Sen. Casperson’s Plan to Raid DNR Trust Fund Foiled by Attorney General Ruling

imagesCA6UTISAAttorney 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 This article also appears in Voters Legislative Transparency Project

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4 Responses to Sen. Casperson’s Plan to Raid DNR Trust Fund Foiled by Attorney General Ruling

  1. Jack Parker says:

    Thanks Amy, for a spot of good news -it helps the medicine go down.


  2. Richard T. Desvernine Jr. says:

    Thank You Amy for your report, this is wonderful! Richard T. Desvernine Jr.
    I have read the Michigan Constitution and I hate to dredge it up but DNR funds are not meant to pave the way for industry on State Lands or on the waters. Since there appears to be plenty of money in the fund, as roads are very expensive, there should be plenty of money to fund the DEQ to regulate natural resource extraction. Thanks Tom Casperson for pointing that out and thanks MI AG Mr. BS for being able to read a paragraph. Bravo! RTDII

  3. Janet Burkholder says:

    Thanks Amy for your informative reporting. I enjoy following your information flow. I look forward to working against Sen. Casperson’s election. The “gang of help Big business” in Lansing has good intentions, but should not be on back of the middle class. They want to help businesses with roads and good harbors. Which on the surface appears to be a good thing until you see they are logging our forests indiscriminately and paying for business to make a big profit. They took away the business tax and took the money from families and seniors by eliminating tax credits. There is got to be a better way to help develop Michigan’s economy. Thank goodness the constitution protects that DNR trust fund.

  4. Catherine Parker says:

    I’m very glad to hear of this decision, but can’t help wondering if Casperson will now seek a constitutional amendment. Article XII, Section 1 allows for:

    Amendment by Legislative Proposal and Vote of Electors

    Amendments to this constitution may be proposed in the senate or house of representatives. Proposed amendments agreed to by two-thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house on a vote with the names and vote of those voting entered in the respective journals shall be submitted, not less than 60 days thereafter, to the electors at the next general election or special election as the legislature shall direct. If a majority of electors voting on a proposed amendment approve the same, it shall become part of the constitution and shall abrogate or amend existing provisions of the constitution at the end of 45 days after the date of the election at which it was approved.

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