Federal Transportation Funding Remains in Danger of Becoming Insolvent

Congress is unfortunately not any closer to solving the federal transportation crisis. The Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of funding within weeks, yet Congress can’t agree on either a long term solution or short term fix. Recently, Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn) and Patrick Murphy (D-Conn) proposed legislation to boost the federal gas and diesel taxes by 12 cents per gallon over two years, but there is not much optimism that this solution would be considered in time to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent or before MAP-21 expired at the end of September.

There will be growing pressure on Congress to act soon and most expect a very temporary solution to get Congress through until after the November election, which is not great news for local communities, looking at long term planning for transportation projects.

The League will keep you posted on any updates regarding this issue in the coming weeks.

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

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Federal Workforce Bill

The Senate passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, H.R. 803 by a margin of 95-3, sending the bill back to the House for action as soon as the next week. WIOA reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 by retaining many positive aspects of the program, while updating and streamlining others in a positive way.

The bill maintains and enhances the role of local elected officials in their local workforce development programs and guarantees funding for the program for the next six years. In addition, the new components ensure the effectiveness of local one stop centers, by requiring a full range of partner organizations to locate in the one stop including unemployment insurance, veteran’s employment, adult education, welfare and other services. It also allows for the creation of regional workforce development areas based on labor markets rather than political jurisdictions, but only with the agreement of local elected officials.

Both Senators Stabenow and Levin supported the bill. The League will keep you updated on action on this issue in the House.

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

 

 

EPA extends Comment Period for Proposed “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced they are extending the deadline for comments regarding their proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule until October 20th. The proposed rule would change the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” in the Clean Water Act, which determines jurisdiction of water bodies under the CWA, impacting permitting and other CWA requirements.

Under the proposed rule, all tributaries and adjacent waters would  be considered jurisdictional, as well as “other waters” that would have to meet a “significant nexus” threshold in order to fall into that category as well.  There are other changes that you can find by going to the National League of Cities resource page here and scrolling down to the Clean Water Act portion.

Communities can submit comments for this rule, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 online by clicking here or by emailing ow-docket@epa.gov and including EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 in the subject line of the message.

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

Michigan Communities Urge Residents to Vote YES on Proposal 1; Pass Resolutions in Support

Proposal 1 Press Conference Oakland County June 2014 Brooks Patterson Barry Brickner (16)-edited-smallMore than a dozen Michigan cities and villages have approved resolutions urging residents to vote YES on Proposal 1 Aug. 5. The Michigan Municipal League is part of the vote YES on Proposal 1 Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities coalition and is encouraging our member communities to adopt a resolution. The League is then sharing the resolutions with the local media and public and those press releases can be viewed here.

We want to thank these communities for passing resolutions in support of Proposal 1: Cedar Springs, Frankenmuth, Fremont, Grayling, Hartford, Madison Heights, Mattawan, Middleville, Mt. Pleasant, Northville, Norton Shores, Pleasant Ridge, Three Oaks, Walker and Yale. If your community is not on this list but passed a resolution please email me at mbach@mml.org. We also want to thank our many members who have participated in local press conferences and editorial board meetings in support of Proposal 1.

The passage of Proposal 1 on the Aug. 5 statewide primary ballot is the final step toward completing comprehensive reform to the state’s personal property tax (PPT) – an effort the Michigan Municipal League has been heavily involved in for the last few years.

Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brickner urges residents to vote YES on Proposal 1 during a recent Oakland County news conference.

Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brickner urges residents to vote YES on Proposal 1 during a recent Oakland County news conference.

The PPT is a tax on business equipment that communities have relied on for years to provide essential services, such as police and fire protection, schools, libraries, ambulances, jails and roads. The League has maintained that if this tax is eliminated there must be full replacement of the revenue for local governments. Proposal 1 provides the revenue replacement and it does so without raising taxes.

Additional information:

- Go here for a sample resolution. It’s important to note that it is legal for local government bodies to approve resolutions in support of ballot issues as long as no public tax dollars are expended. So resolutions are OK.

