Michigan Lawmakers Can’t Touch DNR Trust Funds

Attorney General Bill Schuette put the brakes on Sen. Casperson’s plan to rob the Department of natural Resources Trust Fund for the purpose of paving logging roads and dredging commercial harbors. In AG Opinion #7270, Schuette ruled that the fund is constitutionally protected from uses other than which it is designated.

Senator Thomas Casperson, along with Senators Patrick Colbeck and David Robertson, had introduced SB 214 of 2013, a bill that would amend Public Act 451 of 1994 to allow diversion of these funds to develop logging and mining roads and dredge lakes to support commercial traffic. (Democracy Tree previously reported the large campaign contributions Casperson has taken from logging and mining interests.) The amended language specified that the funds may be used for the “development and maintenance of trails and roads on state land…[to build] infrastructure directly related to natural-resource-based industries, including timber harvesting and mining…infrastructure on waterways including breakwaters and dredging”.

The non-partisan organization Michigan League of Conservation Voters reported the victory yesterday:

Attorney General Opinion 7270 concludes that NRTF dollars “cannot be used for the maintenance of existing public recreation facilities, such as maintenance dredging of existing harbors” (p.1). The opinion comes after Governor Rick Snyder signed into law legislation that found alternate funding for emergency dredging projects to address low water levels in the Great Lakes, rather than tapping the NRTF. Michigan LCV vocally supported the Governor’s action.

We saw leadership from Governor Snyder and the DEQ very early on this issue. Attorney General Bill Schuette has now ended this debate by sending a strong message that Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund is a unique, constitutionally-guaranteed promise to all Michiganders. It is not a political plaything.

Now all we have to do is stop Caperson’s bills to allow wolf hunting and to block the science of bio-diversity in Michigan public policy.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree