Committee Hearings Begin on House Transportation Proposal

The newly formed Roads and Economic Development committee held the first of three committee hearings this morning on a package of bills introduced by House Republicans to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.

HB 4610 allows townships contributing greater than 50% to a road project over $50,000 to require competitive bidding and the League has no position on this legislation due to it having no direct impact on our communities.

HB 4611 would require competitive bidding on all MDOT and local road projects over $100,000, and HB 4613 would require MDOT and local road agencies to secure warranties for projects over $1 million. We are currently opposed to these two bills as part of this package. The League believes we must find a sustainable long-term solution to the problem that includes new revenue that is dedicated to the entire transportation system.

The proposed package of bills only has $50 million in new revenue with the remaining billion coming from reprioritizing General Fund spending and projected growth. It neglects to make a much need investment in transit and jeopardizes economic development funding many of our communities benefit from. This plan impacts the long-term certainty our communities need to plan and one of the key factors for our opposition.

The League is committed to working with the legislature towards a long term solution and we are hopeful that solution can found sooner rather than later.

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.

 

Bill Prohibiting Local Regulation of Knives Passes Senate Committee

This week, SB 305, a bill to prohibit local units of government from regulating the transportation, possession, sale, or licensing of a knife or knife making components, passed the Senate Local Government Committee.  This bill would also prohibit a local unit of government from regulating the manufacture of a knife more restrictively than the manufacture of any other commercial good.

The League is opposed to this legislation and it is now before the full Senate.

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.

 

 

House Narrowly Passes Preemption Bill

After debating House Bill 4052 for most of the afternoon, the House ended up passing the bill on a 57-52 vote today.  Numerous amendments were offered based upon the concerns that we raised with how broadly the bill could impact local governments, but each of those amendments were defeated.  The bill now moves on to the Senate for further consideration.  We will continue to work with the bill sponsor and the Senate committee to address these issues.  Thank you for all of your efforts this past week as we worked to amend this bill.  Please continue to talk with your legislators about the negative impact this bill would have on your community.

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

House Bill Preempts All Local Involvement In Employer-Employee Relations

The House Commerce and Trade Committee reported a bill this morning that could have huge implications for all municipalities.  Following last week’s initial hearing on HB 4052, the version of the bill that the committee voted on today focuses on preempting all local involvement in any issue related to the “relationship” that a private employer has with their employees.  Business group testimony on the bill related to national efforts to raise the minimum wage or require employers to offer paid leave time through local ordinance.  While they could provide no evidence that these types of ordinances are being adopted in Michigan, the language they are pushing would preempt any such ordinance from ever being adopted.  In addition to their stated focus, the bill includes language that is so broad in scope that it will impact legitimate government-business interactions within every community in Michigan.

As drafted, we believe that the bill will preclude municipalities from imposing any employment-related condition on a vendor seeking to contract with a city.  This would impact every aspect of negotiations with a city’s contractors and vendors, including safety training requirements or environmental certifications.  The language in the bill would prohibit any city infrastructure/construction contract from including any wage or benefit conditions, including provisions that the contract winner use local labor on the project to keep the public tax dollars in that community.

From an economic development standpoint, municipalities would be barred from including any wage or job-preference conditions as part of their tax abatement or economic development incentive process.  A community would not be able to negotiate any concessions related to employment from business applicants.

There are even concerns that a planning or zoning decision that limits the hours of operation for a business as not conforming to the area it is located in would be prohibited as it could be viewed as infringing on the relationship between an employer and their employees.

The bill was amended by the committee to exempt out non-discrimination ordinances related to employment that a community may have in place, but all other League staff efforts to secure amendments to narrow the scope of the bill were rejected.

With every major business organization supporting this bill, we expect action on the House floor in very short order.  Please contact your State Representative and urge them to vote No on HB 4052.

