - August 27, 2015-2

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Libraries Pass Millages
Congratulations to Superior District Library, Stair District Library and Buchanan District Library. The August 4 millage proposals for all three libraries were passed. Great work on the part of the libraries and their communities.

No Road Fix Yet
Lansing’s legislators are back in district until after Labor Day. Despite scheduling sessions during the summer months, neither chamber was able to come up with a solution to fund repairs to Michigan’s bumpy roads. Watch for further developments in September.

Dedicated Library Millages Should Fund Libraries
The MLA Legislative Committee and GCSI continue work on Tax Increment Financing Authorities (TIFA) legislation that would prevent some of the tax siphoning from library millages. Next month you will be asked to contact your legislators and request their support of legislation that would ensure dedicated library millages go to the library, unless the library board decides differently. I will keep you informed of our progress.

Big Box Stores Are Getting a Big Break from the Tax Tribunals
The Michigan Tax Tribunal continues its practice of reducing tax obligations allowing thriving big box stores to be taxed at the same rate as closed-down, abandoned stores. In some cases, libraries have been forced to pay back thousands of dollars in tax revenue. Librarians from the Upper Peninsula to southeast Michigan are facing the loss of thousands of dollars in tax revenue. Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) has assured us that his four-bill package will offer some relief for those problems. We are waiting to review the language which is aimed at softening the effects of Tax Tribunal rulings.

Update for Personal Property Tax Reimbursement
The Michigan Department of Treasury has asked MLA to share with libraries the 2015 Form 5192 for claiming personal property reimbursement for millage levied in July 2015 used to pay debt. The form is available at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/taxes/5192__07-15_fillable_July_2015_494424_7.pdf. A link to the PDF form is available at: http://www.michigan.gov/taxes/0,4676,7-238-43535_53197-316719--,00.html

Changes to Federal Overtime Pay Proposed
Regulations are pending that would raise the salary threshold at which workers qualify for overtime pay. While this proposal would negatively impact associations such as MLA, it could also impact library employees. Many employees currently qualify as exempt from overtime eligibility because their annual salary is greater than $23,660 and because their primary duties fall under the executive, administrative and professional (EAP) exemption included in the original Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

While the rule won’t likely be finalized for months, the change is forcing companies to consider keeping closer tabs on hours worked by overtime-eligible employees, including how to handle work done out-of-office, such as responding to emails in the evening.

Reasons to oppose the proposal as voiced by associations include:

  • The Department of Labor’s proposal of a minimum annual salary level for exempt employees of $50,440, with automatic annual renewals, sets a one-size-fits-all measuring stick for middle-class incomes. The minimum salary level for exemption should instead be keyed to government data on regional cost-of-living differences.
  • The minimum salary level should be set lower than the proposed level of the 40th percentile of average full-time employee salaries, either across-the-board or for the nonprofit sector. Under the current over-inclusive proposal, too many senior-level exempt employees would be reclassified as overtime-eligible because of their salary level, particularly in nonprofit organizations.
  • The proposal would adversely affect nonprofit organizations and other employers with limited revenues and would harm many affected employees. To contain payroll costs from increased overtime obligations, these employers would have to either lay off employees or exclude reclassified employees from telework and career growth opportunities outside of core business hours. Under both scenarios, the remaining exempt employees would bear the brunt of increased workloads.   
  • If the Department of Labor considers changes to the duties test, it should (i) add clarity to classification determinations by incorporating new examples of exempt occupations, including examples specifically addressing common job roles in membership organizations and (ii) avoid adopting a rigid minimum time percentage test for assessing the “primary duty” of a position.

Eight Ballot Issues Crowd the November Ballot
Currently there are eight ballot issues scheduled for the November 8, 2016 general election. MLA lobbyists GCSI (Governmental Consultant Services Inc.) have put together an outline of the proposals along with links to the language. Please refer to this news article for details.

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