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Bills enhancing oversight of veterans programs among legislation signed by governor

Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation enhancing the oversight of Michigan's veterans programs by providing greater opportunity for input from those who served in the current wartime era.

Senate Bills 798 and 799 revise the membership criteria for the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Board of Trustees, county and district veterans committees, and the Michigan Veterans Facility Board of Managers.

"Our current wartime veterans bring so many impressive attributes to the table, including diverse skills and experiences," Snyder said. "We need to give them a greater voice. For example, only one-quarter of Michigan's 700,000 veterans are now eligible to serve on the trust fund board. We need to tap their dedication and vision to help make certain that our veterans receive the benefits they've earned. Ensuring the strength of these boards for the long term is a meaningful step."

S.B. 798, sponsored by state Sen. John Moolenaar, gives the governor greater flexibility to appoint veterans who served within the past 20 years to the trust fund board. That flexibility extends to appointments of county and district committee members as well, which are made by the trust fund board. The board and committees distribute funds to eligible wartime veteran and their families to relieve temporary financial crisis or hardship.

Under the bill, membership will still include representatives of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans. It will be modified to include representatives of any other congressionally chartered veterans organization and independent members who would not represent a specific organization.

S.B. 799, sponsored by state Sen. John Pappageorge, revises the membership criteria for the Michigan Veterans Facility Board of Managers, which oversees the state's two veterans homes.

Each board and committee member will have to be a veteran and have demonstrated knowledge, skills and experience in public service, business or finance. 

The bills are now Public Acts 282 and 283 of 2011.

The governor also has signed:

- Three bills creating the Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council.

S.B. 509, sponsored by state Sen. Howard Walker, creates the council within the Department of Environmental Quality. The council will make recommendations to the DEQ on a final update to Michigan's Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan. The council also will submit recommendations to the governor and Legislature on ways to fund the plan's implementation. The bill is now P.A. 285 of 2011.

S.B. 510, sponsored by state Sen. Goeff Hansen, requires the council to recommend rules or legislation that will prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species through trade. The bill is now P.A. 286 of 2011.

Under S.B. 508, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson, the council will develop recommendations regarding Michigan's comments on the draft federal Vessel General Permit, including a proposed ballast water treatment standard. S.B. 508 is now P.A. 284 of 2011.

- H.B. 4874 and H.B. 4932 which help Detroit and other communities that are dealing with population declines.

H.B. 4874, sponsored by state Rep. Shanelle Jackson, lowers the population threshold from 750,000 to 600,000 so Detroit residents can continue creating and maintaining special assessment districts to finance street snow removal, mosquito abatement and security services provided by private contractors. The bill is now P.A. 287 of 2011.

H.B. 4932, sponsored by state Rep. Jimmy Womack, lowers the population threshold from 750,000 to 600,000 to preserve the Detroit Cooperative Library and allow it to continue receiving state aid. Public libraries in Michigan have formed 11 cooperatives which allow them to share administrative services, technical knowledge and equipment, and maximize efficiency when purchasing goods and services. Under current law, an existing system of libraries that serves a population of 750,000 can petition the Michigan Department of Education to be designated as a cooperative library board. The bill is now P.A. 288 of 2011.

- Two bills that provide tax exemptions for certain agriculture-related machinery.

H.B. 4582, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Daley, provides greater consistency in the manner in which personal property taxes are applied by including machinery used to install land tile as exempt property. The bill is now P.A. 289 of 2011.

S.B. 563, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Green, exempts machinery used to install or implement soil and water conservation techniques, but only to the extent that the equipment is used for those purposes. The bill is now P.A. 290 of 2011.

More information on these bills is available at