There’s an old adage about watching law and sausage being made. “You never want to watch law or sausage being made. If you have to pick one, pick sausage.” More often than not, what you begin with is very different than the end results.
Earlier this year, Speaker of the House Jase Bolger began an effort to examine all taxing authorities centered on tax increment financing or TIF. There were anecdotal stories of local authorities using TIF funds for various things. In fact, Brownstown Township, uses their TIF funds to fund their entire township fire and police operations.
Several meetings were held with authors of the original laws when they were enacted in the 1970s and 1980s. Those meetings considered the original intent of the TIF issue as well as more recently enacted laws.
As a result of the meetings, a 90+ page bill, House Bill 5856, was drafted to substantially reform TIF through additional transparency and reporting requirements, limit the spending abilities of authorities, and control the TIF authorities’ ability to capture revenue. The intent was to take a bold step and create a new TIF act which would incorporate all the various TIF laws under one master statute and repeal some outdated and unused TIF authorities.
After the summer recess, the Legislature returned in September for four weeks of scheduled session. Upon release of the draft bill, numerous groups lined up both in support and opposition to the bill. Rep. Eileen Kowall, the sponsor of the bill, indicated that the bill was a work in progress and that more changes should be expected.
After numerous stakeholders, including MHPN, shared their views with Rep. Kowall, the proposed bill was dramatically scaled back to about 30 pages and only impacted downtown development authorities (DDAs). The new bill retained several transparency requirements from the original draft as well as allowing some local units of government to opt out of the TIF provisions.
MHPN has offered several amendments which address the impact of blight. Rather than focus on demolition, MHPN has suggested that mitigation of the blight be accomplished through rehabilitation. Our amendments have been adopted.
In addition, House Commerce Committee Chair Frank Foster has indicated that he will support incorporating Senate Bills 21 & 22 into HB 5856. Recall that Senate Bills 21 & 22 protect historic properties in Downtown Development Authority districts from improper demolition and codify the State Historic Preservation Office.
All of this is likely to change as HB 5856 will continue to undergo revisions and amendments. What will not change is that MHPN will monitor the legislation, advocate for historic preservation, and be the recognized voice for historic preservation in Michigan. We will continue to update you on changes to the legislation.
As the old saying goes, “You never want to watch law or sausage being made. If you have to pick one, pick sausage.”
Please remember to vote on November 4th and support candidates who care about bringing new life to Michigan’s historic neighborhoods.… It’s about main street remaining a good place to shop … It’s about historic farmsteads and lighthouses, factories and churches being vital parts of Michigan’s landscape … It’s about choosing how your community grows and changes … Most of all, it’s about you getting involved.
Please contact us if you have any questions or if we can be of service!
The Frederick Group
216 N. Chestnut (yes, it’s a historic building!)
Lansing, MI 48933
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