Governor Snyder Delivers 2015 State of the State Address

Governor Snyder delivered his fifth State of the State speech last night and used the forum to kick off his call for support of the road funding ballot question on May 5th.  Within his speech, he focused on efforts he intends to pursue this year on reforming social service, health and education programs and restructuring certain aspects of state government.  He announced plans to pursue 3rd grade reading improvement and utilize his regional prosperity team concept to better target business and job creation activities and skilled trades training.  The Governor also announced a schedule for upcoming “special messages”, beginning with a special message on energy policy in March, followed by criminal justice and drug abuse prevention messages later in the year.  For more information, please see the following links:

Click here for a video and additional background information for the 2015 State of the State

Click here for a transcript of the 2015 State of the State address

Chris Hackbarth is the Director of State Affairs for the League handling municipal finance issues.  He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or chackbarth@mml.org. 

House Announces Committee Assignments

Following on the heels of yesterday’s opening day of session for the new Legislature, House Speaker Kevin Cotter announced membership this afternoon for the chamber’s 24 standing committees and the 18 Appropriations subcommittees for the 2015-16 legislative session.  Of particular interest to the League’s State Affairs team…

Commerce & Trade  – Graves (Chair), Sheppard (VC), Barrett, Callton, Garcia, Glenn, Hughes, Johnson, Leutheuser, Rendon, Somerville, Jenkins    Schor (Minority VC), Byrd, Garrett, Geiss, Love, Moss, Townsend

Communications & Technology – Jacobsen (Chair), Iden (VC), Barrett, Franz, Glardon, Leutheuser, Outman, Price, Tedder    Phelps (Minority VC), Chirkun, Driskell, Greig, Guerra

Elections  - Lyons (Chair), Leutheuser (VC), Kesto, Heise, Jacobsen    Driskell (Minority VC), Hoadley, Irwin

Energy Policy  – Nesbitt (Chair), Glenn (VC), Barrett, Cole, Hughes, Jacobsen, LaFontaine, Lucido, Maturen, McBroom, Outman, Pettalia, B. Roberts, Sheppard, Webber    LaVoy (Minority VC), Brunner, Byrd, Dianda, Garrett, Kivela, Kosowski, Lane, D. Miller, Plawecki

Local Government  – Chatfield (Chair), Price (VC), Heise, Maturen, Runestad, Sheppard, Theis    Moss (Minority VC), Brunner, Neeley, Rutledge

Regulatory Reform  – Franz (Chair), B. Roberts (VC), Courser, Crawford, Garcia, Iden, Kesto, Lauwers, Yonker    Dianda (Minority VC), Chirkun, Darany, Lane, Moss, Schor

Tax Policy – Farrington (Chair), Maturen (VC), Chatfield, Glenn, Howrylak, Iden, Somerville, Webber, Yonker    Townsend (Minority VC), Byrd, Clemente, LaVoy

Transportation & Infrastructure  – Pettalia (Chair), Glardon (VC), Cole, Farrington, Goike, Jacobsen, Lauwers, Maturen, Yonker, McCready    Lane (Minority VC), Cochran, Dianda, Neeley, Rutledge, Smiley

Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government  –  Laura Cox (Chair), Chris Afendoulis, Larry Inman, Earl Poleski    Fred Durhal III (Minority VC), Sam Singh

Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation  – Ed Canfield (Chair), Roger Victory (VC), John Bizon, Tim Kelly, Aaron Miller     Brian Banks (Minority VC), Brandon Dillon

***Democratic members listed in italics

For more background on each of these legislators, please visit – http://house.michigan.gov/mhrpublic/frmRepList.aspx.

Chris Hackbarth is the Director of State Affairs for the League handling municipal finance issues.  He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or chackbarth@mml.org. 

Senate Announces Committee Assignments

The Senate has announced the committee assignments for the 2015/2016 session.  Here is a list of the committees we work with on a more regular basis (D’s in italics).

  • Commerce – Schmidt (chair), Kowall (vice chair), MacGregor, Nofs, Hertel
  • Economic Development & International Investment – Horn (chair), Schmidt (vice chair), Brandenburg, Stamas, Emmons, Smith, Bieda
  • Elections and Government Reform – Robertson (chair), Colbeck (vice chair) Emmons, Shirkey, Hood
  • Energy and Technology – Nofs (chair), Proos (vice chair), Horn, Schuitmaker, Hune, Shirkey, Zorn, Hopgood, Knezek, Smith
  • Local Government – Zorn (chair), Proos (vice chair), Brandenburg, Rocca, Young
  • Regulatory Reform – Rocca (chair), Jones (vice chair), Knollenberg, Kowall, Marleau, Hune, Warren, Hertel, Johnson
  • Transportation – Casperson (chair), Horn (vice chair), Pavlov, Marleau, Hopgood
  • Appropriations: General Government – Stamas (chair), Nofs (vice chair), Booher, Young
  • Appropriations: Transportation – Hansen (chair), Knollenberg (vice chair), Young

For a full list of the committees and their membership, click here.

The House is expected to announce their committee assignments later this week.

