Providing analysis and insights for all things legislative impacting Michigan's townships
The June issue of Township Voice features:
Charitable fundraising allowed in roadway under bill
Township candidates could pay fee in lieu of filing petition
State's FY 2018 budget finalized
Bill provides more local options for elections
More flexibility for sewage grants under bill
Seeking member input for 2018 MTA legislative platform
Townships could set regulations and identify specific roadway intersections where firefighters and other representatives from qualified organizations stand to raise money—but could not bar it entirely—under the latest version of House Bill 4160.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron), passed the House previously and included a provision allowing local units to determine whether to allow such fundraising within their jurisdictions. However, Senate changes now allow townships and other local units to only restrict locations and regulate the fundraisers. Any existing ordinances or regulations to the contrary must be brought into compliance within 60 days of enactment. The substitute bill was passed by the Senate and will be concurred in by the House on July 12, when the House is next scheduled to meet.
Fire departments commonly hold such fundraisers, with firefighters standing in road intersections, collecting donations in firefighter boots. However, this practice was banned when an opinion by state Attorney General Bill Schuette prohibited a person in the improved portion of a roadway from soliciting contributions for a civic or charitable organization.
Under Schuette’s opinion, charitable solicitations fell under the state’s ban on standing in the roadway to solicit a ride, employment or business from the occupant of any vehicle. The state vehicle code also states that a person without authority cannot block or impede the normal flow of traffic. Anyone who violates this rule is responsible for a civil infraction.
HB 4160 exempts soliciting charitable contributions from this ban as long as the activity takes place during daylight hours, and the organization meets local regulations and maintains at least $500,000 in liability insurance. The person in the street must also be at least 18 years old and wear high-visibility safety gear. The fundraiser could not take place in a work zone and must be within an intersection with traffic control devices. Additionally, local units of government are not liable for any damages that might result from fundraisers taking place in the street.
MTA negotiated an amendment in the Senate to limit the fundraising ability to only specific charitable, civic and veterans’ organizations. As defined, a charitable or civic organization is a qualified 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization or a veterans organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code. This amendment was sought to limit groups that may be considered nonprofit but do not provide charitable or civic work.
When enacted, the bill will take effective immediately. MTA worked to provide a 60-day period for local governments to amend any existing ordinance that prohibits such activity in their community and bring regulations into compliance with state law.
MTA will update members when the bill is enacted and the deadline for bringing ordinances into compliance.
Candidates for township office could pay a filing fee instead of collecting nominating petition signatures under a package of bills introduced in the House.
House Bill 4747, sponsored by Rep. Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Twp.), and HB 4748, sponsored by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland), are part of a six-bill package amending filing fee requirements. Most of the bills increase the current filing fees for candidates for a variety of public offices where a filing fee is currently permitted. However, township offices are among the only elected offices for which candidates must file a nominating petition with signatures.
HBs 4747-4748 would establish a $150 fee that candidates for township supervisor, treasurer, clerk and trustee could pay instead of obtaining signatures and filing a petition. All money from candidate fees would have to be deposited into the township’s general fund. Other bills in the package amend filing fees for specific state and county offices and require filing fees to be nonrefundable.
MTA is supportive of allowing this option, as the change is consistent with language in MTA’s Policy Platform, approved by members at the 2017 MTA Annual Meeting.
The bills may be considered this fall by the House Elections and Ethics Committee.
The $56.5 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 state budget received final legislative approval with additional dollars for several grants and programs impacting townships, as well as continued funding for City, Village and Township (CVT) Revenue Sharing.
Both chambers of the Legislature finalized the spending plan before sending it to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature. Though the $10.05 billion General Fund is about 0.5 percent smaller than in FY 2017, the overall budget includes an inflationary increase.
Townships that currently receive CVT Revenue Sharing can expect their funding to continue at the level they received in FY 2017, with an additional one-time supplemental appropriation of $6.2 million. The one-time budget line will be distributed on a per-capita basis to those same townships. While Gov. Snyder has recommended an increase in constitutional revenue sharing, final numbers depend on actual sales tax collections.
Other highlights of the budget include the following:
Once signed by the governor, the budget provisions will be effective on Oct. 1, 2017.
Township clerks could seek help with their election duties from another local or county clerk under a bill recently introduced in the House.
MTA is reviewing House Bill 4671, sponsored by Rep. Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills), which may be considered this fall by the House Elections and Ethics Committee.
The legislation would provide townships and cities multiple options for establishing agreements with other local governmental units to perform election duties:
Townships could choose to use the options outlined in the bill, but would not be required to do so. All would require a written agreement, and all must be approved by a resolution of the governing body of each participating county, city or township. If enacted, each option would be begin Jan. 1, 2018.
In 2013, the House passed similar legislation in HB 4878, sponsored by now-former Rep. Brad Jacobsen. While MTA initially opposed the bill, we worked with Rep. Jacobsen and other local government associations to craft changes that would eliminate mandatory provisions and any threats to locally run elections, and took a neutral position. That bill passed the House but was never taken up by the Senate.
MTA will continue to update members on this legislation.
Certain townships could be eligible for more sewer and stormwater treatment grant money under a bill strongly supported by MTA.
Senate Bill 402, sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Twp.), was introduced to give the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) more flexibility to provide such grants to municipalities. It was recently passed by the Senate and awaits consideration by the House.
Sen. Pavlov introduced SB 402 in response to a situation in Worth Township (Sanilac Co.), where the DEQ discovered that residential septic systems were leaking sewage into Lake Huron. The DEQ required the township to address the contamination by installing a sewer system, and SB 402 could provide additional funds to assist the township with the $33 million project.
While the DEQ already has sewage project grants available, municipalities are only eligible for up to $2 million. Currently, the funding can be used for five purposes:
SB 402 would allow municipalities to receive $2 million to pay for the first four items, plus an additional $2 million to pay for projects addressing public health risks. This change would help provide townships with the grant funding they need to complete critical sewage projects. MTA will continue to advocate on behalf of this bill and update members on its progress.
MTA members play an important role in shaping the Association’s legislative policy—both by voting on the MTA Legislative Policy Platform at the MTA Annual Meeting each year and also by offering suggestions and input for consideration by MTA legislative policy committees.
MTA is seeking your input for the 2018 Policy Platform.
The deadline for submissions for consideration for MTA’s 2018 Legislative Policy Platform by the MTA Legislative Policy and Resolutions Committee is Nov. 27. The policy platform will be presented for approval by the membership at the 2018 MTA Annual Meeting, which will be held Thursday, April 26, in conjunction with the 65th Annual MTA Educational Conference & Expo in Traverse City.
Under the rules adopted by MTA’s Board of Directors, proposed policies must be submitted to MTA 150 days prior to the Annual Meeting—by Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. Proposed policies are reviewed by the committee for word selection and legality, and to ensure they conform with the Association’s overall goals and objectives. The proposed policies will be printed in Township Focus magazine and will also be available at Conference.
Amendments at the Annual Meeting are permitted, provided the purpose and substance of the original resolution remain unaltered.
Proposed policies may also be submitted from the floor at the Conference if they are first submitted to MTA Conference Headquarters by noon on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, the day before the Annual Meeting.
For additional information, contact the MTA Government Relations Department at (517) 321-6467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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