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Hey, Alexa! What’s Happening in Lansing – December 2022

January 6, 2023

Here’s a December recap from Alexa Kramer, SBAM’s Director of Government Operations

Added Accountability for the Michigan Reconnect Program 

SBAM played an instrumental role in the passage of HB 6129 and HB 6130 that was signed at the very end of the 2021-2022 legislative session. The Michigan Reconnect Program is Michigan’s last-dollar, tuition free option for individuals 25 years and older who haven’t completed a degree, to receive a degree or credential at a community college. The Legislature has invested tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into the Reconnect program with strong business community support to both deal with the state’s critical skills gap and provide Michiganders with the opportunity to go back to college and obtain the education or training they need to advance their careers. HB 6129 and HB 6130 provided needed program accountability to ensure those dollars are used effectively. The legislation: 

  • Sets annual numerical degree completion goals for Reconnect students that community colleges must meet or confront reductions in state Reconnect contributions 
  • Prescribes best practices for helping adult students persist and complete degrees and certificates such as providing stackable industry-recognized micro credentials within degree and certificate programs, offering credit for prior learning, and building strong transfer agreements with four-year universities and colleges 
  • Offers strong financial incentives for community colleges to provide Reconnect students with course credits for prior learning  
    • Provides an outcome-based framework for the recently appropriated Reconnect Short Term Training Program which provides scholarships for adults without college degrees enrolled in employer-recognized shorter-term skill certificate courses that result in higher paying jobs in demand 

    SBAM is confident that this legislation will increase completion rates and strengthen our overall talent pipeline. We appreciate the bi-partisan leadership of bill sponsors Representative Ben Frederick and Senator Sarah Anthony, and Governor Whitmer’s continued support of the Reconnect Program. 

    Building Bridges Event 

    SBAM, in partnership with the Michigan Education Association, Michigan Association for Justice, Business Leaders for Michigan, and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, hosted a weekend-long event for newly elected legislators. This event, called Building Bridges, first launched in 2016. 

    Building Bridges is hosted after an election and before the new elected lawmakers take office, and the main purpose of the event is in the name – to build bridges. These individuals have come off the heels of an election and the event is cultivated to highlight the importance of relationship building across the aisle in order to get good policy accomplished on behalf of Michiganders.  

    2022’s event was hosted in Kalamazoo at the Radisson Plaza. Newly-elected legislators heard panels from outgoing leadership and outgoing legislators on what to expect. They had an opportunity to do delve into a personality assessment that helped establish new connections. They also heard from a panel of the most recent freshmen legislators on their tips and advice to be an effective first-termer. Throughout the event were fun activities that allowed for networking with each other and the partner organizations. The closing panel was a discussion with Senate Majority Leader-elect Winnie Brinks, Speaker-elect Joe Tate, and Minority Leader-elect Matt Hall.  

    SBAM is a proud partner of this event that highlights bipartisanship, relationship building, and comradery. We thank the newly elected lawmakers who spent the time with us during the weekend building bridges.  

    SBAM Advocacy Champions

    SBAM Advocacy Champions continues to grow as more members participate in this new member benefit and fine tune their advocacy skills. In December, members were able to participate in the first part of our media training offering. At this training, members heard from President & CEO Brian Calley, Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Communications Sarah Miller, and Laura Biehl with Resch Strategies on tips and tricks for engaging with various forms of media to amplify your voice. We also wrapped up our first complete offering of the general advocacy course with an in-person mock committee meeting. At this training, members sat in and delivered prepared testimony in a committee room to SBAM staff and received advice from Representative Julie Calley on how to be an effective advocate. 

    SBAM will continue to deliver this member benefit and encourage all interested members to check out our webpage to see which courses best fit your interests. Questions? Contact Alexa Kramer at alexa.kramer@sbam.org or Kelli Saunders at kelli.saunders@sbam.org

    Looking forward 

    Looking forward to the 2023-2024 legislative session, SBAM remains committed to bipartisanship. This shines through not only our endorsements, but also in the way we operate every day on your behalf. This important pillar of our work has only been amplified with the change of power in Lansing to a fully controlled Democratic Legislature and Executive branch.  

    On top of a power shift, there has been a large churn of legislators. SBAM staff will be spending a lot of time early in the session meeting with every new legislator, educating them on our legislative agenda, and becoming a valuable resource for them as they take on their new role.  

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