Monday, January 22, 2024

Changes in Michigan Laws

 Last year, state lawmakers approved enough bills to pack more than 30 pages with summaries of the changes.

Many, including Michigan's hands-free law barring holding a cell phone while driving, went into effect last year. As of November 27th, 2023, Michigan State Police troopers have ticketed 709 drivers for violating that law.

Five new state laws are related to elections but won't take effect until June 30th, 2025. Here are some highlights of the 175 tweaks to Michigan law going into effect this year:


Starting today Michigan's minimum wage rises to $10.33 an hour from $10.10 — that's a pre-tax increase of just over $478 a year for a full-time worker. Tipped workers will see an increase to $3.93 from $3.84. State law requires tips and the hourly rate to meet the minimum hourly wage standard.

The $10.33 minimum is well below the states with the highest. Washington leads with $16.28 an hour followed by California and New York, at $16; Connecticut at $15.69; New Jersey, $15.13; Massachusetts and Maryland, $15; and minimums between $14 and $15 in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine and Rhode Island.

By comparison, 19 states' minimums are the same as the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour ($15,080 a year if full-time) since July 24, 2009.

Under Michigan's current plan, annual minimum wage increases will reach $10.56 on January 1st, 2025.

A 2018 ballot initiative adopted by the then-Republican-controlled Michigan legislature would have raised the minimum hourly wage to $12 on January 1st, 2022, and required paid sick leave. But lawmakers used a lame-duck session to change the law before it went into effect, reducing the minimum wage and eliminating paid sick leave. The Michigan Supreme Court has heard a legal challenge to the lame-duck changes. The lead attorney for the challenger Mothering Justice, Mark Brewer, said if his side prevails, the minimum wage would rise to just over $13 an hour "or whatever schedule the Michigan Supreme Court decides.

"It could have a very significant impact on the regularly scheduled increase," he said. The state Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion this year.


For the first time since 2010, retirees will find their pensions are not taxed. A tax signed into law in 2011 will be officially repealed as of February 13th and will return an estimated $1,000 to each retiree, depending on their tax bracket.

An estimated 700,000 families will see an expanded tax credit that is worth an estimated average $3,150 refund.


A package of bills signed into law last year go into effect on February 13th. The changes include:

Establishing penalties ranging from misdemeanor to felony for improperly storing firearms in ways that allow minors to access them.

Giving courts the right to issue extreme-risk protection orders, temporarily suspending a person's access to firearms if they've shown clear warning signs of violence and are an immediate threat to themselves or others. A person with an extreme-risk protection order would also be barred from purchasing firearms.

Ending sales and use taxes for firearm safety devices.

Requiring universal background checks for all gun sales.

A separate set of bills bars those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning firearms for eight years.


On February 13th, the state's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act will expand to include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The law currently forbids discrimination against people based on "religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status" in matters of employment, housing, public accommodations or services and access to educational facilities. Employers are barred from using "pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition" to deny employment.

Starting February 28th, state offices must increase the capacity to serve people with limited English skills. The new law includes a process for a person who believes that they were denied equal access to government services because of their national origin and limited English skills the ability to file a civil-rights complaint.


On February 13th, a new law will go into effect requiring the statewide presidential primary to be held on February 24th. After this year, presidential primaries will be held on the fourth Tuesday in February.

While voters will see former President Donald Trump on the February 27th ballot, they won't see any presidential candidates from political parties that received 5% or less of the total vote cast nationwide in the last presidential election.

Other changes include a law allowing 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote before they turn 18, though they won't be able to cast a ballot until after that 18th birthday. Many communities will experience at least nine days of early in-person voting, a law that went into effect last year but is a mandate starting this year.

Oakland County was among a handful of counties that tested the process before November's election.


Since 2005, November 26th has been annually declared by the Michigan governor as Sojourner Truth Day, recognizing the life and legacy of freedom and equality activist and former slave Sojourner Truth. This year, the day is automatically designated by law. Truth lived in Battle Creek for 26 years, until her death on November 26th, 1883. She delivered one of her most-famous speeches, "Ain't I a Woman?" at the 1851 Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

This year, Juneteenth will be observed as an annual state holiday. Juneteenth has been a federal holiday since 2021.

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