Senate Passes Firefighter Bargaining Preemption

This morning the Senate passed on House Bill 4624, a bill that would make a full-time firefighter’s ability to work as a firefighter in another community a prohibited subject of bargaining.The legislation is supported by the fire chiefs and the Michigan Townships Association.

The League is opposed to this legislation as it violates local control in the bargaining process. The bill now goes back to the House for concurrence.

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

Senate Unanimously Passes Bill Clarifying Reasonable Court Costs

Earlier this year the Michigan Supreme Court held in People v. Cunningham that a court may impose costs in a criminal case only if those costs are authorized by statute. This decision has a huge impact on courts across Michigan including our district courts.

This morning the Senate passed House Bill 5785, legislation that would allow a court to impose any reasonable cost on a defendant found guilty of a crime. Unfortunately on the House floor an amendment was added that would sunset the legislation in 27 months. The Senate increased the sunset to 36 months.

Reasonable costs include salaries and benefits of court personnel; goods and services necessary for operation of the court; and/or necessary expenses for the operation and maintenance of court buildings and facilities.

The bill requires the court to make available to the general public and the defendant information about any costs, fines or assessments imposed beginning June 18, 2014.

The legislation now goes back to the House for concurrence.

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.

Costly PA 54 Exemption on its Way to the Governor

We were told a costly PA 54 exemption, HB 5097, was a priority for the Governor. Now it is on its way to his desk for his signature.

House Bill 5097 exempts police and fire from Public Act 54 so that they can have retroactive pay increases after a contract expires. In the House-passed version they included retroactive health care language that references PA 152 of 2011 (the 80/20, hard cap, opt out legislation). The language is confusing and unnecessary, and we suspect it will result in major issues during negotiations.

The Michigan Municipal League has strongly opposed this bill due to the detrimental financial implications for our communities.

In 2011 the legislature passed a number of reforms to help employers control costs and be better stewards of taxpayer resources. One of the, if not the, most significant reform was to prohibit retroactive pay increases after a contract has expired. This game changing statute, PA 54 of 2011, has helped communities settle contracts more quickly and provides more certainty in municipal budgets.

HOWEVER, according to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission there were only 43 PA 312 filings in 2013 as opposed to 69 in 2011. PA 312 filings are significantly lower than they were before enactment of PA 54. In addition, even if the legislature only intended this for teachers, it has been a game changer for municipal budgets, and it’s critical that we keep this tool to allow local units the opportunity to settle contracts expeditiously and save taxpayers money.

Unfortunately these arguments fell on deaf ears in the legislature, and HB 5097 passed both chambers overwhelmingly.

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

Fire Escrow Withholding Legislation Receives Committee Hearing

HB 5862, a bill to amend the insurance code of 1956 to increase the maximum fire insurance escrow withholding for demolition of fire damaged property, received a committee hearing today in the House Local Government Committee.  Currently, the maximum amount allowed is $6,000 with inflationary adjustments.  This is about half of what the cost is for average demolition costs of fire damaged property.  HB 5862 will increase that amount to $12,000 with inflationary adjustments.  This will be a great help to local communities in combating blighted property and creating a safe environment for local residents.

Thank you to Rep. Amanda Price for introducing this legislation and bringing it before the committee for testimony.  Also, thank you to officials from the city of Detroit and city of Jackson for coming to testify in support of the legislation and how this would assist them in their daily efforts in battling blight.

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.

Full Senate Passes Michigan Investment Market Legislation

HB 5273, a bill dealing with Michigan investment markets, unanimously passed out of the full Senate today!  HB 5273 would give businesses and residents in Michigan the ability to become broker-dealers to create a market (online or in person) through which intrastate stocks can be listed, bought, sold and resold. Those interested in purchasing stock from local companies would have easy access to the listings of all the companies on the exchange and show these potential investors that there is indeed a market for what they may be purchasing.  Exchanges must apply and be registered with the state as well as follow rules of operation laid out in the legislation which will provide security for all those participating, both the businesses and the investors.

This is the next progression from the MILE/crowdfunding legislation that was passed earlier this year and we are thankful to Rep. Jenkins for working so diligently to help small businesses in our local communities grow and prosper.

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. 

Mobile Home Park Legislation Passes Out of Committee

The House Regulatory Reform committee passed out HB 5513 this week, a bill that makes changes to the Mobile Home Commission Act.  HB 5513 was introduced by Rep. Andy Schor in an effort to address a situation that occurred in his district with the Life O’Riley Mobile Home Park. This legislation requires the DEQ to outline clear roles for local units of government and enforcement (a problem that occurred with the Life O’Riley mobile home park that ended being condemned and residents forced to seek housing elsewhere). In addition, there are more reporting requirements of the DEQ to local units of government of rules promulgated or when a mobile home is found to be in violation.

