House Local Government Committee Begins Discussion on TIFs

This week the House Local Government Committee chaired by Rep. Lee Chatifield (R – Levering) began taking testimony on Tax Increment Financing authorities. The goal of each presentation, as requested by the chair, is to provide input as to what each stakeholder organization feels needs to be changed through legislation as well as what would be problematic.

This week, the Department of Treasury as well as the Department of Talent and Economic Growth provided testimony on what TIFs are, lack of reporting concerns, concern regarding the duration of some authorities, and reform efforts last session.  The Michigan Association of Counties testified regarding some of misuses and concerns they have including opt out of pre-1994 DDAs and resetting of baselines after so many years among others.

The League will be testifying next week along with a few other stakeholder organizations.

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

Dark Store / Big Box Retail Assessment Legislation Introduced

Two pieces of legislation were introduced this week that would help communities facing tax assessment appeals by big box retailers.  The League has been working closely with bill sponsors, State Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) and State Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette) to craft Senate Bill 524 and House Bill 4909 and soliciting bi-partisan support from the rest of the Upper Peninsula delegation, including State Reps. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) and Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), and many others.  These two bills are modeled on legislation recently passed and signed into law in Indiana and are aimed at clarifying true cash value determinations.  The legislation defines large-scale commercial retail property and the circumstances under which similar large-scale commercial properties can be used for sales comparison purposes.  The legislation also excludes consideration of some negative use deed restrictions from the sales comparison calculation as the trend grows by retailers using these types of deed restrictions to appeal their assessments claiming that these self-imposed deed restrictions have lowered the value of their property.

The League is working in conjunction with the Michigan Association of Counties and the Michigan Townships Association to advocate for this legislation.  The bills have been referred to the Senate Finance and House Tax Policy committees, respectively.  We are working with those committees to secure hearings on the legislation in the near future.

Please let your legislators know how important it is to address this issue and let us know if you have any questions.

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


Senate “Sanctuary City” Bill Jeopardizes Revenue Sharing

League staff testified this week in opposition to Senate Bill 445 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The bill would prohibit any community in Michigan from adopting or enforcing a “sanctuary city” ordinance or policy.  Introduced in the wake of a tragic murder in San Francisco that is being tied to that city’s “sanctuary” policies, the Michigan bill would preempt a local unit of government from enacting or enforcing any law, ordinance, policy or rule that would limit a peace officer or local official from communicating or cooperating with appropriate federal officials on an individual’s immigration status.

To achieve compliance, the bill requires that every city, village, township and county:

  • provide written notice to each peace officer, local official and local employee of their duty to cooperate with state and federal officials on the enforcement of immigration laws.
  • provide the Legislature with written confirmation that the local unit has complied with the previous notice.
  • report individuals they have probable cause to believe are not legally present in the U.S. to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service.
  • report to the Legislature annually on the number of referrals sent to Customs and Immigration.

If a community fails to comply with any of these provisions, the bill would require that the Treasurer withhold the total annual revenue sharing payment for that community.

In addition to the bill’s obvious attack on local control and the needless unfunded mandatory reporting, the committee heard testimony from multiple individuals expressing concern about the message that a bill like this will send to the immigrant community. Municipalities and their employees could face increased liability and it decreases law enforcement’s discretion to perform their jobs.  Most troubling, though is the attempt to penalize every community in Michigan, regardless of size or their involvement in this issue, by holding revenue sharing hostage.  Even communities that do not offer their own law enforcement services would be subject to these mandates and potential penalties.

Please contact your legislators today and urge them to oppose SB 445.

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


Medical Marihuana Legislation Passes House Committee

Three bills creating a medical marihuana regulatory framework passed out of the House Judiciary committee this week, HB 4209, HB 4210 and HB 4827.  HB 4209 (Rep. Callton) provides for state and local regulations of medical marihuana provisioning centers/dispensaries.  HB 4210 (Rep. Lyons) allows for and regulates marihuana infused products.  HB 4827 provides for a seed-to-sale tracking system within the state.

There are still outstanding issues that need to be addressed as this legislation continues through the process but this week’s action is one step in the process of moving the legislation forward.

