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Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Oct 16, 2017

Anti-Municipal Broadband Bill In Michigan Pulls No Punches

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/anti-municipal-broadband-bill-in-michigan-pulls-no-punches/

Torpedo legislation aimed at municipal network initiatives don’t usually appear in October, but Michigan’s year-round legislature is making 2017 atypical. Last week, Freshman Representative Michele Hoitenga from the rural village of Manton in Wexford County introduced a bill banning investment in municipal networks.

HB 5099 is short; it decrees that local communities cannot use federal, state, or their own funds to invest in even the slowest Internet infrastructure, if they choose to do it themselves:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

SEC. 13B. (1) EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION (2), A LOCAL UNIT SHALL NOT USE ANY FEDERAL, STATE, OR LOCAL FUNDS OR LOANS TO PAY FOR THE COST OF PROVIDING QUALIFIED INTERNET SERVICE. (2) A LOCAL UNIT MAY ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH 1 OR MORE PRIVATE PARTIES TO PROVIDE QUALIFIED INTERNET SERVICE. (3) AS USED IN THIS SECTION, “QUALIFIED INTERNET SERVICE” MEANS HIGH-SPEED INTERNET SERVICE AT A SPEED OF AT LEAST 10 MBPS UPSTREAM AND 1 MBPS DOWNSTREAM.

The exception allows local communities to engage in public-private partnerships, but the bill’s ambiguous language is likely to discourage local communities from pursuing such partnerships. As we’ve seen from partnerships that have successfully brought better connectivity to towns such as Westminster, Maryland, communities often took the initiative to invest in the infrastructure prior to establishing a partnership. Typically, the infrastructure attracts a private sector partner. If a community in Michigan wants to pursue a partnership that suits the exception of HB 5099, they will first have to grapple with the chicken and the egg dilemma.

Rather than put themselves at risk of running afoul of the law, prudent community leaders would probably choose to avoid pursuing any publicly owned infrastructure initiatives.

 

Munis Gaining Ground In Michigan

seal-michigan.pngMichigan already has a significant state barrier in place; municipalities that wish to improve connectivity must first appeal to the private sector and can only invest in a network if they receive fewer than three qualifying bids. If a local community then goes on to build a publicly owned network, they must comply with the terms of the RFP, even though terms for a private sector vendor may not be ideal for a public entity.

Nevertheless, several communities in Michigan have dealt with the restrictions in recent years as a way to ameliorate poor connectivity. They’ve come to realize that their local economies and the livelihood of their towns depend on improving Internet access for businesses, institutions, and residents.

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Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Oct 23, 2017

Protecting Communities from Gentrification

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/protecting-communities-from-gentrification-community-land-trusts/

This article was originally published in our The Public Good: Reports from the Front Lines (September 27, 2017), available here. About 15 years ago, the half-century flight from America’s cities came to an end.  A growing number of cities began to see a growing in-migration, often of people with higher incomes.  Rising real estate prices spurred land… Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Oct 5, 2017

Beating the Monopolies: Barry Lynn Explains How We Will Win – Episode 30 of the Building Local Power Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/beating-the-monopolies-barry-lynn-episode-30-of-the-building-local-power-podcast/

Barry Lynn, head of the Open Markets Institute, has some good news for those concerned about concentrated corporate power and the implications for our livelihoods and our democracy: “We will win”. In this episode of the Building Local Power podcast, ILSR Co-director Stacy Mitchell interviews Lynn about the changes in policy that gave rise to today’s monopolies, including the… Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Oct 19, 2017

San Francisco Breaks the Chain Stores, Strengthens Neighborhood Economies – Episode 31 of the Building Local Power Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/san-francisco-chain-stores-episode-31-of-the-building-local-power-podcast/

San Francisco has one-third as many chain stores as the national average. That’s thanks in large part to a city ordinance that restricts “formula” businesses. Enacted in 2004, and expanded in 2006 and 2014 (with input from ILSR), the policy permits formula businesses to locate in the city’s neighborhood business districts only if they pass… Continue reading

Featured Article, Event filed under Composting, Waste to Wealth | Written by Brenda Platt | No Comments | Updated on Sep 27, 2017

ILSR Sponsors the 5th National Cultivating Community Composting Forum, Scholarship Fund Announced

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/ccc-2018/

In collaboration with the US Composting Council (USCC) and BioCycle, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance announces two events to be held in conjunction with the USCC’s International Conference and Trade Show, COMPOST2018, in Atlanta: Best Practices in Community Composting Workshop Monday, January 22, 2018   Cultivating Community Composting Forum 2018 Tuesday, January 23, 2018 These events will… Continue reading