2018 NLC Congressional City Conference

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Join city leaders from across the country at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference as we advocate together for the priorities of cities in the Nation’s Capital.  The conference will take place in Washington, D.C. March 11-14, 2018.

For more information click here.

Direct link to registration can be found here.

Intelligent Transportation Society of America 2018 Call for Papers/Sessions is Now Open

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) is now accepting papers for its 27th Annual Meeting, taking place June 4-7, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.

This year’s Program Committee is looking for high-quality papers for the Annual Meeting technical program to narrate this year’s theme, “Transportation 2.0” Papers should be related to one of the six main topics:

  • Connectivity, Autonomy and the Future of Transportation
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy Opportunities and Challenges
  • Electrification and Infrastructure
  • Regulatory and Financial Challenges Related to Deployment of ITS Technologies
  • The Impacts & Opportunities of Big Data
  • Transportation Systems Operation

The thought behind this year’s theme is that OEM’s, suppliers, and technology firms are in a race to modernize our current transportation systems. These changes will bring about adaptations in how people fundamentally interact with transportation, with how they provide and receive goods and services. What new business models will rise from these changes? What challenges? Will modalities be combined? These are the overarching questions that are vital to prepare markets, governments, and researchers for the future.

For more information on how to submit paper to ITS America please click here.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Year-End Legislative Wrap-Up

While last week’s House and Senate adjournment merely marks the mid-point of this two-year legislative session, that did not mean that the Legislature coasted into their holiday break.

Highlighted by the intense activity surrounding OPEB reform, both legislative chambers pursued aggressive agendas in the final days before adjourning.  Numerous bills that the League was tracking and engaged with experienced some measure of action:

The now 13-bill OPEB package was signed by Governor Snyder this week as Public Acts 202-214 of 2017 and takes effect immediately.  New reporting requirements under the bill are expected to be phased in over the next year, with some reporting expected due as early as January 31, 2018.  The League will work to update member communities as more information becomes available in the next couple of weeks.

Senate Bill 110 clarifies that municipalities implementing plans to increase the supply of below market housing are not violating the Rent Control Act (PA 226 of 1988) by offering voluntary incentives. This League-supported legislation was introduced in February and received a committee hearing this last week of session. It’s anticipated the bill will receive another committee hearing in early 2018 and be voted out.

Two economic development proposals of key interest to municipalities were also voted out of the Senate during the last week of session.  Similar to legislation that died at the end of 2016, the Senate sponsor introduced Senate Bill 393, which consolidates all tax increment financing authorities, excluding Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities, into one act with added transparency and reporting requirements.  Senate Bill 469 would reinstate the Michigan Historic Preservation Tax Credit.  Both of these bills were voted out of committee and out of the Senate last week and have been referred to the House Tax Policy committee where they are expected to receive committee consideration in the new year.

The League was also pleased with the Governor’s signature on legislation allowing urban grocery store projects to access funding from the community revitalization program this week. The House and Senate coordinated efforts last week on House Bill 4207 to provide State Rep. Andy Schor with one last Public Act before he resigns to take over as mayor of the City of Lansing.

Three different proposals related to the new Personal Property Tax system also saw movement before the recess, with Senate Bills 570-573 being finalized and sent to the Governor.  These bills provide for a much needed local mechanism to address late-filed business exemption applications.  Senate Bills 590-593 were voted out of the Senate and were referred to the House Local Government committee.  These bills, promoted by the League and reported from the Senate committee earlier this fall, would essentially hold communities harmless from any reduction in their debt limit due to a reduction in their property tax base from now-exempt personal property.  Finally, House Bill 5086 was developed between local government groups and the Department of Treasury to address a host of technical and minor policy issues related to the continuing implementation of the new system and the need to align the statute with the practical realities of managing and administering the new law.  This bill moved nearly unanimously out of the House last week and will be considered by the Senate Finance committee in early 2018.

Finally, a League-supported proposal to allow for the voluntary coordination of election duties and functions moved this month as House Bill 4671 received overwhelming support in the House and is now awaiting further action before the Senate Elections & Government Reform committee.

Infrastructure and technology issues also experienced a flurry of lobbying and negotiation over these final weeks of 2017.

