Congress Passes Federal Budget Resolution; Retains Deep Cuts

Congress this week, passed a federal budget resolution in both Chambers for the first time in many years. The resolution, which is non-binding, sets the larger figures for areas of the budget, which appropriation members will use to start developing actual budget bills. In the framework, Congress set a 10 year plan that cuts $5 Trillion from spending and retains cuts and caps from sequestration. The President has already signaled that he won’t sign budget bills that reflect those cuts, so Congress is setting up for a budget battle over the summer which will set a tone for both parties going into the 2016 elections.

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

Bill Giving Subpoena Power to Legislative Committee Gets Hearings in House

Today, the House Oversight and Ethics committee for the second week took up HB 4522, a bill that would grant any legislative committee subpoena power over local units of government and schools.  A substitute was adopted that narrowed this to only the committees who receive and review the auditor general reports (oversight committee) in each of the house and senate and would require a resolution passed by 2/3 of the committee.

The ability to subpoena local records is already allowed under Act 118 of 1931 by a resolution of the full house/senate.  This legislation would give authority to the committee that recieve and review auditor general reports (the Oversight committee in this case) to subpoena witnesses by a 2/3 vote of the committee members and not the full house/senate.

The League is opposed to this legislation.

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.

Urban Ag Sample Ordinance Now Available from MSU Extension

MSU Extension has been working to provide a sample ordinance to municipalities regarding Urban Agriculture as it relates to Right to Farm and GAAMPs.  There are many communities who would like to allow for some type of urban agriculture given the demands of some of their residents but are unsure as to how to go about allowing such activity so as not to interfere with the Right to Farm Act and the GAAMPs.  This is meant to be a starting point for local communities and to be changed based on the communities needs and make up.  To view the sample ordinance and back up documents visit here.

If you are looking to create such an ordinance and would like to have it reviewed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, please don’t hesitate to contact them.  They are ready and willing to assist you in ensuring your ordinance is in compliance with the Right to Farm Act and GAAMPs.

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.

House Committee Takes Second Week of Testimony on Medical Marihuana Legislation

Today, the House Judiciary committee took testimony for the second week on two pieces of legislation dealing with medical marihuana.  HB 4209 (Rep. Callton) provides for state and local regulations of medical marihuana provisioning centers/dispensaries.  The introduced version does not allow a local municipality to ban dispensaries within their community but we are working with the bill sponsor to ensure this makes it into the next substitute.  HB 4210 (Rep. Lyons) allows for and regulates marihuana infused products.  These pieces of legislation are an attempt at helping to fix some of the loopholes and provide more clarity from the ballot proposal Michigan citizens passed back in 2008.

We look forward to continued discussions as this process moves forward.

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

 

 

 

 

Local Election Results Show Voters Support Essential Local Services, Better Communities

A road crew fills potholes in Macomb County.

A road crew fills potholes in Macomb County.

(Go here to view the League’s statement on the defeat of Proposal 1)

Not to be lost in the overwhelming defeat of Proposal 1 last night, is the success of a majority of local ballot questions that also went before voters in Tuesday’s election. The results show voters are willing to support essential services that contribute to a community’s vibrancy.

According to MIRS news service, of the more than 200 questions on local ballots statewide nearly 70 percent were approved. In particular, voters approved nearly 70 percent of the school-related ballot proposals and 78 percent of the proposal dealing with police, fire and emergency services.

View a spreadsheet on the MIRS report here. View the subscription-only MIRS article on the local election results here under the headline “Local Road Proposal Approvals Go 50%, New Money Asks for Roads 21%”.

The local election results also are consistent with the findings of an EPIC-MRA survey co-commissioned by the League. The poll, which you can view here, found that a majority of voters who opposed the Proposal 1 ballot question want the Legislature to get back to work and pass a plan that fixes roads with new revenues. The poll shows that voters did not want major cuts to essential services that make our communities strong and liveable – namely schools, communities and police and fire protection.

Here are some key findings in the EPIC-MRA poll:

  • A strong majority of voters want the Legislature to get back to work now and fix the roads;
  • They are willing to support higher taxes as long as they money goes only to transportation, and they oppose major cuts to K-12 education, higher education, revenue sharing and healthcare to find the money to fix the roads;
  • 64 percent polled “strongly favor” or “somewhat favor” a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax to fix the roads, as long as the new revenue from the penny increase is guaranteed in the constitution for roads, bridges and transportation;
  • 88 percent oppose “major cuts” to K-12 education to pay for roads;
  • 76 percent oppose “major cuts” in revenue sharing for local communities;
  • 63 percent opposed “major cuts” to universities and community colleges;
  • 85 percent support the Legislature working all summer to pass a new roads plan.

