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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Update - 7/3/03

House of Representatives

The House passed the following legislation:

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

SB 537 - Raises State Park fees and eventually turns over authority for future increase to the Natural Resources Commission. 

Committee action:

Government Operations Committee

Water Pollution Discharge Fees - SB 252

The committee took no further testimony on the proposed fee bills this week.

At the first meeting (6/24) 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 as it passed the Senate at $3.4 million, with $400,000 dedicated toward enforcement).  Note:  Illinois has recently passed water discharge fee legislation authorizing approximately $20 million in water discharge fees.  Michigan is now the only Great Lakes state that does not charge for water pollution discharge permits.

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.

The environmental community ran ads in the Oakland Press and Macomb Daily this week educating residents on this issue.

House Conservation and Outdoor Recreation

Reported the following bill and resolution:

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.

Land Use & Environment Committee

Rescheduled its hearing on HB 4284 to establish multi-jurisdictional planning entities for July 15th at 9:00 am.

Budget bills:

No conference committees have been scheduled at this time.  Work is expected to recommence on July 15th.

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, Walker, Brown, Senate conferees: McManus, Goschka and Barcia. (Walker replacing Newall)

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.

Submitted by:

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