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SG-W:/ drain code

             [Fwd: Legislative Update - 12-8-00]
             Sat, 09 Dec 2000 08:59:48 -0500
             armentrv@co.washtenaw.mi.us (Vivienne Armentrout)
             Washtenaw County
             Vivienne Armentrout <varmentrout000@ameritech.net>

Vivienne N. Armentrout
Washtenaw County Commissioner, District 9
(734) 668-8579
(734) 668-8538 (fax)

        Legislative Update - 12-8-00
        Fri, 08 Dec 2000 16:05:01 -0500
        Senator Gary Peters <SenGPeters@senate.state.mi.us>
Here is an update on the Drain Code, which was discussed earlier in this

The excerpt is from Senator Gary Peters' legislative update.

                               DRAIN CODE DEFEATED IN SENATE

The Senate this week defeated an effort to rewrite Michigan's drain
code. HB 4803 was extensive, and would have
strengthened the power of the drain commissioners. It also allowed local
governments to petition for construction of a drain or
a drainage district, allowed for petitions by landowners for drains if
signed by more than 50 percent of the land owners in an
area, and provided for assessment of landowners when drain funds fall
below certain levels. There was also an addition in the
Senate for state-owned land in a drainage area to be assessed. Although
everyone agreed that there are problems with the
current Drain Code, which was last updated in 1956, Senators differed on
whether this bill would make the Drain Code better
or worse. 

Supporters of the bill said that the bill is an improvement over the
current system, which needs to be updated. They said that it
was a fair compromise, and took into account environmental factors.
Supporters also said that failure to pass something now
would result in waiting for at least another year to fix the Drain Code.
Some also supported the bill to get it to a conference
committee of the House and Senate. Opponents of this, though, claimed
that the bill could not be fixed in conference

Opponents said that the bill gave too much power to drain commissioners,
and criticized its environmental and tax provisions.
They said that the bill failed to provide enough protection for water
quality and for state wetlands. Other problems with this bill
include environmental concerns. They argued that almost all mentions in
the bill of "natural resource" values are permissive and
not mandatory, and it would not require drain commissioners to include
in drainage projects measures that were intended to
enhance or improve natural resource values. They also said that it would
result in assessments without citizen input, because it
allows local drain commissioners to make assessments without considering
citizen input. While the bill did allow for hearings,
the drain commissioners could disregard this input. In addition, the
bill replaces the current two-step application and petition
process for new drains and drainage districts, and replaces it with a
single-step process that would simultaneously establish
new drains and drainage districts. They argued that this would make it
easier for citizens to get assessed for drain projects
because the process is faster. In addition, once a drain project begins
people would have no say over how much of their land
would be taken or how much they would have to pay for projects that they
may disagree with. 

The bill was defeated 13 - 22. Two Democrats joined eleven Republicans
in supporting the bill. Eleven Republicans and eleven
Democrats opposed the bill. There has been no indication that the bill
will be reconsidered before the end of the legislative
session in December.

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