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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - April 19, 2002

MEC Capitol Update April 19, 2002

$1 Billion Sewage Bond Proposal

The House Commerce Committee reported HB 4625 and HB 5892 to place on November 2002 ballot.  HB 4625 authorizes the question of whether the state should borrow $1 billion for the purpose of financing water pollution control projects that prevent discharges of untreated or improperly treated sewage into the waters of the state. HB 5892 directs the state to borrow no more than $100 million per year and place it into the State Revolving Fund (current fund for providing low-interest loans to municipalities for water projects).   MEC advocated for 10% of the money being designated for water conservation / volume reduction projects that would reduce the need for larger or new sewers.

HB 5893 was not reported out of committee.  It would have changed the priority of projects to place greater emphasis on projects needed to meet capacity needs or to replace septic systems that were impacting water quality.  MEC opposed language regarding meeting capacity needs (as opposed the current program that places the greatest emphasis on those areas that are negatively impacting water quality).   We worked with committee members on language that acknowledged that due to soil and hydrologic conditions that some areas of the state were less suited for onsite septic systems and should be eligible for loans.  Lastly, we suggested language that encouraged growth management planning and volume reduction efforts.  This bill is scheduled for another hearing before the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday (4/23) at 9:00 am.

MDEQ Budget SB 1104

The House Appropriation Subcommittee is expected to complete work on this budget in the next few weeks.  MEC has requested the committee retain language included in the Senate version on environmental enforcement (Sec. 219), and wetland mitigation (Sec. 401).  It has also asked the committee to improve language on sand dune protection (Sec. 402) and include new language on mercury reductions, environmental cleanups and healthy schools.  A hearing to finalize the committee version has not been scheduled.

MDNR Budget SB 1106

The Committee has hearing scheduled on Monday (4/22) 1:00 pm at Hoffmaster State Park, and a hearing on Tuesday (4/23) at 10:30 am in Lansing for the Department of Natural Resources budget.  Concerns have been expressed about how early retirements could hit the State Park Division hard in the middle of the 2002 summer season.  Concerns have also been raised regarding the closure of Civilian Conservation Corp residential camps.

Transportation Budget  - HB 5651  - The House passed version contained positive gains for public transportation funding, including a $10 million increase in local bus operating and $1 million for the Lansing to Detroit Rail study.  Hearings on the budget will be held in Beaver Island (Friday April 19), Saginaw (Monday April 22), and Detroit (Friday April 26) before coming back to Lansing on Wednesday May 1. If you would like more information about a hearing near you please contract Dusty Fancher at MEC 487-9539.

Segway Human Transporter SB 1016 - The Senate had a demonstration of the Segway Human Transporter this week at the Capitol. Senate Bill 1016 would amend the Michigan Vehicle Code to allow an individual to operate an "electric personal assistive mobility device", better known as the segway, on a sidewalk or any other public area open to pedestrian traffic. The bill provides that the governing body of a city, county, township, or village could not prohibit the safe operation of this device but can regulate its use. There are expectations that the bill will continue to see amendments before it is ready to be voted out of the committee.

Regional Transportation Authority HB 5467 -  (RTA) legislation is continuing to evolve. Senator Bill Bullard is currently working on draft 7 of the bill. For more information on the current situation, Draft 7 and/or an MEC analysis please call Dusty Fancher at MEC 517-487-9539

Other bills MEC hope to see action on before summer:

Medical Waste Incineration SB 11 Currently on the Senate floor.

Mercury Thermometer Ban HB 4599 Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee

Road Maintenance - HB 5383  -- This bill provides for a uniform definition of maintenance  -- Senate Transportation and Tourism Committee

Transportation Asset Management - HB 5693 - This bill mandates that the MDOT and local road agencies report the condition of the roads and show that this positively correlates with the amount spent on maintenance - Senate Transportation and Tourism committee

Lease Vehicle Use Tax - HB 4002 - would close a loop hole that now send the use tax of lease vehicles to the General fund instead of to public transportation funding, as originally intended by the legislature (would provide additional $22 million for transit each year) House Tax Policy

Submitted by:

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