Written by Andy Newton
Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:23
As Michigan's economy continues to struggle, state legislators agree that bringing new business and new jobs into the state is part of the formula for improvement. The Michigan Senate has recently introduced a bill that not only satisfies that criteria, but also aims to improve Michigan's ecological footprint. Originally introduced by Senator Jim Barcia (D) on February 4, 2010, Senate Bill 1114 would authorize additional tax breaks to recipients of certain brownfield tax breaks, if the building used "renewable" energy systems (like wind, solar, heat pumps, etc.) to meet certain energy efficient building standards (michiganvotes.org). These additional tax breaks would only apply to buildings that are in accordance with LEED specifications.
Senate Bill 1114 was introduced to amend the Brownfield redevelopment financing act, legislation enacted in 1996. The legislation from 1996 was initially introduced as a means to clean up Michigan's pollution with the potential to strengthen the economy through entrepreneurship. While the 2010 version only aims to amend the bill, it provides greater incentives to invest dollars into Michigan's economy by replacing brownfields with new businesses that provide new jobs.
The state generally defines a brownfield site as any expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of land that is or may be contaminated with pollutants (epa.gov). Though many of these brownfield sites do in fact house a number of contaminants, the clean up and eventual redevelopment of this land has become increasingly common as clean, useable land for development becomes less available in populated areas. Replacing these blighted areas of pollution and contamination with energy-efficient developments is clearly one of the main goals of Senate Bill 1114.
Because you would be hard-pressed to find anybody opposed to cleaning up pollution and building under LEED guidelines, there is relatively little opposition to the bill. Members of both parties in the state Senate support the bill as Republicans such as Jason Allen and John Pappageorge support Democrat Jim Barcia as the primary sponsor of the bill. Governor Granholm would probably support the bill, as she has pushed similar legislation through the state Congress throughout her term. Possible opposition could come from those who believe further tax cuts would be a detriment to the state budget, though any possible opposition hasn't showed their hand to this point.
Further reason to believe this bill will go through is that the entire nation seems to be putting greater emphasis on becoming more eco-friendly. Various LEED initiatives including legislation, executive orders, etc. can be found in 45 states, with legislation being passed as recently as November of 2009 in Rhode Island (usgbc.org). It is likely because of this that Michigan senators are attempting to amend the bill. With so many states providing incentives for "green" development, Michigan must go above and beyond the other states in order to induce investment within its borders.
Mission: To transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, in a way that improves the quality of life in West Michigan.