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



Budgets

Department of Environmental Quality – HB 4257 – Sent to Conference Committee.
House Conferees: Mead, Jansen, R. Brown

Major items of difference include:

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 – The Senate inserted language that will allow directional drilling to proceed, that differs from the House language..

Department of Natural Resources – HB 4259  - Sent to Conference Committee.
House Conferees: Mead, Jansen, R.Brown

Major items of difference include:

Timber Mandate – The Senate agreed with House language on timber mandate language and items to be considered.  There are still concerns on budgets amounts and how that may effect the operations of this division

Oil and Gas Drilling Under the Great Lakes – The Senate inserted language that will allow directional drilling to proceed, that differs from the House language.

Transportation Budget - SB 239 - Sent to Conference Committee
Senate conferees: Senators Goschka, Hoffman and Young
House Conferees: Representatives Shackleton, Kooiman and Stallworth.
No meeting has been scheduled.

Points of difference include:

A $1.5 million appropriation to complete the Lansing to Detroit commuter rail study, a report analyzing the effectiveness of rubberized asphalt in other states, and a $6.2 million increase in local bus operating funds.
 

Other legislation:

Clean Air Act fees – HB 4792 – Reported by the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday (6/12).  May be taken up when the Senate returns June 26, 2001.

This legislation reauthorizes Clean Air Act fees in Michigan.  The bill would authorize Clean Air Act fees of about $11.7 million in the first years and less in each of the following years. MEC testified in opposition to the bill as failing to provide funding for a program that can assure polluters are complying with their air permits.  According to our calculations this bill will result in the Air Quality Division having to layoff around 23 employees in the next four years.

A work group of government, industry and environmental groups in October of 2000 agreed that $12.8 million was necessary to run the program.  The inadequacy of the current fee is demonstrated by the fact that the MDEQ admits that it does not even visit every “major” air pollution source once each year and rarely conducts an inspection that can determine whether a facility is in compliance.

Hazardous Waste Fees – HB 4626 - The House passed this bill to authorize new fees to fund the waste management division.  MEC opposes this bill for two reasons.

First, allows the legislature to raid pollution prevention funds for up to four years to pay for functions of the Waste Management Division not related to pollution prevention activities (permits and data processing) at the same time industry does not have to pay the new fees until October of 2002.  Second, it may not provide adequate funding for cleanups of hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities.

Sewage Legislation – Testimony was taken on SB 105, SB 106 and HB 4926 by the House Land Use and Environment Committee on Tuesday (6/12) but the bills were not reported. Testimony was taken on SB 109 by the House Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Committee on Tuesday (6/12) but the bill was not reported.

Annexation - The Local Government and Urban Policy Committee released a concept paper regarding annexation. The proposed new annexation package insures open communication before any annexation can be applied for, allows townships the right to vote in the annexation process and provides a balanced detachment concept. The Michigan Townships Association and the Michigan Municipal League are both supporting the concept paper. A new version of the bills (HB 4720 - 4725) should be available on Wednesday.

Prepared by:

James Clift, Policy Director
Conan Smith, Land Programs Director
Dusty Fancher, Policy Specialist
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Drive Suite 2A
Lansing MI 48912
517-487-9539 ph
517-487-9541 fax
dustymec@voyager.net
www.mecprotects.org