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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - July 3, 2002



The House finished business at 6:40 am this morning after working all night.  They are now adjourned until August 13, the Tuesday after the primary.  The Senate returns next Tuesday, July 9th to finish their business.

The House passed a cigarette tax increase of $0.50/pack and removed $335 million from the Rainy Day Fund to address funding shortfalls in the budgets for fiscal year 2002 and 2003.   They also passed a bill that would have allowed the Single Business Tax (SBT) rollback to continue, however, the Governor has stated he opposes that legislation and will veto it if sent to him.  Under current law the SBT rollback is suspended in the Rainy Day Fund drops below $250 million, which will happen when the $335 million is withdrawn.

Budgets:

MDEQ Budget SB 1104 -- The final version of the SB 1104 (2nd Conference report) has now been approved by both Houses.  Overall, 162 MDEQ employees have decided to retire, or 10.4% of the total workforce.  On top of this, the administration has cut general fund support from $101 million for fiscal year 2002 (43 PA 2001) to $69 million in fiscal year 2003, a cut of over 30%.  The final conference report removed language requested by MEC on environmental enforcement (Sec. 219), and wetland mitigation (Sec. 401).

Transportation Budget HB 5651 -  The final conference report has been approved by the House, and will be pending before the Senate when they return.  The conference report includes the following:
      a.       $4.7 M increase in local bus operating funds (2.8% over FY 02)
      b.      $1,000,000 for a 20% match in creating a Lansing-Detroit commuter rail service
      c.       $1,000,000 for DARTA
      d.      High-speed rail reporting on annual progress March 1
      e.       Guarantee 7-day passenger rail service between Chicago and GR and Chicago and Port Huron.
      f.        Demonstration project for scrap tire recycling used as road construction material

Other Bills:

$1 Billion Sewage Bond Proposal

Sewer Infrastructure Bond Proposal November 2002 HB 4625, HB 5892, HB 5893

Overview - The legislature has finishing work on a package of bills that would authorize the state to borrow $1 billion to fund improvements in sewer infrastructure statewide.  The state would be able to borrow up to $100 million a year for each of the next ten years.  Ninety percent of the money would go into the existing State Revolving Fund.  The State Revolving Fund gives low-interest loans to municipalities allowing them to improve public wastewater / stormwater systems.  Ten percent of this money would go into a new Strategic Water Quality Initiatives Fund.  None of the money can be used to replace current state match money.

Beach Testing - HB 4719 This bill will require bathing beaches across the state to post whether they test the beach or not, and if they do to notify the public on where to obtain the results.  This bill was enrolled and will be sent on to the Governor.

Regional Transportation Authority HB 5467 -  (RTA) legislation has been placed in the conference committee. 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

House conferees named: Reps. Jason Allen, Patricia Godchaux, Samuel Thomas III. It is anticipated that the Senate will name Senators Bill Bullard Jr, Thaddeus McCotter,  and Joe Young Jr. on July 9th when they return.

Segway Human Transporter SB 1016 - Senate Bill 1016 amends 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 final version of the bill allows restrictions to be placed on their operation on certain trails, and them to be banned from others. The bill has been enrolled and sent to the Governor.

Mercury Thermometer Ban HB 4599 Both the House and Senate have passed this legislation.  The Senate placed one minor amendment on the bill and it is pending before the House of Representatives for concurrence.

Road Maintenance - HB 5383  -- This bill provides for a uniform definition of maintenance. It has been enrolled and sent to the Governor.

Transportation Asset Management - HB 5396 - 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.  It has been enrolled and sent to the Governor.

Submitted by:

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