Flint Aid Package Awaits Action in US Senate

Recently, Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters introduced legislation, along with Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and many others, to provide additional resources for water infrastructure in light of the crisis in Flint. The legislation, S. 2579, would provide:

  • $100 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund for any state, such as Michigan, that receives an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act due to a public health threat from lead or other contaminants in a public drinking water supply system;
  • $70 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) for low-interest loans for large water and wastewater infrastructure projects nationwide; and
  • $50 million to support public health initiatives, such as lead poisoning prevention, research and health assistance.

A more robust description is attached below. The bill is currently “attached” as an amendment to an energy bill in the Senate. The hold up of its passage is Senator Lee (R-UT), who has placed a “hold” on the legislation, a procedural move prevent a vote. The National League of Cities is asking cities across the country to contact their Senators to help apply pressure and send a message that all cities stand together on the Flint crisis. We are hopeful that negotiations which are occurring while the Senate is on break will result in a positive outcome when they return next week.

DRINKING WATER SAFETY AND INFRASTRUCTURE ACT – Summary (3 1)

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

Sample Resolution, Issue Summary on PA 269/SB 571 Now Available for League Members

The Michigan Municipal League is leading a coalition of organizations in continued opposition to the campaign finance bill SB 571, which Governor Snyder signed January 6, and is now known as PA 269. As part of this opposition, the League is asking members to reach out to their state Representatives and Senators and ask them to repeal the new language in Section 57 of PA 269.

Please call your lawmakers today and go here to get their contact info. The League also has prepared an issue summary and sample resolution that your local governments can use in calling for the repeal. Go here for the summary/talking points and go here for the downloadable sample resolution. Please forward any resolutions on this issue that you adopt to mbach@mml.org so that we can log them and share them with other members.

Read more about this bill/law and why the League so adamantly opposes it from the League’s Chris Hackbarth here. View a joint statement from the coalition calling for the repeal here.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org and 734-669-6317.

 

Honors and Dark Stores and Roads, Oh My! 2015 Busy Year for League Legislative Staff

Dark Stores, speed limits, League honors and roads were just of the many issues and accomplishments involving the Michigan Municipal League in 2015.

Having Governor Snyder sign a long-term road funding package in November following the defeat of Proposal 1 back in May was certainly one of the top news stories out of Lansing this year. But there were many other noteworthy accomplishments in 2015 by the Michigan Municipal League’s advocacy staff in Lansing and Washington D.C.

Like in Michigan, Transportation funding was a hot topic in D.C. in 2015. A major long-term package, called the FAST Act, was signed into law by President Obama earlier this month. Of course, the major national issue in 2016 will be the President election and the League is an active supporter of the Cities Lead 2016 platform led by the National League of Cities.

Back in Michigan, 2015 ended with a flurry of activity in the state Legislature as lawmakers took on numerous bills in the final session days of the year. Click on these links below for details about some of the recent activity:

Other legislation positively impacting our municipalities include bills allowing for training reciprocity to out-of-state firefighters; cleaning up the personal property tax (PPT) implementation process; establishing the March Presidential Primary as the election date for local ballot questions; extending the Commercial Rehabilitation Act; expanding recreation authorities; clarifying rental inspections; and changing portions of the Mobile Home Commission Act. Some of these bills have been signed into law and others continue to move through the process.

There also are numerous other issues in which the League was very engaged 2015 and will continue to be into 2016 , including the Dark Stores Big Box property tax loophole; local speed limits; and a shift in broadband relocation costs to communities. View the League’s newly created web page dedicated to the Dark Stores issue.

In addition, throughout 2015 the League has been extremely active behind the scenes informing lawmakers about the state’s broken municipal finance system and the need for change. Stay tuned for more on this major initiative in 2016.

The final week of session for the Legislature wrapped up Thursday, Dec. 17. Read more on what happened and for all the latest legislative news be sure to frequently visit the League’s Inside 208 blog here.

Posted by Matt Bach on behalf of the League’s advocacy team.

Commercial Rehab Act Sunset Extension Signed By Governor

This week SB 556, a bill to extend the sunset of the Commercial Rehabilitation Act from December of this year to 2020, was signed by Governor Snyder! This act has been used in communities across the state to assist in eradicating blight and putting properties back to productive use.

Thank you to Sen. Horn for being such a great advocate on this issue and keeping a valuable local tool that assists our communities in blight control and economic development.

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

City Income Tax Communities Oppose Senate Changes

The Michigan Senate voted Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, to discharge House Bill 4462 from the Senate Finance committee and then inserted language that many of the 22 income tax communities have weighed in on opposing. Despite the opposition, the Senate passed it late Tuesday night on a vote of 21-17.

The new language added by the Senate would allow a “voluntary” written agreement between an income tax levying city and an owner of property located in the city on behalf of a qualified employer or with a qualified employer who would make an advance payment of the withholding tax that would normally be deducted from employee compensation and remitted to the city, equal to the nonresident rate for the duration of the written agreement.

The Michigan City Income Tax Administrators Association, representing all 22 income tax cities met last week to discuss this proposal and subsequently, the 14 cities who were represented at the meeting passed a unanimous resolution opposing this proposal. Those cities represented at the meeting were: Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Pontiac, Saginaw, Lansing, Springfield, Jackson, Big Rapids, Lapeer, Ionia, Portland, Detroit, Battle Creek and Flint.

Beyond the grave concerns over the administrative burden that this type of concept would place on a city, there were numerous questions raised about the ability to administer such an agreement, where there is no model to follow and no other similar allowance for treatment of income tax and the federal, state, or local level.  Negative consequences for the taxpayer, possible loss of revenue for the city, and an inability to ensure accountability or compliance were among many of the reasons cited in opposition to this idea.

The League is working with these communities to oppose this legislation now that the bill has been returned to the House.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304and chackbarth@mml.org.

Urge Your Representative to Vote NO on HB 5016

Here is an urgent action alert we’ve sent to our members this morning:

We need your help! The Michigan House is currently working on legislation, HB 5016, that could be voted on this week that the Michigan Municipal League strongly opposes. The bill would require municipalities to reimburse a telecommunications provider a portion of relocation costs if a community fails to notify the provider at least one year in advance of a project that will require relocation of their lines.

Additionally, communities will no longer be able to charge for a permit fee, inspection fee, or survey cost, when a relocation is required. The bill also fails to provide any protection to the municipality if the provider installs or relocates their lines in an area other than allowed by the permit or causes construction delays.

If passed, municipalities would be required to pay a private for-profit company for moving their telecommunication lines within the public right-of-way. Communities are already prohibited from denying the telecommunications access to these public spaces they get to occupy for free. This proposed legislation sets a terrible precedent in this state and could lead to other utility providers, i.e. gas and electric companies, to seek the same deal.

Relocation costs can be very expensive. If communities are required to shoulder a portion of those costs it could result in projects being delayed, scaled back, or even eliminated as a result of this unnecessary, one-sided legislation.

The League encourages you to contact your representative TODAY and tell them to oppose HB 5016 and protect our taxpayers from paying these costs. Go here to get the contact info for your legislators.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.