Hancock city opposes state power grab: legislation takes away local regulation, federal interactions

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Seen here is the Hancock City Hall and Police Department building where the City Council met Tuesday and voted to oppose two pieces of state legislation at its regular meeting.

HANCOCK — The Hancock City Council voted to send letters of opposition to local representatives regarding two bills that have been introduced to the state Legislature.

House Bill 4046 would modify the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, classifying short-term rentals, like regular home rentals, as a residential rather than commercial building, and mandating that across the state they are not subject to any additional licenses or procedures than other residential buildings. A short-term rental is defined as a rental with a period less than 28 days.

“This is a bill to attempt to prevent local municipalities from making any kind of legislating on short term rentals, otherwise known as an AirBnB act,” councilman Paul LaBine said. “For a party who is all about local control and then for them to propose this I think is really stepping on the rights of a municipality to make decisions on its own behalf.”

The bill was introduced by Rep. Jason Sheppard of district 56 in southeast Michigan. It has been referred to the committee on local government and municipal finance.

“I own an AirBnB, not in the city, but taxes are paid on it every time someone comes,” council member Whitney Warstler said.

The bill has been proposed in previous legislative sessions and Hancock has opposed it before, according to Mayor John Haeussler.

“Anything that takes away our ability to make local decisions, regardless of the topic, I view as a negative,” Haeussler said.

House Bill 4083 would prohibit local units of government from making rules that limit local officials communicating or cooperating with federal officials concerning the immigration status of individuals. It has been named the “Local Government Sanctuary Policy Prohibition Act.”

LaBine began by quoting the first sentence of the act, “A bill to prohibit local units of government from enacting or enforcing…”.

“I pretty much just kinda stopped reading there,” LaBine said with a laugh. “I couldn’t support it just for that reason.”

Any law violating this act that has already been enacted would be considered void, unenforceable and subject to a lawsuit or complaint to the state’s attorney general.

Haeussler said he did not know of any bill, policy or rule within Hancock that would violate the policy, but does not want to find out “the hard way” by having a complaint brought against the city by the attorney general.

Any local official violating the act would be subject to civil fines between $2,500 and $7,500.

“I think that our police department is dedicated to improving the safety of our community and I think that this bill could restrict that ability,” councilman Will Lytle said.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Pamela Hornberger and cosponsored by Rep. Beau LaFave. It has been referred to the committee on military, veterans and homeland security. LaFave is the committee chairman. District 110 state Rep. Greg Markkanen is a committee member and will be sent a letter from the council.

The council was unanimous in its disapproval of each bill.