Legislation introduced to reform Historic Districts Act; supports property rights, local control

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan property owners would have more influence in the formation and administration of the state’s historic districts under legislation introduced in the Legislature on Tuesday to modernize Michigan’s Historic Districts Act. Currently, new historic districts are determined by commissions at the state level with little input from communities, which may negatively impact property owners.

“Our bill to modernize a law written 45 years ago strikes the right balance between protecting private property owners’ rights and historic preservation,” said Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township. “This will help many communities maintain their historic identity while ensuring private property owners have a greater voice.”

House Bill 5232 and Senate Bill 720, sponsored by Afendoulis and Sen. Peter MacGregor, respectively, would revise the Historic Districts Act to allow more local input by:

  • Requiring new districts to receive the support of at least two-thirds of property owners within a proposed district;
  • Expanding local review of proposed projects; and
  • Allowing property owners to appeal to city councils or township boards about historic districts.

Written in 1970, current law leaves historic district creation in the hands of “Study Commissions” that are composed solely of preservation activists. As a result, private property rights are not considered. Additionally, exact boundaries of a proposed historic district can be changed without notice to or input from affected property owners through decisions made in Lansing, not local communities.

“It is important that historic districts have the support of our communities before they are enacted,” Sen. Peter MacGregor,R-Rockford. “This common sense legislation, therefore, ensures private property owners and construction experts are represented when considering the state’s historic districts.”

The legislators said modernizing the Historic Districts Act will allow local communities to decide whether they want to embrace new high-tech construction materials and new technology like energy-efficient windows.

“Modern construction practices and cutting-edge building materials and windows now allow private property owners to improve and reinvest in ways that are cost effective and environmentally sound while maintaining historical integrity and consistency,” said Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance. “This legislation provides much needed updates allowing for flexibility at the local level and has the potential to incentivize – as opposed to discourage – reinvestment, improvements and upgrades to aging properties.”

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Sen. MacGregor reacts to State of the State address

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, issued the following statement Wednesday following Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2016 State of the State address:

“I was honored to attend the governor’s State of the State address and hear about his priorities for the year. A major part of his speech was devoted to the city of Flint’s water crisis, and I agree that we should do what we can to help the city’s residents who have been affected by this horrible situation, as well as address the many infrastructure challenges facing not only that city, but our state.

“Last year I commented after the governor’s State of the State address on the need to be proactive in addressing problems in the effort to make state government more effective and efficient. Last night, in addressing the ongoing water crisis in Flint, the governor spoke of the need to fix problems within state government and to make it more accountable. I could not agree more. By doing so we can help mitigate future bureaucratic breakdowns and improve both the quality and delivery of services.

“The economy remains a top priority as well, and while our state has made great strides over the past five years to improve our economic situation, I believe there is still more work to be done. Part of that is ensuring a quality education that prepares all students for the next level, whether it be higher education, skilled trades or the workforce. I appreciate the governor’s continued efforts to improve educational opportunities for all.

“I look forward to working with my legislative colleagues and the governor over the coming year to keep moving Michigan forward.”

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Governor signs MacGregor data center legislation

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by State Sen. Peter MacGregor to help create jobs and increase business investment in the state by providing sales tax and use tax exemptions for data centers was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday.

“In our increasingly interconnected world, the storage and security of digital data is critically important,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “With these new laws, Michigan will play a vital role in this growing industry, which will help our economy, create jobs and retain and attract talented professionals to our state.”

Senate Bills 616 and 617, now Public Acts 251 and 252 of 2015, were key to finalizing a plan by Switch, a Nevada-based company, to build a two-million-square-foot Kent County data center — called Supernap Michigan. Existing data centers and those looking to locate in Michigan are eligible for the exemptions as well.

The laws go in to effect immediately.

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MacGregor: Passage of legislation key to new Kent County data center, would benefit all of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor said legislation approved by the Legislature on Tuesday would help create jobs and increase business investment in the state.

