EPA Proposed Regulation on Dental Amalgam Separation Could Cause Burden on Local Treatment Systems

The Environmental Protection Agency is having an open comment period until December 22nd, to allow individuals and organizations to respond to proposed new regulation of discharge of dental amalgam into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) as part of the Clean Water Act. The regulation would classify dentists as an “industrial user” under part 23, which would require additional pretreatment measures that could be burdensome to locals due to the increased oversight requirements in this category. Michigan already has an amalgam separation law on the books, but this new provision would place dentists into a category (industrial user) that the DEQ does not have authorization over in order to modify the federal requirement to better align with the existing state law. If you would like to read about this issue further and/or submit comments, click here.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Free webinar on New FCC Wireless Siting Rules on Nov. 5th

On November 5th from 1-2pm, BB&K telecommunications attorneys are providing a free webinar to provide an overview of the new FCC wireless siting rules, the timetable for responding to them, and the challenges and opportunities facing public bodies as they attempt to protect local interests, while complying with federal requirements governing zoning of wireless facilities.

The webinar will cover:

The FCC’s new rules, which are expected to affect both the substance and the process associated with wireless siting.

The effect of the new rules on contracts for use of publicly owned property

The legal issues raised by the rules and what local governments need to do if they wish to challenge, or obtain clarification of, the rules

Ways local governments can respond to the rules that provide the maximum protection to the public

To register for the webinar click here.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

West Michigan Environmental Council to Host Fracking in Michigan Conference

On Wednesday, December 3, 2014 the West Michigan Environmental Council will host a conference exploring Fracking in Michigan. The event will be held at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing beginning at 10 a.m.

The event will explore a number of issues around fracking including the impact on local government. For more information or if you are interested in attending, you can check out the event’s website.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

HAM Radio Legislation Passes Senate

Today SB 493, a bill dealing with amateur radio operations, passed the full Senate.  As it was introduced, it had a significant impact on local control and zoning.  However, through a workgroup process, the bill was made significantly better (substitute found here: SB 493 S2 (3)) and now mirrors the Federal regulations that our local communities are already required to adhere to.

It also discusses an advisory council made up of amateur radio industry folks and local government folks so anyone with a question can seek feedback and research from this group either at the industry level or the community level.

We appreciate the work the bill sponsor and his office put into the legislation and hearing our concerns from a local government perspective. Also, a big thank you to Tim Wolff, village manager of Lake Isabella, for attending the workgroup meetings with me and providing valuable feedback.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Governor Signs Michigan Investment Market Legislation

HB 5273, a bill dealing with Michigan investment markets, was signed into law this week (PA 355 of 2014)!  This new law would give businesses and residents in Michigan the ability to become broker-dealers to create a market (online or in person) through which intrastate stocks can be listed, bought, sold and resold. Those interested in purchasing stock from local companies would have easy access to the listings of all the companies on the exchange and show these potential investors that there is indeed a market for what they may be purchasing.  Exchanges must apply and be registered with the state as well as follow rules of operation laid out in the legislation which will provide security for all those participating, both the businesses and the investors.

This is the next progression from the MILE/crowdfunding legislation that was passed earlier this year and we are thankful to Rep. Jenkins for working so diligently to help small businesses in our local communities grow and prosper.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305. 

Crowdfunding: Tapping into Local Investment Power

Crowdfunding-banner

Pauline Repp, Nate Scramlin, Summer Minnick, Nheena Weyer Ittner, and Ibrahim Varachia

