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Legislation Headed to Governor’s Desk

In a move that will make transportation more accessible to all residents, the House and Senate today passed Complete Streets legislation (HB 6151 & HB 6152) sponsored by State Representatives Pam Byrnes (D-Lyndon Township) and Jon Switalski (D-Warren) to ensure that future transportation plans statewide take into consideration the needs of all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, seniors, people with disabilities and children. This plan is now set to be signed into law.

HB 6152 passed out of the Senate unanimously while 6151 was passed unanimously after an amendment was introduced upon the request of MDOT*. Later in the day the House then took up HB 6151 again for a vote of concurrence where it passed by a margin of 76 to 21. The proposed CRAM amendment to eliminate Michigan’s 32 year commitment to mandatory nonmotorized funding did not receive any legislative support due in part by efforts of Coalition partners such as the League of Michigan Bicyclists and Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

“I’m very pleased with the Senate’s quick action on this legislation,” said Byrnes, Chair of the House Transportation Committee. “I was able to work across the aisle and across the dome to deliver a meaningful change for Washtenaw County and for Michigan. This legislation is good for the environment, good for the economy and promotes healthier lifestyles for our residents. It’s a win for everyone.”

Under this legislation, the Michigan Department of Transportation will be required to consider all users of our roads in all phases of road project planning, developing and constructing. The plan will also encourage local units of government to consider Complete Streets principles when updating their master plans. While Complete Streets accommodations may vary between communities, they include sidewalks, bike lanes, special bus lanes, accessible transit stops, frequent crossing opportunities and accessible pedestrian signs.  A statewide Complete Streets Advisory Council will also be formed under this legislation.

Complete Streets planning also presents an opportunity to increase the safety and availability of travel options for seniors – a need that will increase as the Baby Boomers age.

“Transportation planning is crucial to revitalizing our downtowns and creating the atmosphere to attract businesses, create jobs and keep our young people here in Michigan,” Switalski said. “Providing people with safe alternative travel options will lead to healthier lifestyles and give residents more ways to reach the small businesses that drive our economy. This Complete Streets legislation reflects the bipartisan effort it takes to build a brighter future for Michigan.”

In 2009, Michigan had the 9th highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 28.8 percent, and the 26th highest rate of overweight youths (ages 10 – 17) at 30.6 percent, according to a report by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  If that trend continues, the prevalence of obesity will grow to 44 percent by 2018.

“The Senate’s approval of the Complete Streets legislation is a testament to the importance of creating walkable and bikeable communities where residents have the opportunity to lead healthy, active lifestyles,” said Mike Maisner, Legislative Committee Chair Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan.

Complete Streets have many benefits, including, increased property values, reduced risk of pedestrian-vehicle crashes and increased pedestrian traffic.

Detroit, Saline, East Lansing, Houghton, Marquette Charter Township, Flint, Linden, Ferndale, and Jackson are currently working on local Complete Streets policies.  More than 120 jurisdictions have adopted Complete Streets policies nationwide, including nearly 35 communities in the past two years.

The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition would like to thank all advocates who have supported this initiative!

* MDOT Amendment:

Senator Gilbert offered the following amendments to House Bill No. 6151 (S-2):
1. Amend page 8, line 16, after “DUTIES.” by inserting “FAILURE TO COME TO AN AGREEMENT SHALL NOT PREVENT THE DEPARTMENT FROM SUBMITTING ITS MULTIYEAR CAPITAL PLA…N TO THE COMMISSION.”.

2. Amend page 12, line 3, after “PROCEEDINGS” by inserting a comma and “A STATEMENT OF INSTANCES IN WHICH THE DEPARTMENT AND A MUNICIPALITY WERE UNABLE TO AGREE UNDER SUBSECTION (3) ON A DEPARTMENT PROJECT AFFECTING A ROADWAY OR TRANSPORTATION FACILITY WITHIN OR UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE MUNICIPALITY,”.