Our advocacy efforts combined with a broader coalition opposing legislation which would have preempted most local control over private telecommunication provider line relocation projects.  We were able to delay action on House Bill 5098 that was being pursued by the industry before the end of the year.  This proposal remains alive, however, and we will continue to work to block further action on this bill.

The discussions surrounding the proposed industry roll-out of small cell technology is quickly becoming a big issue for municipalities. Small cells are low-powered antenna nodes that have a range of up to 2 miles and are installed for the purpose of relieving congestion for wireless users. The term “small” refers to the footprint of the device. Small cell devices can be mounted on their own 40’ poles, or on existing utility or street light poles. Senate Bill 637 was recently introduced that would create a new act that allows for small cell technology to be consider a permitted use both inside and outside the right-of-way with limited exceptions. The bill would severely limit local control around siting, impair municipal ability to protect the public health, safety and welfare of residents, and hinder local government’s ability to manage the ROW, potentially leading to a significant increase in the number of new poles within our communities.  Supporters of this proposal are looking for a statewide regulatory structure that is similar to the Metro Act and the Video Franchise Act.

The League is opposed to the language as introduced but working with the Chairman, Senator Mike Nofs, of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee to improve the bill. To do that we have extensively researched legislative efforts in other states, discussed the issue with several communities and municipal attorneys, and looked at the Distributed Antenna System (DAS)/Small Cell License Agreement created by the Grand Valley Metro Council.

League staff have met with Chairman Nofs and presented alternative language based on our research and conversations with members. This viable alternative to the introduced legislation strikes a balance between local control and the nationwide deployment of this new technology. The telecommunications industry will continue its push for the bill when the legislature returns next year in the hopes of quick action . We have asked the Chairman that this issue not be rushed and that all parties be brought to the table to discuss this bill and our alternative.

The Michigan Municipal League is also participant on the Lead and Copper Rule Stakeholder Workgroup that is assisting MDEQ with recommendations to address modifications to the Administrative Rules promulgated pursuant to Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act, 1976 PA 399, as amended. The ongoing discussion continues to be about how to best protect the public from lead exposure.  Unfortunately, the preliminary draft rules add additional burdens to community water supply systems that run counter to the principles of asset management and may ultimately hinder the protection of public health. In addition to the League, there are more than a half dozen community water suppliers, the American Water Works Association, public health departments and others participating on this work group.

The draft rule would reduce the action level from 15 parts per billion down to 10 parts per billion, require communities to map their existing system to identify the presence of lead, require that a community water supplier be responsible for the replacement and cost of private lead service lines, along with many other requirements that could pose significant financial and logistic hardships on a community. The League has taken a stance that we are not opposed to determining how much lead is present in water systems or the need to systematically begin removing lead from systems, but it cannot be done in such a way that causes a financial hardship or conflicts with the Headlee Amendment or the Bolt decision.

Link to the Preliminary Draft Rule: 2017 Preliminary Draft Lead and Copper Rule

Link to the DEQ Summary Document: Summary Lead and Copper Rule Requirements

The Governor has requested this issue be placed on an aggressive timeline and a finalized draft rule is expected by the first of the year. Should our concerns not be addressed through the stakeholder process, communities will need to be prepared to offer public comments on the rule in early January. In the meantime we will continue to work with those stakeholders that have common concerns with the process and draft rules to make the necessary adjustment to help prevent exposure to lead while still allowing for the efficient management of our water supply systems.

The Legislature is scheduled to return to full session on January 10, 2018, with the Governor’s final State of the State message and the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget presentation to follow shortly thereafter.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

Line Relocation Bill Stalls in the House

Over the past several years the telecommunication industry has attempted to have legislation passed that would require local municipalities to cover the cost of relocation their lines, waive permit fees and provide one year a notice on any project that would require relocation. A similar bill was introduced this year, HB 5098, but it did not include the requirement cover the cost of relocation.

