Legislation recently introduced in the Michigan House aims to provide more flexibility for counties and local municipalities burdened by unfunded mandates created in state regulations.
The bill package includes House Bill 4753, introduced by state Rep. Lee Chatfield, and bills from Reps. Michael Webber and Laura Cox to provide counties and municipalities the option to disregard state requirements if the state does not include funding for the local units to carry out those mandates.
“This package of bills seek to reinforce our communities’ local control and decision making while protecting hard-working taxpayers,” said Rep. Chatfield, R-Levering. “Local units of government are strained enough already meeting the continually increasing costs of providing services for residents. This effort alleviates current and future burdens being placed upon them by the state without sufficient backup included.”
Additionally, the legislation allows counties and municipalities the option to bring legal action against the state in the Court of Appeals should the state require that mandates be carried out without appropriate funding.
“Our hard-working taxpayers deserve an accountable and efficient state government, and these measures will protect our local communities from financial hardship caused by state government,” said Rep. Webber, R-Rochester Hills, sponsor of House Bill 4754. “As a former city councilman, I understand the frustrations that come with unfunded mandates. These burdens often cause municipalities to reprioritize their spending in ways that may not be beneficial for their individual area.”
Rep. Cox, sponsor of HB 4755, also voiced her support for the legislation.
“Many pieces of legislation introduced can be binding on small municipalities, forcing them to make additional expenditures to carry out the duties required by those mandates,” said Rep. Cox, R-Livonia. “My bill will provide our communities the ability to appeal against unfunded measures unfairly imposed by the state government. This will give local government a stronger voice in maintaining their normal daily operations.”
As part of the package, local units of government can still be affected by binding legislation if a fiscal note is prepared and published, and if the state appropriates sufficient funding for the measure.
The bills have been assigned to the House Committee on Financial Liability Reform for review.