The City of Howell is paying attention to a number of bills pending in the lame duck Michigan legislature.

During Monday night’s Council meeting, City Manager Shea Charles provided an update on a series of bills that he says got ramrodded through the Senate last week. The legislation was passed largely along party lines in the GOP-led chamber and will now be taken up by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Charles tells WHMI the lame duck process is always a bit of an adventurous time for local communities. Charles says a lot of bills that typically would not be acted upon surface, putting communities and other groups in reaction mode to several things. He says there is a series of bills moving through right now preempting local control in regard to vegetation ordinances. Charles said there are a lot of concerns about those bills and the continued erosion of local control. He encouraged Council members to reach out to local state representatives to express opposition to the bills as this is continued erosion of local control and it’s just not a good thing for communities.

The bills Charles referred to are SB 1188 through 1194 They are sponsored by Republican Senator Tom Casperson of Escanaba. His “Vegetation Removal Prevention Act" 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. It would apply for vegetation on agricultural, business, commercial or industrial property. Local governments could still have rules protecting "heritage" trees, which are at least a certain height and not diseased, dying or otherwise a safety threat. Municipalities could not prohibit or require pre-approval for the trimming, felling or removal of vegetation, except for heritage trees. They also could not impose fees or fines or require landowners to plant replacement trees. (JM)