A state lawmaker has again proposed allowing people who own non-homestead residences to cast ballots in millage elections in the community or school district for which those ballot questions are proposed.
Staff in state Rep. Richard LeBlanc’s (D-Westland) office said the legislation is a reintroduction of bills that have come up in the past and that they are “basically recognizing the fact that not residing there as permanent residents, that individual that owns property should have a say in whether or not they are raising millages.”
The bills would not apply to business owners whose firm is located in a community but the owner lives in another, the staff member said.
House Bills (HBs) 4545 through 4548, which have been referred to the House Redistricting and Elections Committee, are awaiting a hearing. They were introduced on April 13.
State Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-Highland, White Lake) said she has heard the issue discussed before and felt it was a measure she could support.
“To me, it makes sense because otherwise it’s taxation without representation,” she said. “As long as it’s just the issues of millages, there should be some way for the people to weigh in.”
Although Commerce Township Supervisor Tom Zoner said he didn’t have concrete figures on the number of people who call the township a second place residence, but he had pointed thoughts on the legislation.
“The election is in the area in which you live. If you live there part-time, you don’t have a voice,” he said. “Outsiders who have no idea what’s going on in the community or the schools shouldn’t vote there.
Highland Township Supervisor Triscia Pilchowski said that, although she hadn’t read the legislation, there could be some merit to the proposal.
“Off the top of my head, I would think that if you’ve got skin in the game, there’s some logic there,” she said.