The poll also found that the Legislature’s job approval rate sunk to just 27 percent (with only 1 percent giving the Legislature an “excellent” rating). That’s reflected in the constant complaint we’ve heard that the Legislature should have come up with a road solution itself instead of sending it to the voters.

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.

Of note, the poll found that Governor Snyder’s approval rating is an all-time high – 52 percent positive job approval. The Governor has been an exceptionally strong leader on fixing our roads and the League was especially pleased with his statement issued following Proposal 1’s defeat last night. The statement, with the subheadline, “A plan must improve roads without hurting schools, communities,” explains that fixing the roads remains a top priority for the governor and that a new solution should be one that gives “Michigan residents the safe roads they need and deserve and helps our growing economy.”

The League pledges to continue working with governor and the Legislature on a new plan that will fix our roads and bridges while protecting those services essential to Michigan’s families, communities and economy. Like Michigan voters, we do not believe the state can cut our way to prosperity.

There will be much debate in Lansing in the coming days, weeks and possibly months over the next step to fixing our roads. Please stay tuned to this Inside 208 legislative blog for the latest developments. We may also call on you as various plans surface and gain momentum. So please be ready to contact your lawmakers when asked.

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

Voting Yes Tuesday on Proposal 1 is Right Thing for Michigan’s Roads, Communities, Schools

Sterling Heights City Manager and MML board member Mark Vanderpool speaks at a Proposal 1 Safe Roads Yes! tour bus stop in Romeo. The League appreciates all the support it has received from members on Proposal 1.

Sterling Heights City Manager and MML board member Mark Vanderpool speaks at a Proposal 1 Safe Roads Yes! tour bus stop in Romeo with Governor Rick Snyder and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle. The League appreciates all the support it has received from members on Proposal 1.

The fate of Proposal 1 goes in the hands of voters tomorrow (Tuesday, May 5, 2015) and the Michigan Municipal League strongly encourages you to vote yes on this road-funding plan.

The League Board of Trustees in January officially endorsed Proposal 1 and the League has been actively supporting it ever since. League staff and members have participated in numerous community meetings, town hall events, public forums, debates and city council sessions to promote Proposal 1. Staff and members also were involved in the Vote Yes on Proposal 1 bus tour Thursday, Friday and today. In addition, we’ve encouraged communities to pass resolutions in support and you can view that list here.

Our message throughout the campaign has been the same: That this proposal is in the best interest of communities throughout Michigan and will improve our ability to attract and retain talent.

The League’s John LaMacchia, who has been leading our Vote Yes efforts, said this at a recent Proposal 1 event: “Michigan now spends less per resident on roads than any other state. Let me say that again: Michigan is now dead last in per-capita funding for roads. We’ve neglected to properly invest in our roads and bridges and everywhere you travel in this state you can see the repercussions of that. This proposal will constitutionally guarantees that every penny we pay in state fuel taxes goes to transportation while protecting funding for local governments and schools. This proposal is not perfect … nothing from Lansing ever is. But it does provide a long-term sustainable solution that will fix our roads, and the only guarantee we will have on May 5th if this fails is that our roads will get worse. Vote Yes!”

Here are some details about Proposal 1:

Ballot Proposal:

  • Raises the sales tax from 6% to 7%
  • Exempts sales tax from motor fuel
  • Removes higher education funding from the School Aid Fund
  • Dedicates a portion of the use tax to K-12 education

Statutory Changes Effective Only if Proposal 1 Passes:

  • Increases the tax charged on motor fuel
  • Eliminates the depreciation on vehicle registration fees
  • Increase registration fees on the heaviest trucks
  • Requires more competitive bidding and road warranties
  • Restores the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20% of the federal level

Revenue Generated:

League members - Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson and Lapeer City Commissioner and MML Board member Catherine Bostick-Tullius - talk with Governor Snyder at a Proposal 1 bus tour stop near Davison.

League members – Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson and Lapeer City Commissioner and MML Board member Catherine Bostick-Tullius – talk with Governor Snyder at a Vote Yes on Proposal 1 bus tour stop near Davison.

Fixing our roads will make them safer by repairing dangerous potholes and improving roadway design. Today, many drivers swerve to avoid dangerous potholes or lose control of their vehicles as a result of flat tires.

According to TRIP, a national transportation research organization, roadway design is a contributing factor in about one-third of fatal traffic crashes. Between 2008 and 2012, 4,620 people died in Michigan car accidents – an average of 924 fatalities per year.

For more information about Proposal 1 go to the League’s Safe Roads Yes! webpage.

To learn more about the Safe Road Yes! campaign go here. View here a series of question and answer videos about Proposal 1. Check out what MML members have to say about Proposal 1. See how much your community will get in additional road dollars and constitutional revenue sharing if Proposal 1 is approved. View which Michigan communities have passed resolutions in support of Proposal 1.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org. The League’s John LaMacchia can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org.

