Senate Committee Reports Bill To Expand Recreation Authorities

Michigan Municipal League members, including Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba (right), testified in Lansing recently on an issue facing park and recreation authorities.

Michigan Municipal League members, including Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba (right), testified in Lansing recently on an issue facing park and recreation authorities.

Working in conjunction with officials from the City of Big Rapids, the League was successful in getting Senate Bill 481 (Booher) reported from the Senate Local Government committee earlier this week.

The bill, modeled on similar legislation from previous sessions, would expand the definition of an eligible municipality to include a school district.

This change would allow a city, village, or township to partner with a school district to form a recreation authority allowing broader access to recreation programming and facilities throughout a region.

Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba (left) testifies in Lansing.

Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba (left) testifies in Lansing.

Language was added in this bill to address concerns raised previously about the need to clarify the appropriate use of any funds raised by an authority that included a school district.

Following a committee hearing in which Big Rapids city and school officials testified in support of the bill, the committee voted the bill out to the full Senate for consideration once they return from break in December.

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

Roads Deal Passes Michigan Legislature, Governor Snyder Prepares to Sign

A school bus travels over bumpy roads. Vote yes for safe roads on May 5.

A school bus travels over bumpy roads.

Late last night the Michigan Legislature narrowly cobbled together the necessary votes to send a road funding package to the Governor Snyder’s desk for signature.

Over the past two-plus years the Michigan Municipal League has consistently called for a long-term sustainable solution that relies heavily on a significant amount of dedicated funding for transportation and doesn’t leave future state and local budgets hanging in the balance. This plan falls far short of that and there simply isn’t enough real revenue for roads in this package.

It’s an over-statement to say that a $1.2 billion plan with $600 million in new revenue and $600 million in General Fund dollars will fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure. This is especially true given that two-thirds of the new revenue will simply replace General Fund money already budgeted for roads in the current fiscal year and the plan doesn’t fully phase in for almost a decade.

The framework of the plan includes 7.3 cents gas tax increase and a 20 percent increase in registration fees. Those increases don’t go into affect until January 1, 2017, meaning no new money will be infused into the system for 14 more months. Gas and diesel taxes will be indexed to inflation but not until 2022.

Additionally, the $600 million in General Fund revenue will be phased-in over three years beginning in FY 19 and relies on future Legislatures – some of whom aren’t even elected yet – to appropriate those General Fund dollars to uphold the promises of this current Legislature. History has proven that similar earmarks of this nature have gone unfulfilled.

Plan Details:

HB 4736  increases passenger and commercial vehicle registrations fess by 20 percent per vehicle beginning January 1, 2017. The bill provides for additional increases for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle registrations. These changes result in a $200 million revenue increase for transportation.

•  HB 4738, HB 4614, and HB 4616, provide for gas and diesel tax increases to 26.3 cents, an increase of 7.3 cents per gallon beginning on January 1, 2017. The bills also implement diesel parity, institute a process for taxing alternative fuels, and tie the fuel tax rate to inflation beginning in 2022. These changes result in a $400 million revenue increase for transportation.

HB 4370 dedicates $600 million of income tax revenue to transportation phased in over three years, $150 million in FY 19, $325 million in FY 20 and $600 million in FY 21. will This bill also provides $200 million in tax relief by expanding the Homestead Property Tax Credit. According to both the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies that when fully phased-in this will reduce the state General Fund by more that $800 million, or roughly 7 percent.

HB 4737 requires MDOT and local road agencies to secure warranties, where possible, for construction and preservation projects over two million dollars and mandates new reporting requirements for MDOT and local road agencies on those warranties.

HB 4737 also creates a “Roads Innovation Task Force” that will form no later than December 1, 2015 and prepare a report no later than March 1, 2016. The Roads Innovation Task Force will evaluate road materials and construction materials that will allow MDOT to build roads that could last at least 50 years, will focus on materials and processes that may cost more upfront but produce life-cycle construction and maintenance savings, and concentrates on longer-term time frames that seek to maximize value of the taxpayers of this state

Additionally, HB 4737 creates a Roads Innovation Fund. This fund will collect the first $100 million each fiscal year starting in 2016-17 from fuel taxes and every year thereafter. The funds can only be released once the House and Senate approve a one-time concurrent resolution approving the report done by the Roads Innovation Task Force. Those funds shall be appropriated only for the use of specific higher quality, longer life cycle road construction purposes. Once the concurrent resolution is approved the fund shall no longer annually receive the allocation.

