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November 29, 2023 



Gov. Whitmer Signs Bills Supporting Workers, Teachers, and Tribal Communities 

Other legislation helps government work better 


LANSING, Mich.—Today, Governor Whitmer signed legislation supporting workers, teachers, and tribal communities. The bills also cut red tape, improve the efficiency of state services, and help Michigan residents access and navigate state government. 


“Since taking office, we have made real progress improving the efficiency of state government and making Michigan the best place to live, work, invest, and raise a family,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today’s bills take important steps to cut unnecessary red tape, help teachers and workers save money and advocate for better working conditions, fix our infrastructure, and make government easier to navigate for Michiganders with limited English proficiency, among other things. I will continue working hard to help more people envision a bright future for themselves in Michigan.” 


Bill Signing



Senate Bill 169, sponsored by Sen. John Cherry, requires public employers to provide collective bargaining representatives with their employees’ employment and contact information. 


“In the past, some unions have struggled to contact employees they represent, because new hire information was not transmitted,” said State Senator John Cherry (D-Flint). “The intent behind Senate Bill 169 is to ensure employees receive the representation they are entitled to. Thanks to Gov. Whitmer signing it into law, represented Michigan workers will now have better access to services from their union.” 


Senate Bill 185, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin, allows graduate student research assistants and independent university contractors to organize in unions. 


“Research assistants at our universities produce cutting-edge innovations that save lives,” said State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor). “They do important work, and this law respects that work by allowing them to be considered employees and collectively bargain again.” 


“I am pleased to see that Governor Whitmer has signed the grad research assistant bill into law,” said Terrence Martin, President of AFT Michigan. “The passage of this bill is a significant step forward in restoring the rightful status of Graduate Student Research Assistants as public employees who are eligible to be represented by their local union”. 


House Bill 4230, sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Wilson, and House Bill 4234, sponsored by Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou, would remove the restriction on public bodies setting up a payroll deduction plan for consenting employees for political contributions. 


“As a proud supporter of all Michigan workers, I am happy this bill is becoming law,” said state Rep. Jimmie Wilson, Jr. (D-Ypsilanti). “This bill gives public employees the opportunity, if they choose, to participate in payroll deductions for their labor union’s PAC — giving workers an additional way to advocate for their needs and support the organizations that support them in the political sphere.” 


“I think most of my colleagues can agree that, as elected officials, we should never be in the business of taking rights away from working Michiganders. For years, working people have seen their freedoms taken away by attacks on their unions — the very institutions whose sole purpose is to fight on behalf of their members,” said state Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing). “I sponsored this bill to give workers their rights back, which has been a central priority for the Dem controlled 102nd Legislature.” 



House Bill 5021, sponsored by Rep. Matt Koleszar, changes the default retirement plan for new hires in the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System from the 401(k) plan to the pension plus plan, offering them more flexibility. 


“A secure retirement is something every public school employee should have,” said state Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth). “By changing the default to the Pension Plus 2 program, we can do just that, and do it while being fiscally responsible.” 


Tribal Communities 

Senate Bill 441, sponsored by Sen. Sue Shink, amends reporting requirements for commercial fishing to keep the state in compliance with a new consent decree between the federal and state governments and several of Michigan’s federally recognized tribes. 


“This bill is important as it will bring DNR into compliance with the Decree reached between the State and Tribes regarding fishing in the Great Lakes we all share,” said State Senator Sue Shink (D-Northfield Township). “In signing this bill into law, we are holding up our end of this agreement and prioritizing trust and cooperation between The State of Michigan and all the Tribes. I am proud to work alongside Governor Whitmer and I look forward to building beneficial partnerships for the State and with all the Tribes in Michigan in the future.” 


House Bill 4852, sponsored by Rep. Carrie Rheingans, designates manoomin, also known as wild rice, as the official native grain of Michigan. 


“It is an honor to carry forward this bill that designates manoomin as the state’s native grain,” said state Rep. Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor). “This was only possible due to the many years that tribal leaders, elders and rice keepers have worked to restore this sacred grain in Michigan’s waters and elevate its significance across the entire Great Lakes region.” 


“This bill places an importance on the recovery and protection of manoomin (wild rice). Designating it as Michigan’s native grain is a monumental step forward. Manoomin is culturally significant to many Tribal nations and is viewed as a gift provided from the creator,” said the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council. “Manoomin provides deep cultural roots to our ancestors through teachings passed down generations, describing the food that grows on water. We remain committed to working with our partners to provide education and outreach on its importance to all residents of Michigan.” 


“I’m excited to see what opportunities this new law will do to get all the Federally Recognized Tribes, State agencies, and Federal agencies in Michigan to sit down at the table to address the Manoomin concerns,” said Roger LaBine, Water Resource Technician Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Environmental Department. “I look forward to doing the Education and Outreach to anyone who is interested.” 


