League Members, Board President Bolen Hear from President Obama at NLC Conference

League members hear President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. Monday morning.

League members hear President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. Monday morning. Photo credit: C-SPAN.

Michigan Municipal League President Dick Bolen led a Michigan contingent to Washington D.C. this week to attend the 50th Annual National League of Cities (NLC) Congressional City Conference.  The group had the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama talk Monday morning.

The President’s speech was live streamed by the White House and C-SPAN. You can watch it here.

Bolen, Mayor Pro Tem of Wakefield, and several other Michigan Municipal League members are among more than 2,000 community leaders from throughout the nation to attend the conference this week. The officials will meet with their congressional leaders, attend education sessions and network with officials from other state Leagues and cities.

The focus of this year’s NLC conference is federal priorities and issues facing cities and towns across the country.

Also during the conference, Dan Gilmartin, League CEO and executive director, was named to the NLC’s 2016 Presidential Election Task Force. Gilmartin was one of 17 officials from throughout the nation to serve on the task force, said NLC Board Member Patricia Lockwood, Fenton Mayor Pro Tem. View a press release about this appointment here.

Go here for other conference highlights.

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

Michigan Communities Pass Resolutions in Support of Proposal 1 for Safe Roads

A road crew fills potholes in Macomb County.

A road crew fills potholes in Macomb County.

Multiple Michigan communities have passed resolutions in support of Proposal 1 for Safe Roads ballot item on May 5, but we need more to also declare their support.

So far the League has been informed that the following communities have passed Vote Yes on Proposal 1 resolutions: Clare, Elk Rapids, Lapeer, Norton Shores and Wakefield.

We expect many more resolutions to be approved over the next few weeks.

The Michigan Municipal League is encouraging its member communities to approve resolutions in support of Proposal 1 following the League board’s endorsement of the road funding plan in January. View a sample resolution here.

The League also is asking members to send their local media letters to the editor in support. Go here to view sample letters.

Plywood under bridges attempt to prevent pieces of the bridge from falling on vehicles.

Plywood under bridges attempt to prevent pieces of the bridge from falling on vehicles.

We know that many people still have questions about Proposal 1 and in response we’ve posted this free webinar about the plan and why the League supports it. Check it out here.

Go to the League’s Safe Roads Yes web pages to get additional details, including talking points, neutral information, the official Proposal 1 ballot language, media coverage of the issue, and the amount of additional road revenue and constitution revenue sharing that would go to each community if Proposal 1 passes.

Join the Safe Roads Yes! coalition here.

(Note: Some have asked is it OK for my community to pass a vote yes resolution? Go here for details).

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

League Board Unanimously Supports Michigan Road Funding Ballot Proposal on May 5

League Vice President Nathan Triplett and President Dick Bolen listen to Governor Snyder discuss the state's road funding ballot initiative. The board voted to support the effort going before voters May 5.
League Vice President Nathan Triplett and President Dick Bolen listen to Governor Snyder discuss the state’s road funding ballot initiative. The board voted to support the effort going before voters May 5.

The Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees met with Governor Snyder on Friday, January 23, and following that discussion unanimously agreed to support the May 5 ballot proposal. The Board of Trustee believes that this proposal to support Michigan’s roads, schools and cities, is in the best interest of Michigan’s communities. The League will be taking an active role as an organization to help ensure its passage.

Support for the May 5th ballot proposal was based on the following factors:

  • The proposal provides for a sustainable long-term investment in Michigan’s infrastructure that includes $1.2 billion for roads and bridges, and more than $100 million for transit on an annual basis.
  • The proposal would also increase constitutional revenue sharing by more than $100 million annually.
  • Combined, this investment in Michigan’s transportation network and communities represents a significant step forward in building attractive and vibrant places.
Members of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees listen to Governor Snyder discuss the state's road funding ballot initiative. The board voted to unanimously support the effort going before voters May 5.

Members of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees listen to Governor Snyder discuss the state’s road funding ballot initiative. The board voted to unanimously support the effort going before voters May 5.

In the coming weeks the League will be working with other supporters help develop and implement a “Yes” campaign for Proposal 1.

Stay tuned for specifics ways your community can get involved and for information on the specific fiscal impact to each municipality.

Go here for additional photos from Friday’s board meeting featuring Governor Snyder.

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.

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.

League Needs Your Help on Transportation Issue This Week

The League supports a comprehensive transportation-funding solution that supports all forms of transportation, not just roads.

The League supports a comprehensive transportation-funding solution that supports all forms of transportation, not just roads.

