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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - November 29, 2001

Senate Action:

The Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee took testimony on the following bills and has placed them on the schedule for next weeks hearing on Tuesday, December 4, 2001 at 1:30p.m..

HB 5038 - Ruth Johnson - Provides for notice to other jurisdictions of the adoption of township plans

HB 5252 – Koetje - Provides for notice to other jurisdictions of the adoption of county plans

HB 5267 – Birkholz - Provide for notice to other jurisdictions of the adoption of municipal plans

MEC is disappointed that after years of work on trying to get the legislature to adopt the Coordinated Planning Act the best they could do was legislation to provide notice, but no coordination of efforts among adjourning communities.

SB 819 – (Sikkema) – Allows universities to implement the Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act on campus.  Passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Control Committee on a unanimous vote.

House Action:

The House concurred with Senate amendments to House Bills 4995, 5028 and 5029, which require local governments to adopt provisions for “open space preservation” in their zoning ordinances.  The bills are now awaiting approval by the governor.  MEC supported the proposals despite concerns that local control might be eroded by the mandate.  The bills allow developers to increase density on a parcel in exchange for permanently protecting at least 50% of the land through conservation easements.

Land Use and Environment Committee

The committee reported out the following resolution regarding protection of the Great Lakes a greater funding to maintain its integrity:

HR 187 - A resolution to memorialize the Congress of the United States to enact legislation to provide funding for the restoration of the Great Lakes.

HR 265 - A resolution to memorialize the Congress of the United States not to take control of the Great Lakes away from the Great Lakes states and to reaffirm authority granted to the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

HCR 38 - A concurrent resolution to memorialize the Congress of the United States to enact legislation to provide funding for the restoration of the Great Lakes.

HCR 39 - A concurrent resolution to memorialize the Congress to increase protections for the Great Lakes and to affirm the authority of the Great Lakes governors on matters of the usage of Great Lakes waters.

The committee is scheduled to meet next Tuesday (12/4) at 10:30 a.m. to take up SB 105, SB 106, and HB 4926 that provide more funding to address sewer overflow issues.

House Energy and Technology Committee

Reported out HCR 48 - A concurrent resolution to urge the United States Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to fulfill their obligation to establish a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste. Also passed by the full House (11/29).

The committee also took testimony on HCR 49 – a resolution to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate and adjust (increase) Michigan’s cap on nitrogen oxide emissions.  MEC strongly opposed the resolution pointing out to the committee the ozone related health problems being caused by power plant emissions.

The Committee will take HCR 49 against next week along with legislation regarding the transfer of transmission assets by utilities. 

House Transportation

The committee reported the following:

HB 5396 - Creation of an asset management system.  It was amended in committee to require MDOT and all other road agencies to annually report the mileage and condition of the road and bridge system in their jurisdiction.  This will give Michigan residents full disclosure as to how the department spends our tax dollars, and how that relates to the condition of our road network.

HB 5383 - Prioritizing Maintenance – this bill creates a uniform definition of maintenance.  The bill was improved by adding an amendment that states, "preservation does not include new construction of highways, roads, streets, or bridges, or a project that increases the capacity of a highway facility".  However, there is still a provision in the bill that defines preservation to include widening a road by a lane width or more.

House Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Committee

SJR T and SBs 796-801 – Natural Resources Trust Fund / Parks Endowment Fund – This Constitutional amendment (must go to the ballot) and bills do basically four things:

· Raises the overall cap on the Natural Resources Trust Fund from $400 million to $500 million.  After the fund hits the cap all oil and gas royalty revenue are diverted to the Parks Endowment Fund, reducing the amount available to purchase and development recreational land.

· Raises the trigger for relying on interest only (they currently can now also spend 1/3 of each year incoming revenue stream plus interest) from $200 million to $500.  We are closing in on $200 million that would have sharply reduced the funding available ($38 million this year to $14 million).

· Increases the amount of money that can be diverted from the State Parks Endowment Fund from $5 million a year adjusted for inflation to $6.5 million a year adjusted for inflation.  The department is trying to increase this number to 10% of the corpus of the fund.  This would result in $9.4 million of the available $10 million being spent with only $600,000 going into the endowment fund.  Many groups are opposing this effort by the department.

· Allows investments in these and other related funds in all investment types currently allowed for the state retirement system.  Up to now these funds had to be placed in safer investment vehicles.

These bill are still be negotiated and they are expected to move out of committee next week.

SB 109 and HB 4706 – Municipal liability for sewer backups.  These bills were referred to the House Civil Law Committee where a workgroup has been discussing these bills.

SB 430 – Extends sunset on a dark sky preserve located in Lenawee County.  The committee passed this bill.

HB 5380, SB 27 – These bills place greater restrictions on the collection and disposal of scrap tires, and removes the sunset and increases the fees used for the scrap tire program.  Testimony was taken on the bills on they will be addressed next week again.

The House Conservation and Outdoor recreation Committee is planning on meeting Tuesday (12/4) after session, Wednesday 9:00 a.m. and Thursday at 9:30 a.m.  In addition to finishing work on the bills mention above, the committee may also take action on legislation to ban directional drilling below the Great Lakes (HB 5118 or HB 5081).

Submitted by:

James Clift, Conan Smith and Dusty Fancher
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette,  Ste 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539