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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

MI short-term rental owners may face new long-term costs

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Monday, April 29, 2024   

Proposed regulations in Michigan could have a major impact on the state's tourism industry. The series of 10 bills introduced by House Democrats would do more to regulate short-term rentals.

The proposals include a 6% tax on rentals of 15 days or more, increased safety requirements for things like smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and a $100 annual registration fee per listing.

Erika Farley, executive director of the Rental Property Owners Association of Kent County, said she has concerns - especially about the additional tax.

"We are looking for more parity along with the hotel industry, basically," said Farley. "The 6% excise tax, along with the other taxes, would actually be a higher tax - anywhere between 5% and 7% for short-term rentals - than it would for an actual, traditional hotel."

Farley added that short-term rentals aren't just for tourists - they're also an affordable option for professionals who need a temporary place to stay while in town on business.

In New Buffalo, a lakefront community with a population of about 1,800, Mayor John Humphrey said he doesn't agree with every aspect of the bills - but he's all for taxing short-term rentals.

Humphrey said his community has suffered for year due to what he calls the "gigantic" unrecovered tourism costs generated by these rentals - including negative affects on roads, sewer, water, and other public infrastructure.

"Every short-term rental has a residential use of 10 - residential use means the number of people that use the home - where a standard residence is only 2.2," said Humphrey. "And those costs are not recovered because there are no excise taxes, there are no use taxes, there are no lodging taxes on short-term rental."

If passed, the legislation could generate between $35 and $70 million. Backers say that money would be distributed to the local governments where the rental properties are located.

The bills have been referred to the Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance.





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