SB 414 creates an automatic rollback of the income tax. The rollback occurs when General Fund growth exceeds the rate of inflation plus 1.425%. The first rollback could not begin until January 1, 2023.

HB 4610 allows townships contributing 50% or more to a road project to require an RFP for pavement projects over $50,000 and gravel projects over $25,000.

HB 4611 requires an RFP process for all projects over $100,000 for MDOT. Local road agencies must do RFPs for all projects, excluding routine maintenance, over $100,000, unless the local road agency affirmatively finds that they can do it themselves for less.

The League believes this plan is overly reliant on existing tax dollars and very likely establishes a foundation for potential cuts to local police and fire protection, higher education, economic development and our ability to attract and retain a talented workforce. It fails to address the key principles for which we consistently advocated – a long-term sustainable solution that invests in our road network, protection of essential services, and fiscal responsibility in regards to future state and local government budgets.

View a League media statement on the roads plan passed by the Legislature.

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

Senate Passes Amended Preemption Bill

The Michigan Competitiveness Committee met this morning and reported a modified version of House Bill 4052.  The bill, which was jointly opposed by the League, Michigan Townships Association, and Michigan Association of Counties, was amended to address some of the concerns we raised and quickly passed the full Senate early this afternoon.

The bill that left the House at the end of May would have prohibited a municipality from negotiating a broad range of conditions as part of the normal procurement process with their own vendors and blocked any employment conditions from being included in an economic development or tax abatement agreement.  Zoning decisions or noise abatement regulations impacting a business’s hours of operation would have been precluded, along with any local business license requirements that could have been interpreted as regulating the relationship between an employer and their employees.

There was broad recognition in the Senate that corrections were needed for many of these unintended consequences.  The Senate committee reported an S-1 version of the bill that made a wide variety of changes that we had requested.  Decisions impacting a business’s hours of operation were excluded from the bill.  An attempt was made to acknowledge community-wide ordinances impacting public safety by allowing business license requirements to include background checks.  Non-discrimination ordinances are not impacted by the proposal.  Language was added that recognizes a local government’s ability to negotiate with a vendor for services and in connection with a tax abatement or tax credit agreement, except that wage and benefit conditions may not exceed state or federal law as part of those negotiations.  Finally, language was included that allows for the enforcement of existing agreements.

We welcomed many of these changes as common sense and an acknowledgment that the original bill constituted a broad over-reach, but we remain opposed to the bill. You can read the testimony that we submitted here. While the Senate version is an improvement, the proposal lies in direct conflict with local control and Home Rule.  We remain concerned with the broad language in parts of the bill and the potential impact on a community.  These concerns along with the unjustified infringement on a local government’s ability to fully negotiate the terms and conditions of any contract or agreement investing public tax dollars ultimately dictated our position.  This bill now returns to the House for concurrence with the Senate amendments sometime next week.

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

LaMacchia: ‘Roads Will Only Get Worse’; Vote Yes on Proposal 1 for New Road Funding in Michigan

About 60 people attend a symposium on Proposal 1 Tuesday in Sterling Heights.

About 60 people attend a symposium on Proposal 1 Tuesday in Sterling Heights.

Last night the Michigan Municipal League hosted a “Safe Roads Symposium” on Proposal 1 in Sterling Heights. The event was attended by about 60 people, including multiple officials from the city of Sterling Heights and surrounding communities.

The League’s John LaMacchia, Legislative Associate, was one of several officials who spoke on the issue as part of a panel during the symposium.

Other event panelists were Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy; Dr. Robert Livernois, Superintendent of Warren Consolidated Schools; Dr. Christine Johns, Superintendent of Utica Community Schools; and Carmine Palombo, Deputy Executive Director of SEMCOG.

During the informative event, LaMacchia gave a brief history of how Proposal 1 came about and why the Michigan Municipal League supports the initiative heading to voters on May 5.

