Category Archives: Legislative Update

Nessel Declares Major Components Of Petition Changes Unconstitutional

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

On May 22, Michigan Attorney General announced that the key portion of the 2018 law establishing new requirements for groups wanting to put referendums, initiative petitions and constitutional amendments before voters are unconstitutional.

Gongwer reports that Nessel said the most contentious part of the bill, that no more than 15 percent of a group’s signatures come from a single U.S. House district, is unconstitutional.  The language is tantamount to cutting voters out of the process by saying no more than 15 percent of a group’s signatures can come from one district.

Ms. Nessel also held that the requirement for paid signature-gatherers to file an affidavit with the state indicating they are being paid before circulating petitions is unconstitutional. It could lead to circulator harassment and impinge on free-speech rights, she said.

However, Ms. Nessel said some portions of PA 608 of 2018 are constitutional, such as having challenges of Board of State Canvassers decisions go straight to the Supreme court as well as false or fraudulent information provided by a circulator on a petition sheet leading to invalidation of all signatures on a petition sheet. Additionally, any form or content mistakes invalidate all signatures on the sheet, an addition by the law that also meets constitutional muster, Ms. Nessel said.

“Several senior staff contributed to the research, analysis and preparation of this opinion,” Ms. Nessel said in a statement. “Based on our review, this new law clearly violates the Constitution on several – but not all – fronts. With these issues resolved, Secretary Benson and her team can now go forward in the work they need to do in managing Michigan’s election process.”

Michigan Supreme Court Calls For Comments On Electronics In Court Rules

Proposed rules to make use of cellphones and other portable electronics more consistent through state courthouses were released May 15 by the Michigan Supreme Court, and while the rules would allow for cellphones in the courthouse, making a phone call in a courtroom during a proceeding as well as using it for photographs, recording or broadcasting will be prohibited.

The proposed rules are open for public comment and the Supreme Court will take comments on them through September 1. The proposed rules would strike current rules that allow a local court’s chief judge to create a policy using cellphones, laptops, tablets and other portable electronic devices.

Under the proposed rules litigants, their attorneys, witnesses (specifically those called to testify), onlookers and jurors will be governed by the rules on using cellphones and other electronics.
Essentially, cellphones currently cannot be used in a courtroom in any way, especially to photograph, record or broadcast unless the judge presiding permits such activities. The rules also prohibit photographing, recording or broadcasting any person outside the courtroom without that person’s permission.

The rules also require both jurors and witnesses to have their electronic devices turned off while in the courtroom. Lawyers as well as members of the public will be permitted to use electronic devices in a courtroom to retrieve information, store information, access the Internet and send texts or emails. However, they must
silence those devices and cannot use them to make calls or other engage in audible functions. Also, no communication is allowed between attorneys and onlookers with anyone participating in a
proceeding, including a witness or juror. If any of the rules are violated, the judge can seize the device for the rest of the day, or at least order it turned off and put away. Multiple violations can result in a person being charged with contempt.

Emails on the proposed rules can sent to  [email protected] and mail regarding the rules can
be sent to the Supreme Court Clerk at P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, MI, 48909.

Deal Reached in Michigan Auto Insurance Health Care Coverage

Gongwer reports that Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, and House Speaker Lee Chatfield confirmed publicly this morning  that the Democratic governor and the Republican legislative leadership reached an agreement on a bill to change how auto insurance covers health care for those injured in traffic crashes.

“After constructive conversations over the past week, I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement in concept on bipartisan auto no-fault reform legislation that will lower costs and protect coverage for Michigan drivers,” Ms. Whitmer said in a statement. “The deal: guarantees rate relief for every Michigan driver; provides a choice in coverage levels; establishes more uniform and structured compensation levels for medical providers; and removes the ability of insurance companies to discriminate based on non-driving factors. I look forward to working with the legislature to pass and sign this important legislation into law.”

Mr. Chatfield (R-Levering) and Mr. Shirkey (R-Clarklake) released a statement saying motorists’ long wait for auto insurance rate relief is over.

“After very productive negotiations with our governor over the past week, we now have an agreement on a bipartisan plan that will be signed into law,” they said in a statement. “Today’s vote will be a significant victory for the hard-working people of Michigan that will finally fix our broken car insurance system and deliver real, meaningful rate relief for families, seniors and household budgets all over the state.”

Government Relations Director Elena Palombo to leave the MAB on May 31

Elena Palombo

After eight years serving the MAB and its members, Government Relations Director Elena Palombo has resigned her position, effective May 31.

During her time with the MAB, Elena served as an advocate for the broadcast industry in Lansing and on Capitol Hill, working on issues involving the spectrum auction and repack, performance tax, drone regulation, pirate radio, tax on advertising and other telecommunication related regulations.