This week is likely to be very busy in Lansing when it comes to transportation funding and the League will need your help. Many of you have already contacted your lawmakers on this issue in recent days, but we need you to keep the pressure on. Stay tuned to our Inside 208 blog for the most up-to-date information and calls to action.

Here is what we know as of today:

  1. There are two transportation funding plans being considered. One is the Senate-approved plan that the League supports because it provides additional funding for our complete transportation system. The second is the House-approved plan that the League opposes because it would shift dollars away from local governments, schools, transit and the general fund into roads. The House plan relies on projected increases in economic growth to make up for lost revenue, which simply isn’t reliable.
  2. A new transportation funding vote could take place in the Senate this week.
  3. The League will oppose any plan that puts funding to municipalities at risk.

Here is what the League would like you to do this week:

  1. Contact you state senators asking them to reject the House transportation plan and pass the transportation-funding solution approved by the Senate on Nov. 13. GO HERE to our Action Center to get their contact information and send a sample email that we’ve prepared for you. Talking points for your state senators: A. We need to fix the roads and our transportation system without hurting local governments, schools and public transit. B. We stand behind Governor Snyder and his desire to solve this road-funding problem with new revenue. Taking money from others is not the right solution. C. The Legislature should not solve the road funding problem by reducing revenue sharing and relying on “projected economic growth” forecasts to make up for lost revenue. This is a risk we cannot afford.
  2. Contact your state representatives to express your opposition to the House-approved plan. Ask them to oppose any transportation-funding plan that is potentially harmful financially to municipalities, schools and public transit. Feel free to thank those representatives who voted against the House-plan. And for those who voted for the House-plan ask them why they are willing to put at risk funding to schools, municipalities and public transit? Below is a list of how the representatives voted on this short-sighted and irresponsible House plan.
  3. League Board Member Nathan Triplett (right) on Fox 2 Detroit's Let It Rip.

    League Board Member Nathan Triplett (right) on Fox 2 Detroit’s Let It Rip.

    To help craft your responses, check out a recent interview League Board Vice President and East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett did on Fox 2 Detroit. On the “Let It Rip” program with Rep. Anthony Forlini, Triplett did an excellent job discussing why the Senate proposal is best, how the House plan would hurt communities, schools and transit, and why additional revenue is needed to support a comprehensive transportation plan. To hear Triplett’s responses to hard-hitting questions, watch segment 1 and segment 2 from the show.

How representatives voted on the House plan (info from this Detroit Free Press article):

House Bill 4539 — removes the 6% sales tax on fuel sales over a six-year phase-in. It passed 56-53

Voting yes: Jase Bolger, R-Marshall; John Bumstead, R-Newaygo; Mike Callton, R-Nashville; Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant; Hugh Crawford, R-Novi; Kevin Daley, R-Attica; Cindy Denby; R-Fowlerville; Jeff Farrington, R-Utica; Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Townshiip; Frank Foster, R-Pellston; Ray Franz, R-Onekama; Ben Glardon, R-Owosso; Ken Goike, R-Ray Township; Joseph Graves, R-Argentine Township; Gail Haines, R-Waterford; Joe Haveman, R-Holland; Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth; Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center; Martin Howrylak, R-Troy; Bradford Jacobsen, R-Oxford; Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton; Joel Johnson, R-Clare; Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw; Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township; Eileen Kowall, R-White Lake; Kenneth Kurtz, R-Coldwater;Andrea LaFontaine, R-Richmond; Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway; Tom Leonard, R-Lansing; Matt Lori, R-Constantine; Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township; Lisa Lyons, R-Alto; Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford; Greg MacMaster, R-Kewadin; Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan; Michael McCready, R-Birmingham; Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills; Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton; Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage; Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes; Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle; Earl Poleski, R-Jackson; Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac; Amanda Price, R-Holland; Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville; Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City; Bill Rogers, R-Brighton; Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City; Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake; Pat Somerville, R-New Boston; Jim Stamas, R-Midland; Robert VerHeulen, R-Walker; Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville; John Walsh, R-Livonia; Ken Yonker, R-Caledonia; Dale Zorn, R-Ida.

