Lawmakers’ focus on budget issues this session has resulted in little action on environmental issues. However, that is likely to change once the Legislature finalizes the 2008 budget. Several environment-related bills are awaiting debate, including the following:

Lawmakers seek to protect privacy

Citing concerns about civil liberties, Rep. Tom Pearce, R-Rockford, has proposed legislation that would prohibit the implantation of an ID microchip without a person’s consent. The Food and Drug Administration has approved implantation of a radio frequency microchip in humans to allow hospital personnel to locate medical records quickly. Such ID microchips can also be used as "electronic keys" for security purposes. Rep. Pearce has patterned his proposal after Wisconsin’s Public Act 482, which prohibits requiring anyone to undergo a microchip implantation.

In a related matter, Rep. Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt, has introduced House Bill 5061, which would prohibit the use of radio frequency microchips in a Michigan driver’s license. Under the Real ID Act approved by Congress in 2005, states must issue federally approved driver’s licenses and ID cards by May 2008. The act requires the use of "machine-readable technology," i.e., a microchip, which could include "biometric identifiers" such as fingerprints or a retinal scan.

For more information go to
www.legis.state.wi.us/lrb/pubs/Lb/06Lb13.pdf
2007 House Bill 4133
2007 House Bill 5061


Stiffer groundwater regulations proposed

A legislative package introduced by House Democrats would greatly expand the restrictions on groundwater use enacted last year. House Bills 5065-5073 would impose extensive permitting requirements on commercial and industrial firms. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would be granted unchecked new powers to regulate water use, conservation and mitigation requirements.

For more information go to
2005 Senate 850.


Stem cell research

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has urged the repeal of Michigan’s ban on embryonic stem cell research. House Bill 4416, introduced by Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale, would repeal the use of stem cells taken from human embryos created for purposes of in vitro fertilization in a fertility clinic. The use of human embryonic stem cells in medical research remains controversial. Some say that embryonic stem cells hold greater promise for treating a variety of debilitating diseases, including certain types of cancers. But concerns have been raised about the ethical implications of using stem cells from human embryos, as opposed to stem cells from other sources.

The Legislature last year authorized the Department of Community Health to create a statewide network of umbilical cord blood stem cell banks, to be funded by $5 million from the 21st Century Jobs Fund, the state’s economic development subsidy program.

For more information go to
2006 House Bill 6291.