by Melissa DeSimone, MLSA Executive Director

There seems to be a theme in the Michigan Legislature this spring related to local control. Two different issues have brought bills to the House and/or Senate that would reduce local regulatory control. At first glance these issues seem only remotely related to lakes and streams but there is an important relationship between these issues and riparian living. MLSA members are keenly aware of the balance between conservation and enjoyment, we have a unique position to help our local governments to make decisions that are best for our communities and waterbodies. With the introduction of bills like the Senate Mining Bills and the House and Senate Short Term Rental Bills, there is less of an opportunity for our input.

Short Term Rental Bills in the House and Senate

Proponents of the Short Term Rental bill think that zoning powers should be supplanted with police powers. However, zoning is put in place in part to protect private property rights and property values (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say). Most rural townships do not have a police department to respond to complaints leaving community members in an undesirable situation. Opponents of the bill do not want to ban short term rentals, what they do want is for local governments to be able to regulate them. We have signed on with the Michigan Municipal League and others to oppose these bills in the House and Senate. You can read about the bills and where they stand below:
House Bill 4722 – passed the Commerce and Tourism Committee on 5/25, headed to the House
Senate Bill 446 – passed the Regulatory Reform Committee on 5/26, headed to the floor of the Senate
Coalition letter opposing the bills

Mining Bills in the Senate

Earlier this month, we also saw a number of bills come through the Senate regarding sand and gravel mining. This is not the first time we’ve seen bills like these but it was presented in a slightly different way. What remains the same is that the bills do not allow townships to make decisions about the operations that may be permitted among their communities and adjacent to their freshwater resources. These bills were introduced in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and was last discussed on 5/13.
Senate Bill 429
Senate Bill 430
Senate Bill 431
Coalition letter opposing the bills

We continue to watch these bills and others as they come through committees and onto the floor of the House and Senate. Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the legislation and reach out so your legislators know how you feel. As other important issues come up, we will keep you informed. Many of you already know about the Short Term Rental bills because we contacted you via email to let you know the critical role your Senator or Representative has in those decisions. We will continue to contact our members directly when their Reps. and Senators are directly related to the hearing of or voting on a bill we are concerned about. This newsletter will also continue to be a way for you to keep informed about the work of our state government.

Please let us know if there are issues important to your lake or stream community that we should be monitoring. If any of the bills we discussed here are of interest or concern to you, please let your Rep. and/or Senator know where you stand. The single most important thing we can do for our lakes and streams is to involve ourselves in the process and let our voices be heard. Elections are important but the decisions are made between those times and that’s when the work really begins, right now.

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