By: Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

We have reported on Lame-duck sessions in prior newsletters. A legislative Lame-duck is the last several weeks of the legislative session after an election when typically there is increased legislative activity from outgoing lawmakers. In years past, MLSA has tracked and reported on riparian “unfriendly” bills that were expedited through the Lame-duck legislative process and signed into law without discussion or debate, or the public’s knowledge. The bills also only required a majority vote to pass.

So what happened in 2020? Actually, just about nothing happened that would adversely impact riparian interests. It appears that due to COVID-19 pandemic complications, and the national post-election issues, there was little legislative time to repeat the flurry of activity witnessed in 2016 and 2018. In some cases, the lack of action in Lansing helped riparian interests.

The bills we were tracking and what occurred are:
Aggregate Mining (SB 431) would have removed local governments’ oversight relative to sand and gravel mining operations in their communities, which threatens natural water supplies and the surrounding environment. Stopping this bill protects the land and soil, and protects drinking water sources from harmful pollutants. The bill died in the Senate.
Part 115 Recycling (HB 5812 – HB 5817) This bill package would have shifted the focus to seeing solid waste as a resource and ensuring recycling access for all Michigan citizens, increasing the recycling rate across the state.  This would also help keep lakes clean from plastic and cans. Unfortunately it died in the House.
Temporary Erosion Structure Permit Removal (SB 714) Originally, this bill would have allowed shoreline property owners to bypass the state permitting process that ensures ecologically friendly and hydrologically sound shoreline stabilization construction practices. Died in the House.
Zoning Preemption For Certain Large Foster Care Facilities (HB 4095) This would have pre-empted local control in residential lake area zones, which had the potential to increase denser use activity. Died in the House.
Short-Term Rental Zoning Preemption HB 4046 would have pre-empted local control in residential lake area zones, which had the potential to increase denser use activity, as well as potential “party houses” in residential neighborhoods.  Died in the House.

Can Lame-duck sessions be stopped in the future?  Of Interest in 2021 is HJR A Legislative Requirements introduced by Representative Wentworth. He proposes to modify requirements for bill passage to require two-thirds vote to pass legislation during Lame-duck sessions of even-numbered years. It was introduced on 1/26/2021 and referred to the Elections and Ethics Committee.

Michigan State Government 2021-2022
2nd Annual Winter Water Quality Symposium