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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - 6/6/03


HB 4087 - The Senate started action 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.  The MDEQ is working with proponents on the perimeters of a program which they will have the staff resources to administer.

Committee activity:

Budget Hearings -

Appropriations Subcommittee - Department of Environmental Quality - HB 4393

The subcommittee reported a substitute bill to the full Appropriation Committee that restored many of the cuts made in the House version of the bill.  The bill does so by include a portion of the fees recommended by Governor Granholm and exceeding the general fund allotted to this budget in the Executive recommendation by $3.2 million.  The Budget both still contain substantial cuts that will significant impact department programs.  Major changes include

NPDES Permit Fees - The subcommittee included $3,098,000 in NPDES (water discharge) permit fees.  The Governor's budget had recommended $7.2 million to restore funding to the levels included in the FY 2002 budget.  The budget also includes $1.6 million in general fund (for a total of $4.6 million - approximately the same level of funding last year after all budget reductions).

Landfill Inspection Fees - Concurs with the Governor recommendation of @.6 million in additional new fees to fund solid waste management activities.

Groundwater Discharge Fees - Included $1.38 million in new groundwater discharge fees.  The Governor had proposed $3.58 million in fees.  These new fees will keep this program under funded with chronic non-compliance remaining a problem.

Stormwater Discharge Fees - Concurs with the Governor's recommendation for $1.16 million in new stormwater discharge fees.

Concurred with House recommendations to reinsert programs on septage waste, manufactured housing septage, swimming pools and campground inspections.

Adds some money for aquifer protection ($500,000), but may be insufficient to cover the costs of new programs required in HB 4087 and SB 289.

Appropriations Subcommittee - Department of Natural Resources - HB 4400

The subcommittee on Natural Resources reported its proposed budget.  The most controversial item was the use of restricted funds (Game and Fish funds) to make up in a shortfall in payments in lieu of taxes payments (PILT) to local units of government.   Senator McManus has introduced SB 521 to change how these payments are handled in the future.

Senate Appropriations is expected to take up both of these bills next week.

Appropriation Subcommittee -  Transportation

Tuesday, June 10, at 1:00 pm

SB 399 - Currently 27.9% of the first 4% sales tax levied on fuels goes toward the the Comprehensive Transportation Fund.  This bill reduces that percentage to 24%.  Opponents of the bill point out that this reduces the amount available for public transportation.

Senate Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs Committee

Tuesday, June 10 at 3:00 pm in Room 110 of the Farnum Building

HB 4408 - Law enforcement; local police; expands the definition of peace officer for enforcement of snowmobile violations

SB 46 - Environmental protection; water pollution; doubles the penalties for polluting Michigan waters

SB 47 - Criminal procedure; sentencing guidelines; increasing penalties for polluting waters include in Michigan sentencing guidelines.

SB 535 - Watercraft; registration; Great Lakes specialty watercraft decals; earmark
revenue to the Michigan Great Lakes protection fund.

SB 536 - Watercraft; registration; provide for Great Lakes protection specialty watercraft decals.

In addition, the following four bills that make up the NPDES fee package:

SB 250 - Environmental protection; water pollution; fund for water quality monitoring and administration and enforcement of the water pollution discharge permit program; provide for.

SB 251 - Environmental protection; water pollution; pollution prevention; require permit applicants to demonstrate steps taken.

SB 252 - Environmental protection; water pollution; provide for annual wastewater discharge environmental fee.

SB 253 - Environmental protection; water pollution; provide for discharge permit application fee.

House of Representatives

HB 4257 Emergent Coastal Wetland - The House concurred with the Senate changes, the bill was presented to the Governor and has been signed.  It is PA 14 of 2003.  Attention regarding this issue will now focus on the Army Corp of Engineers that has joint jurisdiction in this area.

Committee action:

Land Use & Environment

Wednesday, June 11 at 2:00 pm or after House session

SB 289 - Water Use Regulation - As introduced, this bill would have regulated water use in Michigan.. As passed by the Senate, 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.

SB 372 - The bill establishes an Adopt-A-Watershed program in Michigan.

House Appropriation Subcommittee - Agriculture  - SB 288 -

Tuesday, June 11 at 8:00 am

The committee is expected to report the House version of the Agriculture budget.

House Agriculture and Resource Management

Tuesday, June 10 at 10:30 am

HB 4790 - Eliminates the pump labeling requirement for fuels containing ethanol.

Submitted by:

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