Capital Catch-Up, May 28
Michigan LCV’s 2019-2020 Session Scorecard Summary is Here!
The Michigan LCV team released our 2019-2020 Legislative Scorecard this Wednesday, offering you a look at how your State House and Senate lawmakers voted on bills related to Michigan’s land, air, water, and democracy.
Here are some highlights from the 2019-2020 Legislative Session:
- Every single Senate Democrat received a perfect, 100% for their voting record on the environment this session.
- Two Republicans were conservation champions this session: Mark Huizenga and Jeff Yaroch; 43 House Democrats hit that mark, and 17 voted with the environment 100% of the time. Be on the lookout for our “MLCV all-star” graphics on your lawmaker’s social media page to see if they’re showing their MLCV pride!
Be on the look out for your lawmaker’s Michigan LCV all-star graphic on social!
Michigan LCV’s Legislative Scorecard is part of our new digital accountability suite, which allows you to track the performance of your lawmakers in real time. Our Digital Accountability Suite consists of four different tools, each focused on a different facet of state government:
- Our Legislative Scorecard offers you a look at how your state House and Senate members have voted on issues relating to land, air, water, public health and democracy
- Our How Green Is Your Governor? tool offers you insights on Gov. Whitmer’s track record.
- Our How Green Is Your Attorney General? tool gives you a glimpse of Attorney General Dana Nessel’s actions on the environment.
- Stay tuned! And, finally, our Green Gavels tool is the first accountability measure in the country to score a State Supreme Court on important air/land/water/public health/democracy issues. We are currently updating this tool to fully integrate it in our accountability suite, but you’ll be the first to know when the revamped Green Gavels is live!
Congratulations, and thank you to all of Michigan LCV’s 2019-2020 conservation champions!
ICYMI: Environmental Legislation This Week
Broken Bottle Bills in Senate Regulatory Reform; Bottle Bill Modernization Should Be the Goal
This session’s broken bottle bills, HB 4443 and HB 4444, were heard this Tuesday in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. The bills, which overwhelmingly passed the House (88-20) earlier this month, enable the shifting of money dedicated to the state’s bottle deposit fund towards beverage distributors through 2022, reducing funds for cleanup of Michigan’s 24,000 registered contaminated sites. The bills would also allow bottle distributors to claim a half cent income tax credit for every returnable container they sell. The House Fiscal Agency found that this legislation would cost the state’s general fund at least $20 million annually, forever.
Additionally, Michigan’s bottle deposit law has been a critically important pollution prevention tool for decades. Not only does the law prevent beverage containers from being littered on our land and in our waters, but it increases the amount of high value plastic and metal that is recycled across the state. More, 75 percent of unclaimed bottle deposits go towards contaminated site cleanup programs!
Proponents of HB 4443 + HB 4444 argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the state to receive record revenues for unreturned bottles and from federal sources, so there is plenty of money in the general fund to go around. However, while Michigan may awash in federal COVID recovery cash now, that will not always be the case. The $20 million annual impact to the general fund from these broken bottle bills could go fund other critical budget priorities in the future, like the Home Health and Safety Fund, Green Revolving Fund, and wastewater infrastructure upgrades.
Expanding the Bottle Bill Would Prevent Michigan’s Growing Land and Water Litter
Expanding the state’s current 10-cent deposit on certain soft drinks, beer, other carbonated and non-carbonated beverages would keep more containers out of Michigan’s water and off our land. Well crafted legislation could continue to provide funding to address contaminated site cleanup and compensate both distributors and dealers for their role in maintaining the system.. Approaching this issue from a broad perspective that protects Michigan’s environment, taxpayers, and rewards bottle bill businesses is preferable to legislation designed only to accomplish the latter.
We encourage you to send a message to your State Senator urging them to oppose this legislation. We have an action alert set up with a pre-written message to get you started. As always, we encourage you to customize your message and share this action alert with others.
Governor Whitmer and GOP Leaders Reach Deal on Pandemic, Budget; 4th of July Budget Agreements Possible
With record levels of federal COVID relief dollars hitting the state and with a new agreement from the Governor and the Legislature to negotiate in good faith on spending, the next five weeks are shaping up to be the most significant fiscal moment for Michigan since the depths of the Great Recession or the peak of the 1999-2000 stock market-fueled surplus.
Adding to the moment’s significance is a desire from members in both parties to reach an agreement by the 4th of July. As a result, Michigan LCV will be fighting hard over the next month to ensure that our top priorities on clean energy, advanced mobility, and water infrastructure will be included in the final budget.
Here are some of Michigan LCV’s top priorities for the 2021-2022 budget cycle:
- Drinking Water + Wastewater Infrastructure – Governor Whitmer included a $500 million recommendation for investments in our state’s wastewater and drinking water infrastructure as part of her MI Clean Water Plan. While the legislature did not include the full recommendation, the current Treasury budget proposal holds $250 million for grants to local governments to address wastewater system overflows, which will also protect our source water.
- High Water Infrastructure + Climate Resiliency – Both Governor Whitmer and the House have agreed to put $50 million towards high water infrastructure and climate resiliency planning. The funds would help local governments address climate-exacerbated flooding, plan for more extreme weather events, and prepare for more frequent and more intense heat waves
- Energy Efficiency – Both the House and the Senate have included placeholders for energy efficiency measures in state buildings and low-income homes. The Green Revolving Fund would be a $5 million pilot program to finance energy efficiency projects at state buildings. The $5 million Home Health and Safety Program would be used to conduct pre-weatherization projects in low-income homes, fixing safety issues that would otherwise disqualify homeowners from receiving energy efficiency assistance.
Important Bill Introductions
- HB 4895 & 4896, introduced by Rep. Kuppa (D – Troy) & Rep. Steckloff (D – Farmington Hills) aim at increasing pollinator protections on state lands and municipalities. HB 4895 would prohibit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are highly toxic to bees and other pollinators, on state lands HB 4896 would bar local governments from listing milkweed as a noxious weed. Milkweed is an important host species for caterpillars and butterflies.
- HB 4903-4907, introduced by a group of Republican lawmakers, would establish a dam safety fund that could be used for dam maintenance, dam removal, and emergency safety projects. The bills would also give dam operators permission to draw down impoundments during emergency, high water situations. The bills are similar to SB 468-471, which were introduced by a group of bi-partisan lawmakers last week
- SB 488, introduced by Sen. Outman (R – Six Lakes) would establish a $3 million fund for geologic research to track and map groundwater contamination.
Michigan LCV in the News
Environmentalists and Unions Agree – We Must Build Michigan Back Better
MLCV Executive Director Lisa Wozniak teamed up with the President of Michigan’s AFL-CIO, Ron Bieber, to write a joint op-ed on the importance of centering the environment, job creation, and justice in a post-COVID Michigan. The article illustrates the crucial connection between good-paying, union job creation and addressing climate change, which is central to President Biden’s Build Back Better Initiative and the American Jobs Plan.
“President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, unveiled in March, is about investing in each other and our communities through large-scale investments in big, bold public improvement projects. All across Michigan, we will create good-paying, family-raising, union jobs for electricians, pipefitters, plumbers, roofers, engineers, welders, cement layers and many more.
And at the same time, we will clean up and prevent raw sewage and pollution from flowing into our rivers, lakes and drinking water. We will clean up our air, weatherize our homes to reduce costs, and strengthen our electric grid as we pivot to the clean energy future.”