Marleau bill would ban ‘swipe fees’

LANSING—State Sen. Jim Marleau introduced a consumer protection measure Thursday that would prevent retailers from adding surcharges to certain bills.

Under current law, merchants are allowed to charge “swipe fees” or “checkout fees” to consumers who pay by credit card. Senate Bill 240 would ban these surcharges, which may be up to 4 percent of a total sale.

“Michigan residents have enough challenges. Paying extra at the register for using a credit card shouldn’t be one of them,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “My measure will protect consumers from this practice. To maintain Michigan’s comeback, we must remain a consumer-friendly state, for Michiganders as well as for the millions of tourists who spend their hard-earned money here every year.”

Currently, 10 states have laws banning credit card surcharges, and at least 13 other states have introduced legislation that would prohibit the practice.

As of January 28, Visa and MasterCard have allowed merchants to add a surcharge to credit card transactions as part of a settlement from an antitrust lawsuit brought by retailers.

“I am thankful that three Republicans as well as three Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors of this bill,” Marleau said. “This issue hurts everyone at the cash register, and we have found a bipartisan solution for it.”

SB 240 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions for consideration.

Marleau delighted by $1 million in funding awarded to Pontiac

LANSING—State Sen. Jim Marleau said Thursday that he is grateful that the city of Pontiac was recently awarded nearly $1 million in funding for blight removal, and he is looking forward to the renewal and cleanup work in the city.

Pontiac will receive $996,668 as part of $15 million in funding awarded to 34 municipal, township and county entities statewide to help eliminate blight in their communities.

“This is wonderful news for Pontiac and the surrounding areas,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “The heart of the city’s residents is to restore Pontiac’s vitality. There’s much work to be done, and this money will go a long way toward rebuilding a renewed Pontiac. I can’t wait.”
 
Funding for the awards comes from a March 2012 settlement reached by 49 state attorneys general, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, following a lawsuit over mortgage foreclosure practices.

Of Michigan’s $97.2 million share of the settlement, $25 million was used to create a Blight Elimination Program to help communities demolish vacant and abandoned properties with the goal of promoting public safety, stabilizing property values and enhancing current and future development opportunities.

The Blight Elimination Program is a partnership between Department of Human Services, the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Applicants for the awards were asked to provide a detailed description of their proposed projects, including a post-demolition land use plan. They were also asked to explain in detail the anticipated benefits aimed at public safety, property value stabilization and economic development. Descriptions of local support along with additional public and private investment in the projects were also requested.

“The Pontiac projects will beautify the city, increase public health and safety and raise property values,” Marleau said. “This is a nice shot in the arm for the city.”

Sen. Marleau offers free tax preparation guides

LANSING—Residents of the 12th state Senate District looking for tax preparation information can obtain a free copy of the 2013 Michigan Taxpayer’s Guide by visiting Sen. Jim Marleau’s website, the lawmaker said Wednesday.

The guide, which is a reference for the 2012 tax year, is designed to help residents prepare their state tax returns.

“Tax laws change every year, which can present a real challenge when filling out your returns,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “That’s why this free preparation guide is such a useful tool. I am happy we have made it available again for residents of the 12th District.”
 
The booklet contains information on Michigan’s income tax, property taxes and tax credits. Included is a year-long listing of important property tax dates and deadlines as well as copies of the most commonly used tax forms. The guide also features addresses, phone numbers and email information for obtaining state agency tax assistance.

Marleau added that the guide is meant as a helpful resource and not as a substitute for Michigan Department of Treasury tax instruction booklets.

Residents can contact Marleau’s office at 517-373-2417 to reserve a free copy.

Free copies may also be downloaded from this website by clicking Publications.