In March 2016, the Michigan House unanimously passed House Bills 5189, 5190 and 5191, and the bills were subsequently passed by the Michigan Senate Agriculture Committee. The legislation is aimed at altering procedures for processing farmers’ applications and tax credit payments under the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA 116) of Michigan. The bill package now awaits a full Senate vote.
The legislation was spurred by the Department of Treasury’s failure to issue many 2014 tax credit payments to farmers. Thus, one component of the proposed legislation imposes interest on late refunds from the Department of Treasury.
Among other procedural changes, property splits and transfers would no longer be subject to a $25 filing fee under the legislation. Instead, upon creation or expiration of a contract, farmers may file with their county’s Register of Deeds office, giving them more control over the processing timeline. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, this change could reduce the total time it takes to change a PA 116 contract by 45 days.