LaMacchia encouraged those attending to vote yes on Proposal 1.

Panelists get ready for the symposium.

Panelists get ready for the symposium.

“Michigan now spends less per resident on roads than any other state. Let me say that again: Michigan is now dead last in per-capita funding for roads. We’ve neglected properly invest in our roads and bridges and everywhere you travel in this state you can see the repercussions of that. This proposal will constitutionally guarantees that every penny we pay in state fuel taxes goes to transportation while protecting funding for local governments and schools. This proposal is not perfect … nothing from Lansing ever is. But it does provide a long-term sustainable solution that will fix our roads, and the only guarantee we will have on May 5th if this fails is that our roads will get worse. Vote Yes!”

For additional information on Proposal 1 go here:

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

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



Proposal 1 FREE Webinar Now Available from Michigan Municipal League

A newly posted webinar (watch above) by the Michigan Municipal League lays out the details on Proposal 1 heading to voters May 5 and includes neutral information as well as details on why the League supports the proposal. The League is an active member of the Safe Roads Yes! coalition that is backing Proposal 1. Check out the League’s Safe Roads Yes! webpages that explains the impact Proposal 1 will have on Michigan municipalities.

Bad Roads Potholes April 2014 Local Roads Matter (2)-square-small-webThe webinar by the League’s John LaMacchia II took place on Friday (Feb 27, 2015) and is available for viewing for free for League and community members. The webinar focuses on the history leading up to the Legislature coming up with Proposal 1, what it means for communities and how there’s no Plan B for fixing our roads should the plan fail on May 5.

There has been a lot of media coverage and work by the Safe Roads Yes! coalition in recent days regarding Proposal 1. One of the best, most informative pieces came out Friday (Feb. 27, 2015) by the Detroit Free Press. With the headline, “Roads 101: What you need to know about Proposal 1,” the opinion piece by the Freep editorial board is in question and answer format. It does an excellent job laying out some of the concerns people may have about Proposal 1 and then addressing those concerns.

One other thing that happened late last week was the approval of the official ballot language for Proposal 1. You can read that here.

In addition, the League continues to ask its member communities to approve resolutions in support of Proposal 1. These resolutions are vital to letting your residents know that Proposal 1 is good for communities and will improve our deteriorating roads. Go here for a sample resolution in both Word and PDF formats.

League members who have questions about Proposal 1 should contact the League’s John LaMacchia II at or 517-908-0303.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at and (734) 669-6317.

Michigan Municipal League Staff Help Prepare Detroit City Council for Future After Bankruptcy

Detroit City Council MML Meeting

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones introduces League CEO Dan Gilmartin at a recent education session.

Michigan Municipal League staff has spent the last few weeks working with Detroit City Council members as they move forward and prepare to bring the city out of bankruptcy. League staff has led education sessions on a variety of topics, including the importance of placemaking, city finance and financial management, parliamentary procedure, legislative advocacy and other areas.

“We wanted to do this to help create a good foundation on which they can build as the city moves out of bankruptcy,” said Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin. Gilmartin was the first person from the League to meet with the city council in sessions that started July 14 and expected to wrap up later this month.

Gilmartin gave an overview of what the League does for its member communities and he discussed the concept of placemaking and why it is key to the revitalization of not only Detroit but to all of Michigan. In essence, placemaking is about creating communities in which people want to live, work and play. Detroit already has many outstanding placemaking examples.

The League’s Anthony Minghine, associate executive director and COO, spoke to the council about a variety of municipal finance topics. Several hours were spent laying a foundation upon which the council can use as the bankruptcy ends and the emergency manager prepares to leave. The dialog that took place made clear that the council is preparing for a new day and setting new expectations for reporting and management of the budget. Topics covered included Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) pronouncements, fund types, allowable expenses, understanding financial statements, municipal budgeting, and long range planning considerations.

Other sessions were on lobbying 101; planning and zoning; legal framework of municipalities by the League’s General Counsel William Mathewson; and roles and responsibilities.

