LANSING – Legislation that would allow companies looking to install new wireless technology infrastructure to utility poles and towers across the state easily passed the Michigan Senate on Thursday over the objection of one member who referred to potential health risks he said are associated with the expansion of wireless technology.

SB 637 passed 33-3 and SB 894 passed 34-2.

Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton Township) spoke in opposition of the bills, citing negative health effects that several opponents of the legislation testified about in committee they said they have experienced from electromagnetic radiation.

Colbeck said the state correctly focuses on health threats such as PFAS, lead in water and smoking.

“I regret to inform you that we need to add electromagnetic radiation from wireless technology to this list,” Colbeck said.

Joining Colbeck in opposition to SB 637 were Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) and Sen. James Marleau (R-Lake Orion). Ms. Schuitmaker also voted against SB 894.

SB 637 creates a Small Wireless Communications Facilities Deployment Act allowing providers to collocate small cell wireless facilities and work on utility poles inside a right-of-way. It also streamlines the infrastructure installation process.

Under the bill, the zoning permit fee for small cell wireless facilities would be $500 while keeping the fee for modification or installation of wireless support structures at $1,000.

The bill in its current form requires small cell infrastructure to be labeled with emergency contact information. Providers would be required to notify local authorities responsible for right-of-ways upon application for a permit. It also requires for providing notice of discontinuance of a small cell facility and allows for local authorities to request the property to be returned to its former condition.

Supporters of the legislation had previously testified that changes capping fees for right-of-way would reduce barriers to installing technology upgrades and expanding service to new customers.

This story was published by Gongwer News Service.