Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski was on hand Aug. 9 when Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law an update to the state's vital PA-116 legislation. Designed to help ensure timelier processing of farmers' applications and tax credit payments through the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA-116), the legislation saw overwhelming support earlier this year in both the state House of Representatives (109-0) and Senate (36-1).
Sponsored by Dist. 81 Rep. Dan Lauwers and Dist. 65 Rep. Brett Roberts, House Bills 5189, 5190 and 5191 enhance government accountability and reduce the time it takes to complete PA-116 contract changes.
"These bills were crafted as a result of many farmers not receiving their 2014 tax credit payments from the Department of Treasury," said MFB Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park. "Combined with program staff cuts at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, this was becoming a problem for farmers with land enrolled in PA-116.
"The problem was significant enough that we feared it could have deterred potential enrollees from preserving their land through the program."
Specific provisions include:
- Hold Treasury accountable for timely payments by requiring them to apply interest on late refunds if certain provisions are met.
- Ensure the appropriate funds are allocated to MDARD for program administration, equal to the recapture tax revenue collected by Treasury.
- Allow e-filing regardless of the number of land agreements.
Eliminate the program's $25 filing fee and require farmers to file with the county Register of Deeds office when a contract is created, the agreement or lien expires, or a contract is split or transferred; giving farmers more control over the time it takes to process contracts.