Legislative Session Reaches Mid-Point

Posted on December 22, 2021 by chackbarth

The Michigan House and Senate wrapped up their work last week for the calendar year as the mid-point of the current 2021-22 legislative session.  Following the holidays, the legislature will return to session on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 to resume action.  All legislation introduced during 2021 remains eligible for action through the end of 2022.

Year-end legislative activity centered on the book closing supplemental (HB 4398) and the passage of the Economic Development package (SB 769,771 and HB 4082, 5603) that the small taxpayer PPT expansion was tied into (HB 5351).

The book closing supplemental appropriated nearly $850 million between Fiscal Years 20-21 and 21-22 across a variety of state departments.  Of main interest to League members was the appropriation of $140 million in federal emergency rental assistance funds for rental and utility assistance to preserve housing and avoid eviction, almost $200 million in non-discretionary ARPA funds through MDOT for airports and transit agencies with nearly $170 million of that appropriation aimed at the state’s primary airports, and $140 million of FEMA funds to the Michigan State Police for emergency and disaster response and mitigation.

The Economic Development package (SOAR – Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve) was signed by the Governor this week and has been outlined as follows:

  • $1 billion for two new MEDC job creation funds to use for cash incentives for large corporations and construction site improvements
  • $409 million in grants for businesses affected by the COVID-19 shut-downs

The inclusion of the expansion of the Small Taxpayer Exemption component of the Personal Property Tax reimbursement system was outlined in our Inside 208 blog following the late night action last week and was also discussed on the MIRS News Monday Podcast.  In the Governor and Legislature’s final move to secure the necessary votes for passage of this piece in the Senate, they added $75 million into the funding bill for the SOAR package (Senate Bill 85) to cover the first year’s cost of the expansion (which doesn’t kick in until 2023). The Senate Majority Leader and numerous other legislators made public comments committing to securing a long term reimbursement mechanism and discussions on this replacement will be a top priority for the League in the new year.

Three different supplemental budget proposals also saw action by one chamber during recent weeks.  House Bills 5522, 5523 and SB 565 provide some insights into legislative ARPA spending priorities around public safety, public health investments, and water and sewer infrastructure. These bills will likely form the basis for ongoing ARPA and state GF/GP fund balance spending negotiations that will continue in earnest in the new year.  Our team is heavily engaged, through our coalition efforts, in shaping the spending proposals within these bills and developing additional spending plans outside of these subject areas.

Other year-end legislative action can be headlined for League members by what did not happen.  No further action took place on HB 4722, the short-term rental zoning preemption or on SB 429, the aggregate mining preemption bill.  The legislature also failed to act on an extension for continuing to allow remote meetings under the Open Meetings Act.  As of December 31, 2021, local emergency declarations will no longer be allowed for remote meetings of public bodies under the OMA.  The marijuana caregiver package we are supporting was also held up, pending additional negotiations.

The Legislature did finalize action on Senate Bill 698, that extends the freeze on situs for assessment of equipment being used by remote workers and House Bills 5502-5506 which shifts the personal property tax business filing to a one-time filing with Treasury.  The state-funded cancer presumption for workers compensation was expanded to include part-time, paid on-call, and volunteer firefighters in House Bill 4172. The cost of this expansion will be supported by deposits to the state’s First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund from the state’s internet wagering proceeds.  A five-year extension of the sunset for the Transformational Brownfield program was also sent to the Governor prior to last week’s recess in Senate Bill 671 with League support.

A local fiscal “early warning” proposal was introduced right before the holiday recess.  Senate Bill 780 was introduced alongside a full repeal of the state’s Emergency Manager law.  SB 779 simply repeals all of Act 436 of 2012. The two bills are not tie-barred together but we expect the legislature to begin deliberation on the two proposals in the new year. In discussions with the Department of Treasury and the bill sponsor prior to introduction, we expressed grave concerns with the original approaches outlined in SB 780 and proposed numerous revisions.  We continue to work with the Department and the bill sponsor to ensure local autonomy in fiscal decisions and raise awareness of the broad range of factors outside of a local unit’s control that could contribute to a community’s financial situation and ensure that those factors are acknowledged by any legislation on this topic.

Also introduced last week was the reform of the disabled veteran property tax exemption that the League has been requesting.  Senate Bills 783784 were introduced on December 8th and the proposal would shift the burden of the veteran property tax exemption to the state’s income tax through the Homestead Property Tax credit program.  These bills have 12 bi-partisan Senate sponsors and we will be aggressively advocating for passage of these bills in the coming year.  League members are encouraged to contact their legislators to express support for these bills.

Following their return in January, the legislature will resume action on the remaining ARPA and state budget fund balance spending plans as they prepare for the Governor’s next executive budget recommendation and State of the State speech in late January/early February.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and [email protected].

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