Four Things to Watch in 2012

With the Detroit Lions making the play-offs for the first time in over a decade and both the Spartans and Wolverines posting bowl victories, 2012 is off to a great start for fans throughout Michigan. And with a presidential election looming in November, the year promises to close in dramatic fashion. Between the Super Bowl and the Election, watch these four legal and legislative issues with the potential for broad impact well after the New Year.

1. Proposed Changes to Michigan’s No-Fault Statute.
House Bill 3946, currently stalled in committee, would modify a key feature of Michigan’s No-Fault auto insurance system. Historically, the statute provides full injury and rehabilitation benefits to auto accident victims for as long as their injuries persist. The change would allow a cap on those benefits in exchange for a proposed 15 percent decrease on auto insurance premiums. People on both sides of the political aisle debate the pros and cons of the proposed change. If the amendment is implemented, key questions remain concerning whether comparable coverage will be available through private or government providers.

2. Emergency Financial Manager on Detroit’s Horizon?
News continues to be grim for the long-troubled City of Detroit. With the City slated to default on loan obligations by spring, Governor Snyder has started the process toward appointment of an emergency financial manager. In
response, Mayor Bing and city officials threaten a legal challenge to the legislation controlling the appointment process. Regardless of the outcome of any challenge, one wonders whether the time and resources would be better devoted to the City’s undisputed, underlying financial challenges.

3. New Business Tax Laws Take Effect.
Most business owners and tax professionals agreed that the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) was difficult to understand and punitive to many businesses. In May of last year, Governor Snyder signed legislation replacing the tax on gross receipts with a 6% corporate income tax. The new tax laws took effect on New Year’s Day. As the year unfolds and businesses migrate from the former system to the new, all look forward to a clearer understanding of how exactly the change will impact their bottom line.

4. National Healthcare Legislation Reviewed by Supreme Court.

The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments this spring in a legal challenge to the sweeping healthcare overhaul championed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. A pivotal issue is whether the federal government can require individuals to maintain health insurance coverage. The Court’s decision could have major ramifications for the face of healthcare and public policy for decades to come. More immediately, if the Court renders its opinion before its summer recess, the reverberations will undoubtedly spill into the fall presidential election.

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