House Considers Bill to Drastically Tie Hands of Local Communities Working with Developers

Posted on December 4, 2014 by Dene Westbrook

This morning the House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness heard testimony on House Bill 5977. This is an extremely harmful piece of  legislation that would prohibit local units of government from creating a “community benefits ordinance”. The League vehemently opposes this bill because it is an egregious violation of local control.

Currently, Michigan communities are allowed to negotiate with developers and contractors when developing certain parcels of property. A developer, for example, may ask for a tax break and the city, in return for the tax break, could have the developer expand or repave a road or street that will service the new project. The city, in exchange for grants, tax abatements or other economic development incentives, could ask the developer to hire local workers, pay a certain level of wages or benefits and engage certain subcontractors or local businesses.

This give-and-take-type of negotiations is common and extremely beneficial to a community. However, this legislation would end all that and drastically tie the hands of local governments. The bill would prohibit a local government from creating a community benefits ordinance and doing negotiations for the betterment of the community. Imagine a roofer coming to your house and you not being able to negotiate the price of the new roof, the color, the type of materials used or anything to do with that roof. That’s what this bill does.

The committee recessed for session and will reconvene on Tuesday, December 9 at 9:30 am. We anticipate the committee will vote on the legislation at that time. Please contact your legislator and ask him or her to oppose!

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League handling municipal finance issues.  She can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0306.

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