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2018 Legislative Update

As 2019 commences, there are a number of statutes that will begin to take effect (and that have already taken effect) as a result of legislation passed during Michigan’s 2018 lame duck legislative session.  The following is a brief summary of legislation passed during 2018 that may affect a number of our clients, as well as a number of House and Senate bills we were tracking that failed to become enacted.

Enacted Legislation

Public Act 631 – Wetlands Regulation

Effective March 29, 2019, Public Act 631 tightens the statutory definition of a wetland, which will have the effect of reducing the number of wetlands that are subject to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permits.  The current restrictions on local units of government regulation of wetlands remain in place; however, amending of the definition of “wetlands” will reduce the wetlands area that local units can regulate.

Public Act 506 – Commemoration of Service Members

Effective March 28, 2019, Public Act 506 amends the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to prohibit a zoning ordinance from regulating or barring a sign that is located on or within a building that commemorates certain emergency service members or United States military members who died, or are or were veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Public Act 513 – Adult Group Homes and Residential Facilities Zoning Regulations

Effective March 28, 2019, PA 513 amends Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to specify that a private residence with the capacity to receive at least one but not more than four adults who all received benefits from a community mental health services program would also be a residential use of property.

Public Acts 365 – Small Wireless Communication Facility Zoning Regulations

Effective March 29, 2019, PA 365 amends the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to provide that a zoning ordinance would be “subject to” the newly-created Small Wireless Communications Facilities Deployment Act (SB 637), which expressly exempts certain activities of wireless providers from local zoning oversight.

Public Act 485 – Open Meetings Act

Effective March 29, 2019, PA 485 amends the Open Meetings Act to require a public body that is holding a public meeting under the Act to establish certain enumerated procedures to accommodate the absence due to military duty of any member of that body. 

Public Act 61 – Compensation for Community Center Boards of Directors

Effective June 12, 2018, PA 61 amended PA 199 of 1929, which authorizes villages and townships that have a population that does not exceed 10,000 people to establish community centers for the benefit of the public and to levy taxes to maintain a community center or purchase property for it, to require the governing body of a village or township to determine the compensation of the community center's board of directors. The statute formerly specified that the directors must serve without compensation. PA 61 would delete this provision and require the governing body of the village or township to determine by resolution the compensation of the board of directors.

Public Act 84 – Ordinance Regulating Private Hiring Practices

Effective June 24, 2018, PA 84 amended the Local Government Labor Regulatory Limitation Act to prohibit a local governmental body from regulating the information an employer would have to request, require, or exclude during a job interview.  Michigan law already prohibited local governments from adopting or enforcing an ordinance that regulates the information a prospective employer must request, require, or exclude on an application for employment.

Public Act 90 – Electric Patrol Vehicles

Effective June 24, 2018, PA 90 amends the Electric Patrol Vehicle Act to allow a political subdivision to operate an electric patrol vehicle on a sidewalk within that political subdivision's boundaries.  The bill also removes the requirement that such a vehicle have four wheels and specifies revised equipment requirements for a vehicle with three or fewer wheels.

Public Act 97 – Road Commission Fee Limits

Effective July 1, 2018, PA 97 amended Public Act 283 of 1909 (the county road law) to set fee limits for projects within the right-of-way of a county road. The Act also requires either a security or right-of-way bond to secure the performance allowed in a permit authorizing the project in the right-of-way. Finally, the Act requires that a telecommunication or video service provider maintain general liability insurance of not less than $2.0 million for bodily injury and $2.0 million for property damage in connection with the provider’s use and occupancy of a right-of-way under the jurisdiction of a county road commission.

Public Act 105 – Freedom of Information Act

Effective April 5, 2018, PA 105 amended the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to clarify that a public body that maintains a law enforcement records management system on behalf of another public body (e.g., a police department) is not the holder of those stored records and for purposes of FOIA is not in possession of, retaining, or the custodian of those public records.

Public Act 139 – Golf Carts on State Highways

Effective August 8, 2018, PA 139 allows a local government to request that MDOT authorize it to adopt an ordinance allowing golf cart operation on state trunk line highways, other than interstate highways, located within the local unit of government. The request must demonstrate how it would meet specific requirements outlined by MDOT.

Public Act 327 – Motor Vehicle Storage Facilities and Towing Operations

Effective September 30, 2018, PA 327 prohibits a local government or law enforcement agency from operating a “motor vehicle storage facility,” or accepting financial consideration from a vendor that does so.  It also prohibits a local government or law enforcement agency from operating a “towing operation.”  However, the continued operation of existing storage facilities, towing operations, and vendor contracts is permitted.

Public Act 381 – Military Experience

Effective March 3, 2019, PA 381 amends Public Act 205 of 1897, which gives veterans a preference for public appointment or employment, to require the State or a political subdivision of the State to treat a veteran's military experience as relevant professional experience for the purpose of determining his or her wage or salary.

