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E-M:/ Drain Code Reform



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Enviro-Mich message from Ben Julian <benj@tir.com>
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The attempt to rewrite Michigan's Drain Code is a l-o-n-g process.  Hope you
are staying alert.  What has happened so far is that a preliminary bill
(H4337) was introduced which contained few changes from current law.  Then
an H-1 was adopted written by drain commissioners, followed by H-2 written
by Dep't of Ag., and now H-3 which is the syntheis of H-1 & H-2.  Now is the
time that "other interest groups" have to offer their amendments.  Chairman
of the House Ag. Committee, Rep. Howard Wetters (D, Kawkawlin) has laid down
some ground rules: notify his office by noon each Monday for the next ?5
weeks of your intent to propose an amendment.  Meet at 9am Tuesday to go
over the issue and get help from Legislative Services Bureau in drafting the
amendment. It should be ready to be offered (if you have a sponsor) at the
regular Thursday House Ag. Committee Mtg. 8:30 Room 424 Capitol Bldg.
Discussion will occur at that time and it will be voted on the following
week, after everyone has had time to study it.  You can obtain a copy of H-3
of H4337 by calling the Documents room or Ag. Clerk Andrea Lott 373-7965.
Rep. Wetters can be reached at 517-373-0158 or e-mailed at
hwetter@house.state.mi.us.

All versions of the drain code contain minority petitioning provisions, the
theory being that the majority never wants to pay for the water problems of
a few people. This philosophy stems from the fact that it was first written
to help agriculture.  Now, however, many new drainage actions involve urban
water and sewerage problems, land use changes requested by developers and
landowner problems associated with housing located on floodplains, in
wetlands or in historically poorly drained areas.  What most farmers want
today is maintenance of the drains already constructed. It is useful for the
environmental community to recognize the common problem we face in housing
sprawl. H-3 suggests that as few as 5 people (all from the same family?) can
peition for a drainage action, carrying the minority petition to absurd
lenghths in populated areas, where thousands of people will then each pay a
small amount adding up to a huge subsidy for the petitioners.  It makes it
all too easy to pave over, channel out or build over natural areas or fields.  

If you're concerned about this, speak up! 
.  


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