Voting no: Theresa Abed, D-Grand Ledge; Brian Banks, D-Grosse Pointe Woods; Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills; Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids; Terry Brown, D-Pigeon; Charles Brunner, D-Bay City; Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford Township; Paul Clemente, D-Lincoln Park; Tom Cochran, D-Mason; George Darany, D-Dearborn; Scott Dianda, D-Calumet; Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids; Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline; Fred Durhal, D-Detroit; Pam Faris, D-Clio; Douglas Geiss, D-Taylor; Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck; Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills; Harold Haugh, D-Roseville; Rudy Hobbs, D-Lathrup Village; Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon; Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor; Andrew Kandrevas, D-Southgate; John Kivela, D-Marquette; David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights; Robert Kosowski, D-Westland; Collene Lamonte, D-Montague; Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser; Bill LaVoy, D-Monroe; Ellen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods; Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo; Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City; David Nathan, D-Detroit; Stacy Oakes, D-Saginaw; Dave Pagel, R-Berrien Springs; Phil Phelps, D-Flint; Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores; Rose Robinson, D-Detroit; David Rutledge, D-Ypsilanti; Harvey Santana, D-Detroit; Andy Schor, D-Lansing; Kate Segal, D-Battle Creek; Sam Singh, D-East Lansing; Dian Slavens, D-Canton Township; Charles Smiley, D-Burton; Thomas Stallworth, D-Detroit; Woodrow Stanley; D-Flint; Jon Switalski, D-Warren; Alberta Talabi, D-Detroit; Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit; Jim Townsend, D-Royal Oak; Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights; Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor.

Not voting: John Olumba, I-Detroit.

For questions on this transportation-funding issue, contact at the League’s John LaMacchia II at (517) 908-0303 or jlamacchia@mml.org.

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

League Distributes Letters to the Editor in Support of Transportation Funding Package

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

The Michigan Municipal League sent to the media this week a series of letters to the editor to encourage the state House to approve the transportation funding package passed in the Senate on Nov. 13. The House is considering a couple different transportation funding options and we want the state Representatives to show the same courage as the Senate and pass the comprehensive funding plan that includes HB 5477. Governor Snyder also supports this plan.

The letters were co-penned by people you might not normally see working together, but they’ve found common ground when it comes to getting additional funding to fix Michigan’s failing infrastructure. The letters maintained that increased funding is needed to all forms of transportation (roads, rails, trails, bridges, harbors, non-motorized facilities, and public transit) in order to help build communities where people want to live, work and play.

For example, we sent a letter jointly authored by East Lansing Mayor and MSU alum Nathan Triplett, vice president of the League board; and Ann Arbor Mayor and UM alum Christopher Taylor. The letter starts out with, “As mayors of East Lansing and Ann Arbor, when it comes to college sports there isn’t a whole lot we agree on. But when it comes to the pressing need for increased investment in our state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, we are in total agreement: the time for legislative action is now.”

Other letters were written by the presidents of the Michigan Municipal League Board (Wakefield Mayor Pro Tem Dick Bolen) and Michigan Townships Association Board (Arcada Township Supervisor Doug Merchant); and the mayors of two Michigan cities that are more than 640 driving miles apart – Ironwood’s Kim Corcoran, a member of the League board, and Luna Pier’s David Davison.

We are already getting some traction in the media from the letters so stay tuned to mml.org for links and information about that as it happens. Check out the letter by Triplett and Taylor in the Lansing City Pulse and the letter by Corcoran and Davison in the Battle Creek Enquirer, the Macomb Daily Tribune and the Detroit News.

We’re also encouraging our members to contact their state Reps this week to ask them to approve the package passed in the Senate. You can go here to our Action Center to look up your Reps’ contact information and send them a sample email we’ve prepared for you.

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

 

Michigan Senate Votes for New Funding for Transportation!

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

In a huge vote, the Michigan Senate has just passed HB 5477, a bill that would phase in a new percentage-based gasoline tax that will result in an additional $1.2 billion for transportation funding by 2019. Revenue from other bills in this package result in transportation increases as high as $1.5 billion annually once fully phased in.

The bill would replace the current cents per gallon structure, which is 19 cents per gallon on gasoline and 15 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. Under the bill, the percentage tax on gas would start at 9.5 percent as of April 1, 2015. It would increase to 11.5 percent on January 1, 2016; to 13.5 percent on January 1, 2017; and to 15.5 percent on January 1, 2018.

Thank you to all of our members who reached out to their Senator asking them to support this important legislation. The bill will now need to be approved by the House. Our advocacy efforts cannot end here. We encourage you to immediately begin reaching out to your House member and ask them to vote yes on House Bill 5477 as approved by the Senate.

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.

Contact Michigan Senators Today to Urge Their Support of Transportation Funding Increase

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

Discussions are currently taking place in Lansing on finding a way to raise new revenue for Michigan’s transportation network during the current lame duck legislative session.

House Bill 5477 is a key piece to this new revenue.

It would switch the current cents per gallon tax on fuel to a percentage based tax on the wholesale price and gradually increase that percentage over the next several years.

The proposed funding solution is a nine-bill package that would provide yearly increases to transportation funding and would reach $1.5 billion in new annual revenue by 2020.

Legislators have an incredible opportunity to solve Michigan’s transportation needs and develop a comprehensive solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure.

