In theory, state agencies must issue permits within legislatively specified timeframes. In practice, these requirements lack teeth.
The Legislature should impose genuine deadlines. Agencies should be required to issue permits within 30 days for straightforward cases, such as most wetland permits, and within 60 to 90 days for the most complex cases, such as air permits for auto assembly plants. The Legislature should stipulate that if an agency fails to act within the specified timeframe, permits will be deemed approved and the applicant refunded any permit application fees. Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina have implemented this requirement.[*]
[*] Some argue that the federal government would rescind Michigan agencies' power to issue permits if applicants began receiving permits by default when deadlines were missed. This outcome would follow only if there were a widespread failure to issue timely permits — an unlikely event.