This week the Senate Energy and Technology Committee discussed a rewrite of the MISS-DIG Act. Last session the Senate passed bills that would create an exception to governmental immunity under the MISS-DIG Act.
The legislation that passed the Senate last session would rewrite the MISS-DIG Act and create a structure to incent municipalities to comply with the Act. If a local unit of government failed to comply with the Act, it is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). A second violation is liable to a fine of up to $10,000. A third violation carries a fine of up to $15,000 and actual property damages. All of these fines are preventable by calling MISS-DIG. If facilities are mis-marked, that is not the fault of the local unit of government.
This week Sen. Mike Nofs (D-Battle Creek) reintroduced the Senate-passed versions of the legislation in Senate Bills 539 and 540. Originally the legislation last session would have entirely exempted any action under the MISS-DIG Act from government immunity. That was problematic for us, so the fee structure arose as a result of many discussions with the Senate and the Governor’s office, as well as utility stakeholders. Unfortunately with the property damages piece added in we were forced to oppose these substitutes as they reported from committee.
We look forward to continuing work on this legislation as it moves through the legislative process.
Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org