Michigan can no longer wait for a comprehensive transportation funding plan.

Michigan can no longer wait for a comprehensive transportation funding plan.

This plan would not only invest in roads and bridges, but would provide additional funds for public transit, trails, ports, and rail. Download the Michigan Can’t Wait flyer.

The Senate could take this up for a vote as soon as Thursday (Nov. 13, 2014) and we need your help. Please contact your Senator and let them know that you are supportive of increasing transportation revenue and the positive impact it will have on your community. We are on the verge transforming our transportation system and you can help ensure its successful passage.

To make it as easy as possible for you, we’ve drafted a sample email that you can edit and send to your senators.

To access this tool, go to our action center here and click on the item in the blue Action Alert! box.

A comprehensive transportation funding system is one of the four key parts of the Michigan Municipal League’s Partnership for Place initiative released in 2013. Read more about why this is important here.

This blog post was by John LaMacchia II, legislative associate for the Michigan Municipal League. John can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org and 517-908-0303.

Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Proposal 1; HUGE Victory for Michigan Communities!

The League was part of the coalition for Michigan Strong & Safe Communities, which actively supported Proposal 1.

The League was part of the coalition for Michigan Citizens for Strong & Safe Communities, which actively supported Proposal 1.

A huge thank you goes out to all the Michigan Municipal League member communities and supporters backing Proposal 1 on Tuesday’s primary ballot. The measure, which completes the plan to phase out personal property taxes that businesses pay, passed with 69 percent of the voters in support, according to preliminary results reported by mlive.com and the Detroit News with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

Proposal 1 represented a considerable amount of negotiations and work by League staff and our members. We thank our many members who have publicly supported this proposal by passing resolutions encouraging a YES vote, doing media interviews, participating in news events and writing letters to their local newspapers. Read this article by the League’s Samantha Harkins about this history of this issue and why the League supported this measure.

“What this really means for us is stability,” Harkins, the League’s director of state affairs, told reporter Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press for an article about Proposal 1’s passage.

Here’s an excerpt from a Michigan Public Radio piece by Jake Neher about voters approving Proposal 1. This report also includes comments by Harkins:

Communities depend on revenue from the tax to pay for things like police, fire, and roads. (Governor) Snyder says the proposal ensures they will be fully compensated for any lost revenue.

Local government groups say they agree. “I think, from the local government level, it really provides certainty for us in a way that the failure of Proposal 1 certainly would not have created that certainty,” said (Harkins). “And we’ve had a lot of uncertainty in the last decade.”

Also in the “good news for communities” category, MIRS News is reporting that 80 percent of the “new money asks” in local ballot proposals were approved by voters. That 80 percent passage rate is consistent with the results from the past several elections. Here’s a chart by MIRS that shows the local ballot proposal results by community.

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

Please VOTE YES on Proposal 1 in the August 5, 2014 Primary Election

Please vote in Tuesday’s Aug. 5, 2014, primary election. On your ballot you may have a lot of things or just a few things to consider, but one of the most important issues for Michigan’s communities is Proposal 1. The League is in support of Proposal 1 and encourages our members to vote YES on Proposal 1.

This proposal represents a considerable amount of negotiations and work by League staff and our members. We thank our many members who have publicly supported this proposal by passing resolutions encouraging a YES vote, doing media interviews, participating in news events and writing letters to their local newspapers. Read this article by the League’s Samantha Harkins about this history of this issue and why the League is in support of Proposal 1.

So what happens if Proposal 1 fails?

A new community impact calculator by the Strong and Safe Communities YESon1 shows the potential losses communities could sustain if Proposal 1 is defeated and the Legislature decides to eliminate the personal property tax without any funding replacement for local municipalities. All you need to do is go to the calculator and follow the step by step instructions to see the impact on your community. For example, in Flint, if Proposal 1 fails and the PPT is eliminated without replacement that is the equivalent funding of 54 police officers, or 71 firefighters, or 464,746 meals on wheels for seniors.

Here are some details from the Strong and Safe Communities coalition about this:

A “NO” Vote on Proposal 1 and failure to pass Proposal 1 would hurt Michigan communities and Michigan small businesses. It would mean:

  • Michigan communities lose by having to go back to depending on an unreliable revenue stream for essential services like fire, police, ambulances, jails, and schools – plus other valuable local community services, including senior centers, parks and libraries.
  • Michigan businesses lose by having to go back to paying the antiquated unfair double tax that keeps them from investing and creating jobs.
  • Many community leaders across the state fear that if Proposal 1 fails in August, the legislature could still eliminate the PPT, but not reimburse local communities for that lost revenue.

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