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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 3, 2010

CONTACT:   Matt Bach
Dir. of Communications
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317 or mbach@mml.org

League Earns Last-Minute Approvals From Lame Duck Legislature

LANSING, Mich. (Dec. 3, 2010) — Although there were only six full session days in the 2010 Lame Duck session, the League was still able to get many of our priorities through.

Millions in Sewer Bonds

The package of bills dealing with sewer bonds and brownfield reform passed the House in the wee hours of the morning.  This package of bills will reform the state’s brownfield site clean-up process and provide some additional flexibility to municipalities that operate proactive BRAs.  Other bills in the package will utilize available bonding authority from the 2002 voter-approved Great Lakes Water Quality Bond to maintain certain brownfield clean-up work, provide grant assistance to communities seeking sewer project financing, and will expand the number of sewer projects to receive funding, while also providing for a council to make recommendations on reforming the financing process. 

Bond Refinancing
A big win that the League has been working on for a couple of years was the passage of the main bill (HB 5550) in the municipal bond debt refinancing package this morning.  The other three bills (HBs 5551-5554) were held up for political reasons, but the League is very optimistic that they will be passed in the spring.  This package of bills would give local governments the ability to refinance debt to make lower payments and stretch out terms, much like what people do with their home mortgages.  Local units of government do not have to get a lower interest rate; they can refinance at a higher rate.  In the tough times we are facing during this unprecedented economic downturn, this financial management tool will help many of our communities ride out this wave.  The three bills that did not pass deal with refinancing bonds for certain tax capture entities established before 1994.

Transit-Oriented Development
The League was also victorious in getting the transit oriented development (TOD) package of bills passed early this morning.  This series of bills would allow local economic development tools to be used for TOD.  TOD will be added to the corridor improvement act, building authorities, TOD investments, and tax increment finance authorities. The bills passed in the form the League supported, and did not include a League opposed amendment to exempt state capture from TOD projects to SB 1233, which would allow TOD projects to use the brownfield act, that the Department of Treasury wanted.

New Infrastructure Financing Tool

The League was instrumental in the drafting and passage Thursday of a bill that would create a new mechanism for communities to partner with private investors to construct local infrastructure needs.  HB 5461 allows a local community to develop an agreement with a private investor to provide necessary capital for a project and recover that investment over time through a tax capture from within a "defined benefit area".  This new tool is seen as one way to help finance certain transit and transit-oriented development projects.

Economic Development Changes
Another economic development bill the League was working on also passed in the last day of session. HB 5566 allows brownfields to acquire property. 

There was also a bill (HB 5926) passed yesterday that was a technical fix of the zoning law.  This legislation adds “whichever comes first” to the appeals section of the zoning law.  This fix brings it back to previous law before 2007.  The League pushed this legislation through while working with the city of Livonia.

Binding Arbitration
In additional action, there was a significant push last night to try and make one last push at passing SB 1072, which expanded PA 312 and did not make substantive reforms.  The firefighters were present last night and this morning to make the case.  The House requested the bill back from the Senate to try and make additional amendments to it in order to set it up for passage, but no action was taken before they adjourned.  Real reform to PA 312 will be one of the top priorities for the League next month.

The Senate did post a session day for December 15, 2010, but is highly unlikely they will come back.  This should mark the end of the legislative session.

More details can be found at the League’s Inside 208 blog as well as a full report in next week’s Legislative Link.





For more information contact, Matt Bach, communications director for the Michigan Municipal League at (734) 669-6317 or mbach@mml.org.

The Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.


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