Comprehensive Transportation Solution Relies on Passage of Ballot Proposal

After a marathon final day of lame duck the House and the Senate were able to successfully put together the framework for a comprehensive long-term solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure. Although we would have liked the legislature to solve this problem independently, they approved a ballot proposal that will be put before the voters in May of 2015. This ballot proposal along with other statutory changes represents real investment in core areas that are critical to Michigan’s long term success. Below are the highlights of the transportation funding package.

Ballot Proposal:
– Raises sales and use tax from 6% to 7%
– Eliminates the sales tax on motor fuel
– Removes Higher Education from the School Aid Fund
– Amends the use tax distribution

Statutory Changes (Effective only if the ballot proposal passes):
– Switch to a percentage based wholesale tax on motor fuel and increase
– Increase the percentage based wholesale tax
– Changes to registration fees for vehicles and heavy trucks
– Transportation related reforms for warranties and competitive bidding on road projects
– Restore the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
– Sales tax on internet sales (Main Street Fairness)

Net Impact of Changes in FY 2017-18
– $1.2 Billion in new revenue for roads
– $107 Million in new revenue for the Comprehensive Transportation fund for transit and rail
– $118 Million in new revenue for constitutional revenue sharing
– $394 Million in new revenue for the School Aid Fund
– $260 million in tax relief

A more detailed analysis will follow as additional information becomes available.

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

Problematic Rental Inspection Legislation Dies in the House

On the final day of session Senate Bill 313, sponsored by Senator Dave Robertson (R-Grand Blanc), was unable to secure final passage on the House floor.

This bill would would have lowered revenues rental inspection programs are able to collect and provide additional barriers to entry when attempting to inspect a tenants property.The League fully anticipate this legislation coming up again next year.

Thank to all of our members who reached out to their legislator explaining to them the harmful implications of this bill. You were the number one reason this bill was able to be stopped and your continued opposition to any future legislation that would have a similar affect will be needed to ensure we are able to provide a healthy and safe environment for the residents of our communities.

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

FOIA Legislation Passes on Final Day

On the final day of session, the legislature  passed HB 4001, a bill that makes numerous changes to the FOIA law, making it more costly to comply and more punitive for local units of government if a mistake is made. The bill passed in bipartisan fashion.

While we recognize this version is vastly improved from the introduced version, we still had concerns at the end of the day and remained opposed.

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

Cancer Presumption Legislation with State Paying Increased Costs Sent to the Governor

Cancer presumption legislation with state paying increased costs has been sent to the Governor. After being vetoed by Governor Engler in 1998 cancer presumption has returned in some form each legislative session.

Senate Bill 211 would create a cancer presumption for firefighters. It is presumed that if a firefighter develops certain types of cancer that it occurred during the course of his or her employment.

The League has always opposed cancer presumption because in its previous versions it would more than double workers compensation premiums for communities with full-time firefighters.  We consider that a conservative estimate. In a time where communities’ budgets are still reeling from revenue sharing cuts and property tax declines, this is a cost our communities are unable to afford.

In the Senate-passed version the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund is created in workers compensation but as a separate fund (similar to what the State has done with the silicosis or dust fund). Unlike the dust fund (where workers compensation providers are charged an assessment) the legislation indicates that the State will pay for claims submitted to the fund.

The bill indicates that the fund will not begin until the legislature appropriates money. If there is not enough money in the fund, claims will not be paid.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League. She can be reached at 517-908-0306 and sharkins at mml.org.

Medical Marijuana Legislation Fails to Secure Passage

House Bill 4271, a bill that would allow local units of government to regulate (or ban) provisioning centers (i.e. dispensaries), and HB 5104, a bill to allow for medical marijuana infused products, failed to secure passage in the Senate on the last day of lame duck.

There is still work to be done on this legislation to ensure local control is protected and the League looks forward to continued discussions on this topic next term..

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

Property Tax Exemption for Housing Organizations Sent to the Governor

House Bill 5182, legislation that would allow the State Tax Commission to grant a local property tax exemption for qualified housing organizations (namely Habitat for Humanity) has been sent to the Governor.

The bill as substituted would say an exemption is in effect for the lesser of 5 years or until the the property is leased to a low-income person or is transferred to another owner. For residential lots the exemption is for 3 years or until the property is leased or transferred.

The League testified in opposition to this legislation. The legislature continues to erode local control by taking local money for state priorities.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League handling municipal finance issues.  She can be reached at sharkins@mml.org or 517-908-0306.

Important Special Assessment Tool Pushed Off Till Next Term

Senate Bill 307, a bill introduced Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) that removes population thresholds for communities who want to use a police and fire special assessment as a revenue option has been pushed off till next term.

Under the law currently a city with a population of under 15,000 may levy a police and fire special assessment. A city with a population of more than 15,000 and less than 70,000 in a county with a population between 230,000 and 235,000 may levy an assessment with a vote of the people. The only city that meets this very narrow criteria is the City of Saginaw.

Senator Bieda’s bill would eliminate the population threshold so that any city above 15,000 could levy a special assessment for police and fire under the Act with a vote of its electorate.  The bill was amended to include a 10-year sunset. We are grateful to Sen. Bieda for introducing this important local option.

The League is very supportive of this legislation and will look to secure its passage early next year.

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

Main Street Fairness Bills Pass as Part of Transportation Package

SB 658 and SB 659, that would require that a sales tax be added on to purchases made by retailers who have a so-called “nexus” within the state, pass as part of the transportation package. These bills are more commonly known as the Main Street Fairness legislation.

The bills includes a seller who sells “tangible personal property” and includes new provisions that a seller is presumed to have a nexus if it uses its employees, agents, representatives, or independent contractors to promote sales to purchasers.

It also tags a seller if it shares management, business systems, business practices, or employees with the seller, or in the case of an affiliated person, engages in “Intercompany transactions” with the seller to establish or maintain the seller’s market.

And a seller is presumed to have a nexus in the state if its total cumulative gross receipts from sales for storage, use or consumption to purchasers in this state exceed $50,000 during the immediately preceding 12 months.

The League supports this legislation .

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League handling municipal finance issues.  She can be reached at sharkins@mml.org or 517-908-0306

Bill Enforcing Income Tax Collection from Lottery Winners Fails to Secure Passage in the Senate

House Bill 5924, legislation that would require the Department of Treasury to withhold local income tax from a lottery winner at the time the winnings are claimed, has been pushed of to the next term after not securing passage in the Senate..

While a lottery winner is required to pay local income tax (if applicable), it can be very difficult to enforce. This would aid in that enforcement.

Thank you to Rep. Daley for introducing this legislation and to the committee chair, Rep. Farrington, for giving it a hearing so quickly in the House.

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

HAM Radio Legislation Sent to the Governor

The legislature has sent Senate Bill 493 to the Governor for his signature. This legislation dealing with amateur radio operations.  As it was introduced, it had a significant impact on local control and zoning.  However, through a work group process, the bill was made significantly better in the Senate-passed version and now mirrors the Federal regulations that our local communities are already required to adhere to.

It also discusses an advisory council made up of amateur radio industry folks and local government folks so anyone with a question can seek feedback and research from this group either at the industry level or the community level.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League handling municipal finance issues.  She can be reached at sharkins@mml.org or 517-908-0306.