League Members, Board President Bolen Hear from President Obama at NLC Conference

League members hear President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. Monday morning.

League members hear President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. Monday morning. Photo credit: C-SPAN.

Michigan Municipal League President Dick Bolen led a Michigan contingent to Washington D.C. this week to attend the 50th Annual National League of Cities (NLC) Congressional City Conference.  The group had the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama talk Monday morning.

The President’s speech was live streamed by the White House and C-SPAN. You can watch it here.

Bolen, Mayor Pro Tem of Wakefield, and several other Michigan Municipal League members are among more than 2,000 community leaders from throughout the nation to attend the conference this week. The officials will meet with their congressional leaders, attend education sessions and network with officials from other state Leagues and cities.

The focus of this year’s NLC conference is federal priorities and issues facing cities and towns across the country.

Also during the conference, Dan Gilmartin, League CEO and executive director, was named to the NLC’s 2016 Presidential Election Task Force. Gilmartin was one of 17 officials from throughout the nation to serve on the task force, said NLC Board Member Patricia Lockwood, Fenton Mayor Pro Tem. View a press release about this appointment here.

Go here for other conference highlights.

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

Michigan Communities Pass Resolutions in Support of Proposal 1 for Safe Roads

A road crew fills potholes in Macomb County.

A road crew fills potholes in Macomb County.

Multiple Michigan communities have passed resolutions in support of Proposal 1 for Safe Roads ballot item on May 5, but we need more to also declare their support.

So far the League has been informed that the following communities have passed Vote Yes on Proposal 1 resolutions: Clare, Elk Rapids, Lapeer, Norton Shores and Wakefield.

We expect many more resolutions to be approved over the next few weeks.

The Michigan Municipal League is encouraging its member communities to approve resolutions in support of Proposal 1 following the League board’s endorsement of the road funding plan in January. View a sample resolution here.

The League also is asking members to send their local media letters to the editor in support. Go here to view sample letters.

Plywood under bridges attempt to prevent pieces of the bridge from falling on vehicles.

Plywood under bridges attempt to prevent pieces of the bridge from falling on vehicles.

We know that many people still have questions about Proposal 1 and in response we’ve posted this free webinar about the plan and why the League supports it. Check it out here.

Go to the League’s Safe Roads Yes web pages to get additional details, including talking points, neutral information, the official Proposal 1 ballot language, media coverage of the issue, and the amount of additional road revenue and constitution revenue sharing that would go to each community if Proposal 1 passes.

Join the Safe Roads Yes! coalition here.

(Note: Some have asked is it OK for my community to pass a vote yes resolution? Go here for details).

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

League’s John LaMacchia Participates in Road Funding Bill Signing with Governor Snyder

The League's John LaMacchia (left) attends the road funding bill signing Monday.

The League’s John LaMacchia (left) attends the road funding bill signing Monday.

The Michigan Municipal League’s John LaMacchia II was among the dignitaries invited to the official signing of the road funding package approved by the Legislature last month. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bills during an event in Lansing Monday afternoon.

Late in December, the House and Senate put together the framework for a comprehensive long-term solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure. Although the Michigan Municipal League would have liked the Legislature to solve this problem independently, they approved a ballot proposal that will be put before the voters in May 2015. Read the lame duck recaps on Inside 208, the League’s legislative blog.

Read this blog for details on the road funding package.

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

Cemetery Perpetual Care Bill Sent to the Governor

Senate Bill 1125, has been sent to the governor. This legislation that would Public Act 215 of 1937, which authorizes municipalities to own or control cemetery or burial grounds.

The bill would allow a municipality to establish an endowment and perpetual care fund for a municipally owned cemetery as part of an agreement with a community foundation.

It would also require the community foundation to authorize the disbursement of earnings
from the fund to the municipality for care and maintenance of the cemetery. The bill would also require the cemetery to maintain records regarding the use of earnings from
the fund.

In addition the bill would allow the community foundation’s fees and costs associated with the agreement to be paid from the principal of the fund and specify information that the community foundation would have to include in an annual audit.

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

Action Needed on Marketplace fairness Push in Congress

With time winding down in the Congressional session, now is the time to push for action on marketplace fairness. This issue has legs and we’re hoping to get it over the finish line in the final days. Marketplace fairness would close the online sales tax loophole and level the playing field for our local brick and mortar retailers. It would also mean an additional $23 billion nationally to invest in our communities – in infrastructure, police and fire, and more. The holiday season has been highlighting the issue as online shoppers spent more this year on “Black Friday,” the traditional start to holiday shopping, than ever before. However, most shoppers will not pay the sales tax owed on those purchases because of the loophole exempting online sellers from collecting sales tax.

Please contact your member of Congress and tell them to support Marketplace Fairness (this phrase is enough as the actual bill numbers have changed and the language could be substituted in a different bill). To contact your member of Congress click here.

For resources on talking points, and letters to the editor, visit the National League of Cities resource page.

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

Congress Passes $1 Trillion Short Term Spending Bill, Goes on Break

After failing to pass the 12 budget bills before the October 1st fiscal year began, Congress enacted a $1 Trillion short term spending measure to avoid a government shutdown. Congress is now on recess for the mid-term campaign season. The short term budget extension sunsets on December 11th, ensuring Congress comes back for a lame duck session.

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