League members filled the room, anxious to learn about how crowdfunding could benefit their communities. Summer Minnick, the League’s director of policy initiatives and federal affairs, engaged the audience with an interactive activity designed to gauge their current level of knowledge on crowdfunding. With clickers in hand that would record their votes, people answered a variety of questions on their familiarity with crowdfunding and its potential impact on their community. Understandably, the majority – 46% – rated their knowledge of crowdfunding as so-so. Stay tuned for the results at the end of the session. Minnick then enlightened the audience on the basics of crowdfunding – using a small amount of money to make a big impact in a new project of business venture. Michigan’s new crowdfunding law – Michigan Invest Locally Exemption – allows businesses to raise capital from accredited and non-accredited investors. “Non-accredited investors are about 93% of the population,” said Minnick. “That is what’s exciting about this for communities and entrepreneurs.” As evidence of crowdfunding’s economic value, she cited some impressive statistics. In 2014, crowdfunding added 270,000 jobs and pumped $65 billion into the U.S. economy. Michigan is at the forefront of the crowdfunding movement, which gives communities a powerful new economic development tool. This can lead to success for local entrepreneurs, local investors and the community as a whole. Minnick cited the example of Tecumseh Brewing Co., the first Michigan company to successfully raise capital under Michigan’s new crowdfunding law. They were able to raise $175,000, largely from local people who knew their business and wanted see it grow and develop.

Next, Nate Scramlin, MEDC, Community Assistance Specialist, filled in the audience on MEDC’s new crowdfunding initiative, Public Spaces, Community Places. In an effort to promote vibrant communities and attract talent, MEDC launched this matching dollar program to help communities with traditional downtowns create placemaking projects in public areas such as trails, alleys and public plazas. They have partnered with the League and Patronicity – a Detroit-based crowdfunding portal – to bring the value of crowdfunding to projects across the state.

Ibrahim Varachia, Patronicity co-founder, shared how his company works with Public Spaces, Community Places applicants to develop successful crowdfunding campaigns. Patronicity takes them through the important steps of identifying their project idea, establishing a funding goal, setting a timeline, and creating a unique pitch, video and reward. Varachia emphasized that setting a relatively short timeline – 30 days – creates a sense of urgency among potential donors and is generally results in more success. Marquette’s Skatepark was one of the first projects to take advantage of the MEDC crowdfunding program.

Nheena Weyer Ittner, director of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, was active in helping the community raise about $200,000 to build the skatepark. When they needed $20,000 to add the finishing touches that would make the park an inviting gathering space for the entire community, she turned to Patronicity to help her create a successful fundraising campaign. With Patronicity’s expertise, Ittner’s enthusiasm, and a supportive community, the campaign did indeed reach its goal and gain the matching funds from MEDC. Now, remember how the audience rated their crowdfunding knowledge before this session began? By the end of the hour, 82 percent of the attendees rated their knowledge of crowdfunding as good or very good!

Crowdfunding: Tapping into Local Investment Power

Crowdfunding-banner

Pauline Repp, Nate Scramlin, Summer Minnick, Nheena Weyer Ittner, and Ibrahim Varachia

League members filled the room, anxious to learn about how crowdfunding could benefit their communities. Summer Minnick, the League’s director of policy initiatives and federal affairs, engaged the audience with an interactive activity designed to gauge their current level of knowledge on crowdfunding. With clickers in hand that would record their votes, people answered a variety of questions on their familiarity with crowdfunding and its potential impact on their community. Understandably, the majority – 46% – rated their knowledge of crowdfunding as so-so. Stay tuned for the results at the end of the session. Minnick then enlightened the audience on the basics of crowdfunding – using a small amount of money to make a big impact in a new project of business venture. Michigan’s new crowdfunding law – Michigan Invest Locally Exemption – allows businesses to raise capital from accredited and non-accredited investors. “Non-accredited investors are about 93% of the population,” said Minnick. “That is what’s exciting about this for communities and entrepreneurs.” As evidence of crowdfunding’s economic value, she cited some impressive statistics. In 2014, crowdfunding added 270,000 jobs and pumped $65 billion into the U.S. economy. Michigan is at the forefront of the crowdfunding movement, which gives communities a powerful new economic development tool. This can lead to success for local entrepreneurs, local investors and the community as a whole. Minnick cited the example of Tecumseh Brewing Co., the first Michigan company to successfully raise capital under Michigan’s new crowdfunding law. They were able to raise $175,000, largely from local people who knew their business and wanted see it grow and develop.

