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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - 6/27/03

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 House did not concur with the Senate changes and the bill has been sent to conference.  House conferees: Pastor, Newell, Brown, Senate conferees: McManus, Goschka and Barcia.

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 House did not concur with the Senate changes and the bill has been sent to conference.  House conferees: Pastor, Schaffer, and Brown, Senate conferees: McManus, Johnson and Barcia.

House of Representatives

Committee action:

Government Operations Committee

The committee took testimony on the proposed fee bills, at which time businesses and local units of government opposed the Senate passed version of SB 252.  These same groups supported the bill coming out of Senate committee when it was $3.0 million (but opposed it when it was $3.4 million, with $400,000 dedicated toward enforcement).  Note:  Illinois has recently passed water discharge fee legislation authorizing approximately $20 million in fees.  Michigan is now the only Great Lakes state that does not charge for water pollution discharge permits.

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 $1.8 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.

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:

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.  A substitute was passed by committee that lowered the age for deer, elk and bear to 12, and left unchanged the overall requirement for hunters to be 12 years of age.

Next week on Wednesday at 9:00 am, the committee takes up:

HB 4875 - Allows seniors to hunt with crossbows during bow and arrow season.

HR 82 - A resolution to urge Congress not to restrict bear baiting on federal land.

Submitted by:

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