The Department requested the above amendment to HB 6151 due to concerns over holding up funding for 5 year transportation plans if an agreement could not be reached between MDOT and a municipality regarding specific complete streets projects in that plan. Any projects without  an agreement will be pulled out of the 5 year plan and will be dealt with separately, probably with the Transportation Commission essentially becoming a mediator.  There is obviously still a bit of gray area regarding this amendment that the new Advisory Council, which has numerous Michigan Complete Street Coalition members on, will have to clarify down the line and in the actual drafting of the MDOT Complete Streets policy.  The advocates that were at the Capitol today came to consensus that the amendment was relatively benign as long as we clarify what happens to those projects that get pulled out of the 5 year plan.  In some cases it could actually help locals slow down a project if they felt like MDOT was pushing something forward that locals are not happy with.  At the same time, it could potentially also unnecessarily slow good projects as well.

Media Coverage:

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After months of hard work and deliberation, the Michigan House of Representatives passed Complete Streets legislation in overwhelming fashion! H.B. 6151 passed with a vote of 85 – 21, and H.B. 6152 with a vote of 84-22. The Coalition would like to thank everyone for their support and testimony…congratulations! Now it’s on to the Senate Transportation Committee.

Media:

R to L: A panel of supporters including the County Road Association of Michigan, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, AARP and Representative Jon Switalski testifying in support of HB 6151 and 6152.

The House Transportation Committee voted unanimously to pass  HB 6151 and HB 6152 out of committee, with recommendations. This is a big success for Complete Streets, and the Coalition would like to thank all of the stakeholders who worked hard to negotiate a bill that was eventually able to garner such strong support. We would especially like to thank Rep. Wayne Schmidt for his leadership on this issue, as well as Rep. Pam Byrnes, Rep. John Switalski and their staffs, who put a lot of effort to achieve this victory. In hectic fashion, the final drafts of the bills were being revised right up to the last minute, modified to reflect the negotiations made between all parties involved. As Chairwoman Byrnes said, reflecting on the compromises reached, “This bill is not what everybody wants, but it’s a good step forward.”

As the result of negotiations MML, SEMCOG, MDOT and CRAM, many of whom had previously only supported the bills in concept, are now strong supporters of the legislation. The support of these organizations, in addition to the support of most of the GOP members of the committee, bodes well for the future of the bills.

The final revision of the bill no longer requires local road agencies or municipalities to pass their own Complete Streets policies. MDOT, however, is still required to pass a Complete Streets policy, along with a ‘model’ policy for municipalities and counties. As Rep. Switalski said, this version of the bill gives “cities, and locals more say when dealing with transportation policy.” The final bill also gives the Complete Streets Advisory Council a much stronger role in the planning process, allowing them to advise MDOT on the adoption of Complete Streets policies.

Bill sponsor, Representative Jon Switalski, makes the case for Complete Streets in Michigan before the House Transportation Committee on June 24th, 2010. The Committee went on to vote unanimously in support of the legislation.

Felicia Wasson from AARP used her brief testimony to rightly note that this is “only the beginning – a first step” for Complete Streets. According to the revision, Complete Street policies must consider the “varying mobility needs of all legal users of the roadway, of all ages and abilities.” This language does indeed represent a great first step towards ensuring that everyone is entitled to use roadways safely and conveniently.

The bills will now be referred to the House floor for a second reading, followed by a vote by the full House of Representatives. Rep. Byrnes expects that the bills will be voted on by the House relatively soon.  After that, they are on to the Senate committee. It’s important to keep the energy and enthusiasm alive as the bills move forward – look for an updated action alert on our Take Action page in the next few days.

(For a complete look at the process the bills will follow as they become law, download a PDF copy of the Michigan Citizens Guide to State Government)

The Coalition would like to once again thank everyone who has worked with us to see that these bills get passed. Let’s use today’s success as a springboard to redouble our efforts, and push these important bills out of the House and through the Senate!

Additionally, League of American Bicyclists, Alliance for Biking and Walking, and the National Complete Streets Coalition all featured the efforts of Michigan’s Complete Streets movement on their blogs today.

Many more organizations and individuals provided testimony in support of Compete Streets that was entered into the record at the committee meeting as well. The following is list of links to .pdfs of those testimonies.

Michigan Complete Streets Coalition member, Norm Cox of the American Society of Landscape Architects used his testimony to state that HB 6152 and 6152 is "working to make amends for the lopsided transportation investments of the last 50-60 years," adding, "it's not taking money away, but redistributing it based on changing priorities."

