Category Archives: Legislative Update

Dave Hildenbrand Joins Kelley Cawthorne

MAB’s lobbying firm Kelley Cawthorne announced this past Monday that Lansing veteran Dave Hildenbrand will join its team of government relations professionals.

Hildenbrand was a member of the Michigan Senate from 2011 through 2018. He served as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee for four years beginning in 2015. As Chair, he oversaw the state’s $56 billion annual budget. Dave was widely recognized for his ability to navigate the legislative process to produce a balanced state budget months ahead of schedule. Under his leadership, Michigan saw record funding in education, health care, roads and public health and safety. Prior to serving as Senate Appropriations Chair, Dave was the Assistant Senate Majority Leader and a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 2005 through 2010 where he also served in several key leadership positions.

“No one knows the state budget process better than Dave Hildenbrand,” said Rob Elhenicky, a principal of the firm. “He worked across the aisle to fund important projects, move legislation and serve the people of Michigan. Having his insight and work ethic on our team will be a tremendous asset for our clients.”

Hildenbrand still lives in his hometown of Lowell, Michigan, with his wife Sarah and their two young children. He began his career in public service under his mentor, Dick Posthumus, during his tenure as Senate Majority Leader and Lieutenant Governor. Before running for office, Hildenbrand served as an agriculture policy advisor to former Michigan Governor John Engler. In addition to his state budget work, Hildenbrand served on the following policy committees: Economic Development, Commerce, Insurance, Outdoor Recreation and Tourism and Government Operations.

“Kelley Cawthorne has an outstanding reputation of working tirelessly to get results for its clients,” said Hildenbrand. “My goal is to help the firm’s clients better understand how to succeed in a term-limited legislative environment. I also hope to use my relationships to help the firm grow in new markets and practice areas.”

Hildenbrand officially will join the firm on January 14.

Kelly Cawthorne is the only lobbying firm in Michigan with permanent offices in Lansing and Detroit. The firm’s growing client list includes: ATT, Deloitte, DTE Energy, Ford Motor Company, the McLaren-Karmanos Cancer Center, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union, Wal-Mart, and Wayne State University.

House Energy & Commerce GOP Committee Lineup Announced, Includes Michigan’s Fred Upton

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) issued the following statement after announcing the subcommittee Ranking Members for the 116th Congress:

“The American people expect results, and I am confident that the leadership team Republicans are putting forward is ready to deliver. As we address some of the biggest challenges facing our nation, from health care, to the environment, to modernizing our energy infrastructure, to protecting consumers in the digital age and more, this committee is poised to truly make a positive impact in the lives of the American people.”

Subcommittee on Communications and Technology:

  • Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) – Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce:

  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) – Ranking Member
Congressman Fred Upton, R-MI

Subcommittee on Energy:

  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) – Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change:

  • Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) – Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Health:

  • Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) – Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations:

  • Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) – Ranking Member

Energy & Commerce Committee Democratic Roster Released

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) announced the full Democratic rosters for the six subcommittees in the 116th Congress, including the six subcommittee chairs and the full Committee Vice Chair, who were elected by the Democrats on the Committee. The six subcommittees and their chairs are:

  • Subcommittee on Communications and Technology – Rep. Mike Doyle (PA)
  • Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce – Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL)
  • Subcommittee on Energy – Rep. Bobby Rush (IL)
  • Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change – Rep. Paul Tonko (NY)
  • Subcommittee on Health –  Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA)
  • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations – Rep. Diana DeGette (CO)

The appointments will now need to be approved by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and the Democratic Caucus.  Committee Democrats also elected Yvette Clarke (NY) as Vice Chair of the full Committee.

State Senate Majority Leader Announces Senate Committee Membership

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-16) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-27) jointly released the full list of members of each Senate committee and Appropriations subcommittee.

“We expect the committee process to be deliberative and thorough. We look forward to robust policy debates and bipartisan work product, wherever possible,” Shirkey said in a statement.

