New, Six Year Federal Transportation Authorization Bill Passes Senate Committee

The new transportation authorization bill, – Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) – passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week. It authorizes (but does not fund) $275 billion over the next six years. The current authorization, MAP-21 expires at the end of July. The bill makes some strides for local government priorities, including transit oriented development and complete streets. With respect to TOD – the bill opens up TIFIA to TOD projects. In addition the TIFIA project threshold was lowered from $50 million to $10 million, which should open up opportunities for communities. On the complete streets front, the design criteria for the National Highway System “shall” consider all modes of transportation, rather than “may.” Locals would have greater design flexibility under this bill, and all Transportation Alternatives Program funds would go directly to locals under the bill (although there is a provision that state “may” divert up to half).

While not hailed as a huge success from transportation advocates, this bill would provide much needed stability in transportation planning, which has been a key message the League has taken to Washington. The question now will be – how will these programs obtain the funding necessary to make this bill reality?

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

Congress Cuts Programs in Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted this week on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development budget and there are some steep cuts to important programs to local officials. The most significant is the HOME program, which provides state and local funding for low income housing, from $900 million to just $66 million – essentially gutting the program. Another key program cut is the Federal Transit Authority’s New Starts program. The Senate Committee cut that program by $520 million. In this version – funding for Amtrak was restored and the TIGER program is funded at the current level. The budget now goes before the full Senate for consideration.

On the House side, however, a different pattern of steep cuts emerged. The full House voted last week to cut funding for TIGER grants form $500 million to $100 million. Amtrak was also cut by the House. However, CDBG and HOME funds were kept in tact at $3 billion and $900 million, respectively.

These funding levels are reflective of the sequestration caps set in the Budget Control Act. President Obama has said he will veto any budget that adheres to the reduced spending caps, so this budget process is still a long way from over. However, with just four weeks left before Congress goes on summer break, it’s important to let your member of Congress know that these cuts would have significant impacts to your community so they feel the pressure when they return to the district.

To contact your member of Congress, click here.

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

Governor Signs Budget with $400 Million in General Fund Spending on Roads

The governor recently signed budget that included an additional $400 million in General Fund spending for roads and bridges. Of the $400 million $160 million will be used to match all available federal funds and the remaining $240 million will be distributed to MDOT, County Road Commissions, and Cities and Villages.

This additional revenue will result in additional $56.7 million for local roads in cities and villages throughout the state. For a breakdown of what each individual community will receive please click the following link. Act 51 breakdown for cities and villages

Although this additional money will be helpful, it does not represent a long term solution. The League continues to advocate for a long-term sustainable solution that will fund all aspects of out transportation network.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

2015 Metro Act Distribution Payments

On May 29, 2015, the Authority Council of the new Local Community Stabilization Authority (LCSA) met and approved the distribution of the 2015 annual payments to cities, villages, and townships under the Metropolitan Extension Telecommunications Rights-of-Way Oversight Act (METRO Act), 2002 PA 48. The following link lists the amounts payable to each city, village, and township this year. 2015 Metro Payments to Cities Villages

The total distribution of $18,602,739.39 for 2015 decreased by 10.8% from the $20,871,269.12 distributed in 2014. The decrease can largely be attributed to the reduction in telecommunication facilities reported by telecommunication providers, particularly AT&T Michigan, the state’s largest telecommunication provider.

In 2015, most cities and villages will receive about 9% less than in 2014. The majority of townships will also see a decrease, but the percentage varies because of the statutory formula used in determining maintenance fee payments to townships.

As you may be aware, because the functions and responsibilities of the former Metro Authority were transferred to the LCSA, municipalities will not receive METRO Act payments via State of Michigan warrants or electronic transfer. For those municipalities that did not make arrangement with the LCSA for electronic transfer, METRO Act payment checks will be processed by Comerica Bank on behalf of the LCSA with a notation that the payment is a METRO Act payment. Communities should expect to receive these payments in July.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

DEQ to Host Workshops on Lake and Wetland Protection Tools for Local Governments

Michigan has 11,000 inland lakes and over 1,850 units of government who share a role in keeping those lakes clean for future generations. Four workshops will be held in Michigan during the summer of 2015 to help local officials and concerned citizens understand the benefits of inland lakes to communities, the regulations that govern them, and the opportunities for enhancing protection at the local level.

