The 2015-2016 session of the Michigan Legislature wrapped up on December 15, 2016. What was being touted as a potentially wild lame duck session ultimately came and went with very few controversial issues making it through to final passage.
Here is a quick run-down of some of the key Chamber Alliance issues during the 2016 lame duck session:
The Governor signed the legislation today after a late night deal was struck mid-last week in the House. While there were too many issues to name, the signed law maintains some of the key provisions the Alliance testified on (kept the choice program for large users; included a provision for choice users to pay for transition costs when they go back and forth to protect residential and small business customers) and included other provisions that are good for small businesses (creation of a small business ombudsman for MPSC; stronger capacity planning processes; a competitive bidding process when building new plants).
TIF/DDA Reform defense
Neither the Chatfield nor Horn legislation passed during lame duck session. I’m counting this as a win for us, or at least a small victory. While there was a lot to like in each version, and while we were able to make some very positive changes to Chatfield’s bills, there are enough concerns remaining to warrant further review of these bills. I believe this is happened as a combination of legislators hearing from their districts, and a rift that formed between Chatfield and Horn when Chatfield failed to take up Horn’s Transformational Brownfield legislation. Chatfield is taking on a new leadership role (Speaker Pro Temp) and will have all new staff next session. While I’m not sure if Chatfield will take the lead, I can almost guarantee the legislation will be back. Thank you to everyone that chipped in with a phone call or email.
*The legislature did pass bills that would exempt Library millages from DDA/TIF capture. This may become an issue or discussion in some northern Michigan communities.
Legislation that would have created a path for large, transformational development projects to receive partial reimbursement from the state were not able to make it out of the House local government committee, or get a vote on the House floor. Our allies believe we had the votes both in committee and on the floor, but did not have the support of Speaker Kevin Cotter. The legislation will be back early in 2017, and it is believed that incoming speaker Tom Leonard, while not open supportive, is more amenable to seeing the legislation passed.
Legislation making changes to how the Michigan Tax Tribunal sees cases dealing with assessments of “dark store” retail properties failed to even get a hearing in the Senate Finance committee. Committee Chair, Senator Jack Brandenburg, is openly against the changes. Bill sponsor Rep. Dave Maturen will likely reintroduce his bill in 2017.
Another perspective on some of the big issues that did not get completed in lame duck:
Tax incentive discussions
Personal Income Tax abatement
Transformational Brownfield Projects
Public Employee Pension Reform
Public School Employee Retirement Reform