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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - 2/22/02

General Issues:

Directional Drilling

HB 5118 was passed by the Senate on February 13, 2002 on a vote of 28-5.  The Senate changes need to be concurred in by the House.  The sponsor, Rep. Scott Shackleton supports the changes so no problems are anticipated.  The bill will then go to the Governor for signing, which he has stated that he will do despite his continued opposition to the ban.

Natural Resource Trust Fund Ballot Measure

SJR T and SBs 796-801 – Natural Resources Trust Fund / Parks Endowment Fund – This
Constitutional amendment was passed by the House and will now go on the August Primary ballot. The bills do basically four things; raise the overall cap on the Natural Resources Trust Fund from $400 million to $500 million; raise 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, increase the amount of money that can be diverted from the State Parks Endowment Fund from $5 million a year adjusted for inflation to $5.0 million a year plus the interest on the entire fund and allow investments in these and other related funds in all investment types currently allowed for the state retirement system.

$1 Billion Bond for Sewer Infrastructure Improvements

Packages have not been announced in the House and Senate that would place a $1 billion bond on the November 2002 ballot for sewer infrastructure improvements.   Rep. Patterson has introduced HB 4625 that would authorize $1 billion for sewer infrastructure improvements.  The House Commerce Committee has begun a series of meetings on the bill and we expect it to move before spring.  Sen. Sikkema announced the Senate package this week.

MEC will be suggesting that the package include a recommendation of the Great Lakes Conservation Task Force to require growth management plans before a community could access those funds and that a statewide septic inspection program at time of sale be included.

Diesel Tax Package

Although there is no hearing set for the following bills, it is expected that they will be in the committee on transportation the week of 2/25/02.

HB 5733 sponsored by Rep. Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac) would amend PA 51, Michigan’s Transportation Funding Law. The purpose is to circumvent the distribution formula, setting aside the diesel tax increase to pay for construction only on national trucklines. Local roads and bridges and public transportation would not see any of the increase from a 4 cent tax hike.

HB 5734 sponsored by Rep. Keith Stallworth (D-Detroit) would amend the "Motor Carrier Fuel Tax Act" to simplify the way in which diesel tax is collected in Michigan.

HB 5735 sponsored by Rep. Doug Hart (R-Rockford) would amend the " Motor Fuel Tax Act" to raise the tax on diesel fuel from 15 to 19 cents per gallon.

HB 5736 sponsored by Rep. Larry Julian (R- Lennon) would amend the "Use Tax Act" to  together with HB 5734 simplify the way in which diesel tax is collected in Michigan.

Regional Transportation Authority

HB 5467 and HB 5468 sponsored by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (former rep) would create a governance board to create coordination of routes and services in SE Michigan region. This RTA would replace the Regional Transportation Corrdinating Council (RTCC).

2002 Budget Priorities

Department of Environmental Quality – SB 1104

General fund support for the MDEQ budget has been reduced by $26 million (26%).  We will be continuing our work to get the department to put a greater emphasis on enforcement programs to insure compliance with environmental protection laws.  We will also continue our efforts to enhance protection of wetlands and secure stable funding for water quality monitoring.   Early retirement could continue to hurt this department with as many as 150 people leaving, many senior management staff. The next hearing is Tuesday (2/26) at 1:00 pm.

Department of Natural Resources  -   SB 1106

The Governor has eliminated general fund support for the Michigan Civilian Conservation Corp ($1.9 million cut).  He has also included language mandating the marking of timber at unrealistic levels given the cuts to this department.  We will continue to work with the Sierra Club to address forest management within the MDNR.  This department is also subject to early retirement reductions of up to 150 people further curtailing their ability to perform basic functions.   The next hearing is Wednesday (2/27) at 3:00 pm.

Transportation - HB 5651

The executive version sets operating at 158,500,000. Te Lansing to Detroit Rail study is approaching its final phase and MEC will continue to advocate for the appropriations necessary to complete the six-year study. The House Transportation Approprations Committee will hear testimony on 2/26/02  at 10:30 a.m.

Agriculture – HB 5642

Problem with substantial cuts to Soil Conservation Districts.   Next hearing is Thursday, February 26th at 8:00 am.

Land Use

The committee on House Land Use and Environment will take testimony only on the following bills Tuesday (2/26) at 10:30 am:

HB 4687 sponsored by Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) would amend the School Code to require an agreement between the school board and the municipality on infrastructure needs before purchasing property or buildings to be used for school sites or purposes. These infrastructure plans may include references to roads, sewers and water lines.

HB 5187 sponsored by Rep. John Papageorge (R-Troy) would also amend the
School Code to close a loophole by  requiring that all public schools adhere to local zoning ordinances. The committee on Land Use and Environment will take testimony only on this bill on 2/26 at 10:30 am.

HB 5320 sponsored by Rep. Belda Garza (D- Detroit) would prohibit the building of schools on contaminated parcels.  Sites that were contaminated in the past would be subject to monitoring requirements.

Submitted by:

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