Workshop Dates and Locations:
• July 21: Franklin Twp. Hall, 3922 Monroe Rd. (M-50), Tipton (Lenawee County)
• August 3: Kensington Metropark Farm Center, 2128 W. Buno Rd., Milford (Oakland County)
• August 6: North Central Michigan College Library Conference Center, 1515 Howard St., Petoskey (Emmet County)
• August 10: Van Buren Conference Center, 490 S. Paw Paw St., Lawrence (Van Buren County)

Each workshop will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and lunch will be provided. The fee is $20 per person and registration is required 10 days prior to each workshop. Topics will include: the importance of inland lakes and wetlands, what you can do at the local level, natural features setbacks, existing legal framework, and how to get started in your community.

For more information or to register, visit www.VanBurenCD.org or contact Erin Fuller at 269-657-4030 x112 or erin.fuller@mi.nacdnet.net.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Preemption Bill Undergoes More Changes – Headed to Governor

The grand-daddy of local preemption bills, House Bill 4052, was bounced back and forth between the House and Senate last week as the Governor’s office weighed in on the arguments that the League and other local government organizations were raising about the broad, negative impacts the bill would have state-wide.  As previously reported, this bill was originally introduced and amended in the House to purportedly only deal with a local government establishing community-wide wage or benefit regulations.  Examples of $15 minimum wages being passed in Seattle and New York City or requiring that all employers provide paid sick leave were mentioned as the rationale for the bill.  Legislators were sold by business organizations on the need to protect Michigan’s economy from a “patchwork” of confusing wage and benefit requirements being adopted by local governments, all without any examples from communities in Michigan. Beyond those issues, though, the bill included language that focused on preempting anything that could be construed as impacting the “relationship” between an employer and their employees, without a definition of what constitutes that “relationship”.  The League lobbied aggressively against this broad over-reach, pointing out the unintended consequences of such loose language.  Local operating licenses for businesses, training requirements for vendors contracting with a city, and special land use permits restricting a business’s hours of operation were just a few examples of interactions being swept into the preemption contemplated by the bill.  After close votes in both the House and Senate, the bill was nearly on its way to the Governor’s desk before the unintended consequences side of the proposal was addressed and the broad “relationship” language was removed.  The preemption language that remains in the bill precludes any policy or ordinance that directs wage or benefit requirements (beyond state or federal law) from a community’s procurement or economic development process.  The significant changes that were made to the bill, though, will allow local governments to evaluate the actual impact of the bill and avoided invalidating every day, common interactions between community’s and their businesses.

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

Treasury Offers New Guidance on Personal Property Tax Reimbursements

Treasury’s Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis recently provided the following guidance for municipalities claiming reimbursement for their small taxpayer exemption loss.  This guidance follows in line with the expected final passage of House Bills 4553-4558.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

PPT2015DebtRateCalculationNoticeNonSchools061115 (2)

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

 

MDOT Local Agency Programs Planning Guide and Federal Obligation Authority

MDOT has posted the FY 2016 Planning Guide on their Local Agencies web page. Please click here to view.

MDOT  Local Agency Programs (LAP) has also posyed an update on the federal obligation authority making its way through the FHWA and MDOT funding formulas. The final funding amounts will not be announced for 3- 4 weeks, the new obligational authority will result in a limited amount of new project obligations. It is anticipated that the current backlog of projects LAP is holding would exhaust this new obligational authority. Agency can use the “Advanced Construct” funding method, however your agency could be liable for the federal share if Congress does not appropriate additional funding for FY 2015. To view the update please click here.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

House Commerce Committee Passes Bill Preempting Local Control of Transportation Network Companies

HB 4637 would provide statewide regulations for a Transportation Network Company (TNC). The most recognizable TNC operating in Michigan today is Uber. This bill would preempt local control of a TNC but it does allow for locals to enforce provisions of the statewide regulation. A few communities in Michigan have already negotiated contracts with and regulate TNCs. This would make those contracts null and void.

The statewide regulation would provide uniform standards for insurance, vehicle safety inspections, background checks, and driving records. Although there was opposition from many groups the bill was passed out of committee. The League is opposed to this bill and has testified in opposition.

We anticipate this bill seeing floor action before the Legislature breaks for the summer at the end of this week. On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate has been working on legislation, SB 184, that would continue to protect local control and allow communities to regulate TNCs. The League is support of the Senate bill and hopes to fine a resolution to this issue in the near future.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Bill Allows Locals First Crack at Surplus Snow Removal Equipment

HB 4368 would require the Michigan Department of Transportation to make surplus snow removal equipment available for sale to local units of government before otherwise disposing of it.

Under current law and practice, excess or surplus MDOT equipment, including snow removal equipment, is sold through DTMB public auction. Local agencies are currently eligible to bid for equipment at auction but under this legislation they will have the first opportunity to bid. The League supports this legislation.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.