In this week’s Throwback Thursday, we highlight accomplishments of the House Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. Andrea LaFontaine.
The House Natural Resources Committee oversees issues involving the care of public lands; the regulation of hunting, fisheries and wildlife; management of parks, trails and outdoor tourism; and the protection of Michigan’s most valued natural resource, the Great Lakes. The committee’s decisions aim to protect, promote and utilize Michigan’s natural resources in the most responsible manner.
Take a look at a few of the committee’s most recent accomplishments.
Rethinking Michigan’s Waste
- House Bills 5400-5402 (Public Acts 178-180’14)
In discussion for more than 15 years, the bills were approved by the committee, House and signed by the governor this year to allow the regulated reuse of industrial materials and lower expenses for job providers. Industrial byproducts can now be safely reused in land applications such as road construction and soil quality improvement, which—for many years—had been wasting away in landfills. According to bill sponsor Rep. Wayne Schmidt, the policies encourage efficiency, contribute to the economy and foster job growth.
- House Bill 5005 (Public Act 24’14)
Expired medications and other hazardous household materials such as light bulbs, batteries and thermometers can leach into the ground causing damage to the Michigan’s natural resources. This legislation legalized the practice of community waste collections, which are a positive way for Michiganders to have a hand in protecting our great state.
Right to Hunt
- Senate Bills 288-289 (Public Acts 21-22’14)
These laws allow the Natural Resources Commission to use their research and expertise in managing wildlife to add species to the state’s game list, give active duty military the ability to hunt free of charge and declare that access to hunting, fishing and taking game is a right that should always be protected.
- Senate Bill 613 (Public Act 255’14)
This legislation allows Michiganders to utilize animals killed by accidental auto collisions for various purposes including bait for hunting, composting, consumption and the use of hides. Road-kill animals often remain on the road for days, so this law allows interested people to take care of the animal themselves instead of requiring the state or road commissions to do so.
- House Bill 4993 (Public Act 246’13)
The legislation created the Michigan Wildlife Council to educate the public about the benefits of wildlife management, particularly through hunting, fishing and trapping activities. Small $1 surcharges on all hunting and fishing licenses fund the public awareness campaign, which bill sponsor Rep. Jon Bumstead said will lead to a more educated public on the topic of Michigan conservation efforts.
Hydrologic Separation & Invasive Species Control
- House Resolution 305 and House Concurrent Resolution 22
The resolutions urged congressional lawmakers to take immediate steps to help stop the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes after the committee heard from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who discussed the growing threat to Michigan’s natural resources. Asian carp and other invasive species have the potential to damage Michigan’s precious waterways, and as a result the state’s recreation and tourism industries, which account for hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity.
- House Bill 5361
This bill allows a licensed, disabled hunter to use a personal assistive mobility device—such as a motorized wheelchair—to gain access to their hunting grounds and hunt from said device when stationary. The legislation awaits further consideration in the Senate Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism; follow its progress here.
Maintaining Pristine Pathways
- House Bill 5563
This legislation aims to keep Michigan’s pathways free of clutter, namely due to vehicle or vessel abandonment on trails and in streams. The legislation awaits further consideration in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes; follow its progress here.
Operation Freedom Outdoors
- Operation Freedom Outdoors—which started in 2013—is a five-year plan gradually phasing in outdoor activities that can be accessed by individuals and veterans of all abilities, including those in wheelchairs or with prosthetics. Veterans have had a hand in the creation of the program, which has provided employment opportunities in both public and private sector firms for previously unemployed veterans. The DNR updated the committee on the program’s progress in May.
Serving as the chair of this committee is an incredible opportunity to highlight the value of our natural resources and ensure they are both protected and utilized.
–Committee Chair Andrea LaFontaine
Keep up with the House Committee on Natural Resources at GOPhouse.org as we round out the 2014 legislative session.