This bill was voted out of committee just prior to the legislature leaving for break, but stalled on the House floor. The League, along with the Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Association of Counties, the Country Road Association and the Michigan Association of Country Drain Commissioners all spoke in opposition to the legislation. We also submitted a joint letter opposing the bill which can be viewed at the flowing link. HB 5098 Assoc Opposition Letter Final Version

The key concerns we have with the bill are as follows:

  • Would not allow city or village to charge a permit fee for relocation resulting in local governments subsidizing for-profit industry.
  • Requires a one year advance notification of any project that result in relocation, but does not require any action by the provider after they receive notice to communicate with the municipality. We could still find ourselves in situations where a new road is being cut only weeks after it is finished.
  • There are no penalties for a provider that does not follow the terms of the permit or causes construction delays.
  • The proponents of the legislation say that it will help expand broadband services but the bill does nothing to guarantee that will happen.
  • The is in direct conflict with the coordinated planning pilots and asset management efforts of the Governor and instead singles out one select industry within the right-of-way.

Once the legislature returns from break we anticipate there will be a continued effort to get this legislation passed in the House. The League and its local government partners will continue to push back against those efforts. We ask that if you see or speak with you legislator over break to let them know that this bill does nothing but add addition burdens and costs to local government.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Local Wetland Mitigation Grant Program Accepting Application

The much awaited local wetland mitigation grant program (MiWB) is up and running. Applications are now available on their website at www.MiWB.org. After enabling legislation was passed in 2016, this new program was launched in 2017 to help local road agencies handle wetland mitigation banking

Please look at the website to review links, documents and other information that can help guide you through the application process. Except for the simplest projects, or those where their is already sufficient data, you are encouraged to apply only for preliminary engineering and design (a feasibility study) as your first step.

Since this is a new application, there will be a learning curve for everyone involved, and the program is committed to making improvements as needed. To work through any issues you may be having please contact the Wetland Banking Manager, Jeff Silagy, at jsilagy@miwetlandbank.org or 989-390-2378.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Upcoming MI Indigent Defense Commission Meeting

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission will meet on Tuesday, December 19 at 1:00 pm in the lower level of the Capitol National Bank Building (200 N. Washington Square, Lansing).

The agenda is posted on the MIDC’s website – http://michiganidc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/12-19-17-agenda-and-attachments.pdf. At the meeting, Commissioners will begin reviewing compliance plans. The agenda includes a list of the plans that will be considered at next week’s meeting. The Commission tentatively plans to have three special meetings in January. Compliance plans will be considered during meetings held January 5 and 8 also.

Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at jrigterink@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Legislature Finalizes Action on OPEB Bills

Following the initial action on the stripped down OPEB proposal last Thursday morning, League staff and members reviewed that language with an eye towards identifying provisions that appeared to be in conflict with the task force report or could be viewed as problematic for municipalities.

We identified a number of items and requested changes to accommodate those issues.

Earlier this morning, before the House and Senate sessions began, we were provided an H-2 version of SB 686 that did include a few of our requested changes, including:

  • Some clarification of the municipal reporting requirements.
  • Clarification that uniform assumptions established by the Treasurer are only for the purposes of the reporting within that section of the bill.
  • Eliminating language that could have been viewed as requiring corrective action plans to focus only on “maintaining and preserving” benefits.
  • Eliminating language which would have required these corrective action plans to address underfunding in ALL future years.

We remain concerned with the potential for unintended consequences based upon how swiftly these bills were changed and moved, without a thorough legal or policy review.

The substitute version of the main bill (and its companions) moved this afternoon, nearly unanimously in both chambers and the whole package is now on its way to the Governor.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

OPEB Reform Efforts Scuttled

Following days of meetings and negotiations, efforts to provide comprehensive reform tools for communities to better manage rising retiree health insurance costs were derailed and a stripped down proposal was adopted in the early hours Thursday morning.

House Bill 5298 and its identical counterpart, Senate Bill 686, served as the main vehicle of the revised package that was scaled back to only address the few areas of limited consensus that were agreed to in the July release of the Governor’s Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force report.   While the League was a signatory to this report, we expressed disappointment in the lack of true reform recommendations and had hoped that the Administration and Legislature would expand on those recommendations and provide relief for communities struggling to balance the provision of good health care for their retirees against the ever-expanding budget burden of those benefits.

The final version establishes pension and OPEB reporting based upon existing local annual financial, actuarial valuation, and audit reports.  For communities identified through that reporting as being out of compliance with specified budget affordability and funding thresholds, the language identifies possible benefit level and funding changes that communities could utilize to address that “under-funded” status through a municipally-developed Corrective Action Plan.  A  Municipal Benefits Board is created within Treasury to provide communities with best practices and strategies to assist with the preparation of a Corrective Action Plan and its subsequent approval by that Board.