Senate Bills 616 and 617 would establish sales tax and use tax exemptions for the data center industry, which is key to finalizing a plan by Switch, a Nevada-based company, to build a two-million-square-foot data center — called Supernap Michigan — that would become the largest data center in the eastern United States. The legislation would apply to all existing data centers and those looking to locate in Michigan.

“This is great news for our state and for west Michiganders who may soon have new jobs thanks to Switch’s investment,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “With the passage of this important legislation, all data centers, like this one, will be able to operate in Michigan on a level playing field similar to our neighboring Great Lakes states, making our state even more competitive and attractive in a modern 21st century economy.

“By enacting these bills, residents with degrees in computer science, engineering and related areas of study will have more opportunities to stay and work in Michigan and earn highly competitive salaries in a growing industry. Not only would this help Michigan’s economy by retaining the talent it helps produce, but it would also help attract highly educated and talented professionals who might otherwise not consider our state.”

The legislation now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for consideration.

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Sen. MacGregor welcomes state champion Rockford Rams boys cross country team to Capitol

LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Peter MacGregor welcomed the 2015 Michigan High School Athletic Association Boys Cross Country state champion team from Rockford High School to the Senate on Wednesday, and he presented the team with a special tribute.

The running Rams defeated Division I opponent Northville Nov. 7 at Michigan International Speedway to earn their second-consecutive state title. The team secured its win with key individual performances by Isaac Harding, who took first place, and by Cole Johnson, who finished in third place. MacGregor’s son, Matt, is also a member of the team and was on hand for the presentation, which the senator said made the event even more special.

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Editor’s Note: A print-quality version of this photo is available by clicking the image or by visiting SenatorPeterMacGregor.com and clicking the Photowire link within the Media Center tab. A photo of the tribute is available by clicking this link. Video of the presentation is available here.

Free unemployed worker seminar to be held in Plainfield Township

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor on Tuesday encouraged residents of the 28th Senate District who are unemployed to consider attending an upcoming free seminar being put on by the state Unemployment Insurance Agency in Plainfield Township.

“This is a great opportunity for area residents who are unemployed to learn about the Unemployment Insurance Agency and get the help that they might need,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford.

According to the agency, the Unemployed Worker Seminar is designed to provide unemployed workers the opportunity to learn about the unemployment insurance system, including the following topics:

  • New Claims
  • Certifying/Worksearch/Registration
  • (Re)Determinations — What does it mean?
  • Overpayments/Restitution
  • Appeals
  • General Information (Holiday Pay, Eligibility and more)

The free event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. – noon at the Plainfield Twp. Hall, located at 6161 Belmont Ave., in Belmont.

Interested residents should register online at Michigan.gov/UIA.

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MacGregor applauds Rockford-based Byrne Electrical Specialists for expansion, new jobs

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — As many as 75 full-time west Michigan jobs are set to be created next year thanks to an expansion project announced Wednesday by Byrne Electrical Specialists, said state Sen. Peter MacGregor.

“I would like to congratulate Rockford-based Byrne Electrical Specialists on the company’s announcement today that it plans to expand its operations and create more well-paying jobs here in west Michigan,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “We are fortunate to have companies like Byrne that continue to invest and contribute to our communities and strengthen west Michigan’s leading manufacturing base.”

The company, which has been in Rockford since 1971 and is currently in the midst of a $1.5 million, 15,000-square-foot expansion at its headquarters, said on Wednesday it would build a new manufacturing facility and collaborative workspace in Montcalm County.

The company is investing a total of $750,000 for the new 15,000 square foot location, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation awarded the company a $160,000 performance-based grant tied to job creation and training. Byrne projects an additional 50-75 new full-time jobs in 2016 thanks to the expansion projects.

Byrne is a power and data-solutions manufacturer and supplier for numerous industries, including contract furniture, hospitality, educational and healthcare environments. It currently serves more than 100 regional customers.

