Government immunity legislation passes Senate committee

Posted on July 18, 2012 by sharkins

This morning the Senate Energy and Technology Committee passed Senate Bills 1083 and 1084, bills that would create an exception to governmental immunity under the MISS-DIG Act.

The committee-passed substitute for Senate Bill 1083 rewrites the MISS-DIG Act and creates a structure to incent municipalities to comply with the Act.  If a local unit of government fails to comply with the Act, it is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). A second violation is liable to a fine of up to $10,000. A thrid violation carries a fine of up to $15,000 and actual property damages.  All of these fines are preventable by calling MISS-DIG. If facilities are mis-marked, that is not the fault of the local unit of government.

The introduced version of SB 1084 would have entirely exempted any action under the MISS-DIG Act from government immunity. That was problematic for us, so the fee structure arose as a result of many discussions with the Senate and the Governor’s office, as well as utility stakeholders. Unfortunately with the property damages piece added in we were forced to oppose these substitutes as they reported from committee.

The discussions with all of the stakeholders have been productive, and we continue to work on this legislation. The intent is to vote on the bill on the Senate floor in August.

Samantha Harkins works for the Michigan Municipal League handling municipal services and energy and technology issues.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at [email protected]

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