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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - 6/20/03


SB 252 - Water Discharge Permit Fees (NPDES) -   The Senate passed SB 252 Wednesday authorizing $3.4 million in NPDES fees, including $425,000 above the committee passed version, earmarking the added funds specifically for compliance activities in the MDEQ budget (HB 4393)

The bill used the formula designed by the regulated industry (that generally has small dischargers subsidizing large ones).  The bill now raises $3.4 million dollars (the Governor had asked for $7.2 million to run a credible program).  The MDEQ budget adds $2.0 million in general fund -- leaving the state $2.8 million below that identified as necessary to run an adequate water protection program.

SB 561 - Landfill Inspection Fees - Concurs with the Governor recommendation of $2.6 million in additional fees to fund solid waste management activities.  The committee amended the bill to extend operating licenses from 2 years to 3 years.  This will reduce the funding that comes to the state to cleanup leaking landfills after their closure. .

SB 560 - 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.

SB 510 - Stormwater Discharge Fees - Concurs with the Governor's recommendation for $1.16 million in new stormwater discharge fees.

Budget bills:

HB 4393 - MDEQ - The Senate passed this budget after adding amendment to earmark $425,000 for enforcement activities, prepare a NPDES enforcement report, report on out-of-state trash, add an additional $1.7 million for Lake St. Clair related cleanups and monitoring.  The bill also reflects the $3.4 million in NPDES permit fees. The bill is $3.2 million above Governor Granholm's recommendation.  The bill will now be sent back to the House, where it will likely be sent to conference committee.

HB 4400 - MDNR 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.

The Appropriation Committee is the only committee scheduled at this time for next week in the Senate.

House of Representatives

Committee action:

Government Operations Committee

Tuesday (6/24) at 2:00 pm

This committee may be meeting at this time to consider the user fees passed by the Senate (SB 252, 510, 560, and 561).

Land Use & Environment Committee

The committee reported the following bills:

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.  The main problem with the bill still is uneven application to farms and other users (with farms reporting less detailed information and not paying fees).

Next week the committee is scheduled to address the following bills on Wednesday (6/25) at 2 pm and Thursday (6/26) at 9 am.

HB 4480-84 and HB 4488 - This bills deal with the issue of clearing title on property and the establishment of a land bank.

House Conservation and Outdoor Recreation

Wednesday (6/25) at 10:30 am

HB 4225 - Removes the age restrictions in law for hunting in Michigan.  Currently a person has to be 14 years old to hunt for deer, elk or bear, and 12 years old for other game species.  The bill also increase hunting fees slightly.

Submitted by:

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