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E-M:/ Michigan Environmental Council Capitol Update - 3/28/04

Bills to make landfills safer and divert reusable materials signed by the Governor.

Jennifer Granholm on Friday signed legislation that insures that all waste entering into Michigan landfills meets our standards.  In addition, the bills extend the list of banned products to include whole used tires and beverage containers.

Agreement in the works on water discharge permit fees

The House and Senate took action to reconsider the votes that approved the first conference committee report on SB 252, and rejected the report.  Conferees for a second committee have been named.  The Governor also issues a release announcing that a new agreement have been reached.

Details are not available yet, but the agreement is purported to raise approximately $3.0 million in NPDES fees (water discharge and $1.2 million from  he stormwater program.  In addition, House Bill 5670, will amend the Administrative Procedures Act to vest complete responsibility for the processing and promulgation of administrative rules in the executive branch.  Recognizing the important role for appropriate legislative review, the legislation will extend the time period for review of administrative rules from a mandatory 21 calendar days under current law, to an optional review period of up to 15 legislative session days.

The new conference committee is expected to take action this week.

Groundwater Program still in peril -- will cease operations in April if fee bills is not enacted

The conference committee for the groundwater fee bill was scheduled for Thursday, then canceled.  In a quote to a local news service, the chair Sen. McManus stated she expected the legislation to be taken up but maybe not until after the legislators took their spring break (the first two weeks of April).  The uncertainty will result in the department needing to continue putting into place plans to end the program.

Director Steve Chester last week notified permit holders that they will discontinue the groundwater discharge permitting program on April 23, 2004 if fees are not passed by April 1. No new permits, or modification of current permits would be processed and no enforcement efforts will be conducted.

SB 560 - Groundwater Discharge Fees - The Governor had proposed $3.58 million in fees.  The Senate bill included $1.38 million in new groundwater discharge fees.   The House amended the bill to provide exemptions to small businesses, non profits, agricultural facilities resulting in the bill only raising $330,000 (an insufficient amount to run the program).



SR 214 -- A resolution to urge the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Office of the Great Lakes to work with the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office to develop a pilot project to provide real-time monitoring of water quality for Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River.

On the calendar:

SB 1066 --Department of Environmental Quality Budget -- The full Appropriations Committee voted out the Senate substitute he FY 2004-05 Budget for the Department of Environmental Quality.  General fund is reduced to $38 million next year, down from $53 million last year, and $101 million in 2001.

Major changes proposed by Governor Granholm included:

  • Eliminate $16 million general fund for matching federal state revolving fund dollars (used for sewer infrastructure).  This action may not have immediate impact due to reduced demand for loans, but will have a continued impact through less money available in the future.
  • Proposes no new cleanup projects due to dwindling funding available from state and federal sources for these efforts ($21,715,000 reduction).
  • Major changes proposed in the Senate version include:
    • The Senate version cut all travel for employees by 50% and banned out-of-state travel.  This action hurts enforcement and compliance efforts by limiting the ability of staff to do inspections of regulated facilities.
    • Cut general fund support for Air Division by $1.2 million.

    • New fees were added for inspecting water facilities at public swimming pools and campgrounds, water and sewer facilities at manufactured housing communities, and to assist local health departments with inspection of septage waste facilities.
    SB 1068 -- Department of Natural Resources Budget for FY 2004-05.

    The Governor proposed the following major change:

    • Purchased Land Payments In Lieu of Taxes-- Proposes replacing the General Fund and State restricted dollars with a portion of the sales tax revenue used for statutory revenue sharing payments. The proposal would also cap the mills assessed at the 2003 level, freeze the value of the property, and establish a floor of $500 in order for jurisdictions to receive a payment from the State. There would be a savings of
    $2,012,900 GF/GP and $8,272,500 Gross. The Senate concurred.

    The Senate made the following significant changes:

    • Travel Reduction -- After the subcommittee recommended a 50% travel reduction, the full Appropriation committee adopted a reduction 6%, or $540,700.
    • Added Pork -- The Senate also provides a grant of $100,000 from the Waterways Fund to the Sebewaing Harbor Commission and added $50,000 and one position to support a forester in the southwest region of the State.

    Other bills on the calendar:

    SB 977 -- A bill to establish pollution; water pollution reporting protocol under part 31.

    SB 217 - The bill to amend the drain code was reported from the Agriculture Committee.

    Recycling bills:

    SB 532 and SB 533-- anti-littering legislation

    SB 853  -- Reporting on the nature and the amount of litter collected under the adopt-a-river program

    SB 854 - creates statewide recycling coordinator position

    SB 855 - Reporting on the nature and the amount of litter collected under the adopt-a-shoreline program

    SB 856 - Requires the state to conduct a comprehensive study on littering and create a marketing program to reduce litter

    SB 857 - Reporting on the nature and the amount of litter collected under the adopt-a-trail program

    SB 858 - Reporting on the nature and the amount of litter collected under the adopt-a-park program

    SB 860 - Establishes a 1-800 number for reporting littering violations

    SB 861 - Sets statewide goals for recycling rates (30% by 2009, 50% by 2014)

    In committee:

    Commerce & Labor Committee will meet on Tuesday (3/30) at 3:00 PM for a presentation by the Michigan Association of Home Builders

    Judiciary Committee will meet Tuesday (3/30) at 12:00 PM to take up a number of bills including HB 5029 - a bill to establish a season for hunting mourning doves.


    On the calendar:

    SB 510 -- a bill to establish stormwater fees (could be used to amend the same sections as SB 252 that may be vetoed by the Governor).

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

    SB 193 -- Provides for a  specialty license plates for ducks unlimited

    In committee:

    Agriculture and Resource Management will meet on Tuesday (3/30) at 10:30 AM to take up:

    HB 5695 -- Exempt fish farms from DNR oversight in respects to nonnative species.

    HB 5665 -- Give preference to paper products that the state purchases to those derived from sustainable managed forests

    Government Operations will meet on Tuesday (3/30) at 2:00 PM or after committees are given leave by the House to meet, whichever time is later to take up two bills including, SB 653 -- to extend the sunset on the baseline environmental assessment fees.

    Local Government and Urban Policy will meet on Tuesday (3/30) at 9:00 AM for a presentation by Rep. Richardville to committee on status of manufactured housing fee structure legislation and to take up HB 5671 - which requires notification to certain property owners of scheduled public hearings for annexation.

    Submitted by:

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