Senate approves blight package

LANSING- A bipartisan package of legislation that addresses issues related to blight violations was approved by the Michigan Senate on Thursday, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.

"There are cases where people buy buildings in Detroit and other cities and let them rot," said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. "We need to put teeth into blight laws so that slumlords respond to blight infractions.

Senate Bills 35 to 39 increase penalties for unpaid blight violations and provide local governments tools to better control urban blight.

Under the measure:

A first violation is a civil infraction and a fine of $500;

A second violation is a misdemeanor, possible imprisonment for not more than 93 days and a fine of $500;

A third and all subsequent violations will result in a misdemeanor, possible imprisonment for not more than one year and a fine of $500;

Individuals who have unpaid fines dues to blight violations will be prohibited from applying for new permits; and

Local governments can garnishee the wages of individuals with unpaid blight fines or place a lien on their properties.

"I would like to thank my Senate colleagues for supporting this measure," Jones said. "I would specifically like to thank Senator Virgil Smith of Detroit for all of his work and for his perspective on how this issue affects Detroit."