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Re: SG-W:/ MEC Land Stewardship Initiative News


We had a brief exchange about this ballot proposal earlier this year.  This
is definitely a tough one on which to come up with a firm position.  Mike
Garfield of the Ecology Center had a pretty good analysis of the pros and
cons in the earlier discussion and I'm copying his posting here.

Jeff Surfus
If the MML proposal makes it onto the ballot, environmentalists and land
use activists will need to think hard about its pros and cons.  It's not an
open-and-shut case.

The proposal was initiated by Dennis Archer after the legislature passed a
bill that prohibits cities from requiring that their employees live within
city boundaries.  These kinds of laws are common, especially in large urban
areas.  Archer was horrified that some Detroit employees might move to the
suburbs in a year when city officials are trying to make sure every single
resident is counted in the census, so the city doesn't dip below the
one-million population figure.  If it did, the city would lose out on an
enormous amount of revenue sharing funds.

The city employee bill was enacted at virtually the same time as the
"right-to-farm" bill mentioned by Tina.  The latter bill was fought
vigorously by state environmentalists because it appeared to protect the
interest of large animal feeding operations (like the huge "hog hotels" in
North Carolina which have caused awful water quality problems) than small
family farms.  The MML proposal would presumably apply to this sort of bill

I would argue that, in most cases, state government only steps into local
issues when influential business interests are being challenged.  In recent
years, the Michigan Legislature passed a law which preempted local
pesticide ordinances (which invalidated about eight such ordinances) and
another law which preempted local wetlands ordinances (which invalidated or
changed about 20 such ordinances).  I suspect that the MML proposal would
protect innovative and progressive local ordinances like these.  The
problem, of course, is that many local governments are unfriendly to
environmentalists, and that regional land use planning would be a smarter
approach than our current, highly fractured, township-by-township process.
So I guess you have to roll the dice on this proposal, and try to answer
the question:  Who is more likely over the long haul to be a more forceful
agent of positive environmental change:  Michigan's 1800 local units of
government or the state legislature and governor?  I think I'd stand a
better chance of winning big at one of Dennis Archer's new casinos than
answering that question correctly.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Kristen A. Gibbs" <kgibbs@umich.edu>
To: "Jeff Surfus" <jeffsurfus@msn.com>
Cc: "smartgrowth-washtenaw" <smartgrowth-washtenaw@great-lakes.net>
Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2000 4:52 PM
Subject: Re: SG-W:/ MEC Land Stewardship Initiative News

> On Thu, 31 Aug 2000, Jeff Surfus wrote:
> >       The Bureau of Elections has certified language for Proposition
00-2, a
> > proposed constitutional amendment which will appear on the November
> > The proposal would require a super majority vote (2/3 vote) of the
> > legislature to enact certain laws affecting local governments.  The
> > would:
> >         1. Require a super majority to enact any law which addresses a
> > matter which a county, city, township, village or municipal authority
> > otherwise address under its governing powers or which places a condition
> > unrestricted aid extended to local governments by the state,
> >         2. Retroactively apply the super majority requirement to any
> > law enacted after March 1, 200, and
> >         3. Exempt from the super majority requirement any law that can
> > applied at the option of local governments.
> How do people stand on this issue? This is the first I've heard of it, and
> I can see arguments as far as sustainable development go for and against
> the proposal.
> Superceding local control could be good, in that regional gov'ts
> (i.e. SEMCOG) could have more say in growth that affects the region
> without having to go to the courts with local municipalities (so much).
> That way, we could have a county plan that smaller townships would have to
> adhere to - so that Washtenaw Co. could have a plan that called for Ag in
> Pittsfield Twsp, and then (for instance) Newmarket wouldn't fly. Likewise,
> environmental regulations across the state would be hard to enact if we
> _didn't_ take away local control - because there would be one county with
> stricter rules than another that would have to put up with the lessor
> county's pollution. The whole idea of not letting the State of Michigan
> make any law that a county, city, or township _could_ make seems bad to
> me.
> On the other hand, there is a big gap for state exploitation over local
> protests. For example, local control wouldn't (doesn't?) exist for factory
> farms, development of power plants and other state-related utilities, etc.
> Cities don't want rules put on the money they receive, and to some degree
> I can relate to that - the state doesn't know what best, always, so why
> should they have a say on (previously free) money?
> What do you all think? Are there more areas that I haven't mentioned here?
> -KG

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