Category Archives: Legislative Update

Appeals Court: MCCA Not Subject To FOIA

capitol3A divided opinion of the Court of Appeals has held the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) is a public body but, it is not subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act because of a legislative amendment in the Insurance Code. That amendment, the court said, “did not alter, amend, change or dispense with any provisions of FOIA, at the time of that statute’s enactment, the Legislature was not required to reenact and republish FOIA.”

The court ruled after the case was remanded to it by the Supreme Court, which directed the Appeals Court to determine if the MCCA was a public body, as defined under the FOIA, and was therefore subject to the FOIA’s provisions.

Last Chance for the Ballpark!

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Whether or not you can attend the fabulous MABPAC Tigers Experience this coming Monday, August 29 at Comerica Park, you can still participate in this great fundraiser.  We have room for just a few more folks, but if you can’t attend, you can still play ball by supporting the MABPAC.  Please contact Elena Palombo for details. 

Next year, the State of Michigan will have 39 new representatives, many of whom have no idea what the MAB does.  It will take a lot to educate them on the importance of local broadcasting.  Many new lawmakers enter office with a pre-determined set of issues that they wish to accomplish and sometimes those ideas are not particularly helpful to our industry.

Be part of the MABPAC team! Help us support the lawmakers who support our industry. 

Please join the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee (MABPAC) for the Detroit Tigers v. Chicago White Sox baseball game and fundraiser on Monday, August 29, prior to the 2016 MAB Summer Advocacy Conference.

Guests will enjoy the game and picnic-style dinner and drinks in one of the private party suites located by third base.

What: Tigers vs. White Sox
When: Monday, August 29 – Suite opens at 6 p.m.; Game time is 7:10 p.m.
Where: Comerica Park, Detroit
Cost: $250/person

Reserve your spot by clicking HERE.

Space is limited and is available on first come, first served basis. Reserve your tickets today!

NOTE: In compliance with the Michigan Campaign Finance law, only personal checks/payments can be accepted. No corporate checks, please.

Questions? Contact Elena Palombo at [email protected] or 517-484-7444.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the game!

MAB Meets with Congressman Dave Trott (R-11)

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(L-R): Elena Palombo (MAB Government Relations Manager); Michael Renda, VP/GM, WJBK-TV (Detroit); Congressman Dave Trott (R-11); Marla Drutz, VP/GM, WDIV-TV (Detroit); Karole White (MAB President/CEO); Rob Davidek, News Director, CBS Radio (Detroit).

Last week, the MAB met with Congressman Dave Trott (R-11) as part of our summer in-district advocacy outreach. MAB members brought the Congressman up to date on the issues affecting the Michigan broadcasting industry, including progress and the timeline of the FCC incentive spectrum auction and the impact the subsequent repacking process will have on the local TV stations. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Trott was involved in the Copyright Act review, and has co-sponsored the performance tax legislation (H.R. 1733).

MAB members discussed the impact that levying additional taxes will have on local radio stations and the amount of fees stations already pay to ASCAP and BMI. Congressman Trott expressed interest in continued discussion of performance fees and stated that he hopes to be part of the copyright reform in the next Congress.

Appeals Court Denies Stay of Decision That Keeps Straight Ticket Voting

The 6th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s request for a stay of a lower court decision placing a preliminary injunction on the law enacted this year ending straight ticket voting.

The three-judge panel unanimously held that the state “offered only vague and largely unsupported justifications of fostering voter knowledge and engagement” in response to the district court ruling that ending straight ticket voting would place a burden on voters who tend to use the straight ticket option in greater numbers.

“After evaluating the burdens imposed by the law and the state’s asserted justifications, we hold that the secretary has not shown that there is a substantial likelihood that she will prevail on appeal in demonstrating that the district court erred in evaluating the plaintiffs’ Equal Protection Clause claim,” the court wrote. Further, the court held that the preliminary injunction preventing the repeal of straight ticket voting would cause no injury to the state.

FCC Spectrum Auction Bidding Raises $11.5 Billion in the Seventh Round

According to a report in Broadcasting & Cable, the FCC’s spectrum incentive auction now generated over $11.5 billion in bids. The FCC will need at least $88,379,558,704 to cover the cost of paying broadcasters for the 126 MHz of spectrum; paying TV stations to move off the spectrum and paying for the auction itself.

