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 MIRSnews.com 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 placemaking.mml.org.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org 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: www.mml.org/advocacy/partnership-for-place.html.”

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 mach@mml.org and (734) 669-6317.

Michigan Downtown Association to hold Workshop February 27

The Michigan Downtown Association’s (MDA) first workshop of 2014, “DDA’s – One of the Original Placemakers – Controlling Our Own Destiny,” is on Feb. 27 at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing.  MDA members may begin reserving rooms at the Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol for a special rate of $118.95. Overnight parking is only $5. Visit http://www.radisson.com/lansing-hotel-mi-48933/lansing or call 517.482.0188 and mention group code 1402MIDOAS.

For questions or more information, contact the MDA at info@michigandowntowns.com or call 248-838-9711.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Historic Preservation Legislation Continues Forward

SBs 21 and 22, bills dealing with historic preservation of DDA owned properties, passed out of committee last week.  The bills require a DDA to submit proposed changes to the exterior of a DDA owned historic property that is on either the State Register of Historic Sites or the National Register of Historic Places to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for a review.

In cases that deal with proposed demolition of those properties, a requirement that the DDA seek a review and approval from SHPO.  SHPO has 30 days to review and approve or deny the proposed demolition.  If there is a denial, the DDA may appeal the decision of SHPO.  If a DDA decides they are going to bypass this approval/denial process, there is a $30,000 civil fine attached.  That fine goes into a fund for grants that the local municipality can turn to for historic preservation purposes.

There was concern that SHPO is short staffed as it is and they would not be able to keep up with this additional work load.  Because of that, there is a 5 year sunset so it can be re-evaluated to see its effectiveness.

Both the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Michigan Historic Preservation Network are supportive of this legislation.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development legislation.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Tenant Responsibility Legislation Receives Hearing

HB 5037, a bill to require local inspectors hold tenants responsible for violations that occur in the area that is under their control received a hearing in the House Local Government committee last week.  This legislation would also state that liens and other sanctions shall not be added onto the property for those violations that occur in the area that is under the tenant’s control.  The League testified in opposition to this piece of legislation along with municipal officials from Fenton, East Lansing and Jackson.  We look forward to working with the sponsor of the bill and his staff to provide feedback on any potential amendments as the process moves forward.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

National Brownfield Association Nov 13 Event Registration Now Open

On November 13, 2013, the Michigan Chapter of the National Brownfield Association is presenting a program on the newest developments on brownfield issues in Michigan. The program will be held at the Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933.

Program speakers will include representatives of both the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Environmental Quality. The presenters will discuss proposed legislative and policy developments that affect the CRP program and Act 381; new MDEQ policies on grants and loans; MDEQ guidelines and anticipated developments on vapor intrusion; ASTM standards on continuing obligations and Phase I ESAs; environmental insurance products used in Michigan transactions; legislative and other policy updates under Part 201, including NFAs and certificates of completion; and an update from the RACER Trust.

There will also be a case study that describes the successful use of brownfield tools in Michigan for the Accident Fund project in Lansing and the Downtown Market project in Grand Rapids. Finally, the Chair of the Board of the National Brownfield Association will provide an update on activities at the national level.

A complete agenda can be found here. Registration is $50 for NBA members, $125 for non-members, and $75 for non-members who are government employees. Registration space is limited to the first 100 who register. The program will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on November 13, with registration commencing at 8:00 a.m. Additional information regarding registration can be found here.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Package of Bills Dealing with “Squatters” Taken Up In House Committee

A package of bills to assist in dealing with “squatting,” a growing problem throughout the state, was taken up in the House Criminal Justice committee for testimony only.  HB 5069, 5070 and 5071 would collectively make it a felony for a squatter to occupy a home with an SEV of $50,000 or more for a one family home or $100,000 or more for a two family home and relieve the landlord from damage liability for unlawful interference when dealing with a squatter.  The sponsor (Rep. Kurt Heise, Plymouth) stressed this was in no way trying to give landlords more power in evicting tenants.  This was to deal with squatters only, those who take up residents in a location without a lease, title, etc.

Committee members had concerns with the SEV threshold and many felt that should be eliminate; squatting is squatting regardless of the SEV. Additionally, there was some concern regarding this being a felony.

This package of legislation is scheduled for another committee hearing this week.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Crowdfunding Legislation Moves Out of House Commerce Committee

Today the House Commerce Committee passed HB 4996, the crowdfunding legislation on a 17-1 vote.  This legislation now moves to the house floor.

HB 4996, a creative approach to economic development, will allow the sales of securities to an unlimited number of non-accredited investors, provided the issuer registers with the State of Michigan.  Any Michiganders who do not fit the federal definition of an accredited investor are given the opportunity to support their local entrepreneurs, existing small businesses, and real estate investments.

The city of Adrian has passed a resolution in support of HB 4996.  If you are interested in doing something similar, here is a copy of that resolution: crowdfundingresolution.

A big thank you to Rep. Jenkins and staff, the city of Adrian, and all those involved in working so diligently on this and putting forth a product that can be a positive economic driver for the state of Michigan.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Michigan Municipal League Prosperity Agenda Radio Show Focuses on Partnership for Place Initiative

Larry Nielsen, Chad Livengood, Samantha Harkins, Steve Baker and Dan Gilmartin talk about the Partnership for Place on News/Talk 760 WJR.

The Michigan Municipal League has been saying for quite some time now that the state’s system for funding municipalities is a broken system.

Lawmakers and others have asked for our proposed solutions and we’ve recently answered those requests with the release of our Partnership for Place Agenda. This policy agenda proposes a commitment of action in partnership between the State and its municipalities that will facilitate Michigan’s economic growth and allow for the development of places to provide key services and amenities that contribute to a high quality of life.

It focuses on a more regional approach to service delivery, which would change the way services are provided, how resources are dedicated, and how systems are supported.

Approved by the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees in June of 2013, this policy agenda proposes actions that will re-establish a partnership for prosperity in four key areas: Funding the future; Michigan in Motion; Place for Talent; and Strength in Structure.

Read more about the agenda here and here.

Taping the Prosperity Agenda radio show in WJR studios in Detroit.

This Partnership for Place plan is so important that we dedicated the League’s October Prosperity Agenda Radio show to this topic. The radio show airs monthly on News/Talk 760 WJR. League CEO Dan Gilmartin hosts the show, which is co-sponsored by the League and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Dan’s media co-host for this month’s show is Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood. Show guests are the League’s Samantha Harkins, Paw Paw Village Manager Larry Nielsen and Berkley Councilmember and League Board Member Steve Baker.

While the radio show is set to air 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, you can listen to it now at the League’s website here or by subscribing to the FREE iTunes podcast. View additional photos from the show taping here in this set on the League’s flickr page.

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