Whitmer’s support for local control may give way to push for solar and wind power
Local zoning decisions stand in the way of state directives
Some legislative Democrats have called for giving state regulators more say over land-use decisions as a way to advance their green energy goals. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who would have to sign any legislation into law, must decide whether she will stand by her past advocacy of local officials or favor a greater role for the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Four House bills, HB 5120-5123, would preempt local governments, which have used zoning ordinances to have a say over whether or where industrial-scale wind or solar power developments go up. Local governments and others could present their views at MPSC meetings if these bills become law, but state regulators would have the final say, according to an analysis by the House Fiscal Agency.
The governor suggested in a press release that she favors the bills to give state regulators more control over what have been local decisions. “To hit our clean energy goals, the Michigan Public Service Commission needs more tools,” Whitmer said Aug. 30.
The governor has in the past praised local governments and rejected efforts to restrict their power.
In 2021 Whitmer said she would not enforce a measure in the budget that would have prohibited local and state health officials from imposing mask mandates on children under 18, according to Chalkbeat Detroit.
When Whitmer was a state senator in 2011, she opposed legislation to let the state take power from local governments. The bill, which Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law, let state-appointed emergency managers take control of local governments in deep financial trouble. Whitmer opposed the bill. “It is an unfair and unjustified power grab that allows these appointed, not elected, managers to operate above the law and often against the will of the people,” Whitmer said.
As governor, Whitmer also supported the power of local governments to impose masking requirements on schoolchildren during the COVID-19 pandemic. After the Michigan Supreme Court struck down her pandemic-related emergency powers, Whitmer said it was important to make decisions at the local level. “That is why it is important to empower and respect our school boards and county health officials,” Whitmer said, according to the Alpena News.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.