- Go here to sign up to support the coalition and receive regular campaign updates.

- Send a letter to your local newspaper in support of Proposal 1. View sample letters here.

- Go here to view additional photos from the recent vote YES on Proposal 1 news conference in Oakland County.

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

A list of communities that have approved resolutions urging residents to vote YES on Proposal 1.

A list of communities that have approved resolutions urging residents to vote YES on Proposal 1.

MI Legislature Adjourned Until Mid-Summer, Earliest

The Michigan Legislature is out of session until July 16 at the earliest.  They are in district campaigning so it is a perfect time for you to set up meetings with them in your own communities.

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.

Transportation Budget Includes Additional One-Time Funding for Local Roads

Although the legislature was unable to come up with a comprehensive solution to fix Michigan’s transportation system, next years transportation budget includes an additional $144.5 million in one-time funding for roads. As a result cities and villages across this state will receive $31.5 million. Based on the boilerplate language in the bill, the money will be spread out over equal payments throughout the year and not come as a lump sum payment at the beginning of the fiscal year. An estimated breakdown of what each community will receive can be found below.

Estimated Calculation of $144.5 million FY15

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

2016 Local Safety Program

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of new applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Local Safety Program. Federal funds for the Local Safety Program are to be used for highway safety improvements on the local roadway system. All locally controlled roadways, regardless of National Functional Classification, are eligible for the Local Safety Program. The FY 2016 federal budget for this program is estimated at $15,000,000. This amount may be subject to revisions based on approval of the future federal highway bill. Local agencies may submit more than one project application for consideration. Federal safety funds shall not exceed $600,000 per project or a maximum amount of $2,000,000 per Local Agency for the fiscal year. FY 2016 projects are to be developed and obligated between October 1, 2015, and August 26, 2016. For more detail please click here. 2016 Federal Local Safety Program

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

GRS-IBS Showcase Event

This event provides an opportunity to discuss the geosynthetic reinforced soil integrated bridge system (GRS-IBS) and showcase a GRS-IBS project in Ionia County. GRS-IBS is an engineered fill of closely spaced, alternating layers of compacted granular fill material and geosynthetic reinforcement. It’s a fast, cost effective method of bridge support that blends the roadway into the superstructure.

There is no cost to attend this showcase. Morning refreshments and lunch will be
provided. For more information please click on the following link. 2014GRS_IBS_Showcase

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

Senate Fails to Pass Road Funding

The Senate adjourned until July 16 after several failed attempts to provide additional road funding to fix Michigan’s infrastructure. Failing to act means our roads and bridges will continue to fall into greater disrepair. We will not only fail to maintain existing infrastructure but won’t be able to invest in additional infrastructure to attract and retain talented employees and job providers.

The League will be relentless in the pursuit of additional funding and we want to thank all of our members who have reached out and asked your legislators to support long-term sustainable solution. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed by those in Lansing.

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

Senate Passes Detrimental Public Safety Exception to PA 54, Tell Your Lawmakers to Oppose this Plan

This afternoon the Senate passed Senate Bill 850, a bill that would exempt police and fire from PA 54 so they can have retroactive pay increases after a contract expires. The bill passed by a vote of 27-10.

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 SB 850 would be detrimental to our ability to settle contracts quickly and efficiently.

The Michigan Municipal League has been strongly opposed to this bill and we continue to urge you to contact your legislators to let them know how detrimental this carve out would be. The arguments the public safety groups use for supporting this bill are that the number of PA 312 filings would proliferate and the legislature only intended this bill to impact teachers.

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.

We appreciate all the members who have already contacted their lawmakers on this issue and we hope others follow their lead. It is critical that you please contact your legislators and ask them to OPPOSE Senate Bill 850. You can find the contact information for your Legislators here. We’ve also prepared a letter you can email directly to your lawmakers. Go here to do that today.

The legislation now goes to the House for consideration. A House version, House Bill 5097, is on the House floor.

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.