Redevelopment Ready Communities Program 2015 Training Schedule Set

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) program has set the training schedule for the 2015 calendar year (See flyer: RRC Best Practice Training Series (2)). Each participant will learn about RRCs Best Practices 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 depending on which date (s) is registered for.  Participants will receive detailed information, examples and implementation steps from experts in each of these RRC Best Practices.

Participants who attend all six training sessions will receive a certificate of completion for the training series, which will signal that the community is taking proactive steps towards being Redevelopment Ready.

The training sessions are being held at the League’s Lansing Office.

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

Contact Your Member of Congress on New E-Fairness Legislation

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has introduced a bill to modernize our nation’s outdated sales tax collection process. The League has already sent a letter to our Michigan congressional delegation asking them to support this bill, and we need you to do the same!
The Remote Transactions Parity Act (H.R. 2775) would close the online sales tax loophole and level the playing field for the businesses that help build your community.
Take two minutes now to click this link and send the National League of Cities’ pre-written message to let your representative know how important this issue is to you. The letter is already drafted – all you need to do is fill out your name and address. Please help us send a message to our Representatives that the time for sales tax parity is now!

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

Senate Passes Road Plan with $700 million in Unspecified General Fund Cuts

Last night the Senate voted out a road funding plan that could ultimately raise $1.5 billion for roads, with two of the main pieces of legislation in the plan coming to a tie on the chamber floor.

The plan generates roughly $822 million by increasing the gas tax 15 cents and $700 million from unspecified General Fund budget cuts.

Eight bills — SB 0414, HB 4610, HB 4611, HB 4612, HB 4613, HB 4614, HB 4615 and HB 4616 — were passed through the Senate, but two of the main pieces of legislation were only moved after Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY broke the tie.

Under HB 4615, the gas tax would go up 19 cents to 23 cents on Oct. 1, 2015; to 27 cents on Jan. 1, 2016, and 34 cents on Jan. 1, 2017, raising $475 million more for the roads in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, $733 million in FY 2017 and $822.1 million in FY 2018, according the Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA).

The also also creates a lock box directing seven cents of the 15-cent gas tax increase to a fund controlled by the Department of Treasury that could only be spent after approval is given by joint resolutions of the House and Senate.

Under SB 414, a $350 million General Fund allocation would be made toward roads in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and a $700 million special roads allocation that would take place going forward until FY 2033.

The bill also includes a mechanism that would roll back the state’s income tax if General Fund revenue exceeds the rate of inflation. Every .1 percent that is rolled back from the state’s 4.25 percent income tax would equate to an additional $230 million reduction in the the state’s General Fund.

HB 4613 would require warranties, where possible, on all road projects over one million dollars. Additionally, this bill contain 23 new reporting requirements that local units of government must provide to MDOT.

The bottom line is that this plan does not provide a long-term sustainable solution to address Michigan’s deteriorating infrastructure. Additional earmarks from the General Fund and only allowing the General Fund to grow by inflation could severely affect the ability of the state to prioritize investment in communities that desperately need it. It could result in future cuts to revenue sharing, K-12, higher education, community colleges, economic development, PILT, fire protection grants, or state police.

The League will be working hard to ensure our voice is heard on the potential long-term negative impacts this proposal could have on our communities. We will continue to update you on the advancement of this proposal and how you can engage members of the Legislature in the coming days.

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.

 

Senate Republican’s Release Road Funding Plan, Vote It Out of Committee

A fire truck makes an emergency run over crumbling roads in Macomb County.

A fire truck makes an emergency run over crumbling roads in Macomb County.

Late yesterday afternoon the Senate Republican’s released their road funding plan and immediately voted it out of committee on a party line vote. The plan consists of a mix of new revenue and rededicating General Fund money for a total of approximately $1.5 billion in funding for roads and bridges when fully implemented.

Beginning October 1, 2015, this plan would increase the gas tax by 5 cents. It would increase an additional 5 cents on January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017, for a total of a 15 cent increase. Tax rates on diesel would be adjusted so they are equal to the tax paid on gas by the end of that three year period. Beginning in 2018 gas and diesel taxes would be tied to inflation. This will generate roughly $820 million in new road dollars that will flow through the full Act 51 funding formula, providing an increase to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund which supports public transportation, rail, and ports. Beginning in 2033 the gas tax would be eliminated.

The plan earmarks $350 million of existing income tax revenue in 2016 and $700 million each year from 2017 to 2032 solely for roads and bridges. These redirected dollars would circumvent the full Act 51 formula, bypassing the Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF).

State General Fund spending would be capped at current spending levels and only allowed to grow by the rate of inflation. Any growth over inflation will result in a reduction to the income tax rate by the same amount. There is no identified floor on the rollback so hypothetically income taxes could be rolled all the way back to zero.

Similar to the House plan this proposal would eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit, require competitive bidding on all MDOT and local road projects over $100,000, require MDOT and local road agencies to secure warranties for projects over $1 million, and allow townships contributing greater than 50% to a road project over $50,000 to require competitive bidding. MDOT must also create a 50 Year Roads Task Force where their goal will be find a way to build roads that last at least 50 years and to be able to build them for half the cost.

The bottom line is that this plan does not provide a long-term sustainable solution to address Michigan’s deteriorating infrastructure. Additional earmarks from the General Fund and only allowing the General Fund to grow by inflation could severely affect the ability of the state to prioritize investment in communities that desperately need it. It could result in future cuts to revenue sharing, K-12, higher education, community colleges, economic development, PILT, fire protection grants, or state police.

We would encourage all of our members to reach out to their State Senator and explain that we are thankful that this proposal has new revenue included but this proposal will severely limit the flexibility of the state’s General Fund. The lack of flexibility could have a long-term negative affect on communities. Please ask that they do not pass this legislation this without significant changes that will protect the state’s ability to invest much needed resources into communities.

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.

 

E-Fairness Legislation Introduced in US House

This week, Rep Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced a new E-Fairness bill, which would bring online sales tax parity to retail transactions and help states generate significant sales tax revenues which are currently going uncollected without federal action. The bill is called the Remote Transactions Parity Act (H.R. 2775) and has bipartisan co-sponsors – including Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D-13). You may recall that legislation passed the Senate last session but failed to pass the House by the end of the year, requiring the introduction of a new set of bills. The League is hopeful that this momentum will help us see this legislation become law sometime soon.

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

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.