Capital Catch-Up, April 23
ICYMI: Environmental Legislation This Week
Recycling Laws Pass House, Will Help MI Recycle 45% of Waste by 2032
HB 4454-4461, a package to rewrite Michigan’s solid waste laws to encourage the buildout of recycling infrastructure, passed the House this Thursday with overwhelming support. The bi-partisan package, led by Rep. Gary Howell (R – North Branch) and Rep. Bill Sowerby (D – Clinton Township), would set Michigan on track to recycle 45% of our waste by 2032. Currently, Michigan’s recycling rate hovers around 18%, which is well below the national average.
The bills give communities a say in preventing the siting of new landfills, increase fees on landfill owners and waste haulers, set new standards for coal ash landfills, and allow the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to increase inspections at solid waste facilities. All of the bills aim to decrease the amount of trash that is disposed of in Michigan landfills and limit harmful pollution that may originate at waste disposal sites.
Prior to the vote, Rep. Howell, who also serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation, told his colleagues:
“There are relatively few times when we have an opportunity in this House of Representatives to enact an important legacy for our children and our grandchildren, and this is one of those times. This is our chance to preserve and enhance our Pure Michigan.”
Senate Environmental Bill Movement and Introductions this Week:
- SB 319 and 320, two bills that would allow the Legislature to fund water infrastructure projects with leftover bonding money from a 2002 clean water initiative, passed out of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality this Tuesday. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Outman and Sen. Wojno, is critical to fund Governor Whitmer’s $500 million MI Clean Water Plan, which would upgrade and replace Michigan’s failing septic systems, municipal wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.
- SB 358, introduced by Sen. Irwin last Thursday, would repeal a current law that preemptively prohibits counties and municipalities from banning plastic bag usage at grocery stores and other retail establishments
- SB 370, introduced by Sen. Bayer, would ban the use of glyphosate-containing pesticides on residential properties, and would require stores that sell these types of pesticides to notify customers of the ban. While the EPA has listed glyphosate as safe for use, the International Agency for Research on Cancer within the World Health Organization has listed it as “probably carcinogenic”.
Legislative Activity We’re Monitoring
State Facilities to Purchase 100% Renewable Energy by 2025
This Earth Day, Governor Whitmer announced that state offices will purchase 100% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. As part of the initiative, the Governor also announced that the state will undertake an inventory of solar installation potential at government-owned facilities across the state to deploy more renewable energy resources on state-owned land.
The move to transition state government energy usage to 100% renewables not only complements Governor Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan goal of reducing state building energy needs by 40% by 2040, but it also will directly contribute to job growth within Michigan’s clean energy sector.
Budget Week Breakdown: The Good, The Bad, and The “Particularly Silly”
This week, the budget conversation in Lansing heated up as the House and the Senate both released their spending proposals for 2021-2022. In an unexpected and unprecedented twist, the House made the decision to release quarterly budgets this year instead of the traditional, annualized budgets that the Senate and the Governor both recommended. The move confounded Lansing insiders, with the Governor’s Budget Director, Dave Massaron, commenting that the House’s approach this year was “particularly silly”. To further confuse matters, mid-week the House released a supplemental budget that included some important MLCV priorities.
Here’s a rundown of the good, the bad, and what we’re still watching in this year’s budget moving forward:
- The House included a $25 million recommendation for contaminated site cleanup at non-petroleum spill related sites – a $5 million boost from what the Governor proposed earlier this year
- The House recommended a whopping $50 million for PFAS site remediation (including a specific carve out for municipal airports) and costs associated with supplying safe drinking water for affected communities
- The House included the Governor’s recommendation for $40 million for High Water Infrastructure projects, a portion of which can go to local governments for climate resiliency planning
The Senate and the House both included $15 million for dam safety in their recommendations
- The House included $103.2 million in federal funding for the Low Income Homeowners Energy Assistance Program (LiHEAP). LiHEAP funds can not only be used to directly help homeowners pay their energy bills, but 3% can also be used to weatherize low income homes -> MLCV would like to see that increased to 15% the allowable federal max.
- The House and the Senate did not include proposed staffing increases at EGLE or the DNR. Additionally, the Senate declined to extend the sunsets on some permitting fees, which will reduce the amount of money that the departments have to operate their current programs, which Michiganders depend on.
- The House and the Senate did not include the Governor’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, though the House did recommend their own, contracted version of the plan. Overall, water infrastructure could miss out on $40 million to $250 million in funding
- The House and the Senate did not include the Governor’s recommendation for the Mobility Futures Initiative, which would help the state become a leader in electric vehicles
What We’re Still Watching:
- The Senate included a $100 placeholder for the Green Revolving Fund, a pilot program that would help spur energy efficiency projects in state owned buildings
- The House included a $100 placeholder for the Home Health and Safety Fund, a pilot program to pre-weatherize low income homes so that energy efficiency projects can be completed safely
The House included a $100 placeholder for shoreline erosion infrastructure projects
Check your Legislator’s Work with the Digital Accountability Suite:
We’re keeping our eye on what goes on in Lansing so we can keep you informed. Track your lawmaker’s progress on environmental legislation by using our accountability suite. Learn who values and acts to protect our land, air and water in our state government; hold elected officials accountable for their actions; and track decisions and legislation that impacts our natural resources and communities.