Kelly Warren, the League’s director of events, said the goal of the sessions were to give Detroit leaders the core lessons taught through the League’s Elected Officials Academy (EOA) program. Go here for more information about this EOA program.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Federal Workforce Bill

The Senate passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, H.R. 803 by a margin of 95-3, sending the bill back to the House for action as soon as the next week. WIOA reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 by retaining many positive aspects of the program, while updating and streamlining others in a positive way.

The bill maintains and enhances the role of local elected officials in their local workforce development programs and guarantees funding for the program for the next six years. In addition, the new components ensure the effectiveness of local one stop centers, by requiring a full range of partner organizations to locate in the one stop including unemployment insurance, veteran’s employment, adult education, welfare and other services. It also allows for the creation of regional workforce development areas based on labor markets rather than political jurisdictions, but only with the agreement of local elected officials.

Both Senators Stabenow and Levin supported the bill. The League will keep you updated on action on this issue in the House.

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



EVIP Continues to be Problematic for Communities, says League’s Samantha Harkins on MIRS Podcast

Samantha Harkins

The Michigan Municipal League’s Samantha Harkins was a guest today (Feb. 10, 2014) on the podcast and covered an array of topics including road funding, the importance of public transit, an update on the personal property tax issue and proposed changes Gov. Snyder wants to make to the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP). She even discusses Willie Wonka and the Eagles and Don Henley. This is a must listen for League members wanting to hear how the League is fighting for our communities in Lansing. Great job Samantha.

Her part starts around the 8:30 minute mark in the 20-minute weekly podcast. Listen here. Read more from Samantha Harkins and League staff on our legislative blog. Many of the topics Harkins discussed tie into the League’s placemaking message and how having vibrant communities will lead to having a better Michigan. Learn more about placemaking at

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at and (734) 669-6317.

15% Increase a Good Start, But Governor’s Budget Plan Does Not Fix Broken Municipal Finance System

Governor Rick Snyder calls for a 15% increase to revenue sharing in his 2015 fiscal year budget, but the plan does not address the state's broken municipal finance system.

The following statement is from Utica Mayor and Michigan Municipal League President Jacqueline Noonan regarding Gov. Rick Snyder’s state budget recommendations announced today (Wednesday, February 5, 2014):

“We appreciate the Governor recommending a 15 percent increase in statutory revenue sharing. We are hopeful that this proposal is an indication that the Governor and Legislature recognize they must stop their annual disinvestment in local communities, and that they understand Michigan will not prosper again until we have local places where people want to live, work and thrive. It is a big step symbolically, but we have a long way to go. While it will mean about $36 million more for local communities, the Legislature and Governor have cut local funding by $6 billion since the late 1990s. Restoring a fraction of lost funding is not cause for jubilation from Main Street, Michigan, and it does not address our broken municipal finance system.

“In addition the Governor’s budget does not call for a real increase in transportation funding. In order for Michigan to be competitive it is imperative that we fix our crumbling roads and bridges and create a real public transit system for our state. Investment in Michigan’s communities, including transportation, is critical for the state to thrive. We are in a global competition for jobs and talent, and failing to invest infrastructure and communities means this is competition we will lose.

“To move Michigan forward, the League, along with numerous partners, has developed a policy vision and plan for Michigan’s cities called the Partnership for Place: An Agenda for a Competitive 21st Century Michigan. You can view this policy agenda here:”

League’s Samantha Harkins on Crain’s List of People in Politics to Watch in 2014

The League's Samantha Harkins gets interviewed by a TV news reporter.

Congratulations are in order for Samantha Harkins, the Michigan Municipal League’s Director of State Affairs, for being included on Crain’s Detroit Business list of Top Ten People to Watch in State Politics in 2014.

As the league’s chief lobbyist, she is an important force representing Michigan’s communities in Lansing. She told Crain’s one of her goals this year is changing the law phasing out the state’s personal property tax for business to guarantee complete reimbursement to communities of lost revenue from the tax. As written, the law provides 80 percent.

Samantha is on the list with numerous other well-known Michigan politicians and key political figures, including Lt. Gov. Brian Calley; Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, chair of the state House Transportation Committee; state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor; Cindy Estrada, United Auto Workers vice president; Emily Dievendorf, managing director at Equality Michigan; Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk; Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township; Lon Johnson, of the Michigan Democratic Party; and Ann Flood, Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at and (734) 669-6317.