“The incoming class of senators has a wide range of professional experience that they bring to the table, experience that makes them real-life experts on their given committees. Our constituents expect us to work together on their behalf, and I anticipate many opportunities for bipartisanship and progress this term,” Senator Ananich said in a statement.

With the change in makeup to a 22-16 Republican majority from the 27-11 Republican majority during the previous four years, the new committee makeup allowed for some additional Democratic representation. Full committee roster is available here – follow ‘Committee’ tab.

Governor Whitmer to Deliver State of the State Address February 5

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced that her first State of the State Address will be Tuesday, February 5 at 7 p.m. from the House Chamber of the Michigan Capitol.

The MAB will offer a pool feed of the address, with feeds for both TV and radio.  This is Governor Whitmer’s first State of the State address. The MAB TV feed will be unhosted, allowing your anchors to introduce and conclude the broadcast.

We encourage all TV stations to take the raw feed and carry the address live over the air and on your website if you can. The feed from the Capitol will be closed-captioned. We are still planning for radio (which may be a hosted feed or, as with television, unhosted).

We want to start off the term of the new Governor on the right track showing our commitment. We also hope you will carry the pre-recorded Republican response which will be fed before and after the address so you may record it and play it following the Governor’s address or at a more convenient time. Your audience will be interested in the Governor’s first State of the State address.

The administration will be looking for ways to fund their aggressive agenda in the new budget. We do not want that to be with a tax on services that includes advertising. Showing the administration the strength of the Michigan Broadcasting industry and our reach is vital to our advocacy efforts.

If you are unable to carry the State of the State Address on one of your channels, you may record and tape delay it to be played at a more convenient time. We are trying to get at least one TV and one radio station in each market to carry it live.

We will distribute to Television via Galaxy 17. Radio will be provided an Internet stream.

Stations interested in the broadcast who have not yet responded to a survey invite can state their interest here:


January Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – The Shutdown Does Not Put Everything on Hold

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

We typically publish our article about upcoming regulatory dates before the beginning of each month, but this month, the looming FCC shutdown and determining its effect on filing deadlines pushed back our schedule. As we wrote on Friday, the effect of the shutdown is now becoming clear – and it has the potential to put on hold a number of the FCC deadlines, including the filing of Quarterly Children’s Television Reports due on January 10 and the uploading of Quarterly Issues Programs lists, due to be added to station’s public inspection files on January 10. The FCC-hosted public inspection file database is offline, so those Quarterly Issues Programs lists can’t be uploaded unless the budget impasse is resolved this week. Certifications as to the compliance of TV stations with the commercial limits in children’s television programs would also be added to the public file by January 10 – if it is available for use by then. While these and other dates mentioned below may be put on hold, there are deadlines that broadcasters need to pay attention to that are unaffected by the Washington budget debate.

We note that the FCC’s CDBS and LMS databases are up and operating, though most filings will be considered to be submitted the day that the FCC reopens. As the databases are up and operating, many applications can be electronically filed – so TV stations might as well timely upload their Children’s Television Reports on schedule by January 10, to avoid any slow uploading that may result from overloading of the FCC’s system as the FCC reopens. Other FCC deadlines are unaffected by the shutdown – most notably, as we wrote on Friday, those that related to the repacking of the TV band following the TV incentive auction. The FCC has money to keep its auction activities operating so staff are working to keep the repacking on track. Deadlines coming up for the repacking include a January 10th deadline for stations affected by the repacking to file their Form 387 Transition Progress Report. Auction deadlines proceed whether or not the FCC is otherwise open for business.

FCC filing deadlines in certain rulemaking proceedings may well also be on hold if the shutdown continues. Deadlines for pleadings will be pushed back to the day after the day the FCC resumes its normal operations. Comments are due in the FCC’s proceeding to determine what to do with Class A “clear channel” AM stations on January 22 (see our summary here), but these could be affected if the shutdown persists.

