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.

HHS Issues Final Recommendation for Community Water Fluoridation

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) oral health program is pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released the final Public Health Service (PHS) recommendation for the optimal fluoride level in drinking water to prevent tooth decay.

The new recommendation is for a single level of 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water. It updates and replaces the previous recommended range (0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter) issued in 1962. The Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will continue to advise and assist community water systems to achieve this new recommendation.

In Michigan, the majority of the Public Water Systems adjust fluoride levels to be in line with this updated PHS community water fluoridation recommendation. Fluoridation of public water supplies in the United States began close to 70 years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Currently, more than seven million Michigan residents have access to community water fluoridation to improve oral health.

For more information 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.

Senate Passes Amended Preemption Bill

The Michigan Competitiveness Committee met this morning and reported a modified version of House Bill 4052.  The bill, which was jointly opposed by the League, Michigan Townships Association, and Michigan Association of Counties, was amended to address some of the concerns we raised and quickly passed the full Senate early this afternoon.

The bill that left the House at the end of May would have prohibited a municipality from negotiating a broad range of conditions as part of the normal procurement process with their own vendors and blocked any employment conditions from being included in an economic development or tax abatement agreement.  Zoning decisions or noise abatement regulations impacting a business’s hours of operation would have been precluded, along with any local business license requirements that could have been interpreted as regulating the relationship between an employer and their employees.

There was broad recognition in the Senate that corrections were needed for many of these unintended consequences.  The Senate committee reported an S-1 version of the bill that made a wide variety of changes that we had requested.  Decisions impacting a business’s hours of operation were excluded from the bill.  An attempt was made to acknowledge community-wide ordinances impacting public safety by allowing business license requirements to include background checks.  Non-discrimination ordinances are not impacted by the proposal.  Language was added that recognizes a local government’s ability to negotiate with a vendor for services and in connection with a tax abatement or tax credit agreement, except that wage and benefit conditions may not exceed state or federal law as part of those negotiations.  Finally, language was included that allows for the enforcement of existing agreements.

We welcomed many of these changes as common sense and an acknowledgment that the original bill constituted a broad over-reach, but we remain opposed to the bill. You can read the testimony that we submitted here. While the Senate version is an improvement, the proposal lies in direct conflict with local control and Home Rule.  We remain concerned with the broad language in parts of the bill and the potential impact on a community.  These concerns along with the unjustified infringement on a local government’s ability to fully negotiate the terms and conditions of any contract or agreement investing public tax dollars ultimately dictated our position.  This bill now returns to the House for concurrence with the Senate amendments sometime next week.

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

House Road Funding Plan Sent to the Senate

With almost entirely Republican support, a twelve bill package that represents Speaker Cotter’s transportation plan was passed out of the House today and sent to the Senate. The plan would use existing revenue and prioritize future dollars to provide an additional $1.1 billion in funding for roads and bridges and was broken down into the following five categories.

$792 million from the General Fund
$135 million from Reprioritizing Restricted Funds
$117 million from Tax Fairness
$38 Million in New Revenue
Reforms and Efficiencies

General Fund: The $792 million the Speaker proposed will come from prioritizing general fund spending and assumes cuts can be avoided due to expected future growth in revenues. This is phased in over 4 years with $442 million being dedicated in FY 16, $492 million in FY 17, $617 million in FY 18, and $792 million in FY 19. After FY 19 the number will grow by the rate of inflation or 5%, whichever is less.

Reprioritizing Restricted Funds: Of the $135 million, $75 million will come from tobacco settlement dollars currently in the 21st Century Jobs Fund, $60 million from the states tribal gaming compact. These bills gut MEDC funding and potentially many of the programs our members have benefited from.

Tax Fairness: The House eliminated the Earned Income Tax Credit resulting in a $117 million for roads.

New Revenue: $38 million will come from diesel parody (raises tax on diesel to 19 cents and ties it to inflation) and increased fees on electric and hybrid vehicles ($30 increase for hybrids and $100 increase for electric).

