The Senate Transportation Committee took up SB 909, 911, 912 and 967. These bills create the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA) which would oversee a rapid bus transit system in the southeast Michigan area.
While the Michigan Municipal League is supportive of a southeast Micihgan RTA and wants to see it created, we opposed on bill in the package – SB 912 – which completely the pre-empts the RTA board from having to follow zoning regulations in the communities in southeast Michigan. The League testified against that bill, saying that we don’t understand why this pre-emption is necessary. We said that the RTA board needs to work with communities to ensure that the rapid transit stops and route compies with local zoning, or allow the communities to change their local zoning. But a complete pre-emption could ignore the planning and future plans of that community. We also offered alternative language requiring the RTA board to alert the local community about the decisions (if it is outside of the local zoning) and allowing the community to object to the decision.
The committee passed SB 909 and SB 911. When SB 912 came up for a vote, it was defeated with only 3 yes votes (Sens. Casperson, Kowall, and Hansen). Sen. Pavlov voted no and Sens Brandenburg, Hood, and Gleason abstained. Sen. Hood said that the bill is not ready to move and that more work needs to be done on it in committee instead of on the Senate floor. Sen. Casperson expressed his disappointment at this bill not moving because he wants the RTA to be out of the Senate as soon as possible and wants to continue working on this as it moves.
The League will work with the committee and the Governor to try to find compromise language that everyone can work with.
Andy Schor is the Assistant Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. Contact him at (517) 908-0300 or by email at email@example.com.