Yesterday afternoon the House passed House Bill 5097, a bill that would exempt police and fire from PA 54 so they can have retroactive pay increases after a contract expires. The bill passed by a vote of 97-12.
The House adopted a substitute bill on the floor. The stated intention of the amendments was to only allow step increases if a contract expressly calls for them and to deal with health care retroactivity. Unfortunately the way the amendments are drafted the bill is not much better than the introduced version. The health care language references PA 152 of 2011 in a way that would create significant confusion and potential litigation.
In 2011 the legislature passed a number of reforms to help employers control costs and be better stewards of taxpayer resources. One of the, if not the, most significant reform was to prohibit retroactive pay increases after a contract has expired. This game changing statute, PA 54 of 2011, has helped communities settle contracts more quickly and provides more certainty in municipal budgets. Passage of HB 5097 would be detrimental to our ability to settle contracts quickly and efficiently.
The Michigan Municipal League has been strongly opposed to this bill, and we continue to urge you to contact your legislators to let them know how detrimental this carve out would be. The arguments the public safety groups use for supporting this bill are that the number of PA 312 filings would proliferate and the legislature only intended this bill to impact teachers.
According to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission there were only 43 PA 312 filings in 2013 as opposed to 69 in 2011. PA 312 filings are significantly lower than they were before enactment of PA 54.
In addition, even if the legislature only intended this for teachers, it has been a game changer for municipal budgets, and it’s critical that we keep this tool to allow local units the opportunity to settle contracts expeditiously and save taxpayers money.
We appreciate all the members who have already contacted their lawmakers on this issue and we hope others follow their lead. It is critical that you please contact your legislators and ask them to OPPOSE House Bill 5097. You can find the contact information for your Legislators here. We’ve also prepared a letter you can email directly to your lawmakers. Go here to do that today.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration. A Senate version, Senate Bill 850, is in the House Commerce Committee.
Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-908-0306.