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

DEQ’s Road Right-of-Way Alternate Institutional Control Process Survey

Michigan’s environmental cleanup laws allow for the use of institutional controls when environmental contamination is proposed to be left in-place at a property. Often times, this contamination has migrated onto property controlled or operated by local units of government, tribal government or other authority, such as, road right-of-ways. Institutional controls are generally administrative and legal tools that are created for the purpose of providing information regarding the risks associated with contamination and the activities that are to be restricted or prohibited to protect the public health, safety, and welfare and the environment.

In 2014, the Remediation and Redevelopment Division (RRD) of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) introduced its Road Right-Of-Way Alternate Institutional Control as an instrument that may be used when contamination is proposed to be left in-place within a road right-of-way.

The DEQ-RRD has invited our members to complete a simple survey to provide them with an understanding of your knowledge, use, concerns or desire to learn more regarding the use of this instrument to control exposure and the risks associated with contamination within a road right-of-way. For a link to the survey please click here.

For questions regarding the survey, please contact Mr. Kevin Schrems at 517-284-5149 or schremsk@michigan.gov, or Mr. Dan Yordanich at 517-284-5174 or yordanichd@michigan.gov.

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.

 

Legislative Subpoena Authority Bills Move Out of Committee

Yesterday, the House Oversight and Ethics committee passed out HB 4522 with only one legislator voting no.  A different substitute was adopted from last week requiring that at least one minority vote must be in favor of passing the subpoena resolution in an attempt to help limit abuse of the act.  It also stated an attorney must be consulted before passing the resolution and the normal 18 hour notice of a committee hearing must now be a 72 hour notice when a subpoena resolution will be on the agenda.

The ability to subpoena local records is already allowed under Act 118 of 1931 by a resolution of the full house/senate.  This legislation would give authority to the committee that receives and reviews auditor general reports (the Oversight committee in this case) to subpoena witnesses by a vote of the committee  and not the full house/senate.

The League along well the Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Sheriff’s Association and school organizations are opposed to this legislation.

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.

 

Speaker Cotter Unveils House Republican Transportation Solutions

At a press conference this afternoon Speaker Kevin Cotter released the House Republican transportation plan. The highlights are below.

  • This plan will generate $1.05 billion for transportation
  • $700 million from the General Fund
  • $185 million from Reprioritizing Restricted Funds
  • $162 million from Tax Fairness
  • Reforms and Efficiencies

General Fund: The $700 million the Speaker is proposing will come from expected future growth in revenues and additional anticipated revenue available based on the upcoming Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. This portion of the plan lacked specifics so it is yet to be determined what impact this would have on the state budget moving forward but the Speaker said he would be able to do this without making cuts.

Reprioritizing Restricted Funds: Of the $185 million, $75 million will come from tobacco settlement dollars currently in the 21st Century Jobs Fund, $60 million from the states tribal gaming compact, and $50 million from eliminating the film tax credit.

Tax Fairness: The Speaker will achieve the projected $162 million through the creation of tax fairness by eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit and using that $117 million for roads. The remaining $45 million will come from diesel parody and increased fees on electric and hybrid vehicles.

Reforms and Efficiencies: The plan will require competitive bidding on all MDOT and local road projects over $100,000, require MDOT and local road agencies to secure warranties for projects over $1 million, and allow townships contributing greater than 50% to a road project over $50,000 to require competitive bidding.

Other highlights in this plan include a phase in over four year with $522 million going to roads in FY 16, $697 million in FY 17, $872 million in FY 18, $1.05 billion in FY 19 and beyond. All of the new money would only be sent to MDOT, Counties, and Cities and Villages. None of the new money would go to transit operations. The current gas tax will remain at 19 cents but would be tied to inflation under this plan. A copy of the document Speaker Cotter provided can be found at the following link. House Republican Road Funding Plan

As the League gathers more details on this plan in the coming days we will be sure to update you with any new information.

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.

