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McBroom, U.P. officials testify in support of ‘Dark Store’ bill, against Whitmer tax tribunal appointee

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday took testimony from Escanaba City Manager Patrick Jordan in support of Sen. Ed McBroom’s legislation that would close the so-called dark store tax loophole.

Senate Bill 26 would close the dark store loophole by revising the way property taxes are assessed on vacant big box stores and by ending the process of placing deed restrictions on closed stores, which is a scheme used to lower a building’s market value.

The dark stores loophole has resulted in local governments losing out on vital tax revenues needed to pay for the expense of having those stores located in their communities, which burdens all other local businesses with those costs.

The bill remains before the committee for further consideration.

On Thursday, McBroom, Rep. Sara Cambensy, and former Marquette Township Manager Randy Girard testified before the Senate Advice and Consent Committee in opposition to the governor’s recent appointment of Victoria Enyart to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

“Ms. Enyart has a troubling history of supporting the dark store loophole, time and again ruling in favor of multinational corporations’ bottom lines over local governments trying to offer public services with dwindling resources, and local businesses who can’t get the same tax break,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “The U.P. deserves a tax tribunal that puts the interests of the people first, not conglomerates.”

Girard said when Marquette Township filed a case before the tribunal in 2012, Enyart said the township should “not bother to file; I’ve already made my decision.”

McBroom said he introduced a motion during the committee hearing to disapprove Enyart’s nomination, but the motion unfortunately did not pass.