A number of companion bills were also adopted that League staff continue to review this morning.  We will continue to update members with any additional developments.  These bills will likely receive final legislative action next week and go to the Governor before the end of the year.

You can read the League’s statement on this morning’s action from Executive Director Dan Gilmartin here.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

State House Considering Revenue Sharing Package

The League's Chris Hackbarth testifies about the proposed revenue sharing bills Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in the House committee along with officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association.

The League’s Chris Hackbarth testifies about the proposed revenue sharing bills Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in the House committee along with officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association.

Following the introduction last week of the 16-bill OPEB reform package, three additional bills were introduced in the House to create a structure that attempts to address the chronic under-funding of revenue sharing for local units of government.

Lead by chief sponsor, former Walker city mayor, Rep. Rob VerHeulen, House Bills 5314-5316 do three main things:

 

  1. Creates separate city, village, township (CVT), and county Revenue Sharing Trust funds to protect against future revenue sharing reductions. These trust funds would receive dollars earmarked directly from Michigan’s sales tax to provide the funding for statutory revenue sharing for CVTs based upon the current budget appropriation amount (approx $248 million for CVTs).
  2. Provides an initial attempt at increasing revenue sharing by growing the current statutory appropriation by $100 million over the next 20 years from the sales tax. The bills would divide these new funds ($5 million/year) equally between counties, cities, villages, and townships.
  3. Secures future Personal Property Tax (PPT) reimbursement revenue that is available above what is needed for 100% reimbursement, as an additional down payment on revenue sharing restoration.

The League’s Chris Hackbarth testified Tuesday about the bills in the House Competitiveness Committee along with officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association.

The League supports the bill package in concept and continues to advocate for a plan that restores the revenue sharing cuts of the past decade and distributes dollars appropriately. The three bills were voted out of the House committee Tuesday and await action on the House floor.

Rep. VerHeulen issued a press release about the package and explained it would be funded through Michigan’s sales tax and would give a level of security to local communities in the case of an economic downturn.

“There have been compounding factors that have all led us to where we are at right now in areas across the state,” VerHeulen stated in the release. “Our communities face a funding crisis. They cannot make reliable payments into retirement systems for their employees, including police and fire, and money is often being diverted away from vital public services in an effort to keep up with funding those retirement benefit plans or other budget necessities.”

The bills could be considered in the full House by the end of the year.

Posted by Matt Bach, the League’s director of communications, on behalf of Chris Hackbarth. For details contact Hackbarth at chackbarth@mml.org.

Medical Marijuana Emergency Administrative Rules Released

With less than two weeks to go before the State starts accepting medical marijuana facility license applications, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs released emergency administrative rules for the purpose of implementing the Medical Marihuana Facilities Act (MMFLA). The rules outline procedures and requirements for potential licensees, and took effect yesterday upon being filed with the Secretary of State.

Upon the League’s review of the 51 rules, it appears they follow what has been previously shared by LARA through their advisory bulletins. Below is a very brief overview of the rules.

Rule 1 – Definitions
Rule 2 – Terms
Rule 3 – Adoptions by reference (NFPA, food safety, etc.)
Rule 4-13 – Application procedures, requirements, inspections
*Rule 6 – Local requirements to be submitted
*Rule 9 – Requires proof of certificate of use and occupancy
Rule 14-18 – Notifications, reporting for changes, theft criminal activity, and penalty, violations, fines
Rule 19 – Temporary operation
Rule 20 – Transition period
Rule 21 – State licenses, licensees, operation
Rule 22 – Stacked licenses
Rule 23 – Changes to licensed facility
Rule 24 – Operation at same location
Rule 25-27 – Facility requirements (security, transporting, building and fire safety, security plan and measures
Rule 28 – Prohibitions
Rule 29-32 – Testing and sampling
Rule 33 – Edibles
Rule 34 – Max THC levels
Rule 35 – Storage of products
Rule 36 – Product destruction and waste management requirements
Rule 37-39 – Tracking and labeling
Rule 40-42 – Provisions centers (sale, purchase limits, marketing and advertising)
Rule 43 – Employees
Rule 44 – Definitions
Rule 45-51 – Contested case hearings

 

Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at jrigterink@mml.org or 517-908-0305.