Capital Catch-Up: July 2, 2021
An important note for the following weeks: The Michigan State Legislature will be on summer break during July and August. While the Legislature may return from break periodically, legislative action will be infrequent. As a result, Michigan LCV may not publish Capital Catch-Up newsletters every week during the summer months, but we will keep you in the know as things come up. We will resume our normal, weekly schedule starting this September.
ICYMI: Environmental Legislation This Week
Billions of Dollars & Anti-Voter Legislation Still Left on the Table as Legislature Breaks for Summer
Both the House and the Senate returned for one day this week to wrap up activity before the upcoming summer break; and, while the Legislature came to a consensus on the state’s largest single-year School Aid Fund budget ever, billions of dollars in federal COVID relief funds and the full omnibus budget still remain on the table for the Legislature to take up – either on one of the days they are scheduled to reconvene in July or August, or when they return this September.
Here is a quick summary of some of the items Michigan LCV is tracking over the summer break:
- SB 303 and 304, two anti-voter ID laws that would take away secondary options for Michigan voters who do not have an ID present on election day, are back in the Senate. Last week, the House added a strict, signature verification requirement to the bills, making them some of the most restrictive in the country.
- HB 4443 and 4444 are two bills that would rewrite Michigan’s bottle deposit law to redistribute millions of dollars from toxic contaminated site clean up to the bottle industry. The bills await action on the Senate floor.
- HB 5011 and 5012, two bills that would expand Michigan’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program to include water infrastructure upgrades and climate resiliency projects, are awaiting action in the House.
- Senate Republicans’ Water Infrastructure Package – $2.5 billion for critical upgrades to Michigan’s drinking water and wastewater systems, including funds for sewer and stormwater systems, lead pipe removal, PFAS remediation, and more.
- State Parks Infrastructure Investment – $250 million to address the backlog of infrastructure projects at state parks. Michigan’s state parks support local tourism economies and provide high-quality recreation opportunities for millions of Michiganders each year.
- The Home Health and Safety Fund – $5 million for a low income pre-weatherization program. Each year, dozens of Michigan families that would be eligible to receive federal assistance for weatherization upgrades are disqualified based on existing health and safety issues in their homes
- The Green Revolving Fund – $5 million for an energy efficiency pilot program at state buildings. This revenue neutral program will help the state achieve its clean energy goals while saving money and reducing energy waste.
Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Votes to Start Fresh for 2022 Maps
In a consequential move for Michigan’s democracy, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted not to use the state’s current legislative and congressional district maps as a starting point for the 2022 redistricting process this Wednesday. Instead, the commission will start fresh, drawing new maps completely from scratch.
Wednesday’s vote is encouraging for pro-democracy advocates who seek to eliminate partisan influence in the redistricting process. Michigan’s current maps were drawn in 2010 by a Republican controlled state legislature, resulting in some of the most heavily Republican skewed state legislative and congressional districts in the country. By scrapping the unfair, politically imbalanced maps, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has increased the likelihood that Michigan’s maps will not systematically favor one party over another, further ensuring that Michiganders will have a fair say in who represents them.
Michigan LCV is staying engaged with the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to ensure that Michigan’s 2022-2030 maps honor the right of each Michigander to have their vote count. Stay tuned for more updates on the commission’s activities, especially as we draw closer to the November 1 deadline for the maps to be complete!
The Michigan LCV Ed Fund Democracy For All team in Detroit, MI for the June 17, 2021 Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission public hearing
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Releases 2021 Public Lands Strategy
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released their 2021 Public Lands Strategy this Thursday, starting an approval process that includes public comment and legislative approval. The DNR’s Public Lands Strategy, which is released every five years, sets the overall vision for the DNR’s management of our state’s public lands and natural resources.
The 2021 Public Lands Strategy features important and exciting goals, like expanding the development of large scale renewable energy installations on state-owned brownfields, incorporating the impacts of climate change into department decisions around land management, and increasing access to recreation opportunities for historically underserved areas.
Michigan’s public lands are foundational to Michiganders’ identity and are critical to our overall quality of life. Michigan LCV is excited to work with both the DNR and the Legislature to ensure that the health of our state’s natural resources and state lands are at the forefront of environmental policy decisions.
Important Bill Introductions
- HB 5167 and HB 5186, introduced by Rep. Kahle and Rep. Hoitenga, respectively, are two similar bills that would prohibit elections officials from taking gifts from private sources for elections operations. Michigan LCV is tracking this bill closely because oftentimes, Michigan clerks are inadequately funded by the state, and private donations are a secondary option to ensure elections can still be run safely and securely.
- HBs 5246 and 5247, introduced by Rep. Cambensy and Rep. Lightner, would establish an infrastructure disaster relief board with an associated fund. The fund would be granted $5 million annually, and would be used to distribute resources to local governments who are affected by sudden weather events (which are often climate-fueled).
- HB 5250, introduced by Rep. Rabhi, would prohibit the use of PFAS, bisphenols (BPAs), and phthalates in food packaging. These chemicals, which are commonly found in food packaging, water bottles, and other food-related materials, are listed as possible carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.