Next, Nate Scramlin, MEDC, Community Assistance Specialist, filled in the audience on MEDC’s new crowdfunding initiative, Public Spaces, Community Places. In an effort to promote vibrant communities and attract talent, MEDC launched this matching dollar program to help communities with traditional downtowns create placemaking projects in public areas such as trails, alleys and public plazas. They have partnered with the League and Patronicity – a Detroit-based crowdfunding portal – to bring the value of crowdfunding to projects across the state.

Ibrahim Varachia, Patronicity co-founder, shared how his company works with Public Spaces, Community Places applicants to develop successful crowdfunding campaigns. Patronicity takes them through the important steps of identifying their project idea, establishing a funding goal, setting a timeline, and creating a unique pitch, video and reward. Varachia emphasized that setting a relatively short timeline – 30 days – creates a sense of urgency among potential donors and is generally results in more success. Marquette’s Skatepark was one of the first projects to take advantage of the MEDC crowdfunding program.

Nheena Weyer Ittner, director of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, was active in helping the community raise about $200,000 to build the skatepark. When they needed $20,000 to add the finishing touches that would make the park an inviting gathering space for the entire community, she turned to Patronicity to help her create a successful fundraising campaign. With Patronicity’s expertise, Ittner’s enthusiasm, and a supportive community, the campaign did indeed reach its goal and gain the matching funds from MEDC. Now, remember how the audience rated their crowdfunding knowledge before this session began? By the end of the hour, 82 percent of the attendees rated their knowledge of crowdfunding as good or very good!

Crowdfunding: Tapping into Local Investment Power

Crowdfunding-banner

Pauline Repp, Nate Scramlin, Summer Minnick, Nheena Weyer Ittner, and Ibrahim Varachia

League members filled the room, anxious to learn about how crowdfunding could benefit their communities. Summer Minnick, the League’s director of policy initiatives and federal affairs, engaged the audience with an interactive activity designed to gauge their current level of knowledge on crowdfunding. With clickers in hand that would record their votes, people answered a variety of questions on their familiarity with crowdfunding and its potential impact on their community. Understandably, the majority – 46% – rated their knowledge of crowdfunding as so-so. Stay tuned for the results at the end of the session. Minnick then enlightened the audience on the basics of crowdfunding – using a small amount of money to make a big impact in a new project of business venture. Michigan’s new crowdfunding law – Michigan Invest Locally Exemption – allows businesses to raise capital from accredited and non-accredited investors. “Non-accredited investors are about 93% of the population,” said Minnick. “That is what’s exciting about this for communities and entrepreneurs.” As evidence of crowdfunding’s economic value, she cited some impressive statistics. In 2014, crowdfunding added 270,000 jobs and pumped $65 billion into the U.S. economy. Michigan is at the forefront of the crowdfunding movement, which gives communities a powerful new economic development tool. This can lead to success for local entrepreneurs, local investors and the community as a whole. Minnick cited the example of Tecumseh Brewing Co., the first Michigan company to successfully raise capital under Michigan’s new crowdfunding law. They were able to raise $175,000, largely from local people who knew their business and wanted see it grow and develop.

Next, Nate Scramlin, MEDC, Community Assistance Specialist, filled in the audience on MEDC’s new crowdfunding initiative, Public Spaces, Community Places. In an effort to promote vibrant communities and attract talent, MEDC launched this matching dollar program to help communities with traditional downtowns create placemaking projects in public areas such as trails, alleys and public plazas. They have partnered with the League and Patronicity – a Detroit-based crowdfunding portal – to bring the value of crowdfunding to projects across the state.