The League is supportive of this legislation.

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.

DDA Legislation Receives Second Hearing for Testimony Only

Today the House Commerce committee took testimony again on HB 5856, a bill to amend the DDA act to provide for additional transparency and reporting requirements as well as adding in fund accumulation restrictions.  A substitute was adopted (HB5856 (H-1) (2)) during committee that adds in an element of gain sharing (1.25% accumulative per year beginning 5 years after TIF plan is adopted). The bill was not voted on during the committee today.

Thank you to the members who were able to come testify or be at the committee hearing and to those who have contacted their representatives on this important issue.  The chair indicated his desire to continue to work on this issue with the bill sponsor through the month of October, including opt outs, and potentially try to vote it out of committee when they return after the election.  As legislators are in district these next few weeks, I would encourage you to talk with them about the importance of the DDA in your community and how an opt out or resetting of a baseline would impact the funding level and therefore your ability to continue the good work you are doing.

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.

Homeless Awareness Week, November 15th – 23rd

Did you know that more than 92,000 people were homeless in Michigan in 2013, and more than half were families with children? Watch Veronika Scotts’s heartwarming story of how a college project turned into a creative design solution and a passion for solving the homeless crisis in Detroit one coat at a time. She began producing her fantastic coat-that-converts-to-sleeping bag at Ponyride in Detroit, a space for artists and socially conscious entrepreneurs. As local leaders you are in a position to raise awareness and inspire action by participating in Michigan’s Homeless Awareness Week, November 15th – 23rd. The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness offers sample proclamations and news releases, suggested community awareness activities, and much more. Michigan Mayor’s may also wish to join their colleagues in the national Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness which is supported by the National League of Cities and encourages mayors to make a commitment to ending Veteran homelessness in their cities in 2015.

Derek Tisler is a Legislative Assistant for the Michigan Municipal League.  He can be reached at 517-908-0302 or email at dtisler@mml.org

Bad News: Public Act 54 Amendment Likely to Pass Senate This Week

House Bill 5097 is on the Michigan Senate agenda for this week, and it will likely pass overwhelmingly. The governor is supportive and is expected to sign this legislation. The Michigan Municipal League needs your help and requests that you contact your state senators today demanding they VOTE NO on HB 5097. This is a bill that would exempt police and fire from Public Act 54 so that they can have retroactive pay increases after a contract expires.

The Senate has already passed a similar bill, and the governor’s office has been pushing for this legislation to pass. This bill undoes the most effective reform passed by the Legislature in 2011.

The Michigan Municipal League strongly opposes this bill due to the detrimental financial implications for our communities. It’s highly important that you contact your senators now as a vote is expected as early as this morning. We’re out of time for emails, so please call your lawmakers this morning. Get the phone number for your senators here. Please call them even if you contacted them earlier this year on this issue.

Background: In 2011 the legislature passed a number of reforms to help employers control costs and be better stewards of taxpayer resources. One of the, if not the, most significant reform was to prohibit retroactive pay increases after a contract has expired. This game changing statute, PA 54 of 2011, has helped communities settle contracts more quickly and provides more certainty in municipal budgets. Passage of HB 5097 would be detrimental to our ability to settle contracts quickly and efficiently. Now public safety groups pushing this bill argue that the number of Public Act 312 filings would proliferate and the legislature only intended this bill to impact teachers.

HOWEVER, according to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission there were only 43 PA 312 filings in 2013 as opposed to 69 in 2011. PA 312 filings are significantly lower than they were before enactment of PA 54. In addition, even if the legislature only intended this for teachers, it has been a game changer for municipal budgets, and it’s critical that we keep this tool to allow local units the opportunity to settle contracts expeditiously and save taxpayers money.

Talking points: Here are a few bullet items to follow when contacting your state Senators:

  • Please oppose HB 5097
  • You’re trying to fix something that’s not broken
  • Passing this legislation results in eliminating the most effective labor reform passed in 2011 and is inconsistent with all of the reforms passed including PA 152 and PA 312 reforms.
  • Maybe this was intended just for teachers, but it’s helped cities tremendously
  • The state has cut more than $6 billion in revenue sharing to communities in the last decade so we need every dollar we can get to provide the essential services our residents expect
  • So can I count on your NO vote?

If you have additional questions please contact Samantha Harkins, is director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, at sharkins@mml.org or 517-908-0306.

The Atlantic Hosts Town Hall on Energy and the Mid-Term Elections

Next week, on October 7 at 9 am, The Atlantic will convene our American Town Hall on Energy and the Mid-Term Elections. The event will be held at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit.

Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) will part of the panel as well as building leaders off stage from the advocacy and business communities.

If you’re interested in attending or for more information you can sign up on the event’s website.

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