The second House Transportation Committee hearing on Complete Streets legislation,  HB 6151 and 6152, saw the room once again packed with supporters of the policies. The legislation – which seeks to move Michigan away from auto-centric road designs and meet the needs of all roadway users – has attracted strong support from a broad range of advocates. A few of the groups represented at today’s hearing included: The American Heart Association, Crim Fitness Foundation and Citizens for a Safe Community.

The coalition would like to extend thanks to all those who spoke at the meeting today, as well to those that offered written testimony. Chairwoman Byrnes (D – Dist. 52) indicated she plans to hold a vote on the bills next week, and with some organizations like SEMCOG and MML still supporting the bill in concept only, it is important that the committee members continue to hear vocal support for these specific policies.

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There is exciting news coming in from the Capitol today!  The Healthy Kids Healthy Michigan Complete Streets resolutions have passed the House. House Resolution 187 was adopted and House Concurrent Resolution 34 was adopted by the House and referred to the Senate.

Also, the transportation budget passed out of the House with Sections 321, 322, 323 and 324 included, bolilerplate language on complete streets.

Sec. 711(5) was also included which states “For rail passenger service supported in any part through capital or operating assistance from funds appropriated in this act, the department shall work with the rail carrier to identify ways in which reasonable transport of bicycles by passengers can be accommodated.”

Since the Senate version of the transportation budget did not include the sections on Complete Streets, it will now be taken up in conference committee where the two chambers will work through the differences.

Neither the resolutions or transportation budget will mandate Complete Streets, but they are victories to be proud of and stepping stones towards passing HB 6151 and 6152.

The House Transportation Committee will hold its second hearing on the Complete Streets package, House Bill 6151 and House Bill 6152 this Thursday, June 10th at 10:30 a.m. in the House Office Building Committee Room on the 5th Floor (124 North Capitol P.O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909-7514). We had a very full room of supporters for the first hearing , and we would like to fill the room this time too. There will be cards that you can fill out to support the legislation; there probably won’t be time for all to speak.

If you can’t make the hearing, you can still support the legislation at www.michigancompletestreets.org. There is a letter that you can e-mail to members of the House Transportation committee. Of course it is always best to use your own thoughts of support, but the e-mail is a good starting point. It would also be beneficial for you to write your own legislator with your support.

Thanks as always for adding your voice to this important issue!

Download a Word version of this Action Alert and Sample letter by clicking the graphic above.

The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition needs your help to support Complete Streets legislation. The legislation requires communities and road agencies to consider nonmotorized and public transit accommodations to our transportation corridors in state, regional and local planning and implementation processes as a way to create more walkable, bikeable places where children and families can be physically active.

We are asking organizations and their individual members and/or associates to take action.  Show support for this effort by sending your legislators a letter urging them to adopt Michigan House Bills 6151 and 6152.  A template letter of support can be found below.

Organization leaders are also asked to forward these materials to their members and/or associates encouraging them to take action.

TAKE ACTION TODAY:

Step 1
Sign our predrafted email to House Transportation Committee Members expressing your support for HB 6151 and 6152. Please put your first and last name in the “Name” field. You are also encouraged to personalize the message using the “Personal Statement” field. The email form can be found at http://citizenspeak.org/node/2032

Step 2
Using the sample provided on the following page, we also ask that you write a personalized letter to your individual Representative and Senator.

By putting in your 10-digit zip code at www.votesmart.org, you can determine who your legislators are and find their email addresses. Letters can be sent electronically or mailed to representatives and senators at the following addresses:

State Representatives
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909 – 7514

State Senators
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909 – 7536

Step 3
Please mark your calendars for May 27th at 10:30am. The House Transportation Committee will be taking testimony on the these bills.  We would like to fill the room, so please consider attending these hearings.  You may submit verbal or written testimony and/or simply fill out a comment card expressing your support for the legislation.

If you are planning to testify, we’d recommend being strategic and picking one or two angles you’d like to take (e.g. childhood obesity, overall health impacts, aging population, cost savings, environmental benefit, etc), as we are expecting a high level of interest and testimony needs to be short and sweet. If you are interested in submitting testimony, we also ask if that you please contact John Lindenmayer asap so we can attempt to coordinate everyone’s testimony.

