Officials are speaking out against a series of bills pending in the lame duck Michigan legislature that would pre-empt local government's ability to create or enforce their own municipality’s tree and vegetation ordinances.

SB 1188 and six other related bills, known as the “Vegetation Removal Prevention Act”, are sponsored by Republican Senator Tom Casperson of Escanaba. The legislation would restrict municipalities' ability to regulate the removal or trimming of trees on private property and prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances, or charters prohibiting or restricting the removal of trees or other vegetation.

Green Oak Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles recently spoke out against SB 1188, stating it is a bill that township officials object to. He says as written, the term “other vegetation” is all encompassing. St. Charles says based on his interpretation, the bill would prevent the township from enforcing their noxious weed ordinance by prohibiting the municipality from issuing tickets and warning notices, adding he believes it is “another attempt to strip powers from the local municipalities”.

Leaders in the City of Howell have also expressed concerns about the legislation. At a recent City Council meeting, City Manager Shea Charles referred to the measure as “continued erosion of local control” and encouraged council members to reach out to state representatives to express their opposition.

SB 1188 passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee and was posted to the House Local Government Committee where it was taken up on Tuesday. The bill did not have sufficient support to be reported from the committee; however the Michigan Association of Planning reports there is an attempt to discharge the bill from committee and take it directly to the House floor for consideration. (DK)