The auction is expected to take up to several months before the FCC knows if it can come close to that financial figure. If it does not, the agency will have to lower its spectrum requirement to 114 MHz and resume the reverse portion of the auction. Currently, the FCC is conducting two rounds per day of two hours apiece, 10-12 a.m. and 2-4 p.m., but that number could be increased and the length shortened as the auction progresses as a way to speed the bidding process.

MAB Meets with Bishop

(L-R) Nick Gnau (IHeartMedia, Detroit), Reed Kittredge (WHMI-FM, Howell), Karole White (MAB President), Steve Mills (Midwest Communications, Kalamazoo), Congressman Mike Bishop (R-8) and Mike Klein (Midwest Communications, Kalamazoo).

Congressman Mike Bishop (R-8) met with the MAB members on August 15.  The group brought the Congressman up to date on issues affecting the broadcasting industry. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Bishop briefed the MAB about the review process involving Copyright issues.

Also discussed was the potential and the necessary rewrite of the tax laws. Though any effort to change the tax laws will be met with a lot of differing opinions, the MAB welcomed hearing Rep. Bishop speak about the importance of advertising as a necessary business expense deduction.  The MAB appreciates that the Congressman has the same view of the importance of advertising to business and harm it would cause if companies could not longer deduct it from their business taxes.

FCC Votes to Retain Cross Ownership Ban

The FCC has voted to retain its ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership. Reuters reports that the panel voted 3-2 along party lines to retain the existing rules, which have been criticized as outdated and not reflecting marketplace trends. The rules circulated to the Commissioners reportedly included Wheeler’s proposal to allow waivers for newspapers or stations determined to qualify as “failing.”

NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton issued a statement in response to the ruling, “NAB strongly disagrees with the FCC’s decision to cling to long-outdated media ownership rules that no longer serve their purpose. For an agency that claims to be forward-thinking and focused on the future, when it comes to broadcasting, the FCC still applies analog regulation in the digital age. Most egregious is the Commission’s failure to remove its cross-ownership rules. The FCC’s greatest accomplishment with its latest order is to further hasten the great decline of our nation’s newspapers and the quality of journalism as a whole.”

Six Lawmakers Support DOJ Decision

According to the InsideRadio report, six lawmakers in Congress wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney General supporting the Justice Department’s decision not to make any changes to the antitrust consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI. The lawmakers called the decision “appropriate.”

The Congressmen wrote “So-called ‘fractional licensing’ would hamstring the music marketplace. Were the Department to propose modifying the consent decrees to allow fractional licensing, it would paralyze the market for licensed music.” The six U. S. House members included:  Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Gene Green (D-TX), Dave Trott (R-MI) and Jared Polis (D-CO.)

Court Denies Use of ‘Stale’ Signatures on Petition Drive

Supporters of the petition to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state, known as fracking, lost a court battle to allow the use of “stale” signatures on their petition drive. “Stale” signatures are those older than 180 days. Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borrello ruled that the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan had no actual controversy before the court to allow it to issue a declaratory ruling on whether signatures, older than 180 days, can be counted.

The committee had not collected enough signatures on its petitions for an initiated act to ban fracking, nor had it filed the signatures it had collected, Borrello ruled in Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan v. Director of Elections (COC docket No. 16-000122-MM).

The committee sought a ruling from the court that petition signatures collected more than 180 days before the signatures were filed, or would be filed, could still be counted. A top official for the committee said the group will appeal the decision.

Lawmaker Calls on Senate to Include Electronic Data in Constitution

capitol3State Representative Jim Runestad (R-44) called for the Michigan Senate to take action on a joint resolution extending Michigan’s constitutional prohibition against unreasonable government search and seizures to include electronic data and communications. So far, there has not been a commitment from the Senate to do so.

House Joint Resolution N passed the House in June by a vote of 107-1 but has sat on the Senate floor since the Legislature adjourned for its summer recess. The joint resolution requires warrants be used to access an individual’s electronic data and communication.

“The right of individuals to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures is fundamental, which is why it is enshrined in the U.S. and Michigan constitutions. There ought to be no difference when it comes to government searches of electronic property and physical property,” Runestad said in a statement.