McCall Hamilton Advocacy and Public Affairs

Updates About Infrastructure

Line 5 Pipeline Order Approved by MPSC

Update: Nov 22-Dec 15, 2023

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has green-lit Enbridge’s proposal to replace the Line 5 pipeline section under the Straits of Mackinac with a tunnel. Despite strong opposition during the public comment phase, the majority of commissioners voted in favor, eliciting protests and criticism from dissenters.

While MPSC engineers admitted that suggested alternatives might have more significant environmental impacts on the Great Lakes, the approved plan comes with stringent conditions, including maintaining the replacement segment’s route, prohibiting third-party utilities in the tunnel, and mandating risk management plans. Chair Dan Scripps believes the move is a step toward eliminating the current pipeline’s threat to the Great Lakes, but vocal disagreement and calls to “shut it down” from attendees marked the decision. Commissioner Alessandra Carreon abstained, citing her recent appointment and limited exposure to testimony.

Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference Highlights

Update: May 22-Jun 2, 2023

Governor Announces ‘Make it in Michigan’ Economic Strategy Governor Whitmer and Michigan leaders announced “Make it in Michigan,” an economic strategy to drive projects, invest in people from pre-K to postsecondary education, and revitalize communities across the state. With over $16 billion of projects and 16,000 jobs secured in the past 18 months, the goal of “Make it in Michigan” focuses on projects, people, and places, aiming to make Michigan a top state for talent, competitive in key sectors, an innovation hub, and a state with attractive communities. The state plans to bring manufacturing jobs, advanced facilities, and supply chains home, utilizing tools such as the Make it in Michigan Transformational Brownfields and Competitiveness Fund.

Further initiatives will be revealed in the upcoming weeks to boost research and development, lower business costs, and support transformational projects while investing in childcare, housing, infrastructure, and workforce programs.

Governor Establishes ‘Growing Michigan Together Council’ Established by Executive Order 2023-04, Governor Whitmer launched the Growing Michigan Together Council. The council, led by bipartisan co-chairs Ambassador John Rakolta Jr. and Shirley Stancato, will focus on key areas such as talent attraction and retention, educational improvements, modernizing infrastructure, and sustaining Michigan’s economic momentum.

In her announcement, Whitmer stated she is looking for ways to reverse the trend of Michiganders seeking opportunities elsewhere by lowering costs, attracting high-paying jobs, investing in education from preschool to post-secondary, protecting natural resources, and expanding fundamental rights.

The Growing Michigan Together Council will consist of 28 members, including representatives from the private sector, labor, workforce development, talent, infrastructure, non-profit or philanthropy sectors, and education. The council will propose initiatives to improve educational outcomes, secure funding for higher education, develop sustainable transportation and water infrastructure funding solutions, and establish a population goal for 2050.

Whitmer Hires ‘First-Ever’ Chief Growth Officer Hilary Doe has been appointed as Michigan’s chief growth officer, a first-of-its-kind position in the US. Doe will work with the Growing Michigan Together Council to boost population growth and economic development.

Doe, a Detroit resident, brings experience most recently from Nationbuilder, where she has been for the past decade. She is also a member of the Voters Not Politicians Board and sits on the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Detroit Mayor Duggan Proposes Land Tax Reform Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan unveiled a new Detroit tax reform plan at the conference this year. The proposal involves tripling land taxes while cutting building taxes by 30 percent. The goal is to create a more balanced tax structure and encourage equitable growth in the city. Duggan presented the plan to business leaders and lawmakers, with House Speaker Joe Tate being tapped to lead the legislative charge.

The tax reform plan would reduce property taxes collected across Detroit from 86 mills to 60 mills, eliminating the Detroit operating tax and state school levy. The increase in land taxes, from 86 mills to 246 mills, aims to offset the revenue loss from buildings and improvements. The mayor emphasized the need for a phased implementation to allow residents time to adjust to the changes.

The plan also addresses side lots, vacant lots, scrap yards, warehouses, and new developments, aiming to incentivize efficient use of space and spur affordable housing. A coalition of organizations, including Invest Detroit and the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance, expressed support for the tax overhaul, highlighting its potential for equitable growth and relief for small businesses.

Senate Passes Motor, Gas Tax Suspension Bills

Update: May 23-Jun 10, 2022

On May 26, the Michigan State Senate passed a four-bill package, spearheaded by Republicans, to suspend the gas tax and 6 percent sales tax on motor fuel from June 15, 2022, until September 15, 2022.

Under the bill that would suspend the state’s gasoline tax, a substitute was adopted that would offset the revenue losses from this tax cut for local governments, providing a $300 million appropriation from the General Fund.

Senate Bills 972, 973, and 974, passed the chamber with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 36-1. The gasoline tax bill, which provided the $300 million appropriation, passed 30-7.

Previously, Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a piece of gas tax suspension legislation, but with respect to this new package of bills, Whitmer was “encouraged” and her spokespeople have indicated the administration is working with the legislature to find common ground on the issue.