The Michigan Legislature is officially on summer break after passing an $82 billion budget late Wednesday night. Several non-budget items worth noting were also put through and are now headed to Governor Whitmer’s desk.
Here are some of the highlights:
Senate Bills 129-132 will allow housing development projects to be eligible for brownfield tax increment financing (TIF). SB 129 expands the definition of “eligible activity” in the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act to include housing development activities. A more detailed breakdown of the changes and new eligible activities is underway and will be shared as soon as it’s completed.
SB 130, 131, and 132 make corresponding changes to the General Property Tax Act, Use Tax Act, and the Generals Sales Tax Act, updating a reference section to the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act.
HB 4354 amends the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) to delete prohibitions against certain subjects being included in a collective bargaining agreement. Most of the provisions pertain to public schools, but the legislation also struck out a section on intergovernmental agreements. This will have an impact on local governments looking to consolidate one more functions or services as these will now be a permissible subject during collective bargaining negotiations.
Final votes were taken on the bill package intended to provide an outline of Proposal 2 implementation. The ballot initiative passed in November of 2022 created a fundamental right to vote in Michigan and several voting rights expansions. Some of these included at least nine days of early voting, permanent absentee voting in all elections, and requiring every municipality to have at least one drop box per 15,000 registered voters. Here are the bills headed for Governor Whitmer’s signature:
- SB 339: Provides for an online tracking system that notifies absentee voters of the status of their absent voter ballot application or absent voter ballot.
- SB 367: These bills outline the process for implementing and administering the constitutionally required nine consecutive days of early voting, for eight hours per day, for each statewide and Federal election. They also allow a municipality to set additional days and hours of early voting beyond what is constitutionally required and to use early voting for elections that were not statewide or Federal. Additionally, more than one municipality can jointly conduct early voting through a municipal or county agreement.
- SB 370: An individual who submits an AV ballot application before a primary election, including a presidential primary, could use that application only for the primary election or for the primary and all following elections in that year. Registered voters would also have the right to receive an AV ballot for each election by submitting a single absent voter ballot application that covers all future elections.
- SB 373: Allows a current photo identification card issued by a local government to be used for election purposes by including it in the definition of “identification for election purposes” and defining “educational institution.”
- HB 4696: Provides sentencing guidelines for certain early voting violations under the Michigan election law (SB 367).
- HB 4697: Requires each city or township to install at least one absent voter ballot drop box to collect absent voter applications and ballots. It also requires a city or township to have one drop box per 15,000 registered electors. The Secretary of State (SOS) will facilitate and fund the implementation of these requirements.
- HB 4699: Allows voters to submit one absent voter application to receive absent voter ballots for every future election, becoming permanent mail ballot voters. Additionally, the bill would allow a permanent mail ballot voter to select or change the political party ballot that the voter wished to receive for a presidential primary election by filling out a ballot selection form.
- HB 4702: The bill would increase the maximum size of an election precinct from 2,999 active registered electors to 5,000. It also removes provisions specifying the number of voting machines per voter in certain size precincts. It requires an election commission or the Secretary of State to consider only active registered voters when determining the number of registered voters in a precinct.
The final budget passed Wednesday evening also includes $45,974,600 of state-restricted revenue from the Election Administration Support Fund (created in the budget). Of that funding, $18.8 million is for ongoing staffing and administrative costs, and $27.2 million is appropriated as one-time.
There was also $20 million allocated to assist with the implementation of the Presidential Primary.
The Michigan Senate swiftly moved through the process HBs 4317 and 4318 that would establish a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes mechanism for solar facilities. The bills were voted out of House Tax Policy earlier this month, and now with a 27-10 vote in the Senate, the legislation will go to the Governor’s desk for her signature.
HBs 4317 and 4318 are a significant improvement from the original solar PILT legislation brought forward in 2020. Since the Governor’s veto of that legislation, two years of workgroup discussions have delivered the current legislation. Major points of the bill package include:
- For solar projects of 2MW (megawatt) of nameplate capacity or greater, the owner/lessee of a facility not yet placed into service may apply for a solar energy exemption certificate with the Clerk of the local unit.
- Improvements on the mechanisms for establishing the solar district, submitting applications and reviews, and decisions on the PILT. There are also mechanisms for enforcement.
- The legislative body of the local unit must approve or deny the application within 120 days of receipt and then forward it to the State Tax Commission.
- The State Tax Commission will approve the application and resolution within 90 days and issue the certificate to the owner/lease.
- A qualified facility would have to pay the solar energy facilities tax annually, a payment in lieu of taxes equal to $7,000 per MW of nameplate capacity. For a qualified facility on State land, Brownfield developments, Opportunity Zones, and adjacent to real property (rooftop solar), the PILT is a reduced rate of $2,000 per MW of nameplate capacity.
- Optionality for the local unit government to approve or deny the application for a PILT certificate.
- The Solar Energy Facilities Taxation Act will sunset on December 31, 2031. Exemptions are in place to allow operation until the expiration or revocation of their certificate.
Dave Hodgkins is a legislative associate with the League. He may be reached at [email protected]