Advocacy Updates & Alerts

Please visit our online Legislative Action Center to send your comments about pertinent legislation affecting downtowns in Michigan directly to your representatives in Lansing. We do the work for you -- simply read through the information and choose either the form letter or you may include your own words, fill out the required information and hit send. Your message will be automatically emailed to your representative on your behalf.

Legislative Action Center


* TIF Recodification & Reporting Legislation Reintroduced, Passes Senate
* SB 393 (Sen. Horn): passed the Senate unanimously, now before House Tax Policy Committee, Chaired by Rep. Jim Tedder (R-Clarkston).

*MDA position: SUPPORT, still seeking small technical amendments.

Details: Legislation has been reintroduced this session, identical to a bill passed by the Senate last year, which re-codifies TIF statutes, establishes new reporting requirements for authorities, and establishes sanctions for lack of compliance. Senate Bill 393, sponsored by Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) and House Bill 5070, sponsored by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso) are identical to SB 1026 (S-2) which passed the Senate last session and died in the House. Both bill sponsors, Sen. Horn and Rep. Frederick, are champions of DDAs, and have sponsored this legislation believing it provides a counter-balance to more Draconian reforms. MDA supports the bills, especially given Sen. Horn's efforts last session to craft a bill that does not impose undue administrative burdens on DDAs.

No Action Yet on Dangerous Library Opt-Out Bill

* Senate Bills 305 - 310, (led by Senator Jack Brandenburg): no hearing yet or planned in near future, currently before Senate Finance Committee (also chaired by Sen. Brandenburg).


Details: As reported in earlier this year, a package of bills was introduced in the Senate making changes to the newly enacted library opt-out statutes. Senate Bills 305 - 310, led by Senator Jack Brandenburg (R-Harrison Twp.), would significantly restrict situations in which tax increment financing (TIF) authorities with existing obligations and debt could continue to capture taxes from the library millages (approved prior to or in existence on January 1, 2017) to pay those obligations.

Under the new bills, existing millages would be automatically exempt from capture if all outstanding Library Capture Obligations of the authority are satisfied. While the term "obligation" used in the new laws enacted late last year is a broad term, the proposed definition in the Senate bills is very narrow, including only bonds, notes and instruments, and only if issued by the authority. This will impair the ability of authorities to pay many types of obligations, including most DDA bonds, reimbursement agreements, development agreements and more.

* Senate Bills Addressing DDA Demolition of Historic Buildings

* SB 250-251 (sponsored by Sen. Hopgood): Still before Senate Economic Development Committee. One hearing in committee, future action uncertain

* MDA position: SUPPORT IN PRINCIPLE, could be improved. Not an immediate MDA policy priority.

Details: This fall the Senate Economic Development and International Investment Committee took testimony (no votes) on two bills making changes to current law regulating how and when a downtown development authority can make changes to, or demolish historic buildings. MDA provided general support for the bills when there were initially introduced in the 2013-14 Legislative Session. This session, MDA indicated to the Committee that it supported the bills "in principal," because “historic resources help to create a sense of place that makes downtowns unique and should be protected." That position signals to legislators that although MDA supports the bills in concept, there could be changes made to improve the bills.

* Senate Bill 250 (sponsored by Senator Hopgood, D-Taylor) would amend the downtown development authority (DDA) Act to do the following: Require that proposed changes to a historic site owned or financed by a DDA but not located in a local historic district be referred by the DDA to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), through December 31, 2018; and Establish a civil fine of "up to $30,000" for violating that requirement by demolishing a facility, building, or structure as determined by the SHPO.

* Senate Bill 251 (sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City) would amend the State Housing Development Authority Act to require the SHPO to review proposed changes to the exterior of a historic site owned or financed by a DDA but not located in a local historic district, through December 31, 2018; and prohibit a DDA from demolishing a historic structure without approval of the SHPO.

MDA has provided suggestions for improving the bills to the bill sponsors and the primary proponent of the bills, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. The Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Townships Association oppose the bills; the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the State Historic Preservation Officers are neutral on the bills. It's uncertain when and if further action will be taken by the committee on the bills.

Senate Passes Legislation Restoring State Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program

* SB 469 (Sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt), Note: Rep. Stephanie Chang has introduced a similar bill HB 5117, currently before the House Tax Policy Committee: passed in the Senate, YEAS 36 NAYS 2, referred to House Tax Policy Committee.

* MDA position: SUPPORT.

Details: MDA strongly supports this bill, and urges MDA members and allies to contact their state representatives and urge a "Yes" vote on the bill. To identify your state representative, go to:

Bill Modifying Time Frame for B

* SB 621 (sponsored by Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City), Status: passed the Senate, now before the House Commerce and Trade Committee.

* HB 4871 (sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit), no action yet, also before the House Commerce and Trade Committee.

* MDA position: None yet.

Details: MDA has been asked if it has a position on legislation which modifies the period in which a business improvement zone may be authorized to operate. A similar bill, HB 4871 (sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Chang), addresses the same issue. The MDA Legislative & Advocacy Committee will review the issue before its next call (1/10/18), and prepare a recommended position on the bills for the MDA Board.

To review the text & available analyses for any of the bills listed in this report, go to: