Bill Amending “Gag Order” Law Moves From Committee Despite League Opposition

One of the numerous bills that have been introduced in recent weeks to “fix” the infamous SB 571/PA 269 was reported from House committee this afternoon despite opposition from local government organizations, including the MML.  House Bill 5219 was amended in the committee with an H-1 substitute and was sent to the House floor on a 6-1-1 vote.  The new version, while resolving some of the issues the League has highlighted with the new law, maintains an extra-regulatory structure over certain radio, television, mass mailing, or pre-recorded telephone message communications with residents.  Broad language identifying any of the covered communication methods that “references a local ballot question” was also retained.  New language was added in an attempt to define allowable communications as the actual ballot language, the date of an election, and “Factual and strictly neutral information concerning the direct impact of a local ballot question on a public body or the electorate, except if the communication can reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to influence the outcome of a local ballot question.”

The League continues to press for a repeal of the language added to Section 57 by PA 269 and stated the concern that attempts to define what is an allowable communication with residents has the potential to lead right back to the legal concerns that have put this new law in question in the first place, with local officials not knowing what is acceptable and what is forbidden.

It is not yet known when the House expects to take HB 5219 up for consideration.

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

Obsolete Property Rehab Act Extension Moves

The Michigan Senate unanimously passed a ten year extension to the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act this morning.  Introduced in December, on the heels of passage of the extension to the Commercial Rehabilitation Act, Senate Bill 673 was supported by the League in committee last week and quickly moved to the Senate floor where it received a final passage vote of 37-0.  The act is currently scheduled to sunset at the end of 2016.  SB 673 would extend that sunset until December 31 of 2026.  The bill now moves to the House Tax Policy committee for further consideration.

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

Snyder Delivers 2016 State of the State Speech

As expected, Governor Snyder devoted much of his 2016 State of the State speech this evening to the water crisis in Flint.  Within the speech, he did also focus on the Detroit Public Schools reform efforts he is pushing and broadened the conversation about lead pipe contamination within the city of Flint to reference the need for the state to evaluate and address aging infrastructure within any city around the state.  He announced a commission on 21st century infrastructure that will be charged with evaluating Michigan’s infrastructure needs, risk areas, and costs.  More background on the Governor’s speech can be found here – http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-74857_74858-373938–,00.html.

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

Sample Resolution, Issue Summary on PA 269/SB 571 Now Available for League Members

The Michigan Municipal League is leading a coalition of organizations in continued opposition to the campaign finance bill SB 571, which Governor Snyder signed January 6, and is now known as PA 269. As part of this opposition, the League is asking members to reach out to their state Representatives and Senators and ask them to repeal the new language in Section 57 of PA 269.

Please call your lawmakers today and go here to get their contact info. The League also has prepared an issue summary and sample resolution that your local governments can use in calling for the repeal. Go here for the summary/talking points and go here for the downloadable sample resolution. Please forward any resolutions on this issue that you adopt to mbach@mml.org so that we can log them and share them with other members.

Read more about this bill/law and why the League so adamantly opposes it from the League’s Chris Hackbarth here. View a joint statement from the coalition calling for the repeal here.

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

 

Honors and Dark Stores and Roads, Oh My! 2015 Busy Year for League Legislative Staff

Dark Stores, speed limits, League honors and roads were just of the many issues and accomplishments involving the Michigan Municipal League in 2015.

Having Governor Snyder sign a long-term road funding package in November following the defeat of Proposal 1 back in May was certainly one of the top news stories out of Lansing this year. But there were many other noteworthy accomplishments in 2015 by the Michigan Municipal League’s advocacy staff in Lansing and Washington D.C.

Like in Michigan, Transportation funding was a hot topic in D.C. in 2015. A major long-term package, called the FAST Act, was signed into law by President Obama earlier this month. Of course, the major national issue in 2016 will be the President election and the League is an active supporter of the Cities Lead 2016 platform led by the National League of Cities.

Back in Michigan, 2015 ended with a flurry of activity in the state Legislature as lawmakers took on numerous bills in the final session days of the year. Click on these links below for details about some of the recent activity:

Other legislation positively impacting our municipalities include bills allowing for training reciprocity to out-of-state firefighters; cleaning up the personal property tax (PPT) implementation process; establishing the March Presidential Primary as the election date for local ballot questions; extending the Commercial Rehabilitation Act; expanding recreation authorities; clarifying rental inspections; and changing portions of the Mobile Home Commission Act. Some of these bills have been signed into law and others continue to move through the process.

