Thursday, February 12, 2009

Billboards, Townships, and Ambulance Legislation consume the week

This week has largely been consumed with discussions on billboard legislation, townships, and ambulance service; but I am happy to say that we have been pretty successful on all fronts. I will quickly go through each.

1. Billboards: As expected, both Billboard bills have come out of committee, but not without much discussion and concern expressed. We have subsequently been able to sit down with members of the billboard industry to discuss both bills and think that compromises are in the works. HB141, which limits local height restrictions will likely be amended to allow for greater municipal input on surface street sign height, in exchange for more flexibility of freeways. HB272 which deals with sign restrictions on scenic byways will also likely be amended to address oversight concerns with the Byway Committee, but will not allow for automatic segmentation of scenic byways. This bill has more work to be done, but it appears the direction we are heading is positive.

Townships: I may be speaking too soon, but a township meeting tomorrow will likely tell us where we stand on a compromise with the counties. It appears that there is only one sticking point that should be easily resolved. It deals with who has ultimate authority to grant an annexation from a township to an existing city. We have argued that a neutral third party should be responsible for that decision, while the county feels that they should have final say. Outside of that issue there appears to be consensus on the bill --- Hope we can come up with something.

Ambulance Service: This has been an interesting ride. The arguments only appear to be getting louder and more obnoxious. We have expressed deep concern with allowing ambulance providers to have direct contracts with hospitals with little oversight of service delivery and response time. We do, however think the obnoxiousness is about to break and real negotiations are soon to occur. We will keep holding out hope, and let you know how it goes.

On a final note, it appears that a deal is in the works on impact fees for schools and state facilities. We will post the details in our next post, but thought we would at least let you know that our suggested language is being incorporated to ensure impact fees are paid, but have made some concessions to ensure that there is more predictability and transparency in the impact fee process. Look for more info in future posts.

Until next time...Enjoy!