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E-M:/ Michigan Environmental Council Capitol Update - 11/26/03

The legislature will return on December 2nd and are expected to be in session for a period of three weeks.  There are many positive items on the calendar which legislators need to hear should move  -- and some items to oppose (See the House Great Lakes and Tourism Committee agenda regarding the application of aquatic pesticides).

Conference Committees

Two months into the new fiscal year and permits to pollute are still free.  The conference committees on SB 252 and 560 took no action this week.

SB 252 - Water Pollution Discharge Fees - SB 252 - 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 named 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.


On the calendar:

HB 4480, HB 4481, HB 4482, HB 4483, HB 4484, and HB 4488 -  establishes land banks and delineates a procedure for clearing title on abandoned properties.

Committee action:

Appropriations - Subcommittee on Natural Resources will meet on Tuesday  (12/4) at 8:30 AM for an Advice and Consent hearing on Curtis Hertel, Sr., Janet Mansfield, and Carol Oakley, appointees to the Michigan State Waterways Commission and Land Management Strategy: Presentation by the Natural Resources Commission.

Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs will meet on Tuesday (12/2) at 3:00 PM to take up a package on recycling.  The package includes:

1) SB 790 -- Creating a recycling advisory committee

2) SB 721 -- $3/ton tipping fee - To counties - 50% equally divided 50% per capita.  The bill also has 50% going to existing programs and 50% dedicated to new or expansions (large counties are already raising issues with them being short-changed).    Requires plan to be written by solid waste planning agency and includes reporting requirements.

3) SB 532 and SB 533-- anti-littering legislation

SB 853, SB 854, SB 855, SB 856, SB 857, SB 858, SB 859, SB 860, and a bill creating statewide goals for recycling rates

The above mentioned bills do some of the following:

4) New bill to create a 1-800 number to report littering violations

5) New bills (4) - more standardized reporting from adopt-a-river, adopt-a-shoreline, adopt-a-trail, and adopt-a-park programs

6) New bill - create statewide recycling coordinator position

7) New bill - establishes statewide recycling goals (30% by 2009, and
50% by 2014)

8) New bill - amends the bottle deposit law to allow retailers to refuse containers that either have residue in them, have unreadable bar codes or present a health risk to the dealer or distributor

The following bills are also on the agenda:

SB 780 -- Amends the local financing act to limits is application to counties with populations greater than 450,000

HB 4896 -- Repeals the sunset on the provision that allows the taking of falcons for falconry hunting.

HB 5270 -- Makes revisions to the brownfield revitalization loan fund under the Clean Michigan Initiative program


On the calendar:

The solid waste package was reported by the House Land Use and Environment Committee.  The Michigan Environmental Council supports the package except where noted:

HB 4297 - Bans cathode ray tubes from incinerators one year after the effective date of the bill.

HB 4688 - Deletes a provision in law that prohibits the disposal of out-of-county solid waste unless provided for in county solid waste management plan. The U.S. Supreme Court nullified provision as it applies to out-of-state waste.  This bill eliminates the requirement to have out-of-county waste in the solid waste management plan.  This was the closest vote, coming out 6-4.  The Michigan Environmental Council opposes the legislation.

HB 5234 - Regulates the disposal of solid waste in landfills to limit waste that does not meet our standards - similar to SB 502 as passed by the Senate -- the bill was amended to replace homogenous with reference to uniform materials or substances.

HB 5236 -  Requires voter approval for a local unit of government to impose a waste reduction fee or recycling surcharge on its residents.  The fee is actually voluntary unless approved by the voters (due to a Michigan Supreme Court decision).  The Michigan Environmental Council opposes this legislation.

HB 5237 - Limits the imposition of any recycling or waste reduction fee to actual households and not vacant property.  Amended in committee to include commercial facilities in payment of the fee.

SB 57 -  Allows the Director of the MDEQ to issue an order limited the movement of solid waste within the state or from outside the state if it poses a "substantial" health risk to Michigan residents

SB 497 -  Defines beverage container for purposes of the proposed ban.

SB 498  - Establishes a list of banned items from landfills.  The committee added three amendments:

1) New de minimis standard for beverage containers, yard waste and scrap tires.

2) An exemption for green glass -- with a task force required to make recommendations
by December 31, 2004 -- if the legislature doesn't adopt the recommendations by June 1, 2007 the exemption is removed.

3)  Another amendment was added that allows the director to make a determination that a safe, sanitary alternative disposal methods is not available for medical waste, beverage containers, scrap tires or yard waste -- allowing it to be landfilled.  SB 499  - Provides for an inspection program for Michigan landfills.

SB 500 - Increases the fines and penalties fro certain solid waste law violations without the civil infraction authority in the Senate version.  The Michigan Environmental Council opposed the removal of civil infraction authority.

SB 502  - Allows for the establishment and compilation of a list of jurisdictions that ban the same items from landfills that Michigan does. New provisions allow an individual to petition for inclusion of the "approved" list of jurisdictions on behalf of his/her jurisdiction -- ability to enforce must be comparable to our laws

SB 715 - Allows for local unit of government to assist the department in enforcement efforts.

Other bill on the calendar:

HB 4702 -- Property tax; assessments; sale of certain agricultural property; exclude from sales ratio studies under certain circumstances.

In Committee:

Agriculture and Resource Management Committee will meet on Tuesday (12/2) at 10:30 AM to hear a Subcommittee report on Healthy Forests and to take up:

HB 5154 -- Regulates the use of pesticides at schools and day care centers

Conservation and Outdoor Recreation will meet on Wednesday (12/3) at 10:30 AM
to take up:

HB 5312 -- allows hunters to donate an additional $1.00 when purchasing hunting or fishing licensing to support the sportsmen against hunger program

HB 5023 -- Allows free access to state parks for individuals who served in the Iraqi Freedom War

Transportation will meet on Tuesday (12/2) at 9:00 AM to take testimony only on
SB 785  which revises procedures for the establishment of issue fund-raising plates

Great Lakes and Tourism will meet on Thursday (12/4) at 11:00 AM or after session to take up:

HB 4142 -- Requires aquatic weed management permits to be issued within 2 weeks of receipt of application.

HB 4729 -- Amends the statute controlling aquatic nuisances to enhance sanctions for violations.

HB 4730  -- Amends the statute controlling aquatic nuisances to deregulate the area in many ways transferring responsibility to the Department of Agriculture.

HB 5158  -- Prohibits the possession or release of certain aquatic species and provides for penalties.

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

SB 535 and SB 536  -- Allows for the sale of Great Lakes specialty watercraft decals; earmark revenue to the Michigan Great Lakes protection fund.

Submitted by:

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