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MacGregor bill would add Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund tax checkoff

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan taxpayers would be able to donate a portion of their tax return to the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund next year under legislation introduced by Sen. Peter MacGregor on Tuesday.

“The Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund was created to serve some of Michigan’s most vulnerable,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “This bill would provide the scholarship trust fund with another source of much-needed revenue so more foster youth can attend college. It would also make it easier for residents to show their support by donating a portion of their tax return with a simple checkbox.”

Senate Bill 543 would add the fund to the Michigan Voluntary Contributions Schedule, which allows up to 10 organizations to be listed on tax forms. The Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund would become the tenth.

The fund provides eligible foster youth with scholarships to assist with tuition, room and board and other costs associated with enrollment. Scholarships are available for students enrolled in Michigan degree-granting colleges and universities.

There are approximately 13,000 children in the Michigan foster care system at any given time. Seventy percent of the teens who emancipate from foster care report that they want to attend college, but fewer than 10 percent who graduate from high school ever enroll in college. A growing number of Michigan youth are reaching adult age while in foster care and have no resources to attend college when they age out of the system.

The requirements for an organization to be considered for the voluntary contributions schedule include:

  • Capability of raising at least $50,000;
  • Serves multiple regions throughout the state;
  • Spends at least 30 percent of its budget on administration and fund raising;
  • Previously included on the list within the past three years and was removed due to lack of contributions;
  • Receives state funding or financial assistance; and
  • Is associated with a nonprofit.

The fund would remain on the voluntary contributions schedule until its designation expires or if it does not receive at least $50,000 in donations for two consecutive years.

A companion measure, SB 544, sponsored by Sen. Marty Knollenberg, would provide the technical language to direct the state Department of Treasury to issue donations to the fund.

SBs 543 and 544 have been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

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Senate adopts MacGregor resolution establishing Michigan Hunger Solutions Day

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. – The state Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution declaring Oct. 21, 2015 as Michigan Hunger Solutions Day.

“Too many Michiganders struggle with hunger, and one-fifth of children in our state do not receive healthy, nutritious food consistently,” said sponsor Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Michigan Hunger Solutions Day brings attention to these glaring statistics and recognizes efforts in all 83 counties to decrease instances of hunger and promote abundant, healthy food options for individuals, families and communities throughout Michigan.”

Senate Resolution 97 highlights the Food Bank Council of Michigan for its mission to create a food-secure state through advocacy, resource management, and collaboration through Michigan’s unified food bank network.

The network of food banks distributes food and resources to food pantries, after-school programs and senior centers. It also organizes surplus donations from Michigan farmers to help make fresh, nutritious produce more readily available in the emergency food system. In addition, the council coordinates the Michigan Harvest Gathering food and fund drive, which has secured more than 54 million meals since 1991.

“It is terrible that in 2015 Michiganders are fighting hunger on a daily basis,” said MacGregor. “We should all be committed to ending this problem and work to increase access to nutritious food through the many great programs and food distribution services available in our state.”

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MacGregor to chair new Senate Oversight Committee

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof on Thursday appointed Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, chairman of the Senate’s newly formed Oversight Committee.

“I have the highest regard for Senator MacGregor as a legislator and a colleague,” said Meekhof, R-West Olive. “I am confident he will use this new chairmanship as an opportunity to ensure accountability for our taxpayers.”

The Oversight Committee was formed Thursday upon the adoption of Senate Resolution 91. Meekhof said the committee will initially be charged with investigating Planned Parenthood’s Michigan operation.

“I thank Majority Leader Meekhof for entrusting me with chairing the Senate Oversight Committee,” MacGregor said. “I take this charge very seriously and will do my best as chairman to fulfill the committee’s obligations as we strive to make state government more open, transparent and accountable to the residents of Michigan.”

In addition to MacGregor, members of the committee include Majority Vice Chair Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake; Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton; Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland; and Minority Vice Chair Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield.

The committee’s meeting location and time will be determined at a later date.

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