We are thankful to Elena for her passion and dedication in her work on behalf of Michigan Broadcasters and wish her the best of luck 
in her future endeavors
Government Relations will continue to be monitored by MAB President Karole L. White, along with Rob Elhenicky and the Kelley-Cawthorne team of government relations experts. Any questions you may have on broadcasting legislation or issues should be addressed to Karole L. White at  [email protected].

New Self-Regs For Sports Gambling Ads Similar to Alcohol’s

According to a report in InsideRadio, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has issued a new set of self-regulations for sports betting advertising and marketing. Its  new “Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering”  has parallels to restrictions placed on alcohol advertising.

The new code comes on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which paved the way for the new industry to flourish. It applies to both traditional and digital media marketing and includes self-imposed restrictions on target audiences, outlets and branding materials.

The AGA has traditionally represented the $261 billion U.S. casino industry. But with legalized wagering on sporting events a relatively new activity in a growing number of states, the trade association says it’s extending its compliance commitments to address new concerns that have sprung up, according to the report.

Using gambling and casino advertising as a forerunner of what’s to come, Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell last year forecast about $300 million in new ad revenue for radio from sports betting.


What Do New Drug Ad Price Disclosures Mean for TV?

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted a new rule requiring that prescription drug advertising on TV contain certain price information.

Specifically, the HHS will require TV ads for prescription drugs covered by Medicare or Medicaid to include the list price for a month’s supply or for the usual course of therapy, if that price is $35 or more. What will be the effect of this rule on TV?

Read David Oxenford’s blog post on the issue here

MAB Hosts State Capitol Advocacy Day

State Senator Jim Runestad, R-15 (left),and MAB Board of Directors Member Rob David (right).

On May 14, the MAB hosted its annual State Capitol Advocacy Day,  an event that brought many broadcasters to Lansing to meet with the state lawmakers on the issues affecting our industry.

Overall, MAB members met with 54 legislative offices during the Advocacy Day.

We discussed the need to reform public notice, our support for legislation to create open records for the State Legislature and the Governor’s office, updated the state legislature on the spectrum repacking efforts. The MAB also hosted a legislative lunch for the lawmakers and staff.

We thank our members for their participation!





Video Looking at the Basics of the Online Public Inspection File and Quarterly Issues Programs Lists

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

Looking for a brief explanation of the online public inspection file and Quarterly Issues Programs List, and how they will be viewed in connection with the upcoming license renewal cycle – including the potential fines for violations of the rules? The Indiana Broadcasters has just released this video of me discussing those issues available here.

We have written in more depth about these issues, including our discussion of the importance of the online public file for the renewal process (here and here), the importance of Quarterly Issues Programs lists (here) and the required content of the online public file (here and here). With the license renewal filing process starting for radio stations in June (see the schedule of filing for stations, which is done on a state by state basis, here) and for TV a year later, these obligations, while basic, are very important. So if you have questions about these issues, check out these resources, and contact your own legal advisor for more information.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.

NTCA asks FCC to Expand Ownership Ban

According to a report in TVNewsCheck, the Internet and Television Association (NTCA) urged the agency to tighten the rules barring a single company from owning multiple network affiliate stations in the same market. The group wants the FCC to extend the ban beyond the four major broadcast networks to include multicast streams and low-power stations.

The NAB commented on the ownership issue by calling for a lifting of the top-four ban in all markets. “Treating multicast streams, satellites and LPTVs as stations subject to the local TV rule generally, or the top-four stricture specifically, would be arbitrary and capricious because they are not equivalent to the full-service TV stations regulated under the FCC’s ownership rules. The current across-the-board rule is divorced from competitive reality in two important ways,” the NAB stated. “First, the restriction is based on the premise that TV stations only compete for audiences and advertisers against other TV stations in the same market…. Second, [it] fails to take account of actual competitive conditions in any local market.”

AG Forms Marijuana Workgroup

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Attorney General Dana Nessel formed a new legal workgroup that will review and make opinions on laws and regulations regarding the use of both medical and recreational marijuana.

The group aims to “avoid the years of uncertainty, lawsuits” that followed the 2008 approval of the medical marijuana initiative and recreational ballot proposal passage in 2018.

The following individuals were named to the group: Marijuana Regulation Bureau Director Andrew Brisbo, Ingham Circuit Judge James Giddings, assistant attorneys general Robyn Frankel and John Pallas, State Police Lt. Chris Hawkins, Livonia City Attorney Paul Bernier, Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan President Dale Hilson, State Appellate Defender Office Director Jonathan Sacks, chair of the State Bar of Michigan marijuana law section Robert Hendricks and section member Daniel Grow, Michigan Cannabis Industry Association political director Margeaux Bruner, Marijuana Regulation Bureau legal division director Adam Sandoval, Prosecuting Attorneys Association traffic safety resource prosecutor Kenneth Stecker and lawyers Bob Baldori and Barton Morris Jr.