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E-M:/ Michigan Environmental Council Capitol Update - 5/27/04



Title:

House GOP Moves Forward on its Agenda to Hamstring the Department of Environmental Quality’s Ability to Protect Public Health  -- Proposed budget eliminates the Hazardous Waste Management Program  - cut general fund support by 15% - staffing levels by 8% .  (See HB 1066 below - House Calendar)

A couple of quick thoughts on the issue because I can't stop myself:

1.  Reps. Pastor and Moolenaar proposed ending all testing for dioxin statewide.   Dioxin is the most potent animal carcinogen ever tested - it has been found to cause tumors in both genders of every species and every strain of animal that's been tested.   Stop testing for dioxin in our communities? -- Who are these guys representing? -- not any member of the public that I have ever met.

2.  We keep hearing from the House GOP on the importance of timely permits in retaining Michigan jobs -- so what do they propose -- eliminating 8% of the MDEQ's staff -- and requiring any company managing hazardous waste to travel to Chicago for any permit or meeting with regulators.   When are these guys going to stop the political games and get serious about our budget crisis and protecting jobs and the environment in Michigan.

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Senate

Passed:

HB 5509 -- The budget for the Department of Agriculture for fiscal year 2004-2005. The main problem is related to the use of $3 million in Environmental Response Funds for activities not related to environmental cleanups (the legislatively mandated purpose of those funds).  Meanwhile, no new sites of environmental cleanup are being addressed this year due to funding shortfalls.

SB 926
- A bill to extend the prohibition of feeding deer and elk in certain parts of the state.

SB 953 - This bill directs the state to invest "surplus funds" in underwriting qualified agricultural energy production loans.  Loans could be made systems such as methane digesters, biomass gasification technology and ethanol plants.  A farmer who had been guilty of a criminal violation or responsible for a civil violation of water discharge laws would not be eligible for a period of one year.

SB 955 -  The bill exempts from property taxes methane digesters electric generating systems. 

SR 143 -- A resolution to encourage the further utilization of methane digestion in Michigan.

On the calendar:

HB 5681 – Establishes penalties for the destruction to vegetation or property in Mackinac Island state park.

SB 1132 -- This bill will require the Auditor General to do a performance audit of state laboratories and to compare their costs with private labs. 

SB 1133 -- Creates a voluntary Laboratory Data Quality Assurance Program that labs in Michigan could participate in, possibly making them more attractive to use by the state or private entities. 

SB 1135 -- Creates the Laboratory Data Quality Assurance Council

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

HB 4730  -- Amends the statute controlling aquatic nuisances reduce the regulation applied to the applicants of aquatic pesticides and limits the reasons that the department could deny a permit.  Any permit not acted on within 15 days is granted.  The Michigan Environmental Council opposes this bill.

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:

Finance will meet on Wednesday (6/9) at 1:00 pm, the agenda includes a discussion with State Treasurer Jay Rising  and the following bills:

SB 13 - Prohibit under certain circumstances assessment increases for new construction, mobile homes, or structures used to house a senior citizen family member. 

SB 477 - Establishes a value-based tax for mobile homes.

SB 478 -- Assesses mobile homes as real property.

SB 486 - Establishes a value-based tax for mobile homes.

SB 707 - Eliminates sales tax collections on mobile home sales.

SB 708 - Assesses mobile homes as real property. 

Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs will meet on Tuesday (6/8) at 3:00 pm to take up:

Testimony given by the Department of Environmental Quality on Oversight of PA 148 of 2003

SB 1171 - Expands the definition of litter to include abandoned vehicles – and makes the owner the presumptive person responsible for its proper disposal.

SB 1278 – Regulates the operation of airboats.

SB 1279 -- Provide for check-off option on the income tax form for the Michigan state park endowment fund.

SB 1280 – Establishes a citizens committee for Michigan state parks.

SB 1281 – Creates a gem of the parks award and a state park volunteer of the year award.

House

Passed:

HB 5709-10 -- Provides for a single business tax credit for businesses that sell replacement trees to municipalities affected by emerald ash borer.

HB 5711 -- Provides a income tax credit to homeowners who remove and replace certain infested trees.

On the calendar:

SB 1066 -- MDEQ Budget - fiscal year 2004-05-  On Thursday (6/3) the House Appropriation Committee approved a budget for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) that eliminates the Hazardous Waste Management Program, reduces staffing levels by 8%, and reduces general fund support for the department by 15%. 

SB 1068 -- MDNR Budget for fiscal year 2004-05 - The House version removes travel cuts made by the Senate, removed timber cut mandate language and returned to a version closer to that recommended by the administration.

HB 5876 - This bill similar to a dozen others -- requires that the state issue permits within an agreed time limit or fees are refunded to the applicant.  This bill deals with 44 different programs within the Department of Environmental Quality.  The Michigan Environmental Council opposed the bill -- due to the fact that the legislature at the same time is cutting the MDEQ budget (down to $38 million from $101 million in 2001). 

HB 4106 -- Provide for state real estate transfer tax on transfer of certain manufactured homes.

HB 4879 -- Provide for exemption from sales tax on used manufactured homes.

HB 4882 -- Eliminate use tax on manufactured home sales.

HB 4880 -- Create and implement a manufactured housing specific tax.

HB 5844 -- Include for homestead property tax credit calculation amounts paid for Michigan manufactured housing specific tax.

HB 4111 -- Exempt from property taxes manufactured housing subject to specific tax.

HB 4868 -- Create a mobile homes manufactured home owners residency act.

HB 4869 -- Establish and clarify owners rights under the manufactured home owners association act.

HB 5035 -- Revise membership of the mobile home commission.

HB 5034 -- a bill to access mobile homes as real property.

HB 4358 -- To increase the length limit for trucks to 65 feet.

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

In committee:

Agriculture and Resource Management will meet Tuesday (6/8) at 10:30 am to take up HB 5919 -- a bill to designate the Michigan Treasure Cookie the state cookie.

Judiciary will meet on Tuesday (6/8) at 9:00 am to take up a number of bills and for a special presentation by Michigan Surgeon General Kimberlydawn Wisdom, regarding lead paint issues in Michigan.

Land Use and Environment will meet on Wednesday (6/9) at 2:00 pm of after session to take up HR 261 -- a resolution to urge the Ontario Minister of the Environment to establish new landfills and landfill expansions

Select Committee on the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will meet on Monday, (6/7) at 6:30 PM at the Bloomfield Township Public Library, 1099 Lone Pine Road Bloomfield, MI 48302  for a hearing on the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department Rate Setting Process

Transportation will meet on Thursday (6/10) at 9:00 AM  to take up a number of bills including HR 232 / HCR 53 -  resolutions to call upon the Michigan Department of Transportation to review the current status of alternatives to road salt based on information from existing studies, trials, and tests and to make recommendations for advancing the use of alternatives at the state and local level.

Appropriation Subcommittees:

Natural Resources and Environmental Quality will meet on Tuesday (6/1) at 9:00 AM to take up:

Submitted by:

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