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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Legislative updates for October 2023

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Date Posted: September 28, 2023

This update includes recently introduced bills and those moving through the legislative process. Michigan Farm Bureau’s positions are rooted in the organization’s member-developed policy. 

State Issues

Horse Racing

Senate Bills 411-414 would collectively amend various laws governing the state’s horse racing industry. The legislation would amend the horse racing law by modifying:

  • Requirements for live horse race dates, 

  • Conditions under which simulcast wagering could take place, and 

  • Provisions concerning the relationships and fees paid from a racetrack licensee to Certified Horsemen's Organizations. 

The legislation would also amend the Lawful Internet Gaming Act and the Lawful Sports Betting Act to eliminate caps on revenue allocated to the Michigan Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund and delete language regarding the distribution of money to pay outstanding winning tickets for light horse races. Farm Bureau supports SB 411-414 because the organization’s policy supports legislation that provides economic growth and strengthens the horse racing industry. The legislation awaits further consideration following an Oct. 10 hearing by the Senate Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee.

Contact: Rebecca Park

Energy Siting

Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would take away local zoning control for commercial wind, solar and energy storage projects and transfer it to the state-run Michigan Public Service Commission. This change will apply to solar projects over 50 megawatts and wind projects over 100 megawatts. Farm Bureau opposes the amendments proposed within House Bills 5120-5123 and Senate Bills 585-588 which have been referred to the House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee and the Senate Energy and Environment Committee. Farm Bureau is encouraging members to contact state representatives and senators in opposition of the proposal.

Contact: Andrew Vermeesch

PA 116 and Solar Operations

Senate Bill 277, sponsored by Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City), would codify the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development plan that allows farmers to rent their land for solar operations while keeping that land in the farmland preservation program under Public Act 116.

Farm Bureau is neutral on the legislation. The bill passed the Senate (23-14) on Sept. 26 and awaits consideration by the House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee. 

Contact: Andrew Vermeesch

Neonicotinoid Pesticides

House Bill 4858, introduced by Rep. Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor), would ban the use of a Neonicotinoid pesticides on state-owned land and allow local governments to create regulations around this class of pesticides. MFB Policy #84 Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management opposes any fertilizer or pesticide use regulation by local governments more restrictive than MDARD and EPA regulations. Farm Bureau opposes the legislation. The bill has been referred to the House Labor Committee. 

Contact: Ben Tirrell 

Preemption of Local Labor Ordinances  

Senate Bill 171, sponsored by Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo), would repeal an act that prevents local units of government from establishing their own minimum wage rates, paid leave or fringe benefit requirements, and other labor relations standards. Farm Bureau opposes the legislation. SB 171 passed the Senate Labor Committee on Sept. 21 and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

MFB Policy #66 Local Government opposes townships or local units of government being permitted to enact regulations affecting agriculture that are stricter than existing state and federal regulations. MFB Policy #56 Wages and Compensation opposes local units of government setting a minimum wage rate. 

House Bill 4237, introduced by Rep. Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph), is identical to Senate Bill 171 and remains in the House Labor Committee.  

Contact: Ben Tirrell

Public Trust Resources

Introduced by Rep. Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor), House Bill 4939 would implement the public trust doctrine for Michigan's natural resources and allow the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to promulgate rules to implement protection of these resources in the public's interest. Farm Bureau opposes the legislation. The bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee.

Contact: Ben Tirrell

Collective Bargaining

House Bill 4975, introduced by Rep. Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing), would remove the exemption from collective bargaining for agricultural and domestic workers. MFB policy supports that any removal of this type of exemption be at the federal level. Should collective bargaining be granted to agricultural workers at the state level, MFB policy further prescribes a significant number of limitations that must be in place given the seasonal and perishable nature of agricultural commodities. Farm Bureau opposes the legislation. The bill has been referred to the House Labor Committee.

Contact: Ben Tirrell

Family Medical Leave

Senate Bill 332, introduced by Sen. Erica Geiss (D-Taylor) and House Bill 4574, introduced by Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit) would create mandatory paid family medical leave for qualifying employees. Governor Whitmer prioritized a more ambitious family medical leave plan in her August 2023 “What’s Next” address, and these bills are expected to be heavily revised in the near future. Farm Bureau policy generally supports an agricultural exemption from paid sick leave requirements and staff continues to carefully monitor this proposed legislation. SB 332 awaits consideration by the Senate Housing and Human Services Committee and HB 4574 awaits consideration by the House Labor Committee. 

Contact: Ben Tirrell

Cottage Food Operations

House Bill 5024, sponsored by Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn), amends cottage food restrictions within the Food Law. The legislation would:

  • Allow third-party delivery services to sell and deliver cottage food items, 

  • Increase the gross sales maximum of a cottage food operation from $25,000 to $43,000 and allow the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to increase that amount annually according to the Detroit Consumer Price Index

  • Direct the MSU Product Center to administer a registration program so cottage food operations would not have to use their home address on the label. 

Farm Bureau supports the legislation. The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture Committee.

Contact: Rebecca Park

Deer Harvest Reporting

Introduced by Sen. John Cherry (D-Flint), Senate Bill 52 reduced the penalty for individuals who fail to report deer harvest from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction to $150. Farm Bureau did not have a position on the legislation. The bill was signed into law as Public Act 55 of 2023. 

Contact: Andrew Vermeesch

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Rob Anderson

Manager, Government Relations
517-679-5343 [email protected]