The Michigan House gave bipartisan approval to a bill designed to eliminate a tax loophole that some big-box retailers use to their advantage.

On Wednesday, the House approved the bill 97-11, which would require the Michigan Tax Tribunal to appraise properties using accepted appraisal principles, and to determine “the highest and best use” for properties being considered.  Bill Sponsor Representative David Maturen, a Vicksburg Republican, in a statement says that the bill “will ensure that the tribunal’s assessment determinations are fair to all parties involved.”

The legislation was designed to put a stop to the so called “dark store” loophole, in which big-box retailers argue that their properties should be valued as if they were empty, or “dark”, since their layouts are so unique.  Opponents of the practice argue it disproportionately harms small communities by forcing them to pay back property taxes to the retailers.

The bill now goes to the Senate.