On Feb. 5, the state Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony on S.B. 35-39, legislation that reintroduces proposed fines and other sanctions for blight violations issued by qualified municipalities.
The package’s primary proponent is Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit, and Gov. Rick Snyder called for action on the legislation in his State of the State address. Sen. Smith has been working with MCUL & Affiliates and other groups on modifications to the legislation, based on recognition that the legislation is designed to target “bad actors” and financial institutions are, by and large, not the cause of damage to neglected properties.
As the session progresses, this legislation will likely be part of an umbrella initiative on blight, which will include stronger regulation of the scrap metal industry to prevent the stripping of metal from residential property, procedures to identify abandoned property and expedite its foreclosure, and hopefully reforms to the foreclosure process itself.
“Michigan has gone through extremely tough times over the past several years, and issues related to blight must be addressed in comprehensive fashion,” MCUL & Affilaites CEO David Adams said. “This includes a necessary recognition that financial institutions need to be partners in this effort, and not just deeper pockets to target for fines.
It must also include a larger discussion about abandoned property, the length of the foreclosure process and resulting property damage, criminal activity and enforcement capacity for protecting vacated homes.” Adams said. “We applaud Senator Smith and his colleagues for their recognition of the broader issues involved, and the positive role that credit unions can and do play in this process.”