The state House Local Government Committee has so far had two hearings on Senate-passed legislation to increase penalties and sanctions on blight violators in Michigan’s major urban centers. Senate Bills 35-39, spearheaded by Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit, create a series of criminal and civil sanctions for blight violations that accumulate past a set threshold, but with the support of Sen. Smith, the Senate included an MCUL-driven exemption for financial institutions and CUSOs. Several municipalities, including the city of Jackson, now oppose the exemption, but the city of Detroit remains supportive, recognizing that financial institutions aren’t the “bad actors” the legislation is attempting to target.
The committee has not yet taken action on the legislation and may wait until the summer work period to address any necessary provisions or to reconfigure the legislation to proactively target specific types of offenders rather than take a blanket approach that necessitates carve-outs. MCUL continues to communicate with the chair and members of the committee with regard to support for keeping credit unions safe from the proposed new penalties and keeping the focus of the legislation on those it is intended to police.