Governor Proposes Plan to Increase Recycling Access

Yesterday the Governor announced a proposal to double the state’s recycling rate over the next two years.  The proposal is intended to increase the state’s current 15 percent recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017.

The initiative focuses on several important pieces including benchmarking progress, education and technical assistance for communities, ensuring convenient access to recycling and developing market opportunities for recycled products.

The League was part stakeholder groups working through this issue in the last year. We are supportive of incentives to help local communities increase recycling access, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Environmental Quality to help our communities reach these goals.

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

Renowned Hillsdale Economist Calls for State to Restore Funds to Locals

Renowned economist and Hillsdale College Professor Dr. Gary Wolfram has released a report calling on the state to commit to restoring state revenue sharing dollars and remove restraints on road funding enacted in the PA 51 funding formula.

The report indicates that statutory revenue sharing is still 26 percent lower than it should be despite nominal increases in the last few years. Dr. Wolfram also emphasizes the challenges communities face in the ability to raise revenue because property tax growth is capped by 5 percent or the rate of inflation whichever is less.

You can view Dr. Wolfram’s report here: Wolfram report

We appreciate this well researched take on the status of municipal finance in Michigan. Last month the League released The Great Revenue Sharing Heist which emphasizes the significant financial impact $6.2 billion in revenue sharing cuts has had on our communities.

Dr. Wolfram concludes that it should be a priority of the state to “restore its commitment to its local governments. In particular, it should use some of the projected surplus to return revenue sharing to full statutory funding. It should also remove constraints on local governments in Act 51 that limit their ability to maintain local roads.” We could not agree more, Dr. Wolfram.

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

Personal Property Tax Ballot Campaign Kicks Off

This week the campaign to pass the August 5, 2014 ballot proposal, the last step in personal property tax (PPT) reform, kicked off with a series of press conferences. The Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities coalition is seeking to pass a ballot referendum that would allow for use of a portion of the currently collected statewide use tax to fully reimburse communities for PPT loss.

League members attended and led press conferences in Dearborn, Flint, Saginaw and Traverse City.

The coalition has launched a website and you can also follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

We encourage members to support the full replacement of PPT dollars with a significantly more stable reimbursement mechanism by voting “yes” on August 5.

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

Legislature In District Until Late April

The legislature is on spring break until late April. The House is scheduled to be in next on Thursday, April 17. The Senate is scheduled to be back the week of April 22.

In the interim the lobbying team is still hard at work with legislative and administration staff on various issues including (but not even close to limited to) EVIP, transportation funding and tax capture district reform. Happy Spring!

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

Personal Property Tax Bills Signed by Governor Snyder

Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra was among the dignitaries who attended the personal property tax bill signing ceremony Friday (March 28, 2014) with Governor Rick Snyder.

On Friday Governor Rick Snyder signed a ten bill package that represents months of negotiations on personal property tax (PPT) reform. The Michigan Municipal League’s message on PPT has consistently been 100 percent, guaranteed replacement. The bills do represent 100 percent replacement and a more stable reimbursement mechanism.

The legislation, Senate Bills 821-830, begins fading out PPT in 2016.  The exception is the small parcel exemption for personal property of less than $80,000 true cash value which went into effect December 31, 2013.

The League will be holding a webinar on PPT reform in the coming weeks.

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

Personal Property Tax Bills Pass House with Full Replacement

This afternoon the House passed a ten bill package that represents months of negotiations on personal property tax (PPT) reform. The Michigan Municipal League’s message on PPT has consistently been 100 percent, guaranteed replacement. The bills do represent 100 percent replacement and a more stable reimbursement mechanism.

The bills, Senate Bills 821-830, now head to the Senate for concurrence. We expect the bills to be on the Governor’s desk by the end of the week.

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

House Hears Testimony on Electric Choice Legislation

This morning the House Energy & Technology Committee heard a second week of testimony on House Bill 5184, a bill that would deregulate electricity. More specifically it would move the state from a system of hybrid electric regulation to deregulation.

The legislation would require large electric utility companies (at least 1 million customers) to submit plans to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to either sell off or to transfer their electric generation assets to an affiliate—thus separating electric generation from distribution. The affiliate would not be regulated by the MPSC.

The bill would remove the 10 percent cap on electric choice for customers of large utilities and prohibit undue market power by a large utility. It would also allow local governments, schools, colleges, and universities to aggregate to purchase electricity for residential and small commercial customers within their boundaries.
The legislation is extremely controversial and opposed by the large electric utilities. The League board has taken an official position to support lifting the cap on electric choice.
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

House Committee Passes New EVIP Proposals and New Formula

This morning the House General Government Appropriations Subcommittee reported its recommendations for the general government budget that includes the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP).

Under this proposal category 1, the dashboard, would remain in effect without change. Category 2 would require 5 percent of the second EVIP payment to be committed to road construction or preservation. Category 3 would require 5 percent of the payment to be committed to unfunded liabilities. The language further says that a community that receives less than $50,000 in EVIP funding would not have to comply with the EVIP requirements.

In addition the House proposes changing how EVIP funds are distributed. A local unit would receive a 1 percent increase if they were eligible for payment in the current fiscal year or $7.14609 per capita, whichever is greater. The per capita formula would add include hundreds of additional communities to the formula without regard to service provision.

Reps. Fred Durhal (D-Detroit) and Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) both offered amendments to strip out the EVIP requirements altogether and restore full funding for statutory revenue sharing. We appreciate their efforts to eliminate these burdensome requirements.

The League has significant concerns about this language and its disregard for both local control in spending and distribution to communities who provide services. We will continue to work on language that helps invest in communities who provide essential services and does not penalize them by requiring that they spend money as the legislature dictates.

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

House Tax Policy Committee Passes Personal Property Tax Bills

This week the House Tax Policy Committee voted out a ten bill package that represents months of negotiations on personal property tax (PPT) reform. The Michigan Municipal League’s message on PPT has consistently been 100 percent, guaranteed replacement. The bills do represent 100 percent replacement and a more stable reimbursement mechanism.

The bills, Senate Bills 821-830, now head to the House floor. We expect the House will vote on the legislation next week. We anticipate these bills will continue moving quickly through the legislative process, likely making it to the Governor’s desk before spring break in April.

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

House Passes Bill to Allow for Transition from Land Lines to Internet-Based Telephone Service

This week the House passed Senate Bill 636, a bill that would give phone companies the ability to transition from traditional land lines to internet-based service beginning January 1, 2017.

The bill would amend the Michigan Telecommunications Act to do make a number of changes including eliminating a requirement for a Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) proceeding for a telecommunication provider to discontinue basic local exchange or toll service to an exchange, beginning January 1, 2017. It would also require a provider wishing to discontinue service to notify the MPSC, the provider’s customers, any interconnecting providers, and the public at the same time as filing a petition for discontinuance with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The bill would further require a provider to notify the same parties again upon the FCC’s approval, at least 90 days before discontinuing service. It would also allow the MPSC to issue an order allowing the current provider to provide the service until another willing provider was available, if the MPSC determined that another provider was not capable of providing the service.

The legislation now heads to the Governor for his signature.

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