Booher’s brownfield redevelopment bill approved by Senate Natural Resources Committee

LANSING?The Senate Natural Resources Committee on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher that would give local and state officials the flexibility to renegotiate brownfield redevelopment loans whose terms may not reflect current financial realities.

“Brownfield redevelopment loans are an important tool the state offers local agencies to help support economic growth and job creation while protecting our environment through the reuse of existing property,” said Booher, R-Evart. “The problem is that sometimes market or economic conditions change during the loan period, resulting in local agencies struggling to repay the loan. Unlike with other programs, the state is currently not given flexibility to renegotiate repayment terms for brownfield redevelopment loans. This bill gives them that flexibility.”

Senate Bill 719 would amend the Brownfield Redevelopment Loan Program to allow the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to alter the terms of a brownfield loan, including the length of the loan, the interest rate and the repayment terms. Under the bill, the loan could only be altered if requested by the loan recipient and if there was proof of a financial hardship related to the financed project.

“To ensure that this flexibility is used appropriately and is not abused, the committee-approved bill includes a reporting requirement regarding the loans that are refinanced under the program,” Booher said. “This transparency will require a report to the Legislature on the number of loans refinanced, the local unit involved and the change in the loan terms.”

In previous testimony on the bill, Booher was joined by officials from Harrison and Clare County, who supported the bill and told the committee about their situation.

“This fix would help the city of Harrison in my district and potentially other cities that rely on increased property values to help pay off these loans,” Booher said. “Simply, it gives officials the ability to craft a workable solution that benefits both the state and the local agencies.”

SB 719 has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.

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A print-quality photograph of Booher is available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center Tab.