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

League’s John LaMacchia Participates in Road Funding Bill Signing with Governor Snyder

The League's John LaMacchia (left) attends the road funding bill signing Monday.

The League’s John LaMacchia (left) attends the road funding bill signing Monday.

The Michigan Municipal League’s John LaMacchia II was among the dignitaries invited to the official signing of the road funding package approved by the Legislature last month. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bills during an event in Lansing Monday afternoon.

Late in December, the House and Senate put together the framework for a comprehensive long-term solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure. Although the Michigan Municipal League would have liked the Legislature to solve this problem independently, they approved a ballot proposal that will be put before the voters in May 2015. Read the lame duck recaps on Inside 208, the League’s legislative blog.

Read this blog for details on the road funding package.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org.

Comprehensive Transportation Solution Relies on Passage of Ballot Proposal

After a marathon final day of lame duck the House and the Senate were able to successfully put together the framework for a comprehensive long-term solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure. Although we would have liked the legislature to solve this problem independently, they approved a ballot proposal that will be put before the voters in May of 2015. This ballot proposal along with other statutory changes represents real investment in core areas that are critical to Michigan’s long term success. Below are the highlights of the transportation funding package.

Ballot Proposal:
– Raises sales and use tax from 6% to 7%
– Eliminates the sales tax on motor fuel
– Removes Higher Education from the School Aid Fund
– Amends the use tax distribution

Statutory Changes (Effective only if the ballot proposal passes):
– Switch to a percentage based wholesale tax on motor fuel and increase
– Increase the percentage based wholesale tax
– Changes to registration fees for vehicles and heavy trucks
– Transportation related reforms for warranties and competitive bidding on road projects
– Restore the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
– Sales tax on internet sales (Main Street Fairness)

Net Impact of Changes in FY 2017-18
– $1.2 Billion in new revenue for roads
– $107 Million in new revenue for the Comprehensive Transportation fund for transit and rail
– $118 Million in new revenue for constitutional revenue sharing
– $394 Million in new revenue for the School Aid Fund
– $260 million in tax relief

A more detailed analysis will follow as additional information becomes available.

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.

Problematic Rental Inspection Legislation Dies in the House

On the final day of session Senate Bill 313, sponsored by Senator Dave Robertson (R-Grand Blanc), was unable to secure final passage on the House floor.

This bill would would have lowered revenues rental inspection programs are able to collect and provide additional barriers to entry when attempting to inspect a tenants property.The League fully anticipate this legislation coming up again next year.

Thank to all of our members who reached out to their legislator explaining to them the harmful implications of this bill. You were the number one reason this bill was able to be stopped and your continued opposition to any future legislation that would have a similar affect will be needed to ensure we are able to provide a healthy and safe environment for the residents of our communities.

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.

FOIA Legislation Passes on Final Day

On the final day of session, the legislature  passed HB 4001, a bill that makes numerous changes to the FOIA law, making it more costly to comply and more punitive for local units of government if a mistake is made. The bill passed in bipartisan fashion.

While we recognize this version is vastly improved from the introduced version, we still had concerns at the end of the day and remained opposed.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League. She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Cancer Presumption Legislation with State Paying Increased Costs Sent to the Governor

Cancer presumption legislation with state paying increased costs has been sent to the Governor. After being vetoed by Governor Engler in 1998 cancer presumption has returned in some form each legislative session.

Senate Bill 211 would create a cancer presumption for firefighters. It is presumed that if a firefighter develops certain types of cancer that it occurred during the course of his or her employment.

The League has always opposed cancer presumption because in its previous versions it would more than double workers compensation premiums for communities with full-time firefighters.  We consider that a conservative estimate. In a time where communities’ budgets are still reeling from revenue sharing cuts and property tax declines, this is a cost our communities are unable to afford.

In the Senate-passed version the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund is created in workers compensation but as a separate fund (similar to what the State has done with the silicosis or dust fund). Unlike the dust fund (where workers compensation providers are charged an assessment) the legislation indicates that the State will pay for claims submitted to the fund.

The bill indicates that the fund will not begin until the legislature appropriates money. If there is not enough money in the fund, claims will not be paid.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League. She can be reached at 517-908-0306 and sharkins at mml.org.

Medical Marijuana Legislation Fails to Secure Passage

House Bill 4271, a bill that would allow local units of government to regulate (or ban) provisioning centers (i.e. dispensaries), and HB 5104, a bill to allow for medical marijuana infused products, failed to secure passage in the Senate on the last day of lame duck.

There is still work to be done on this legislation to ensure local control is protected and the League looks forward to continued discussions on this topic next term..

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

Property Tax Exemption for Housing Organizations Sent to the Governor

House Bill 5182, legislation that would allow the State Tax Commission to grant a local property tax exemption for qualified housing organizations (namely Habitat for Humanity) has been sent to the Governor.

The bill as substituted would say an exemption is in effect for the lesser of 5 years or until the the property is leased to a low-income person or is transferred to another owner. For residential lots the exemption is for 3 years or until the property is leased or transferred.

The League testified in opposition to this legislation. The legislature continues to erode local control by taking local money for state priorities.

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.