The League has been active on this issue with the bill sponsors in addressing local concerns such as keeping local control intact, addressing the funding mechanism as well as others.  We appreciate the ability to be involved in the process and look forward to continuing that work in the next few months.

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

Legislation Introduced to Classify Presidential Primary as a Regular Election

Following the recent legislative change that eliminated the February regular election date, a bill was introduced this week to clarify that the Presidential Primary election, held every four years, be classified as a “regular” election, allowing local units of government to include local ballot questions during that election.  This bill, House Bill 4904 (McBroom), was introduced on Tuesday and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Elections committee later this week.  A number of communities have contacted the League and their local legislators to inquire about the ability to place questions on the March 8, 2016 Presidential Primary ballot.  Because that election is currently designated as a “special” election, municipalities are ineligible to include local questions on that ballot.  If passed, HB 4904 would allow local governments to add other questions to this ballot and subsequent Presidential Primary ballots.

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

Congress Making Strides to Avert Shutdown This Week

The United States Senate appears to be making the first move in avoiding a federal government shutdown this Friday, with Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss) introducing a Continuing Resolution that would fund the government through December 11, 2015. This is being done, allegedly, to provide time for Republican leaders to negotiate a larger budget deal which might include trade-offs on the debt ceiling, long term transportation funding and other issues by the end of the year. This week, Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate stated they hope to negotiate directly with President Obama, rather than Democratic leaders in Congress over the course of the next few weeks to come to a resolution on these significant looming issues.

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

Apply Now for National League of Cities Advocacy Committees

Get more involved in shaping federal advocacy efforts by applying to serve on one of the National League of Cities’ advocacy committees! There are seven federal advocacy committees and you must be from an NLC member city to serve. In addition, the Chairs of the Committees will serve as a member of the Board of Trustees for the NLC during their term (this is different from prior years). The applications are online and can be found here. They are due by October 14th so apply today! If you have any questions about this process, please don’t hesitate to contact Summer Minnick at 517-908-0301 or

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


Act 51 Compliance Requirements Due September 30th

Act 51 compliance requirements are due September 30th as a result of changes that were made to the compliance requirements of Public Act 51 of 1951, Section 18j, MCL 247.668j related to funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation for roadways within local units of government.

To comply, by September 30, 2015, a certificate regarding the compensation plans for your local transportation employees must be completed, signed, submitted to the State Department of Transportation and posted on your municipal website. MDOT has summarized the compliance requirements in FAQ form.

If this form is not submitted by September 30th MDOT may withhold Act 51 funding for non-compliance.

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

Treasury Provides Grant Application for Financially Distressed Communities

Treasury recently announced that the FY 2016 Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships (FDCVT) grant application is now available (FDCVT Press Release – FY 2016 Applications Available).  There is $5.0 million in FDCVT funding available to award.  Applications are due to the Michigan Department of Treasury by Thursday, October 15, 2015.

The application is available on their website at :,4679,7-121-1751_2197_58826_69378—,00.html.

For specific questions on this program, please contact Treasury’s Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis at (517) 373-2697.

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

After Serious Negotiations It Is Back To The Drawing Board On Transportation Funding

Legislators spent the majority of the week once again trying to find a way to invest more money in Michigan’s roads. Talks began with the most serious negotiations of the summer and at one point there was some belief that a deal was close. At the end of the day though a final compromise was unable to be reached and the Governor and legislative leaders are back to the drawing board.

The potential deal was a plan based around increasing road funding by $1.2 billion, with $600 million coming from new revenue and $600 coming from existing revenue. The new revenue would come from a combination of gas taxes and registration fee increases. The $600 million in cuts to existing revenue remained undefined and was one of the major sticking points with many legislators.

Talks have already begun on finding a way to solve this problem but further action will not take place until after Labor Day at the earliest. The League has continued to voice our concerns over the use of a significant amount of unidentified existing revenue, the need to invest in transit, and that any solution should not put an unnecessary amount of new reporting requirements on our members

The League will be working hard to ensure our voice is heard as we move closer to a deal. We will continue to update you on any new details and how you can engage members of the Legislature in the coming weeks.

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