Please download our Complete Streets fact sheet to learn more. The National Complete Streets Coalition site also has great fact sheets by issue area if you need additional resources to begin preparing your testimony.

SAMPLE LETTER (please personalize)

(Download Word Version of this Sample Letter)

<Date>, 2010

The Honorable <Name>

Post Office Box

Lansing, MI  48909

<Dear Representative/Senator>:

<I am/Organization is> asking that you support Michigan Complete Streets legislation. House Bills 6151 and 6152 were introduced to encourage communities and road agencies to consider nonmotorized and public transit accommodations to our transportation corridors in state, regional and local planning and implementation processes as a way to create more walkable, bikeable places where children and families can be physically active.

Complete streets policies ensure that infrastructure is designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities can move safely along and across a complete street.  There is no prescription for what a Complete Street looks like.  A Complete Street in a rural area will look different from a Complete Street in a highly urban area, but both are designed to balance safety and convenience for everyone using the road.

Complete Streets boost the economy by increasing residential property values because homeowners are willing to pay more to live in walkable communities and businesses located along Complete Streets often see an increase in sales.  Complete Streets improve safety and reduce crashes by providing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as safe crossings, sidewalks, or on-road bicycle lanes. Complete Streets promote public health by making it safe and convenient for children and families to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives as a way to combat the obesity epidemic.

Clearly, supporting Complete Streets is investing in a stronger and healthier Michigan.  <I/We> urge you to vote in favor of the Michigan Compete Streets Bills.  Together we can create a more vibrant Michigan.

Sincerely,

<Name>

<Title>

Today State Representative Jon Switalski introduced House Resolution 187 to express support for active transportation infrastructure options that promote walking and bicycle usage and reduce childhood obesity.  Representative Pam Byrnes also introduced a companion House Concurrent Resolution, HCR 034.

Dubbed the “Complete Streets Resolution”, this piece is the work of a Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan workgroup, which includes a wide array of advocates working to improve active infrastructure options and reduce childhood obesity.  It is the hope of the workgroup that the resolution will help educate lawmakers and citizens about the benefits of active infrastructure.  The workgroup also supports the eventual passage of a standalone bill.

Visit the Michigan Legislature website to view the full resolution and see the full list of co-sponsors. And don’t forget to contact your Legislator and urge him or her to support both resolutions.

Microsoft Word - CS-SPAT Legislator Cover Letter.doc

Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan (HKHM) Complete Streets Task Force distributes Complete Streets Resolution to all Michigan Legislators.

Download the HKHM Complete Streets Resolution.

Background on HKHM:
In 2007, Governor Granholm received a one-year grant award from the National Governors Association through the Healthy Kids, Healthy America program.  This program was designed to provide the nation’s governors with the opportunity and means to make progress in addressing childhood obesity in schools and communities in their state. Governor Granholm’s project, Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan, worked with executive-level decision-makers from government, public and private sectors, school districts, health care and non-profit organizations to create a multi-year strategic policy agenda to reduce childhood obesity in Michigan.

Over the year-long Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan project, more than 100 organizations collaborated to explore and prioritize policy options to confront childhood obesity.  A five-year strategic plan has been developed and a set of first-year priorities identified.

Rep. Jon Switalski (D - Warren) Pushes For Complete Streets in Michigan

Rep. Jon Switalski (D - Warren) Pushes For Complete Streets in Michigan

LANSING, MI – June 18, 2009 – Representative Jon Switalski introduced Complete Streets language to the House version of the transportation bill this morning. With little debate, the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee passed Section 399 of Senate Bill No. 254 H-1. The substitute language states, “The department [MDOT] and local road agencies that receive appropriations under this act shall adopt complete street policies.” (See complete language below)

Today’s passage marks the first efforts by the Michigan Legislator to adopt a statewide Complete Streets policy to build and maintain roadways that accommodate all roadway users “particularly public transit users, bicyclists, pedestrians (including individuals of all ages and individuals with mobility, sensory, neurological, or hidden disabilities), and motorists, to enable all travelers to use the roadway safely and efficiently.”
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