Community Benefit Agreement bill shifts focus

The House Commerce and Trade committee met this morning to begin taking testimony on House Bill 4052.  This bill was originally a reintroduction of a bill that the League opposed late last term (HB 5977’14) that would have prohibited local units of government from creating a “community benefits ordinance”.  As the committee hearing got underway this morning a new version of the bill was offered that removes the references to community benefits ordinances and instead focuses on limiting local government’s ability to regulate employer-employee relations.

The H-2 substitute version would prohibit a local governmental body from adopting, enforcing, or administering an ordinance, local policy or local resolution:

  • Regulating the relationship between an employer and its employees or potential employees exceeding those imposed by federal or state law
  • Regulating information an employer must request, require, or exclude on an application for employment
  • Requiring an employer to pay a wage higher than the state or federal minimum wage
  • Requiring an employer to pay a wage or fringe benefit based on rates prevailing in the locality
  • Regulating work stoppage or strike activity, or employee organized labor
  • Requiring an employer to provide paid or unpaid leave time
  • Regulating hours and scheduling between employers and employees
  • Requiring an employer or employees to participate in an educational apprenticeship or training program

Testimony from business interest groups this morning appeared to be directed at community-wide minimum wage or paid sick leave ordinances that are being discussed in other states, but opposition testimony raised questions about how broad the language in the substitute bill could be construed. In addition to the clear violation of local control, the League is raising questions about how this language would impact existing zoning, economic development and tax abatement agreements and negotiations, if the language would prohibit related provisions with regard to businesses that contract with a municipality, and the potential impact the language could have on a community’s non-discrimination ordinance.

The committee took no action on the bill today and expects to hear further testimony, including opposition testimony from the League, next week.

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

Senate Passes Mobile Home Legislation

Today the full Senate unanimously passed HB 4054 this week, a bill that makes changes to the Mobile Home Commission Act.  HB 4054 is a reintroduction from last year by Rep. Andy Schor in an effort to address a situation that occurred in his district with the Life O’Riley Mobile Home Park. This legislation requires the DEQ to outline clear roles for local units of government and enforcement (a problem that occurred with the Life O’Riley mobile home park that ended being condemned and residents forced to seek housing elsewhere). In addition, there are more reporting requirements of the DEQ to local units of government of rules promulgated or when a mobile home is found to be in violation.

The League is supportive of this legislation.

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.

Personal Property Tax Clean-Up Package Introduced

A Treasury-backed, six-bill package was introduced earlier this week to make a series of revisions to the recently enacted personal property tax law.  As Treasury ramps up their efforts to implement the new PPT changes approved by the voters last year, they have discovered a number of issues that need to be addressed for the program to function properly.  The proposed changes are embodied within House Bills 4553-4558 and are currently under consideration within the House Tax Policy committee.  The content of the bills focus mainly on definition changes, making date corrections and inserting mechanisms for Treasury to utilize like allowing for audits, creating a rescission process, and providing for refunds. Of main interest to municipalities within the package:

– is an ability for municipalities to utilize mills that were authorized by the voters before 2013 but incurred after 2012 when calculating their debt loss eligible for reimbursement.

– an allowance for a municipality to choose the higher of 2014 or 2015 (subtracted from 2013) for their small taxpayer exemption losses.

– allows an additional year for a municipality to file their essential services budget calculation with the Department and  provides for Treasury to use a default calculation if one is not filed.

– includes date changes that will allow for city reimbursements to begin sooner than expected, possibly as early as fall of 2015.

The House committee took testimony on these bills on Wednesday and is scheduled to bring them back up for a vote next week.  While there is no opposition to the proposed changes, a couple of questions were raised in committee and Treasury is working on some technical amendments to address those questions.  The League has been directly involved in the negotiations on these bills and has been supportive based upon the positive impacts anticipated from many of these changes.  A vote is expected next week, as Treasury aims for completion of legislative action on the bills before the summer recess.

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