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Dec 2014
15
December 15, 2014

Huge GOP Election Win Will Likely Benefit Businesses


Congress and the Michigan Legislature will be more business friendly—in theory, if not in practice—following the Republican landslide in the Nov. 4 election. With the GOP’s big victory, Republicans now control both Houses of the U.S. Congress and increased their majorities in the Michigan Legislature. In fact, the GOP, for the second four-year election cycle in a row, will control all three branches of government in Michigan. Here’s how the November election could affect businesses:

CONGRESS
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) Revision: Polling has consistently shown that the ACA is a “raw meat” issue for the GOP base, and many independents are deeply concerned about it as well. Outright repeal is highly unlikely because the Senate Republicans do not have enough members to thwart a filibuster (60 votes) and President Obama still has his veto pen ready. However, look for a series of symbolic votes initially at repeal and then legislation to rein in the law’s effects.Immigration Reform: A major fight is brewing here with the President poised to take significant executive action over Republican objections. The ripple effect of this rift will be seen in other areas.
  • Immigration Reform: A major fight is brewing here with the President poised to take significant executive action over Republican objections. The ripple effect of this rift will be seen in other areas.
  • Judicial and Executive Appointees: It will be difficult for the President to obtain approval for his judicial appointees and perhaps for the successor to Attorney General Eric Holder.
  • Taxation: A lowering of the corporate tax rate is high on the GOP agenda along with corresponding spending cuts.
  • Government Shutdown: A government shutdown is unlikely, assuming the House Speaker and new Senate Majority Leader have control of their Caucuses and the antipathy toward the President is not at fever pitch due to such issues as immigration reform.
  • Minimum Wage, Sick Time and Leave Time: These issues are not likely to be addressed by Congress. Earlier this year, the Republican Michigan Legislature circumvented a ballot initiative and voted to increase the minimum wage.
STATE
  • Prevailing Wage: Straight in the sights of the new Republican Senate Majority Leader is Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law. He led the effort to enact Right to Work legislation and it is anticipated that repeal of the prevailing wage is high on the agenda.
  • Religious Freedom: Look for efforts to enact a “Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act” if a pending bill doesn’t pass this year. In essence, this legislation prohibits government from placing a “substantial burden” on a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden is from a law of general applicability. Enactment of such a law could allow closely held family owned businesses the ability to deny services or employment to others in much the same way and for the same reasons as the owners of the Hobby Lobby stores are allowed to deny coverage for certain contraceptive care. Hobby Lobby’s denial of such coverage was upheld in a ruling issued last June by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Conscientious Objection: A Senate bill (SB 136) that would have created the “Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act” was introduced this session. Among its many provisions, the bill would: allow a health care payer to decline to offer a contract, policy, or product that paid for a health care service that violated the payer’s conscience; require an employer that employed or granted privileges to a health care provider to adopt and implement a policy to address situations in which the provider had an objection as a matter of conscience; prohibit an employer from asking a prospective health care provider about his/her objection to participating in a health care service; and prohibit an employer from penalizing a health care provider for expressing a conscientious objection to a health care service. SB 136 will die at the end of this legislative session, but look for an aggressive push toward enactment next session with an even more conservative Legislature.

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