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Snyder vetoes bill that could restrict sustainable forest management in Michigan

Also signs 18 and vetoes three other bills

Thursday, January 15, 2015

LANSING, Mich — Gov. Rick Snyder today vetoed a bill that could have restricted the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from effectively and sustainably managing forests, potentially putting Michigan’s natural resources at risk. 

“Biodiversity is essential to how our world-class natural resources are managed,” Snyder said. “While there may be opportunities to look into our forest management practices, reducing biodiversity authority will only cause confusion and hurt our forests.” 

Senate Bill 78, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson, would have restricted the tools the department could use for managing forests for biodiversity. In his veto letter, the governor wrote that this legislation could also threaten forest certification, which is critical in maintaining forest products industries. 

The governor also signed 18 other bills:

SB 113, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Green, allows individuals to transfer a conveyance of land under a will, trust, or by intestate succession to others without an increase in property taxes. This will make it easier for families to keep property within the family when a loved one passes away. It is now Public Act 535 of 2014.

SB 753, sponsored by former state Sen. Bruce Caswell, exempts municipalities from liability for three or fewer discharges occurring from private on-site wastewater treatment systems.  It is now PA 536.

SBs 795, 796, 797, 799 and 800, sponsored by state Sens. Mike Kowall, Arlan Meekhof, Phil Pavlov, former state Sen. Howard Walker and Casperson, respectively, address the problems caused by non-native species to Michigan’s ecosystems. Overall, the bills increase fines and penalties for anyone caught possessing, transporting and introducing non-native species, particularly in lakes and rivers. They are now PAs 537, 538, 539, 540 and 541.

SB 891, sponsored by Casperson, updates cleanup requirements of contaminated property to ensure a more reliable, cost-effective and timely method for contaminated properties to be brought back into redevelopment opportunities. It is now PA 542.

SB 941, sponsored by state Sen. Michael Kowall, updates regulations for scrap tires haulers and the scrap tire industry. The bill creates stronger deterrents for those who unlawfully dispose of scrap tires including monetary penalties as well as jail time. The bill also makes hosting one day clean up event easier. These mechanisms will help to clean up scrap tires and discourage illegal dumping, ultimately helping to reduce the negative environmental impacts that scrap tires can cause. It is now PA 543.

SB 1082, sponsored by state Sen. David Robertson, allows drain commissioners to remove obstructions from a waterway not located in an established drain in situations where the obstruction is causing damage or flooding to the established drain. Previously, drainage commissioners and boards had no legal authority to remove obstructions. It is now PA 544.

SB 1105, sponsored by state Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, reforms requirements for public employee retirement funds investment options. The bill ensures that no additional investment of public retirement funds goes toward a hazardous waste deep disposal well facility in Romulus. It is now PA 545.

House Bill 4874, sponsored by state Rep. Ken Goike, allows septage haulers with storage facilities to continue to store septage waste at their facilities. It is now PA 546.

HBs 5439 and 5440, sponsored by former state Rep. Kevin Daley and state Rep. Peter Pettalia, respectively, allow the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development or colleges and universities in Michigan to grow and farm industrial hemp for academic purposes. The bill would help provide insight to researchers on the economic impact of growing industrial hemp in Michigan. They are now PAs 547 and 548.

HB 5563, sponsored by state Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, enables the state to properly deal with and dispose of abandoned vessels and off-road vehicles and snowmobiles, while ensuring that costs associated with the process can be recouped from the owner. It is now PA 549.

HBs 5684, 5685 and 5686, sponsored by state Rep. Al Pscholka, updates the state’s drainage code, providing drainage districts the ability to acquire interest in property. The bills also allow municipalities and road commission boards to file applications for a new drainage or inter-county drainage districts. They are now PAs 550, 551 and 552.

The governor also vetoed three other bills:

SB 927, sponsored by state Sen. Phil Pavlov, was intended to address the use of unmanned aerial and submersible vehicles that may interfere or harass others engaged in hunting or fishing. In his veto letter, Snyder said that the bill was meant to be part of a multibill legislative package and since the tie-barred companion bill was not enrolled at the end of session, a veto is necessary to avoid a situation that could cause confusion.

HB 5317 and 5318, sponsored by state Rep. Mike McCready, would limit a water supplier’s ability to set the testing frequency of backflow preventers on many in-ground sprinkler systems to not more often than once every five years. In his veto letter, Snyder wrote that the failure of backflow protectors, which are installed wherever pollutants or chemicals are used, could jeopardize public health by entering drinking water when backflow conditions occur.