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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - May 18, 2001


As a general rule, because of budget shortfalls we expect all budgets to be put in conference committee (of House and Senate members).  Hard decisions about cuts in programs will be made at that time.  Any boilerplate language (language included in the budget to put conditions on the spending of money) can be changed if the Senate and House version is not the same.  Votes on conference committee reports are up or down without amendment. Therefore, we will monitor and report what last minute changes are made in the bills at this stage.

Department of Environmental Quality – HB 4257 – Voted out of the Senate Appropriation Subcommittee with the following changes:

Environmental Enforcement - Voted to gut language that would require a report on the number of inspection being required and whether permit holders are complying with environmental protection laws or not.

Oil and Gas Drilling Under the Great Lakes – Language was added placing a moratorium on issuing permits to drill below the Great Lakes.  As mentioned above, the important part will be insuring that language stays in the final version of the bill.

Volunteer River and Lake Cleanup – The House added $50,000 for this purpose for a total of $100,000.  The Senate removed the extra $50,000.

Pollution Prevention Funds – The Senate did not correct the problems of pollution prevention funds being used for permitting and data processing purposes.

Department of Natural Resources – HB 4259  - Voted out of the Senate Appropriation Subcommittee with the following changes:

Timber Mandate – The Senate Subcommittee reverted to language similar to the Governor’s on timber cutting mandates.  They discarded compromise language worked out in the House that lowered the mandated cutting and included language regarding protection wildlife and old growth forests.

Department of Transportation – SB 239 -  The House Subcommittee took the following action.  They will continue work on the bill next week.

Public Transportation – New language was added that authorizes $3.8 million more for public transportation, with the possibility of more money if unencumbered funds are available

Rubberized Asphalt - New boilerplate language directs MDOT to study what other states are doing in regard to rubberized asphalt, and report back to the legislature within one year.  The department admitted that they had not studied the issue since the 1970s.

Detroit to Lansing rail – MEC is still working for boilerplate language that would further our efforts to make this rail line a reality.

Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs

Aquatic Nuisance Control – SB 512 – The committee voted out a bill that requires the department to monitor efforts to require sterilization of ballast water, evaluate techniques being used, and eventually track any ship that is not complying with international agreements on this issue.  Companies that owned those ships or did business with them would be ineligible to received grants, loans or awards from the department.  We will be working to increase the sanctions for failing to comply.

Prepared by:

James Clift, Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Ste. 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539