Save the Date for the 3rd Annual Michigan Rail Conference

Save the date for the 3rd Annual Michigan Rail Conference!

This year’s event will be held in Grand Rapids at the Grand Valley State University Eberhard Center on August 19 & 20. The program includes plenary sessions in the morning filled with presentations related to freight & passenger rail activities in Michigan. The afternoon will feature breakout sessions that could include rail project development in the past year; equipment and rolling stock development; education/labor needs/workforce development; government regulation; and shipper’s needs. National, regional, and local rail experts will be on hand to offer their insight and comments. The final program will be posted on the Michigan Tech University website by mid-May; and contacts regarding general questions or registration are included on the flyer. MI Rail Conference-Save the date

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 Passes Pneumatic Gun Legislation

This week the full House passed  SB 85 (sponsored by Sen. Hildenbrand, R-Lowell), a bill to include pneumatic guns (i.e. paint ball guns) in the list of pistols or other firearms that local units of government currently cannot tax, regulate ownership of, registration of, sale/transfer/possession and transportation of (PA 319 of 1990).

The legislation does allow a local unit to regulate the possession of a pneumatic gun in someone under the age of 16 unless it is on their private property as well as allow a local unit to prohibit discharging of a pneumatic gun in heavily populated areas.

The League is opposed to this legislation.

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

Proposal 1 Offers Michigan’s Last, Best Chance to Fix Roads with Guaranteed Funding

John LaMacchia discusses Proposal 1 at a recent Burton City Council town hall meeting.

John LaMacchia discusses Proposal 1 at a recent Burton City Council town hall meeting.

The fate of Proposal 1 will be decided by voters next week (Tuesday, May 5), and there is one thing guaranteed about the outcome: If it passes it will provide a solution to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure and will guarantee funding for transportation, local government, schools. And if it fails? No one can guarantee a solution out of the state Legislature.

That’s the simple message from the Michigan Municipal League’s John LaMacchia, legislative associate, in his many speaking engagements, media interviews and community meetings about Proposal 1 in recent days, weeks and months. LaMacchia has been the League’s voice on Proposal 1 after the League board unanimously endorsed the road funding package in January.

“The one thing that those for and against Proposal 1 agree on is the longer we take to come up with a transportation funding plan, the worse are roads are going to get,” LaMacchia said.

If Proposal 1 passes, it would guarantee, for the first time, that every penny we pay in state fuel taxes goes to transportation.

Bad-bridge-small-for-webLansing would no longer be able to divert taxes paid on gas to some other state program or service.

Here is some additional information about what Proposal 1 would do:

Ballot Proposal:

  • Raises the sales tax from 6% to 7%
  • Exempts sales tax from motor fuel
  • Removes higher education funding from the School Aid Fund
  • Dedicates a portion of the use tax to K-12 education

Statutory Changes Effective Only if Proposal 1 Passes:

  • Increases the tax charged on motor fuel
  • Eliminates the depreciation on vehicle registration fees
  • Increase registration fees on the heaviest trucks
  • Requires more competitive bidding and road warranties
  • Restores the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20% of the federal level

Revenue Generated:

We would fix more roads instead of just fill potholes if Proposal 1 passes May 5.

We would fix more roads instead of just fill potholes if Proposal 1 passes May 5.

Fixing our roads will make them safer by repairing dangerous potholes and improving roadway design. Today, many drivers swerve to avoid dangerous potholes or lose control of their vehicles as a result of flat tires.

According to TRIP, a national transportation research organization, roadway design is a contributing factor in about one-third of fatal traffic crashes. Between 2008 and 2012, 4,620 people died in Michigan car accidents – an average of 924 fatalities per year.

For more information about Proposal 1 go to the League’s Safe Roads Yes! webpage.

To learn more about the Safe Road Yes! campaign go here. View here a series of question and answer videos about Proposal 1. Check out what MML members have to say about Proposal 1. See how much your community will get in additional road dollars and constitutional revenue sharing if Proposal 1 is approved. View which Michigan communities have passed resolutions in support of Proposal 1.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org. The League’s John LaMacchia can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org.

Mobile Home Legislation Passes Senate Committee

The Senate Regulatory Reform committee passed out HB 4054 this week, a bill that makes changes to the Mobile Home Commission Act.  HB 4054 is a reintroduction from last year by Rep. Andy Schor in an effort to address a situation that occurred in his district with the Life O’Riley Mobile Home Park. This legislation requires the DEQ to outline clear roles for local units of government and enforcement (a problem that occurred with the Life O’Riley mobile home park that ended being condemned and residents forced to seek housing elsewhere). In addition, there are more reporting requirements of the DEQ to local units of government of rules promulgated or when a mobile home is found to be in violation.

The League is supportive of this legislation.

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.