There also are numerous other issues in which the League was very engaged 2015 and will continue to be into 2016 , including the Dark Stores Big Box property tax loophole; local speed limits; and a shift in broadband relocation costs to communities. View the League’s newly created web page dedicated to the Dark Stores issue.

In addition, throughout 2015 the League has been extremely active behind the scenes informing lawmakers about the state’s broken municipal finance system and the need for change. Stay tuned for more on this major initiative in 2016.

The final week of session for the Legislature wrapped up Thursday, Dec. 17. Read more on what happened and for all the latest legislative news be sure to frequently visit the League’s Inside 208 blog here.

Posted by Matt Bach on behalf of the League’s advocacy team.

Commercial Rehab Act Sunset Extension Signed By Governor

This week SB 556, a bill to extend the sunset of the Commercial Rehabilitation Act from December of this year to 2020, was signed by Governor Snyder! This act has been used in communities across the state to assist in eradicating blight and putting properties back to productive use.

Thank you to Sen. Horn for being such a great advocate on this issue and keeping a valuable local tool that assists our communities in blight control and economic development.

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

City Income Tax Communities Oppose Senate Changes

The Michigan Senate voted Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, to discharge House Bill 4462 from the Senate Finance committee and then inserted language that many of the 22 income tax communities have weighed in on opposing. Despite the opposition, the Senate passed it late Tuesday night on a vote of 21-17.

The new language added by the Senate would allow a “voluntary” written agreement between an income tax levying city and an owner of property located in the city on behalf of a qualified employer or with a qualified employer who would make an advance payment of the withholding tax that would normally be deducted from employee compensation and remitted to the city, equal to the nonresident rate for the duration of the written agreement.

The Michigan City Income Tax Administrators Association, representing all 22 income tax cities met last week to discuss this proposal and subsequently, the 14 cities who were represented at the meeting passed a unanimous resolution opposing this proposal. Those cities represented at the meeting were: Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Pontiac, Saginaw, Lansing, Springfield, Jackson, Big Rapids, Lapeer, Ionia, Portland, Detroit, Battle Creek and Flint.

Beyond the grave concerns over the administrative burden that this type of concept would place on a city, there were numerous questions raised about the ability to administer such an agreement, where there is no model to follow and no other similar allowance for treatment of income tax and the federal, state, or local level.  Negative consequences for the taxpayer, possible loss of revenue for the city, and an inability to ensure accountability or compliance were among many of the reasons cited in opposition to this idea.

The League is working with these communities to oppose this legislation now that the bill has been returned to the House.

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

House Committee Passes League Supported Rental Inspection Legislation

Today, the House Local Government committee passed out SB 394 (S-2 version: SB 394 S-2), a bill to fold townships into the mix of those local communities who qualify for the Housing Law, clarifies that inspection programs are optional at the local level, and states a rental inspection fee cannot be required to be paid more than 6 months prior to the actual inspection.  The League testified in support of this legislation when it was inSenate committee.

Again, thank you to Sen. Robertson, his staff, Rental Property Owners Association, and Apartment Association of Michigan for working with us on this issue to address our concerns from last session’s legislation.

The legislation now goes to the House.

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

Commercial Rehabilitation Act Sunset Extension Legislation Passes House

This week SB 556, a bill to extend the sunset of the Commercial Rehabilitation Act from December of this year to 2020, received full passage from the House of Representatives! This act has been used in communities across the state to assist in eradicating blight and putting properties back to productive use.

Thank you to Sen. Horn for continuing to be an advocate on this issue and keeping a valuable local tool that assists our communities in blight control and economic development.

The legislation now goes to the Governor for his signature.

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

Legislation Exempting Library Millages from TIF Tax Capture Voted Out of Committee

Today, a package of bills (SB 579 and SB 619-624) to exempt separate library millages from tax capture by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Authorities received testimony and was voted out by the Senate Finance Committee.

The language in each bill in the package states that if the TIF Authority does not have any outstanding debt or obligations, a library millage voted on prior to December 31, 2015 is exempt unless the library board decides to opt-in to capture.  If the millage is voted on after December 31, 2015, the millage is exempt from tax capture unless the library board approves it.

The League testified in opposition to the bill package because of the slippery slope this creates.  This is a topic of the broader conversation of TIF reform and we feel it should be dealt with as a whole instead of breaking it off piece by piece.

The bills were voted out of committee with all yes votes, except Sen. Knollenberg who passed.

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