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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - 5/9/03



House of Representatives

Appropriations - Natural Resources and Environmental Quality Subcommittee

HB 4393  - Michigan Department of Environmental Quality budget - FY 03-04 - The subcommittee passed out HB 4393 on Wednesday. As announced, Rep. John Pastor, chair of the Appropriation Subcommittee proceeded with removing all proposed fees and cut general fund support for the departmentís environmental protection programs by 15 percent and its administration by 30 percent.

If upheld by the full Legislature, the cuts will result in the layoff of as many 120 employees at the Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the loss of over $15 million in federal matching funds.  Rep. Pastor is trying to minimize the impacts, but given the inadequate nature of current program, these cuts will result in serious threats to public health in Michigan.   General Fund support for the department has dropped from $101 million in 2001 to $51 million under the budget proposed by Pastor's Subcommittee.

The full House will take the bills up next week.

HB 4400 - Michigan Department of Natural Resources budget FY 03-04

The subcommittee passed out a budget that reduced at administrative general fund support by 40%.  Provisions recommended by the Governor to increase Motor Vehicle permits into State Parks were removed.   The state is also exploring reducing the amount of taxes paid on state-owner land.

Conservation and Outdoor Recreation

The committee reported the following bills this week:

HB 4286  - Establishes the ruffed grouse as the state game bird.

HB 4408 - Expands definition of peace officer for enforcement of snowmobile violations.

House Energy and Technology reported the following resolution:

SCR 14  - A concurrent resolution to memorialize the President and Congress of the United States to pursue and support fuel cell research projects in Michigan.

House Appropriation Subcommittee - Agriculture - SB 288

Thursday, May 15th at 8:00 am - Will begin work on this budget.

House Appropriation Subcommittee - Transportation - SB 265

Tuesday, May 13th at 2:00 pm -  Will begin work on this budget.

Senate

SB 289 - Water Use Regulation - The full Senate took up SB 289 this week, that as introduced,  would have regulated water use in Michigan.. As passed, it is a modest improvement to our water use reporting statute (mainly through additional reporting requirements by the agricultural community). In addition, it requires the MDEQ to do some additional mapping (without enough money or consistent information being provided), and establishes a groundwater conservation advisory council to study the issue more and decide if Michigan should ever actually regulate water use.

Amendments to allow the MDEQ to protect fragile natural resources and require users to report water conservation practices were defeated.

Committee Action:

Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee

HB 4087 - The committee took testimony on this bill to regulate disputes where conflicts occur between groundwater users.  Although many groups, including MEC support the concept, the legislation does not include any funding for the MDEQ to take on this substantial new commitment.   Further testimony will be taken on  Tuesday, May 13th at 3:00 pm.

HB 4257 and SB 244 - Bills to regulate Coastal Wetlands - These bills allows the destruction of emergent coastal wetland by lake front property owners without a permit.  The EPA that stated that passage of the bill could result in the loss of up to $3 million in coastal zone management funds from the federal government.  Testimony was taken from supporters and opponents of this legislation.  The committee will likely revisit the topic in the next few weeks.

Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs and Appropriations Subcommittees: Natural Resources and Environmental Quality  -  Thursday, May 14 - 8:00 am

Agenda:  Governor's Fee Proposals for MDEQ - meeting was rescheduled after the meeting on 5/8 was canceled.

Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs and Appropriations Subcommittee -

HB 4393 - MDEQ Budget - May 14th at 3pm
HB 4400 - MDNR Budget - May 13th at 12 noon

Task Force / Town Hall  hearings:

Senate Republican Task Force on Expansion of the Bottle Bill and Recycling

Adrian - Tobias room Adrian College - 7-9 pm

House Democratic Town Hall Meeting on Out-of-State Trash

Holt - Holt Junior High School Cafeteria - 7-8:30 pm

Submitted by:

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