LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday making it possible for communities across Michigan to continue to use a powerful economic development tool to eliminate commercial blight.

The legislation was first introduced by State Rep. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) as House Bill 4197 earlier this year.

Senate Bill 556, a Senate version of the Moss bill, passed the House with an 89-19 vote and now heads to the Governor’s desk. It will extend the Commercial Rehabilitation Act property tax exemptions until Dec. 31, 2020, a program had been scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

“Cities around Michigan are becoming saturated with vacant buildings, and the longer they sit vacant the more dilapidated they become,” Moss said. “The Commercial Rehabilitation Act lets local municipalities eliminate this commercial blight. As local units of government use this tool, the state’s economy will continue to recover.”

Recently, the city of Southfield acquired the vacant Northland Shopping Center property. As discussions are ongoing about the property’s future, the Commercial Rehabilitation Act can be used to redevelop the land and spark economic growth for the city and surrounding communities.

During Moss’ tenure as a Southfield City Councilman, the Commercial Rehabilitation Act was used to reduce commercial blight prevalent near the city’s neighborhoods.

Moss joined his fellow Councilmembers last year to establish a Commercial Rehabilitation District for German automotive supplier Durr Systems to invest $40 million to renovate a former call center where nearly 500 employees will soon work.

“The Commercial Rehabilitation Act has been used to transform the dead malls and dying shopping strips that plague communities across the state into thriving places of business,” said Moss, who is the Democratic vice chairman of the House Local Government Committee. “I couldn’t be more pleased that this bill has passed the Legislature, and I urge the governor to sign it into law without delay.”