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E-M:/ Michigan Environmental Council Capitol Update - 4/2/04



The Legislature will be on break for the next two weeks.
Permits to pollute - no longer free

Only six months into the fiscal year, the legislature finally passed water discharge permit fees.

The second conference committee report was adopted by both the House and Senate.  The law will:

  • Raise approximately $3.0 million be year in new water discharge fees.  Industrial facilities pay between $150 and $8700.  Municipal wastewater treatment facilities pay between $1950 and $213,000 (City of Detroit).
  • The fees sunset in October of 2009.
  • The MDEQ loses its authorization to promulgate new rules as of December 31, 2006.
  • Allows parties being sued to remove the action to the county in which their facility is located (at the same time, the Senate passed the MDEQ budget cutting the funding authorized for travel by MDEQ employees by 50%).
The Senate passed the bill 34-4,  no votes coming from Detroit legislators due to the significant costs being allocated to the wastewater facility in Detroit.

The House passed the bill 74-31, no votes coming from Republicans and Rep. Virgil Smith from Detroit.

Groundwater program saved

The conference committee report for groundwater fees (SB 560) was also passed by both chambers this week.  The bill will raise $1.7 million annually.

The Senate passed the measure on a vote of 34-4.

The House passed the measure by a vote of 56-49.

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.

Senate

Passed:

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 -- total savings $617,300)
    • Cut general fund support for Air Division by $1.2 million. This results in a breach of the agreement with those that pay air fees that they would not be used for purposes other than Clean Air Act implementation in Michigan.
    • 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 -- approximately $1.2 million in total.
    • The Senate added $50,000 for real-time water quality testing for the City of Algonac (base of St. Clair River before entering Lake St. Clair).
    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 of 8%, or $753,100.
    • 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.
    SB 977 -- A bill to improve the reporting of toxic spills to insure local health officials receive timely information.

    HB 5029 - a bill to establish a season for hunting mourning doves in Michigan.

    SR 224 - a resolution opposing new or revised administrative rules for businesses that are more stringent than Federal policies.

    On the calendar:

    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)

    House

    Passed:

    SB 653 -- to extend the sunset on the baseline environmental assessment fees.

    HB 5671 - which requires notification to certain property owners of scheduled public hearings for annexation.

    On the calendar:

    SB 510 -- a bill to establish stormwater fees.

    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

    Submitted by:

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