Men, Prayer, Politics, Horses, Detroit
At the invitation of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, our statewide advocacy organization, I prepared the following three-minute statement as one invited to provide testimony to the Local Government Committee in Lansing at today’s hearing on HB 5232. The sponsoring representative, Chris Afendoulis, requested additional time to continue making adjustments to the Bill, a request approved by the committee. Therefore, testimony was not allowed.
Voices must be heard on this issue, a most pressing one in our state at the moment. Below is my statement.
Good Afternoon, my name is Nancy Kotting and I am here on behalf of my fellow Michigan residents.
I appreciate the opportunity to add my voice to this hearing and to go on the public record when I say that this bill, and the process by which it has come to be, constitute one of the most disgraceful examples of governance in Michigan that I have witnessed, only to be surpassed by the poisoning of our own residents by the very government we rely on to protect us. We elect you, our legislators to create legislation that protects our residents, our natural resources, our cultural resources and our economy from undue harm. Our state is currently experiencing a failure of epic proportion. We look to you to provide solutions to such problems. Today, we are here, wasting our precious time, discussing a solution to a problem that does not exist.
It is unacceptable that a private entity, and it sure would be nice if somebody had the decency of transparency to tell us who, is allowed to hire and compensate a lobbyist to write a piece of legislation they desire, legislation which is then delivered to an elected representative who makes some edits and brings it to committee. This represents a clear hijacking of the legislative process by private interests. Contrary to the national trend, this is NOT how democracy works.
In reviewing HB5232 in its second draft, one can only come to the obvious conclusion that a methodical process of due diligence did not occur, to the detriment of all who may fall under the rule of this legislation should it become law. It is your responsibility, as legislators, to insure that ANY legislation you create does not have an adverse, negative impact on the citizens of Michigan. I firmly believe that proper due diligence, such as an economic impact study, if allowed, would reveal that HB5232, in its current form, would have, over time, a catastrophic cultural, social and economic impact on the citizens of Michigan.
HB5232 in its current form, would allow local units to apply standards of their own choosing in evaluating proposed alterations to our historic resources. Ladies and gentleman there are over 50 graduate and undergraduate degree programs in the field of historic preservation in the United States. The largest graduate program in the country is right here in Michigan, just 90 minutes south of us, producing highly qualified professionals in the field. There are those qualified to evaluate applications for alterations and repairs to historic structures and there are those not qualified to make such decisions. Our current legislation provides us the privilege of having some of the best and brightest, trained professionals in the field of Historic Preservation, guide us as we determine the course of action regarding the protection of our cultural resources. The standards which we currently apply in such evaluations are not random, nor politically determined. They are the result of a methodical research and development conducted by the top professionals in the field, standards applied in historic districts across the country and standards which have served us well in protecting our national, regional and local treasures for the benefit of all.
What distinguishes successful governance? Performing above and beyond that which is required of it. Extraordinary leadership, of which you are all capable, exceeds our expectations, meeting and rising above that which is required. To think that this body would present we citizens with legislation that would accept a lowering of standards is the domain of failure.