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E-M:/ Michigan Environmental Council Capitol Update - 9/14/04



Title:
Work Completed on Budget - More Reliance on One-time Funding Shifts for MDEQ

MDEQ Budget - The House and Senate approved the MDEQ budget for 2004-05 which reduces overall spending by $30 million dollars and reduces general fund support for the department from $53 million last year to $25 million this year (down from $101 million in 2001).  One-time budget shifts include matching federal water revolving fund money with payments from previous year's loans ($16.3 million), with an additional $8 million being eliminated by switching funding to the Refined Petroleum Fund (generated by the 7/8 of a cent gasoline surcharge previously used for underground storage tank cleanups.

The conference committee did not adopt the House proposed reductions in staffing levels by 8%, and reductions in general fund support for the department by 15%. 

The bill does includes $800,000 to pay for a dioxin bio-availability study using Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) funding (1998 bond approved by the voters for contamination cleanups). 

The authorizing language for spending CMI  (MCLA 324.20102) states:

(e) That the responsibility for the cost of response activities pertaining to a release or threat of release and repairing injury, destruction, or loss to natural resources caused by a release or threat of release should not be placed upon the public except when funds cannot be collected from, or a response activity cannot be undertaken by, a person liable under this part.

(f) That liability for response activities to address environmental contamination should be imposed upon those persons who are responsible for the environmental contamination.

The use of CMI money to pay for a study to benefit the Dow Chemical Company is an inappropriate use of those funds - and breaks a promise to voters who supported the CMI bonds.

At the same time, no new sites of environmental contamination are being addressed by the state due to budget shortfalls.

MDNR Budget - The House and Senate approved the MDNR budget for 2004-05 which increases overall spending by $10 million dollars and increases general fund support for the department by $800,000. 

Payments in Lieu of Taxes are supported by $3.9 million in general fund and $3.9 million in restricted fund payments.  Legislation is still needed to exempt payments from the State education tax, to freeze taxable values of state property and cap the mills assessed to state property.

Senate

On the calendar:

HB 5118 - A bill to create a childhood lead poisoning prevention and control commission

In committee:

Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs
will meet on Tuesday (9/14) at 3:00 PM to take up:

SB 1097 - Exempts Department of Natural Resources lake level special assessments.

SB 1148 - Authorizes military personnel to obtain from Department of Natural Resources licensing agents free hunting and fishing licenses.

SB 1177 - Expands eligibility for and activities authorized permit for hunting from an off-road vehicle for disabled individuals.

HB 4225 – Lowers the age for eligibility for hunting licenses to 14.

House

Passed:

SB 722/723 - Expands the eligible businesses for pollution prevention loans and increases the size of the available loans.

HB 6122 – Provide grants to certain sugar beet cooperatives

The following were passed on 8/4/04:

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.


On the calendar:

HB 5771 – A bill to increase and revise regulation of land disposal of septage.

HB 5772 – Amend sentencing guidelines for crime of knowingly making false report in domestic septage licensing application.

SB 953 - State; funds; loans to certain farmers for qualified agricultural energy production; provide for.

SB 955 - Property tax; exemptions; methane digester and methane digester electric generating system; exempt.

SB 757 - This bill places penalties on landlords that fail to remediate known lead paint hazards in rental units.

HB 5441 – a bill to clarify when "feasible and prudent" alternatives should be considered to a project that will impact wetlands.  An amendment was added in committee regarding when the MDEQ must issue a permit that may jeopardize Michigan's delegation of the Clean Water Act - section 404 program. 

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 5034 -- a bill to access mobile homes as real property (vote taken, insufficient votes, vote reconsidered and passed for the day - 8/4/04)

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:

Conservation and Outdoor Recreation will meet on Wednesday (9/15) to take up:

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

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

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

HJR L - Establish as a constitutional right for hunting, fishing, camping, or taking game.

Great Lakes and Tourism is scheduled to meet on Wednesday (9/15) for a hearing on progress on the Great Lakes Compact.

Submitted by:

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