Ibrahim Varachia, Patronicity co-founder, shared how his company works with Public Spaces, Community Places applicants to develop successful crowdfunding campaigns. Patronicity takes them through the important steps of identifying their project idea, establishing a funding goal, setting a timeline, and creating a unique pitch, video and reward. Varachia emphasized that setting a relatively short timeline – 30 days – creates a sense of urgency among potential donors and is generally results in more success. Marquette’s Skatepark was one of the first projects to take advantage of the MEDC crowdfunding program.

Nheena Weyer Ittner, director of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, was active in helping the community raise about $200,000 to build the skatepark. When they needed $20,000 to add the finishing touches that would make the park an inviting gathering space for the entire community, she turned to Patronicity to help her create a successful fundraising campaign. With Patronicity’s expertise, Ittner’s enthusiasm, and a supportive community, the campaign did indeed reach its goal and gain the matching funds from MEDC. Now, remember how the audience rated their crowdfunding knowledge before this session began? By the end of the hour, 82 percent of the attendees rated their knowledge of crowdfunding as good or very good!

Crowdfunding: Tapping into Local Investment Power

Crowdfunding-banner

Pauline Rupp, Nate Scramlin, Summer Minnick, Nheena Weyer Ittner, and Ibrahim Varachia

League members filled the room, anxious to learn about how crowdfunding could benefit their communities. Summer Minnick, the League’s director of policy initiatives and federal affairs, engaged the audience with an interactive activity designed to gauge their current level of knowledge on crowdfunding. With clickers in hand that would record their votes, people answered a variety of questions on their familiarity with crowdfunding and its potential impact on their community. Understandably, the majority – 46% – rated their knowledge of crowdfunding as so-so. Stay tuned for the results at the end of the session. Minnick then enlightened the audience on the basics of crowdfunding – using a small amount of money to make a big impact in a new project of business venture. Michigan’s new crowdfunding law – Michigan Invest Locally Exemption – allows businesses to raise capital from accredited and non-accredited investors. “Non-accredited investors are about 93% of the population,” said Minnick. “That is what’s exciting about this for communities and entrepreneurs.” As evidence of crowdfunding’s economic value, she cited some impressive statistics. In 2014, crowdfunding added 270,000 jobs and pumped $65 billion into the U.S. economy. Michigan is at the forefront of the crowdfunding movement, which gives communities a powerful new economic development tool. This can lead to success for local entrepreneurs, local investors and the community as a whole. Minnick cited the example of Tecumseh Brewing Co., the first Michigan company to successfully raise capital under Michigan’s new crowdfunding law. They were able to raise $175,000, largely from local people who knew their business and wanted see it grow and develop.

Next, Nate Scramlin, MEDC, Community Assistance Specialist, filled in the audience on MEDC’s new crowdfunding initiative, Public Spaces, Community Places. In an effort to promote vibrant communities and attract talent, MEDC launched this matching dollar program to help communities with traditional downtowns create placemaking projects in public areas such as trails, alleys and public plazas. They have partnered with the League and Patronicity – a Detroit-based crowdfunding portal – to bring the value of crowdfunding to projects across the state.

Ibrahim Varachia, Patronicity co-founder, shared how his company works with Public Spaces, Community Places applicants to develop successful crowdfunding campaigns. Patronicity takes them through the important steps of identifying their project idea, establishing a funding goal, setting a timeline, and creating a unique pitch, video and reward. Varachia emphasized that setting a relatively short timeline – 30 days – creates a sense of urgency among potential donors and is generally results in more success. Marquette’s Skatepark was one of the first projects to take advantage of the MEDC crowdfunding program.

Nheena Weyer Ittner, director of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, was active in helping the community raise about $200,000 to build the skatepark. When they needed $20,000 to add the finishing touches that would make the park an inviting gathering space for the entire community, she turned to Patronicity to help her create a successful fundraising campaign. With Patronicity’s expertise, Ittner’s enthusiasm, and a supportive community, the campaign did indeed reach its goal and gain the matching funds from MEDC. Now, remember how the audience rated their crowdfunding knowledge before this session began? By the end of the hour, 82 percent of the attendees rated their knowledge of crowdfunding as good or very good!

