The Michigan legislature is on the verge of sending SB 636 to the governor that will take away the authority of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to oversee the discontinuance of basic landline telephone service and instead places that authority with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who has not been in the business of regulating Michigan telephone service. MAC, along with AARP, Law Enforcement, 911 Service providers and others oppose the bill for the following reasons:
  • The elimination of the requirement to provide basic landline service will inhibit the ability of many Michigan residents to call for emergency help.
  • Eliminating landline service and replacing it with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and cellular phone coverage is unreliable due to sketchy coverage, extended power outages and the inability of law enforcement to identify the exact location of the caller.
  • The bill calls for comparable and reliable service, but does not ensure comparable cost and will only require landline service if a consumer files a complaint with the MPSC. This places a significant burden on the consumer who likely does not know who the MPSC is nor how to file a complaint with them.
  • VOIP, the alternative to home phone landline service, requires a cable running to the house, but the build-out of this technology is not there yet, nor is there any guarantees that this will be completed prior to the discontinuance of landline service.
  • Cellular coverage may be available, but it is not reliable, cannot pinpoint location, and calls are often dropped at inopportune times.
  • There is nothing in the bill that would prohibit the providers from requiring a “bundled” service for access to a VOIP or cellular telephone line.
  • 911 service providers cannot access critical information about a call if it comes from a VOIP line or a cellular line.  Traditional land lines convey information about medical equipment, special needs children in the home, elderly in the home, and the like.
  • Michigan already has a statute that provides for a process for the landline provider to get out of providing the service, but the proponent of this legislation wants to avoid those requirements and skip Michigan’s oversight in favor of a further removed federal body.
Please contact your State Representative and ask them to put public safety first and vote no on SB 636. Landline Elimination Information Maps: SB 636 MPSC Slides

ACTION ALERT

Michigan County Commissioners 

Need to Take Action TODAY 

Federal PILT Funding in Jeopardy 

 Dear MAC Members, Below you will find information and 3 steps needed to take action on this critical issue.  The first action is to have all county commissioners sign on to a NACO letter of support for PILT funding.  The second action is to contact your Congressional House members and staff to urge them to fight for PILT funding.  The third action is being completed by MAC Executive Director Tim McGuire, who has personally called Sen. Stabenow to ask her to sign the letter; Sen. Levin has already signed on.  We need you to focus on steps 1 and 2; signing the letter and talking to House members. Please contact me with any questions you may have. Deena Bosworth MAC Director of Governmental Affairs 517-282-1647 bosworth@micounties.org

FY2014 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Payments in Jeopardy

 Urge Congress to Fund the PILT Program In the Final FY2014 Appropriations Measure

 Please join the National Association of Counties (NACo) in urging Congress to fund the PILT program! Congress has not yet acted to provide FY2014 funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program (administered through the U.S. Department of the Interior), which has caused much concern for counties that have already begun the budget process for next year. Without congressional action, counties will be forced to implement budget contingency plans-making cuts to critical local government services. Immediate Action Needed on PILT
1. NACo is sending a  letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders calling on them to fund PILT in FY2014. We need as many county officials, state associations of counties and other stakeholder groups to sign the letter as soon as possible!
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS TO YOUR NETWORKS!  Click here to view the letter and here to sign on.
2. Urge your House Members to contact House leaders and members of the House Appropriations Committee to request that PILT funding be included in the final FY2014 spending measure.
Click here to view a list and contact information for House Leaders and Members of the House Appropriations Committee. Staff contact information has been provided.
3. Urge your Senators to sign on to the PILT “Dear Colleague” letter sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY).
The deadline for Senators to sign on to the letter is this Friday, December 20. Click here to view the letter.
If your Senator would like to add their name to the letter, please have their congressional staff contact Darrin Munoz (Sen. Enzi) at Darrin_Munoz@enzi.senate.gov or Jeanette Lukens (Sen. Udall) at Jeanette_Lukens@tomudall.senate.gov. Background on PILT
The PILT program provides payments to counties and other local governments to offset losses in tax revenues due to the presence of tax-exempt federal land in their jurisdictions. Counties with federal land in their jurisdictions often provide vital services on those lands, such as solid waste management, search and rescue and emergency medical services. Any delay or reduction of PILT dollars will disrupt county operations. Counties nationwide request swift passage of legislation to extend mandatory PILT funding for FY2014 and beyond.
NACo Resources on PILT
  • To View NACo’s recently released presentation on PILT, click here 
  • To view NACo’s policy brief on PILT, click here
If you have any questions or comments, please contact NACo Associate Legislative Director Ryan Yates at ryates@naco.org or 202.942.4207
Today’s Detroit News featured an editorial regarding HB 4704, sponsored by Rep. Pettalia (R-Presque Isle County), suggesting that the “State Legislature should pass a bill that keeps budget disputes out of court”. MAC supports this common sense solution to budgeting by lawsuit, and we thank Rep. Pettalia for his work on this bill. From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131007/OPINION01/310070003#ixzz2h2qhiLBN.
In 2009, MAC partnered with the Michigan Energy Office (MEO), Michigan Townships Association (MTA) and the Michigan Municipal League (MML) to launch the Green Communities Challenge, which measured local government progress toward energy efficiency. In the ensuing years, the program has seen a number of significant changes, including a move to a web-based checklist format, the addition of new partner organizations and an expansion of topics covered beyond energy efficiency. After a series of successful statewide conferences and other educational events, which included participation from more than 130 local governments, the supporting organizations started to view the Challenge as one component of a broader program, the Michigan Green Communities network, designed to connect leaders from around the state and help them learn from one another. Until now, this network has been largely an informal and unofficial entity, held together by verbal agreements and the common vision of a number of individuals. Today Michigan Green Communities is supported by six statewide organizations that have signed a formal memorandum of understanding: MML, MEO, MTA, MAC, the Department of Environmental Quality and the MML Foundation. Those organizations have agreed to commit staff time and other resources to the program, which will be led by a steering committee of local government leaders. The MML Foundation has agreed to serve as the fiduciary for Michigan Green Communities. The Michigan Green Communities network continues to grow, so visit http://mml.org/green/ to get your community or organization involved and to keep up on the latest program updates. Thank you to all the communities and organizations that have supported this initiative from 2009 to today.