MLA Advocacy - November 25, 2015

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Tax Capture Bills Introduced in Senate Finance Committee

Senator Jack Brandenburg (R-Harrison Twp.) has introduced seven bills that would eliminate most automatic tax captures (Downtown Development Authorities DDA, Tax Increment Financing TIF) for libraries including those pre 1994 as long as there is no bond attached to the entity. MLA and GSCI worked with the senator’s office explaining that libraries are asking for transparency and accountability on the part of tax captures. Passage of the bills would mean the tax capture would reach out and build a relationship with the library, explain their projects and then let the library board make an informed decision if allocating a portion of their funding to the tax capture is beneficial for all parties including library patrons. It would no longer allow automatic tax capture from pre 1994 TIFAs. The library board has an obligation to be able to tell their voters why their tax dollars are not directly funding the library. The bills are currently in Senate Finance Committee. As soon as they are passed out of committee and onto the Senate floor, MLA will contact libraries with information on how and when to contact legislators. For right now, we are waiting for a hearing which is expected for next week.

Click on the following links to view the bills: SB 0579 of 2015, SB 0619 of 2015, SB 0620 of 2015, SB 0621 of 2015, SB 0622 of 2015, SB0623 of 2015, SB 0624 of 2015

Funding for Michigan Roads, Finally

The legislature passed a package to fund Michigan’s roads and bridges and Governor Snyder signed the bills into law. A complicated and, to some, questionable answer to this long standing problem relies on a number of fixes. One immediate concern is the $600 million of revenue that will come out of the general fund. This is where state aid to libraries originates. The redirection of revenue that would otherwise go to the state general fund begins with a $150 million commitment during the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Attached is an extensive explanation of the bill package from MLA’s lobbyists GCSI.  The 2016 budget process begins soon and while we may not see direct impact from the roads package we remain cautiously optimist for good funding results.

Dark Stores

The saga of the dark stores continues. MLA is engaged with a group of stakeholders working to find a solution to the tax tribunal's practice of lowering assessments for big box stores and utilities across the state. As the Michigan Tax Tribunal continues to reduce tax obligations allowing thriving big box stores to be taxed at the same rate as closed-down, abandoned stores, some libraries have been forced to pay back thousands of dollars in tax revenue. This is causing extensive hardship for a number of libraries. MLA is supporting legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba). Senate Bill 524 addresses the highest and best use of a property for taxable purposes. A second bill, HB 4909 sponsored by Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette) addresses the negative use restrictions that prevent the leasing of the property to another retailer. MLA also supports this bill.

Penal Fines

As reported in MLA Weekly: Advocacy last month, HB 4651 and 4905 are another attempt to siphon penal fines allocated for library funding. The legislation would increase penalties for unendorsed motorcycle riders from $100 to $500 but would earmark 25% of the total fine to the Motorcycle Safety Fund. Currently the penalties are treated as all other penal fines. The struggle to maintain penal fines for library funding as earmarked in the Michigan constitution is being met with the opportunity for a possible increase in that funding if libraries are willing to share those fines. Numerous attempts in the past to enhance library funding through changes in the way penal fines are handled have resulted in reductions rather than the promised increases. Determining whether or not funding would actually increase is difficult. In part this is due to the nearly impossible task of separating how much penal fine funding comes from each source, since libraries receive this funding based in part on a number of activities within each county. MLA continues to oppose the bills.

Do you have an opinion on this or maybe a solution? Kindly share your thoughts gmadziar@milibraries.org. Would you support legislation that shares library penal fines if it meant your library received an increase in penal fine funding?

 

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