The Legislature did not meet this week. Because there were no votes, this report instead contains several newly introduced bills of interest.

Senate Bill 1531 (Impose new regulations on natural gas “fracking” extraction)
Introduced by Sen. Liz Brater (D) on September 29, 2010, to impose groundwater discharge permit regulations, fees, permit requirements, etc. on the use of "hydraulic fracturing" to extract natural gas. This new technology reportedly has more than doubled the amount of known domestic gas reserves. See also the Brater amendment to Senate Bill 1177, defeated on a party-line vote, which would have banned “fracking” altogether in Michigan. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

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Senate Bill 1497 (Revise “driver responsibility fees”)
Introduced by Sen. Deborah Cherry (D) on September 15, 2010, to eliminate the provision that suspends a person’s drivers license for nonpayment of “driver responsibility fees” (“bad driver tax”) that are assessed for various violations and must be paid for two consecutive years. These very expensive fees were originally adopted in 2003 to raise revenue so as avoid spending cuts and reforms. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 1488 (Extend submerged log removal permits)
Extend submerged log removal permits to extend the expiration date of Great Lakes submerged log removal permits for up to 10 years. Currently all permits expire on January 1, 2013. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 1505 (Ban labeling 100-mile produce “locally grown”)
Introduced by Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom (R) on September 22, 2010, to ban selling or advertising a farm product designated as “locally” grown or produced unless it is grown or produced within 100 miles of the sale location, with violations subject to a $500 fine. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 6428 (Increase improper fetal remains disposal penalties)
Introduced by Rep. Rick Jones (R) on September 9, 2010, to authorize up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine for not disposing of fetal remains according to the requirements specified in state statute. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 6443 (Establish that no tax be imposed for well water withdrawal)
Introduced by Rep. Mary Valentine (D) on September 15, 2010, to prohibit the imposition of a tax on the use of well water. See also House Bill 5319, sponsored and co-sponsored by Reps. Scripps, Valentine, Geiss, Warren, Wheeler-Smith, and Bledsoe, which potentially opens the door to some kind of fees by repealing the “riparian rights” legal doctrine that gives a property owner a right to the reasonable use of groundwater, to the extent this does not diminish the ability of neighbors to obtain water. Instead, an owner would have to get permission from the state to use well water, which is called a “public trust” legal doctrine. Both bills referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 6445 (Ban using lottery ad money to sponsor local events)
Introduced by Rep. Gail Haines (R) on September 15, 2010, to prohibit state lottery marketing funds from being used to sponsor particular events. The use of these funds to pay for local fireworks displays has been criticized due to the potential that the practice could be used for political purposes. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 6450 (Revise parole standards)
Introduced by Rep. Alma Smith (D) on September 16, 2010, to require that parole be granted to prisoners who have served their minimum time if the person has at least an “average probability” under a "validated risk assessment instrument" of not being a risk to public safety and meeting other criteria specified in statute, subject to some restrictions and exceptions. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 6463 (Dismantle MEA’s school insurance sale device)
Introduced by Rep. Larry DeShazor (R) on September 21, 2010, to require school districts to be the actual insurance “policyholder” for health benefits provided for employees. This would dismantle the device by which the MEA school employee union’s insurance subsidiary (MESSA) sells coverage to school districts. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

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