What to expect in 2014January 8th, 2014
2013 was a busy year for legislation at MUCC. We saw some great legislation passed that really strengthened and preserved Michigan’s great outdoors. While 2014 is still young and our legislators are only meeting for the first time this week, we have high expectations for the year.
Below are few of the items that we will be working on and watching in 2014.
This bill will remove the public land cap of 4.625 million acres that was set by PA 240 of 2012. It will also codify the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)’s land acquisition strategy that was unveiled in July of 2013, which was also required under PA 240 of 2012.
This bill would amend the Sports Shooting Range Act to include a definition of ranges that conduct commercial activities and exempt them from certain local ordinances. This bill has not moved since its introduction in April of 2013 because there is a pending court case on the subject. The Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments in March of last year and we expect to have a decision sometime in the next few months.
As a reminder to our members this case would deny a Michigan shooting range protection under Michigan’s Sport Shooting Ranges Act for having “business or commercial purposes.” This could deny that protection to most ranges in the state, since most ranges – whether nonprofit or for-profit – operate for some sort of business or commercial purpose.
This bill has passed the House and is currently waiting on a vote by the full Senate. We expect it to move early in 2014.
This bill would include certain rifles among the firearms that a person may use to hunt deer during firearm deer season in the southern part of the State. The shotgun zone would now be referred to as a “limited firearms area.” The bill also would expand the allowed firearms to include a .35 caliber or larger rifle loaded with straight – walled cartridges with a minimum case length of 1.16 inches and a maximum case length of 1.80 inches.
The Natural Resources Commission also has the ability to enact this into the firearm deer regulations with or without this legislation. MUCC staff and members are poised to testify on this issue at the NRC’s January monthly meeting to encourage them to act if the Michigan Senate or Governor Snyder will not move this bill through to completion by the 2014 firearm deer season.
Statewide Recycling Efforts
Michigan’s municipal solid waste recycling rate is much lower than rates in neighboring Great Lakes states and could/should be much higher. In response to this Governor Snyder tasked the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to study and develop recommendations for ramping up recycling in our state.
Over the last several months the DEQ has hosted a number of meetings with stakeholders to develop ideas and they have released a preliminary report. There are more meetings expected in 2014 to gather further input with a final report to come later this year.
Remove Youth Hunting Barriers
MUCC is a proponent of removing the barriers to allowing youth under 14 from hunting big game with firearms on public land (mentored youth, apprentice and fully licensed youth hunters).
Currently, youth under 14 can hunt with a firearm for turkeys, waterfowl, and small game on public lands, but not deer, bear or elk. These are limited to private lands only or public lands with archery only. Now that Michigan has had mentored youth in the field for 3 seasons and apprentice licenses for longer with no significant incidents we feel it is time to remove these barriers to allow youth greater access to hunting.