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.

Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Proposal 1; HUGE Victory for Michigan Communities!

The League was part of the coalition for Michigan Strong & Safe Communities, which actively supported Proposal 1.

The League was part of the coalition for Michigan Citizens for Strong & Safe Communities, which actively supported Proposal 1.

A huge thank you goes out to all the Michigan Municipal League member communities and supporters backing Proposal 1 on Tuesday’s primary ballot. The measure, which completes the plan to phase out personal property taxes that businesses pay, passed with 69 percent of the voters in support, according to preliminary results reported by mlive.com and the Detroit News with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

Proposal 1 represented a considerable amount of negotiations and work by League staff and our members. We thank our many members who have publicly supported this proposal by passing resolutions encouraging a YES vote, doing media interviews, participating in news events and writing letters to their local newspapers. Read this article by the League’s Samantha Harkins about this history of this issue and why the League supported this measure.

“What this really means for us is stability,” Harkins, the League’s director of state affairs, told reporter Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press for an article about Proposal 1’s passage.

Here’s an excerpt from a Michigan Public Radio piece by Jake Neher about voters approving Proposal 1. This report also includes comments by Harkins:

Communities depend on revenue from the tax to pay for things like police, fire, and roads. (Governor) Snyder says the proposal ensures they will be fully compensated for any lost revenue.

Local government groups say they agree. “I think, from the local government level, it really provides certainty for us in a way that the failure of Proposal 1 certainly would not have created that certainty,” said (Harkins). “And we’ve had a lot of uncertainty in the last decade.”

Also in the “good news for communities” category, MIRS News is reporting that 80 percent of the “new money asks” in local ballot proposals were approved by voters. That 80 percent passage rate is consistent with the results from the past several elections. Here’s a chart by MIRS that shows the local ballot proposal results by community.

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

Please VOTE YES on Proposal 1 in the August 5, 2014 Primary Election

Please vote in Tuesday’s Aug. 5, 2014, primary election. On your ballot you may have a lot of things or just a few things to consider, but one of the most important issues for Michigan’s communities is Proposal 1. The League is in support of Proposal 1 and encourages our members to vote YES on Proposal 1.

This proposal represents a considerable amount of negotiations and work by League staff and our members. We thank our many members who have publicly supported this proposal by passing resolutions encouraging a YES vote, doing media interviews, participating in news events and writing letters to their local newspapers. Read this article by the League’s Samantha Harkins about this history of this issue and why the League is in support of Proposal 1.

So what happens if Proposal 1 fails?

A new community impact calculator by the Strong and Safe Communities YESon1 shows the potential losses communities could sustain if Proposal 1 is defeated and the Legislature decides to eliminate the personal property tax without any funding replacement for local municipalities. All you need to do is go to the calculator and follow the step by step instructions to see the impact on your community. For example, in Flint, if Proposal 1 fails and the PPT is eliminated without replacement that is the equivalent funding of 54 police officers, or 71 firefighters, or 464,746 meals on wheels for seniors.

Here are some details from the Strong and Safe Communities coalition about this:

A “NO” Vote on Proposal 1 and failure to pass Proposal 1 would hurt Michigan communities and Michigan small businesses. It would mean:

  • Michigan communities lose by having to go back to depending on an unreliable revenue stream for essential services like fire, police, ambulances, jails, and schools – plus other valuable local community services, including senior centers, parks and libraries.
  • Michigan businesses lose by having to go back to paying the antiquated unfair double tax that keeps them from investing and creating jobs.
  • Many community leaders across the state fear that if Proposal 1 fails in August, the legislature could still eliminate the PPT, but not reimburse local communities for that lost revenue.

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

 

Congress Passes Temporary Transportation Spending Bill

Hours before adjourning for their August recess, the US Senate passed the House version of the temporary spending bill to prevent the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and the continued authorization of MAP-21 through May 2015. The Senate had tried to shorten the time frame, hoping to force the discussion on long term solutions sooner rather than later, but had to concede at the end of the day. The bill, which passed on a 81-13 vote, inserts $11 Billion into the fund from a variety of sources, including pension smoothing. The League supports a long term solution to transportation funding, and is hopeful that after years of extensions, a serious discussion on the ongoing funding of our nation’s infrastructure will be had in the coming months.

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