Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs bills to protect jobs and tipped wages          

The Michigan Senate recently passed reforms to improve citizen initiatives that increase the state’s minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sick leave.

Senate Bill 1171 would increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour through a more gradual increase so businesses have time to adjust. The bill also would retain the tipped wage. Many restaurant workers in my district contacted me with their opposition to ending the tipped wage because they believe eliminating it would cut their take-home pay. Under Senate Bill 1175, all eligible employees would accrue one hour of paid medical leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 36 hours per benefit year (unless their employer provides more). The legislation would provide leave time benefits to more employees while protecting job providers from new, increased costs that could effectively put many small companies out of business.

Both reforms preserve the goals of the initiatives while encouraging a better environment for job growth. The bills have been referred to the House for consideration.

Bills to keep taxpayer money in the classroom gains approval

School funding should be focused on students and teachers in the classroom, not to pay for former employees now working for a union.

In 2015, 67 school districts in Michigan had collective bargaining agreements that allowed paid release time for union representatives to conduct union business, with an estimated cost of $2.7 million each year. I supported Senate Bill 796to end this practice and prohibit school districts from paying for the salaries and benefits of union lobbyists. The bill exempts police officers and firefighters.

I also backed another bill to bar school employees from accruing pension credit while on union release time. Senate Bill 795 would close a loophole that has been used to inflate pension payouts to individuals who are not school employees but work for a union. Retirement benefits should go to the actual school teachers and school employees who earn them.  The legislation has been sent to the House for consideration.

Pure Michigan Travel Guide now online

The Pure Michigan Winter Travel Guide highlights cold weather fun and adventure, including snowmobiling, skiing and Houghton’s lively winter carnival.  There’s even a feature on capturing Michigan’s scenic beauty in great outdoor photos!

The travel guide also contains shopping and culinary destinations and memorable spots for indoor and outdoor family activities. Check the digital magazine at www.michigan.org and start planning your trip.

Home heating help

With the winter heating season in full swing, some households may need help with their heating bills. Energy assistance programs to help prevent shut-offs include:

  • Winter protection plans for senior citizens and low-income customers;
  • State emergency relief;
  • Medical emergency shut-off protection; and
  • Shut-off protection for active duty military personnel.

Find more information at www.michigan.gov/bewinterwise.