Public Act 419 – Joint Enforcement of Soil Erosion Program

Effective March 20, 2019, PA 419 allows two or more municipalities to provide for joint administration and enforcement of soil erosion and sedimentation regulation under Part 91 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act by entering into a written interlocal agreement pursuant to the Urban Cooperation Act of 1967.

Public Act 441 – Regulation of Electrician Apprenticeship Programs

Effective March 21, 2019, PA 441 amends the Skilled Trades Regulation Act to prohibit a municipality that regulates the licensing of electricians and other electrical contractors from adopting an ordinance to regulate participation in an apprenticeship or training program.

Public Act 484 – Police and Fire Special Assessments

Effective January 1, 2019, PA 484 amends Public Act 33 of 1951, which provides the means for townships and certain villages and cities to provide police and/or fire protection through a special assessment, to require the special assessment to be levied on all properties within the special assessment district except property exempt from the collection of taxes under the General Property Tax Act.

Public Act 523 – Freedom of Information Act

Effective March 28, 2019, PA 523 amends the Freedom of Information Act to (1) require a person who requested a public record to include the requesting person's name and contact information with the request and (2) require a requesting person, if required to submit a deposit for a public record request, to submit the deposit within 45 days or the request will be considered abandoned.

Public Act 533 – Agricultural Vehicles

Effective December 28, 2018, PA 533 amended the Michigan Vehicle Code to exempt agricultural vehicles from a local ordinance or resolution that prohibits trucks or commercial vehicles on designated highways or streets.

Public Act 585 – Affordable Housing

Effective March 28, 2019, PA 585 amends Public Act 226 of 1988 to specify that the prohibition of local governmental units from controlling the amount of rent charged for leasing private residential property would not prohibit local governments from implementing voluntary incentives to increase the supply of moderate- or low-cost private residential property available for lease.

Public Act 633 – Principal Residence Exemption

Effective December 28, 2019, PA 633 amends the General Property Tax Act to allow for the continuation of a Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) for an individual who has vacated the property due to damage or destruction and who meets criteria regarding an intent to return to the property.

Public Act 634-636 – Fireworks Regulation

Effective December 28, 2018, PA 634-636 amends the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act to modify when a local unit of government could not enact an ordinance to regulate the ignition, discharge, or use of consumer fireworks, and to allow a local unit of government that meets certain population thresholds to enact or enforce an ordinance that regulates the use of temporary structures used for the ignition or discharge of consumer fireworks.

Public Act 671 – Aquatic Invasive Species Grants

Effective March 28, 2019, PA 671 amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to create a grant program for the control and eradication of aquatic invasive plant species within Michigan inland lakes.  The grant program would be accessible to lake associations, nonprofit organizations, property owners associations, homeowners associations, lake boards, and special assessment districts.

Public Act 641 – Regulation of Industrial Hemp Research

Effective January 15, 2019, PA 641 amends the Industrial Hemp Research Act to prohibit a political subdivision of the State from adopting a rule, regulation, or ordinance to restrict or limit any requirements under the Act relating to industrial hemp.

Legislation that Failed to Pass or was Vetoed by Governor

Senate Bill 1210/House Bill 6530 – Mineral Extraction

SB 1210 and HB 6530 would have amended the current language of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to further restrict the control local units of government would have over regulating mining and mineral extraction.

Senate Bill 1188 – Vegetation Removal

SB 1188 would have prohibited a local unit of government from adopting, maintaining, or enforcing an ordinance, charter provision, or regulation that restricted, or required mitigation for, the trimming or removal of any vegetation other than a heritage tree, located on certain private property

Senate Bill 329/House Bill 4503 of 2017 – Short Term Rentals

SB 329 and HB 4503 (both of 2017) would have preempted local zoning regulations by defining short term rental properties as a permitted use in all residential zones and not a commercial use of property or subject to special use/conditional use permitting.

House Bill 4266 – Household Agriculture in Residential Zones

HB 4266 would have permitted the production of “farm products,” for consumption or transfer by residents, on property where a lawful residential structure exists.  This would have been a lawful use of property not subject to special or conditional use permits or procedures.  “Farm products” would have been defined as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, or reasonable numbers of poultry, livestock, or other farm animals.

House Bill 4456 - Repeal of Prohibition of Rent Control Ordinances

HB 4456 would have repealed MCL 123.411, which provides that local units of government may not enact regulations that would have the effect of controlling the amount of rent charged for leasing private residential property.

House Bill 4968 – Planning Commission Member Abstention

HB 4968 would have amended the Michigan Planning Enabling Act to require a planning commission member to abstain from voting on a matter in which the member has a direct financial interest and to allow alternate members to fill empty seats on the planning commission.

House Bill 6093 – Sale of Public Land

Would have amended the Home Rule City Act to require that a city may not sell 5 acres or more of land owned by the city unless the sale of that land is approved by a majority of the electors of the city voting on the question at a general or special election.

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