Advocacy Update

Forrest Wall March 2021Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Director of Regulatory & Legal Affairs, Home Builders Association of Michigan

Governor Whitmer Signs Additional Renter Assistance Legislation
On June 23rd, Governor Whitmer signed legislation appropriating over $2.2 billion in federal stimulus funding. Of that total, $378.3 million is directed for additional renter assistance via the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) Program. You may recall the CERA program was originally started in March with a $282 million appropriation of federal funds. That initial funding was exhausted in June, so the additional funding will allow the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to continue rent and utility assistance under CERA. The program assists rental households at or below 80% of area median income (AMI) who can show a COVID related financial hardship.

Legislation Would Restore Proper Code Promulgation In Michigan
An important piece of legislation for multifamily builders is receiving bipartisan support in the legislature. The legislation, introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives as House Bill 4648 and in the Michigan Senate as Senate Bill 363, would restore a long-standing practice of using advisory committees to develop Michigan’s construction codes. For more than four decades codes were thoughtfully reviewed by these broad-based committees which consisted of experts in each respective code. In 2018, however, the Department of Licensing and Regulation abandoned the use of committees in favor of a two-person review which operates with little transparency and limited public participation. HB 4648 is currently before the House Committee on Regulatory Reform, while SB 363 will be considered by the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development.

Supreme Court Delays Personal ID Rule
On June 30th, one day before the effective date, the Michigan Supreme Court issued orders delaying a new rule which would negatively impact tenant background screening services. The rule, originally drafted in May 2019, calls for the redacting of birth dates from court records in Michigan. Although the intent of the rule is to protect personal identification information, background screening companies have complained it will significantly delay or even stop background checks in Michigan by restricting date of birth information. The Supreme Court action delays the effective date of the rule until January 1, 2022 to allow more time to craft a solution to the problem.

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