Even the FCC meeting scheduled for January 30 could be in jeopardy if the shutdown runs through the end of the month. That meeting is scheduled to feature the adoption of the FCC’s order abolishing the FCC Form 397 Mid-Term EEO Report (see the draft order here, released last week) and the start of a rulemaking proceeding to make some changes in the FCC’s standards for deciding between mutually exclusive applications for new noncommercial broadcast stations, including LPFM facilities (see the draft order here).

Early February brings the obligation for EEO Public Inspection File Reports to be uploaded to the public file of Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Oklahoma that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees. Stations with those due dates should be prepared to upload their Public File Reports by February 1 if the FCC’s Public Inspection File database is up and operating by then.

Deadlines not affected by the shutdown include ones imposed by other government agencies. For instance, the Copyright Office and Copyright Royalty Board are not affected by the shutdown. We would expect that the CRB will this month be issuing its invitation for interested parties to file Petitions to Participate in the next proceeding to determine the royalty rates to be paid to SoundExchange for the digital performance of music by webcasters (see our article here). As we wrote here, with the increase in digital performances of broadcast stations through Alexa and other smart speakers, it is more important than ever for broadcasters to secure a reasonable royalty rate for the streaming of their signals. This proceeding will determine the royalty rates for Internet radio for 2021-2026.

Upfront minimum fee payments will also be due under various music license agreements by the end of the month. This would include the royalties to be paid to SoundExchange under most of the current royalty deals. For most webcasters, a payment of $500 per each channel streamed is due by the end of the month.

No doubt, other deadlines will arise this month, particularly if the government shutdown is resolved. As always, we have highlighted here just some of the more notable regulatory deadlines. Check with your own station’s counsel for more information about deadlines that may apply to your own stations.

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.

Be Careful: Don’t Use the FCC ‘Demo’ Public File Site to Upload Documents

Since the FCC shutdown on January 3, the FCC’s online public file system has been offline and stations have not been able to upload public file documents to the site.  The MAB and our FCC Washington Counsel David Oxenford has posted about this here.

The MAB has learned, however, that some stations around the country have been uploading documents to an FCC “Demo” site that remains online despite the shutdown.  This Demo site is not a substitute for the official public file site and should not be used by broadcasters.

If you look at the link carefully, however, it is has the word “demo” in the link address. This is not the correct email link for your station’s on-line public file. Rather it was a demonstration website for stations to use when the on-line system was first opened. It was designed for stations to learn how to upload documents without affecting the actual on-line public file system. The real public file system remains closed until the government re-opens.

Update: The FCC has just shut down the “demo link.” If you have uploaded files onto this “demo” website, it is not clear whether the FCC will accept the filing. You may have to re-file once the FCC opens.

Read more from NASBA FCC attorney Scott Flick here.


Senate Democrats Announce Leadership Lineup

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-27) announced the Senate Democratic Caucus’ leadership positions with eight new members serving in the leadership positions below him.

Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-1) of Detroit will serve as a minority floor leader. The minority whip for the Democrats will be Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-29) of Grand Rapids and the minority caucus chair will be Sen. Erika Geiss (D-6) of Taylor.

The remaining positions are Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-11) of Southfield as assistant minority leader, Sen. Mallory McMorrow  (D-13) of Royal Oak as assistant minority floor leader, Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-12) of Beverly Hills as assistant minority whip, Sen. Paul Wojno (D-9) of Warren as assistant minority caucus chairperson and Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-4) of Detroit as associate President Pro Tempore.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to Deliver First State of the State February 5

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced that her first State of the State Address will be Tuesday, February 5 at 7 p.m. from the House Chamber of the Michigan Capitol.

Traditionally, previous Michigan governors have used the address to bring their priorities to the forefront and talk about pressing issues facing the state.

Through the years, the MAB has provided members with a raw, unanchored feed of the address. Details coming soon.