Capital Catch-Up: March 28, 2022

Capital Catch-Up: March 28, 2022

Special News from the MLCV Team:

This week, the Michigan Legislature passed a historic, $4.8 billion investment in Michigan’s core infrastructure, including transformational investments in our water, state parks, clean energy, and transportation. Next week, look forward to a special feature on Senate Bill 565 and the Michigan LCV team’s effort to Fund MI Water.

The following week, there will be no edition of the Capital Catch-Up, as the Michigan legislature will be on spring break.

As Bottle Bill Negotiations Restart, More Must be Done to Protect the Environment

Michigan’s bottle law has been a successful anti-littering and pollution prevention tool for decades; but, over time, inflation and the expansion of beverage products has decreased its efficacy. Over the past few years, there has been mounting pressure from the beverage industry to divert money away from contaminated site cleanup to beverage distributors instead. House Bills 4443 and 4444, as introduced in 2021, allowed bottle distributors to claim a $0.005 income tax credit for every returnable container sold, and would allow the Treasury to use unclaimed deposits to cover the costs, diverting money from EGLE in the process.

Recently, bottle bill negotiations have restarted in an effort to settle the matter. These negotiations have the potential to become a framework agreement that results in wins for wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and environmental advocates, setting a strong foundation for the bills to continue to work for all Michiganders for decades to come, pending assurances that the resulting policy does not reduce the bill’s efficacy.

The Michigan LCV team is making the case for the following key reforms:

  • True universal bottle redemption must be included. This would allow Michiganders to return all deposit-eligible containers at all locations.
  • Broad closures of bottle return facilities should not be permitted. Ensuring access to recycling facilities is the only way to ensure broad participation.
  • Fund disbursements must not consistently reduce funds for contaminated site cleanup. 

Any final draft of the bottle bill revisions must remain consistent with the bill’s original intentions —  to promote recycling statewide and provide funding for contaminated site cleanup. We will continue to provide updates on the progress of negotiations as they continue.

Quick Hits

Holland EV Battery Plant to Expand, Add 1,200 Jobs

On Tuesday, Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced LG Energy is investing an additional $1.7 billion at its Holland location. The expansion will quintuple the plant’s capacity to help produce electric vehicle batteries, and will add 1,200 jobs. LG’s expansion comes just two months after GM announced it would invest $7 billion in EV production in Michigan, putting our state at the center of the advanced mobility economy.

JCAR Forgoes Proposed SOS Rules on Absentee Ballots, Votes to Legislate Instead

On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) voted along party lines to forgo adopting proposed rules that would make it easier for Michiganders to vote via absentee ballot, opting to legislate the matter instead. The decision is part of a broader GOP effort to hamstring SOS Benson’s authority on absentee ballots and applications, and make it harder to vote by mail. You can read more about the vote and comments by SOS Benson here.

State Court Dismisses Lawsuit Aimed at Undermining Election Integrity

This week, the Michigan ​​Court of Claims dismissed Ryan v. Benson, a case which claimed that it was unconstitutional for election officials to use private grant money to run elections. Private money’s role in elections has drawn great scrutiny from GOP officials since the 2020 election, yet private election funds are necessary until state officials fully fund our elections systems. In his decision, Judge Cameron noted that funds were strictly used for get out the vote activities, and were not used to influence election results. Read more about the ruling here.

MLCV Sponsors UM Climate Action Panel

Next Tuesday, Michigan LCV will be sponsoring an event held by two University of Michigan organizations focused on reducing carbon emissions on campus, Climate Blue and Voices for Carbon Neutrality, about the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), and how the conference’s key takeaways can be applied to the University and Ann Arbor. The panelists will also discuss how the University of Michigan can take more decisive action to reduce carbon emissions. Sign up for the webinar here!

Key Bill Introductions

HB 5953: Sponsored by Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), this bill would include Michigan’s groundwater resources within the scope of the public trust doctrine. This would require the state to safeguard and preserve groundwater for future generations.

HB 5954: Sponsored by Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), this bill would close the “bottled water” loophole in the Great Lakes Compact, stopping the mass transport of water outside the Great Lakes.

HB 5955: Sponsored by Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), this bill would explicitly authorize the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to protect water.

You can read more about the full package here!

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