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E-M:/ legislative lines drawn on urban sprawl

Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>

The House Appropriations Committee tied itself in knots today in what one
member called "the first vote on land use" of the current session.  The
Committee deadlocked and was unable to decide on a proposal by Rep. Bill
Byl that the Department of Environmental Quality be directed to consider
the impact of its grants, loans and technical assistance programs on sprawl
and urban redevelopment.  The Committee may reconsider the issue Tuesday.

Rep. Byl inserted the urban sprawl/redevelopment language in both the DEQ
and DNR budgets this week, arguing that the state should begin to think
about the ways it promotes sprawl and reduce such impacts.  But when the
Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Association of Homebuilders, and
Michigan Association of Realtors heard of the Byl amendment, they turned on
the lobbying jets and lined up members of Byl's own Republican caucus to
strip the language entirely.

Passionate, eloquent speeches were made by Rep. Byl, Rep. Jon Jellema, Rep.
Pan Godchaux, and several Democratic members saying it's high time the
state stopped subsidizing sprawl.  But by a margin of one vote, the
Committee turned down a compromise amendment offered by Byl, and then
approved another amendment by Rep. Tony Stamas of Midland to strip the
sprawl language completely.  In a final twist, Rep. Byl moved for
reconsideration of the vote that defeated his amendment, which cut off the
debate on the DEQ bill entirely.

What can you do if you want the state to BEGIN THINKING ABOUT how it can
stop subsidizing sprawl?  Between now and Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., talk
to members of the House Appropriations Committee.  The development lobby
sure will.  Members are:  Reps. Geiger, Jellema, Cameron Brown, Caul,
Godchaux, Jansen, Jelinek, Kukuk, LaSata, Mead, Mortimer, Pappageorge,
Pumford, Scranton, Stamas, Toy, Price, Cherry, Clarke, Frank, Kelly,
Martinez, Pestka, Prusi, Stallworth, Tesanovich.

Thanks also go to Rep. Deb Cherry for offering, unsuccessfully, 2
amendments. One would require DEQ to establish an on-line data base
regarding beach closures and sewage overflows;  the other would require DEQ
to tell the public how many acres of wetland it permits to be destroyed and
mitigated through its permit program every year.

Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
517-487-9541 (fax)

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