Michigan Communities Support Peters’ Legislation to Protect Them from Consequences of Proposed Change to Metropolitan Area Standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Michigan officials are speaking in support of bipartisan legislation, introduced by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, that would help protect Michigan communities from the possible consequences of a proposed change that would increase the population threshold for metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000. Communities in Michigan and across the United States count on this designation for federal funding that goes towards important programs. The proposal from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) could threaten access to vital federal resources for nearly 150 communities across the country, including six in Michigan. The Michigan communities that could be affected by this change include Battle Creek, Bay City, Jackson, Midland, Monroe, and Niles-Benton Harbor. Earlier this year, Peters warned OMB that this proposal should be withdrawn and studied further in order to prevent possible negative effects to communities in Michigan and across the nation.

“Communities of all sizes in Michigan and across the country count on federal resources, especially as they continue to recover from this unprecedented pandemic and economic crisis,” said Senator Peters. “My commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help protect communities from any unintended consequences that could limit their access to federal support by ensuring that this proposed change is thoroughly studied before it goes into effect.”

Below are statements from Michigan elected officials and stakeholders in support of Peters’ bipartisan legislation:

“This legislation is built on the simple principle that if you want to make a big change to a public program, you should have a good reason – and be able to ‘show your work.’ Suddenly resetting the population threshold for a metro area to double the historical level, thereby changing all sorts of access to federal programs for some of our communities, is big,” said Stephan Currie, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “Federal officials shouldn’t take such an action without explaining their reasoning and the expected effects on communities. I applaud Senator Peters’ leadership in advancing this commonsense legislation.”

“As we emerge from the pandemic we should focus our energy on policies that improve the wellbeing and economic opportunity for all Americans,” said Dan Gilmartin, Executive Director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League. “Federal funds allow communities to meet critical housing needs, invest in infrastructure, and leverage private investment that creates jobs, bolsters the economy, enhancing the human experience. We support the efforts of Senator Peters and Senator Portman to protect communities from potential unintended consequences of raising the population to qualify as a Metropolitan Statistical Area.”

“The City of Monroe serves not only as the center of commerce within the county, but also a hub for dining, culture, and recreation for both residents and people throughout the region. It is imperative that the City of Monroe retains its status as a Metropolitan Statistical Area to ensure the well-being and security of our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Robert Clark of Monroe, MI. “Senator Peters’ proposed fix in the Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization Act will ensure that all communities like Monroe will receive a fair process and that these decisions will be vetted properly before any major changes occur.”

“Federal MSA designations are critical for making sure communities like Benton Harbor get the information and resources we need to make the best decisions for our residents,” said Mayor Marcus Muhammad of Benton Harbor, MI. “I’d like to thank Senator Peters for introducing this bill and leading the fight to protect Michigan communities and make sure the federal government hears from cities like ours before making any decisions that could drastically change MSA designations.”

“In Battle Creek we are concerned that the proposal to increase the minimum urban area population to qualify as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (from 50,000 to 100,000) will impact the city through a potential reduction in Federal funding opportunities and reduction in available data in the future for the county. In particular, this change would eliminate accurate in-depth data for land use, economic development, transportation, workforce development, and environmental planning,” said Mayor Mark Behnke of Battle Creek, MI. “Reduced data access will directly hamper our area’s planning efforts and lead to community leaders making decision based on less accurate or timely information. I am grateful to Senator Peters for leading this legislation that will help ensure Battle Creek residents will not be impacted by this proposed change.” 

“Regions across the nation depend on an equitable consideration for public resources. Eliminating the MSAs as they currently stand will put numerous communities at a disadvantage for funding, planning and economic prosperity,” said Todd Gustafson, President and CEO of Kinexus, an economic development organization based in Southwest Michigan. “I strongly support Senator Peters’ efforts to protect Michigan communities with this legislation.”