Opening Session Offers Insights on Creative Placemaking and Technology

Today’s general session was filled with practical knowledge for Michigan communities, from placemaking in action to technological solutions for a host of municipal challenges.

Dan-Gilmartin-Gen-Session-Oct-16-cropDan Gilmartin, League executive director and CEO, started off the session with an enthusiastic introduction of the League’s new book, Economics of Place: The Art of Building Great Communities. This book builds on the conceptual framework of our first book by delving into the positive placemaking projects that are taking place in communities all over Michigan. “The book is an inspirational and learning tool, not so that you can recreate what’s happening on Marquette’s Baraga Avenue, but so you can learn who was at the table and what was the process to get it done,” said Gilmartin. “It’s about putting the human experience first. When you design communities around people instead of cars, everything changes.”

He then highlighted some of the communities featured in the book. In Flint, a new downtown farmers markets is creating energy and encouraging more small business development. Marquette has redeveloped its Lake Superior waterfront from an unattractive post-industrial area to a really cool place to live and work. And Detroit fosters an entrepreneurial spirt with programs like Detroit SOUP, where neighbors share a meal, hear people pitch new local business ideas, then vote on the winner who will take home the pot of money they collected.

Gilmartin says that these examples show that placemaking isn’t a vague, aspirational idea. It’s reality, and it’s always moving, changing and transformational. Ideas bubble up from the community and local leaders are there to help with things like infrastructure and public safety. A true partnership is created.

He then provided an update on the League’s PlacePlans work this year, where communities like Cadillac, Marquette and southwest Detroit received valuable technical assistance to design an improved sense of place in important sections of town. And he apprised members of ways they can use crowdfunding to benefit their communities. Michigan’s new crowdfunding law enables people of all income levels to invest in the local businesses they love. And MEDC’s Public Spaces, Community Places matching funds crowdfunding initiative helps communities create inviting plazas, parks and other public areas.

Catherine Bracy keynote Oct 16-cropNext up was Catherine Bracy, director of community organizing at Code for America. In her presentation, with the catchy title “Why Good Hackers Make Good Citizens,” she shared the idea that technology has changed so many areas of our life – from how we handle money, to how we order books and music, to how we communicate with friends and family. But local governments often haven’t kept up with technology, and that gap is at the root of why we don’t trust government to do big things anymore. The federal government’s failure to successfully launch healthcare.gov last year is a prime example.

She highlighted seven things that governments should do to work better in the 21st century:

  1. Design for and with people
  2. Listen to the public
  3. Collaborate with others
  4. Choose the right tech for the job
  5. Default to open
  6. Leverage data for better decisions
  7. Organize for outcomes

In relation to designing for and with people, Bracy shared the example of San Francisco’s Cal Fresh program, which provides food assistance to low-income people. Many people fell off the rolls every month and had to re-enroll, often because they received confusing letters about how to continue receiving benefits. Code for America worked with the city to find a better way to communicate with this transient population – text messages – since most of them have cell phones. They helped the city devise a way to collect cell numbers and build a communication network. Benefit recipients’ drop off rate has decreased dramatically, and the human services department is looking at ways to improve other client interactions.

Listening to the public is another important government function that could benefit from technology. Bracy shared Code for America’s experience in Philadelphia, where city officials had been attempting to hold town hall meeting to gather citizen input on changes to bus routes. The meetings were poorly attended because they were held at places or times that were inconvenient to the people who would be affected by the changes. Code for America held the city design signs to be placed right at bus stops, asking people to text in their opinion. The response rate was impressive, and the project went a long way to developing trust between the citizens and local government.

Bracy suggested that if cities learn to follow these seven guidelines, they can close the gap between what citizens have learned to expect from private industry and what they get from government.