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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of July 23, 2015

by Judy Augenstein

The Legislature has recessed until next Tuesday with no consensus on a road budget package.
As some supporters hold out hope for the Senate's $1.4 billion road plan, multiple House Republicans vowed this week that the plan would go nowhere in their chamber.  Many House Republicans feel the 15 cent per gallon gas tax increase in the Senate plan is much too high of a tax increase.  Even though the Senate plan allows for the income tax to decrease if state revenues grown, the House Republicans say that element of the plan is confusing and is not enough to get their support and could leave some Michiganders out of the tax cut.

Many House Republicans also said they want to return to the $1.1 billion House approved plan, which relied mostly on reprioritizing existing revenues for roads.  The House plan included only about $117 million in tax increases, an amount that some House Republicans say is as far as they can go in increasing taxes.

After more than three years of discussion and debate, the Department of Environmental Quality formally began the process of a rules change that would remove hundreds of chemicals from the list of toxics the DEQ automatically regulates in air emissions.  Now about 1,200, the number of regulated chemicals would drop to 756, a move that DEQ officials said would allow its staff to focus on those chemicals known to be harmful.  The chemicals removed from the list are those with low toxicity or whose toxicity is unknown instead of an open ended list of toxics, the list would now be defined.  The department would retain the authority for the DEQ to review toxics not on the list based on public health concerns on a case by case basis.

Environmental groups criticized the change, saying it would weaken the state's ability to protect public health, industry applauded the change..  The proposed rules now go to the Office of Regulatory Reinvention.  There will be a public comment period as well before the rules are finalized and sent to the Legislative Joint Committee on Administrative rules for review.

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