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E-M:/ Michigan Environmental Council Capitol Update - 10/24/03


Action this week:

SB 252 - Water Pollution Discharge Fees - SB 252 - The Senate noncurred with the House changes sending the bill to conference committee.

The MDEQ budget bill authorizes $3.0 million in fees. The House substitute includes approximately $3 million in fees.  However, the bill has been weakened by a provision that prevents the department from promulgating any new rules to protect water resources, exempts agricultural operations as does nothing to insure more enforcement or pollution prevention. The provision that eliminates the Critical Materials Registry / Annual Wastewater Reporting program was removed.

The Senate named Sens.McManus, Birkholz and Brater to the conference committee. The House is expected to name Reps. Koetje, Howell and Tobocman.

SB 560 - Groundwater Discharge Fees - The Senate noncurred with the House changes sending the bill to conference committee.

The Senate bill 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. The House amended the bill to provide exemptions to small businesses, non profits, agricultural facilities resulting in the bill only raising $330,000.  The bill now goes to the Senate for further action.

The Senate passed the following items:

SCR 11 - The resolution urge Congress to repeal the exemption for ballast water for permit requirements under the Clean Water Act

SR 148  - Calls for better reporting of spills in boundary waters between Canada and Michigan

Committee action:

Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee  -  The committee reported the following bills: SB 214, SB 215, SB 226, SB 227, SB 228, SB 229.  The bills deal with the issue of penalizing and criminalizing the release of non-native fish, and genetically modified or non-native organisms into the waters of the state.

In committee:

Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee  -  The next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday (10/28) at 3:00 PM in Room 110, Farnum Building and will take up SB 744 - which creates a new award program for teachers that excel in environmental education and HB 4284 that provides for joint planning commissions.

Appropriations: Subcommittees on Agriculture & Natural Resources will meet on Tuesday (10/28) at 12:00 PM to hear testimony on the Emerald Ash Borer and Chronic Wasting Disease.

Technology & Energy Committee will meet on Wednesday (10/29) at 3:00 PM
to take up a number of bills and SR 140 which encourages research into thermal depolymerization (a process can convert carbon-based items as diverse as animal processing waste, tires, and plastics into sources of energy).

Appropriations - Subcommittee on Natural Resources will meet on Thursday (11/6) at 12:00 PM for a presentation by the Natural Resources Commission & Dept. of Natural Resources on Land Management Strategy.



HB 4666-4668 - these bill reported from the Land Use Committee amend laws regarding planned unit developments to allow the preserved open space to be non-contiguous.

Upcoming committee action:

Local Government and Urban Policy Committee -  On Tuesday (10/28) at 9:00 AM  will hear a Presentation by Representatives Richardville and Jamnick on Manufactured Housing: Comment by interest groups and general public. In addition, the committee will take up the following:
SB 718 -  allows a municipality to use tax increment financing for environmental pollution cleanup even if they may have some liability for the contamination.
Testimony only on:
HB 5145 - Allows for an extension for the time frame for required connections to available public sewer line at the consent of the local unit of government and as long as the septic systems is in good repair.

Land Use and Environment Committee will meet on Wednesday (10/29) at 2:00 PM or after House session to take up HB 5107 on context-sensitive design for road construction and repair. MDOT presentation on the bill.  Testimony only on:

HB 5030 -32 - Establishes agricultural security areas, restricts certain taxation within them, and recaptures the forgone taxes under certain circumstances.

Great Lakes and Tourism Committee will meet on Thursday (10/30) at 11:00 AM or After Session, to take up SCR 11  a concurrent resolution to memorialize the Congress of the United States and the EPA to repeal a certain regulation that provides for an exemption for ballast water discharges from permit requirements under the federal Clean Water Act.  And,  SCR 13 Van Woerkom A concurrent resolution to memorialize the Congress of the United States to fund fully the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

Tax Policy Committee will meet on Wednesday (10/29) at 9:00 AM to take  HR 88 Moolenaar A resolution to memorialize the Congress of the United States to enact legislation to extend the production tax credit for wind power energy development.

Submitted by:

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