Senate committee approves Richardville bill to increase protection of state waterways funding
LANSING - The Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee today approved legislation that will provide additional protection for Michigan’s Waterways Fund to ensure the money is used for appropriate projects, said Sen. Randy Richardville, sponsor of the measure.
Richardville authored a ballot proposal to restrict spending of the state’s recreational funds, such as money paid by residents for hunting and fishing licenses or registrations for snowmobiles, off-road vehicles or boats. Proposal 1 provided constitutional protection preventing dollars in the Marine Safety Fund, Waterways Fund and Harbor Development Fund from being used for non-related expenses.
“I felt that it was important to reassure Michigan residents that the money they pay for recreational activities is used only to support related programs instead of other areas in the state budget,” said Richardville, R-Monroe.
Senate Bill 1327 outlines specific uses of the Waterways Fund that are consistent with the 2006 constitutional amendment.
“Voters across Michigan overwhelmingly approved Proposal 1 in 2006,” Richardville said. “They sent a clear message that such funds should be used for specific projects that focus on maintaining our waterways as well as the structures, equipment and facilities that are necessary for watercraft usage. This legislation provides even more certainty that the funds will be spent appropriately.”
Richardville said he worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan United Conservation Clubs on the 2006 ballot proposal and on SB 1327. The DNR, MUCC and Michigan Boating Industries Association testified in support of the bill at today’s committee hearing.
“This legislation will further strengthen the integrity of the Waterways Fund and it will make sure our public waterways are enjoyed by future Michigan citizens and visitors for generations to come,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “Michigan’s waters are one of our most important natural resources, and this legislation will help protect them for years to come.”
Dennis Muchmore, executive director of MUCC, said the bill is necessary to help preserve our natural resources.
“It’s very important for the Legislature and organizations throughout the state to band together to ensure that we protect our natural resources and tourism in the state,” said Muchmore. “This is a step toward that.”
The measure will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.
Editor’s note: A photograph of Sen. Richardville and supporters testifying at the committee meeting is available on the Senate Majority Photowire.
Posted: Friday, October 03, 2008
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