Will Riparians Enjoy a
‘Lame’ Lame Duck?

By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

As lawmakers prepare to return for the last few weeks of session in December, the to-do list for the Legislature may not be as long as in the past.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shikey is quoted as saying, “I hope I’m not jinxing us, but I believe this will be a very lame lame duck.”  Governor Gretchen Whitmer has stated that one thing she and Mr. Shirkey agree on is the likelihood of a quiet lame duck. With the pandemic looming large, Shirkey said he would also hope that during lame duck lawmakers are not brought into session to sit for long periods of time to await negotiations on items that can wait until January 2021.

Previous Lame Ducks

Riparians are reminded of the many bills that were passed during the 2018 Lame Duck Session, and which had impacts not fully favorable to most Riparian interests. Some examples of the 2018 actions:
HB 1197 – Created a new authority to oversee the construction of a utility tunnel through the Straits of Mackinac to house a reconstructed segment of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.
HB 4205 – Prevents Michigan state agencies from adopting rules that are more protective than federal standards, unless they demonstrate a “clear and convincing” need. Some Riparians believe it is important that Michigan officials decide what’s best for our state, and not rely on federal minimum standards to dictate how we protect our waterways, drinking water, and air.
SB 1211 – Changing Protections for Wetlands and Inland Lakes – Removed protections for about 600,000 acres of Michigan wetlands and around 4,500 inland lakes under 10 acres.
SB 1244 – Part 201 – Cleanup Standards for Contaminated Sites, placed new requirements on EGLE when moving to update current cleanup standards based on new health studies. Required EGLE to use chemical toxicity values from a U.S. Environmental Protection database – unless the agency undergoes a lengthy process that includes public notices and meetings with “stakeholders.”

What Can You Expect?

MLSA will actively monitor the 2020 Lame Duck session and advise our mailing list if pending, controversial legislation appears to be gaining traction. One of the pending legislative bills we are focused on is the attempt to remove local control of Short-Term Rentals (STRs). Please note that The Michigan Townships Association (MTA) opposes total pre-emption of local controls on STRs. We hope to provide timely information ahead of 2020 the lame duck so you can share your opinions with your State Senator and House Representative.

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