Modernizing Government

House Bill 4720, sponsored by Rep. Ranjeev Puri, and Senate Bill 382, sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Chang, are the Statewide Meaningful Language Access Coordination Act. They require state departments and agencies take reasonable steps to help Michigan residents with limited English proficiency access state services. 


“Michigan has a large and growing immigrant population that should all have access to state government services regardless of ability to speak or understand English,” said state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). Over 944,928 Michiganders 5 years old and over speak another language besides English at home. Whether it’s accessing public benefits or getting housing resources, every Michigander deserves to get the help they need from state departments and agencies in order to make sure their needs are met.” 


“Every Michigander deserves the ability to easily access state resources and services they are eligible for,” said state Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton). “This legislation will facilitate equal access to state services for those who are English language learners or have limited English proficiency. These bills go a long way toward building a more inclusive state and ensuring those who are working to make a better life have the opportunities they need to thrive.” 


“The Office of Global Michigan is helping Michigan’s economy grow by retaining and attracting global talent and these language access bills will help us further promote the skills, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit of our immigrant and refugee communities,” said Poppy Sias Hernandez, Executive Director of the Office of Global Michigan. “We are thankful for the Governor and the legislature for their continued support and policy to make Michigan a great place they can call home for everyone.” 


“With this new law, Michigan signals that it is important for all residents to have meaningful access to our state government,” said Christine Sauvé, Policy, Engagement, and Communications Coordinator at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. “This new act will reduce barriers, advance inclusion, and have a tremendous impact on the lives of people with limited English proficiency and their families, many of whom are members of Michigan’s diverse immigrant communities. No matter what language you speak or where you were born, we all benefit when people with limited English proficiency are able to fully participate in public life and are included in communication about services relating to public health, safety, taxes, and other important matters we share in common. This has long been a goal for MIRC and the communities we serve so we are very excited to celebrate now that Michigan is joining other states across the nation in ensuring meaningful access to state services for all Michiganders.” 


Senate Bill 533, sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss, allows the Secretary of State to issue vehicle titles and establish and implement a system to transfer titles electronically. 


“Implementing the use of electronic titles saves Michiganders time and resources,” said State Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor). “This legislation promotes convenience and efficiency by eliminating the need for physical paperwork, reducing the chance of lost or damaged titles, and ensures electronic titles can be easily accessed and transferred digitally. Plus, it’s a step towards a more digital and eco-friendly future.” 


House Bill 4897, sponsored by Rep. Nate Shannon, allows a county road commission to enter into agreements with non-adjacent counties’ road commissions or the Michigan Department of Transportation to perform work on roadways and to purchase and use machinery and equipment. 


“This legislation will improve the efficiency of road agency operations by reducing costs and diminishing obstacles to share special road equipment between MDOT and local road commissions,” said state Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights), chair of the House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee. “I’m excited this bill can finally provide clarity in the law to ensure equipment is more accessible to continue to strengthen Michigan infrastructure for years to come.” 


House Bill 4717, sponsored by Rep. Kristian Grant, requires real estate brokers to complete training on local, state, and federal fair housing law. 


“The Fair Housing Act was a landmark piece of legislation. It was a direct response to the intentional discrimination that people can face when searching for housing. This bill builds on the impact of FHA by ensuring that realtors know and use fair housing law to advocate for their clients,” said state Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids). “Access to safe, stable and healthy housing is important for families and communities to thrive and lead fulfilling lives. This bill is a testament of our commitment to economic opportunity and the pursuit of happiness for all Michiganders. I’m so glad to see it signed into law.” 


House Bill 4706, sponsored by Rep. Sharon MacDonnell (D-Troy), allows entities to own or operate electric vehicle chargers without being considered a public utility so they can qualify for funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 


“Electric vehicles are the future of mobility, and we need to update our laws to lay the groundwork for that future,” said state Rep. Sharon MacDonell (D-Troy). “By accelerating the growth of Michigan’s EV charging network, we can stimulate green business and job growth while eliminating range anxiety and encouraging more drivers to choose this cleaner form of transportation.” 


Senate Bill 337, sponsored by Sen. Dayna Polehanki, modernizes key provisions governing Michigan land surveys. 


“Some of Michigan’s existing laws need updates to facilitate the use of new technology in our state. In this case, the original law governing survey maps hadn’t been updated since 1970,” said State Senator Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia). “I am pleased that Senate Bill 337 will allow professional property surveyors to utilize GPS and computer aided drafting that will improve the accuracy and efficiency in the land surveying process.” 


House Bill 4942, sponsored by Rep. Emily Dievendorf, transfers two parcels of land in Lansing to the Michigan House of Representatives. 


“The signing of HB 4942 ensures we continue to maintain the structural integrity of Lansing’s Downtown,” said state Rep. Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing). “It not only improves infrastructure, but it also contributes to the safety of our state workers so they can continue to arrive safely on the job.”