Reforms and Efficiencies: The House-passed bills will 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 $2 million, and allow townships contributing greater than 50% to a road project over $50,000 to require competitive bidding.

Other highlights: The current gas tax will remain at 19 cents but will be tied to inflation. All of the new money will be sent to MDOT, counties, cities and villages resulting in no increase for the comprehensive transportation fund.

The proposed package of bills has less than $40 million in new revenue. It neglects to make a much needed investment in transit and jeopardizes economic development funding many of our communities benefit from. This plan also impacts the long-term certainty our communities need to plan, which is one of the key factors to our opposition.

The League firmly believes we must find a sustainable long-term solution to the problem that includes new revenue that is dedicated to the entire transportation system. These bills do not do that. We have offered testimony on multiple occasions explaining our dissatisfaction with this proposal. Our advocacy efforts will continue to focus on a solution that includes new revenue and makes much needed investments in public transit.

We look forward to working with the Senate and are hopeful that this package can be improved significantly.

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 Prohibiting Local Regulation of Knives Passes Senate

This week, the full Senate passed SB 305, a bill to prohibit local units of government from regulating the transportation, possession, sale, or licensing of a knife or knife making components.  This bill would also prohibit a local unit of government from regulating the manufacture of a knife more restrictively than the manufacture of any other commercial good.

The League is opposed to this legislation and it now moves to the House for consideration.

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.

EPA “Waters of the U.S.” Rule Released, Webinar on June 11

The EPA released the final “Waters of the U.S” rule and will be having a webinar this Thursday, June 11th. The report clarifies which waters fall under federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. It becomes effective 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

A webinar will be held by the EPA this Thursday, June 11th from 1-2:30pm to provide an overview of the rule. You must pre-register for the webinar here.

Under the final rule, “waters of the U.S.” means:
1. All waters which are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in intestate or foreign commerce, including all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide; (commonly referred to as “traditional navigable waters”)
2. All interstate waters, including interstate wetlands;
3. The territorial seas;
4. All impoundments of waters otherwise identified as waters of the United States;
5. All “tributaries” of waters identifed in 1-3 above;
6. All waters “adjacent” to a water identified in 1-5 above, including wetlands, ponds, lakes, oxbows, impoundments, and similar waters;
7. Waters including Prairie potholes, Caroline bays and Delmarva bays, Pocosins, Western vernal pools, and Texas coastal prairie wetlands where it is determined, on a case-specific basis, to have a “significant nexus” to a water identified in 1-3 above;
8. All waters located within the 100-year floodplain of a water identified in 1-3 above and all waters located within 4000 feet of the high tide line or ordinary high water mark of a water identified in 1-5 above where they are determined on a case-specific basis to have a significant nexus to a water in 1-3 above.

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

House Commerce Committee Hears Testimony on Bill Requiring Statewide Regulation of Transportation Network Companies

HB 4637 would provide statewide regulations for Transportation Network Companies (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. The League is opposed to this bill and will be testifying next week in regards to our issues with local preemption.

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 Road Funding Plan Passed Out of Roads and Ecomomic Development Committee

The House road funding plan that would that would rely primarily on future growth, cuts to MEDC, and the elimination of the earned income tax, to raise $1 billion for road and bridge repairs was voted out of committee today. With the exception of one bill, the 12 bill package was voted out on a party-line vote with the five Republican committee members voting yes.

The proposed package of bills has less than $50 million in new revenue. It neglects to make a much need investment in transit and jeopardizes economic development funding many of our communities benefit from. This plan also impacts the long-term certainty our communities need to plan and one of the key factors for our opposition.

The League firmly believes we must find a sustainable long-term solution to the problem that includes new revenue that is dedicated to the entire transportation system. We have offered testimony on multiple occasions explaining or dissatisfaction with this proposal. Our advocacy efforts will continue to focus on a solution that included new revenue and makes much needed investments in public transit.

It is anticipated that the full House will vote on these bills out next week.

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.