Updates From the Capital

Panel Approves Strengthening Emergency Manager Role

A state Senate committee has approved a bill intended to strengthen the powers of emergency financial managers. Those managers are charged with helping cash-strapped cities get back in the black.

The Senate Local, Urban and State Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill today. It now goes to the full Senate.

State law allows for the declaration of a financial emergency and the appointment of a financial manager.

Flint Democratic Senator Bob Emerson sponsored the bill. Flint is among the Michigan cities operating under an emergency manager.

Emerson says his bill would make it clear that financial managers have the authority to take the necessary measures to improve a city's fiscal situation. Those measures could include pay cuts.

Senate Passes Credit Union Bills

A package of legislation designed to modernize and reorganize regulation of credit unions cleared the state Senate today.

The main bill in the seven-bill package would create the Credit Union Act to oversee the financial institutions. The bills passed unanimously.

Senator Burton Leland says the bills would allow credit unions to offer low-income residents better lending options. The Detroit Democrat says the bills also would help credit unions deal with past and future changes in the financial services industry.

The bills now go the state House.

House Approves Bill Creating Discharge Permits

The state House approved a bill creating application and permit fees to discharge wastewater into the ground or groundwater.

The bill won narrow approval today on a 57-49 vote.
It's significantly different than the version approved by the Senate and must return to the Senate for its approval of the changes.

The House version has exemptions, including those for agriculture, schools, school districts, nonprofit organizations and small businesses.

The cost of an application for a groundwater discharge permit would range from $50 to $500 depending on the environmental threat.

The cost of a permit fee would range from$200 to nearly $3,700.

The Senate isn't expected to agree with the House changes.

Without the Senate's agreement, the bill would go to a House-Senate conference committee.