Dems aim to curb Canada's trash dumps

Published January 10, 2006

LANSING (AP) - State House Democrats want to get voters involved in the fight to keep Canadian trash out of Michigan.

Today, Democrats will announce plans to put a proposal on the November ballot that would raise fees to dump trash and put a moratorium on new landfills in the state.

The new measures could deter Canada and other states from bringing their garbage to Michigan, supporters say.

"Trash comes to Michigan because it's cheap," Rep. Kathleen Law (D-Gibralter) said in a statement. "Raising the dumping charge will act as a disincentive to dump on the citizens of Michigan."

The proposal is unlikely to win support from Republicans who control both the House and the Senate.

While Republicans have voted for some plans to ban Canadian trash, they won't consider plans that involve raising landfill fees, said Jason Brewer, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Craig DeRoche of Novi.

"Our plan is to ban Canadian trash - not raise taxes on businesses and residents," Brewer said. "It's a philosophical difference between our approaches."

The Democratic proposal would raise the state dumping charge from 21 cents a ton - the lowest state rate in the Great Lakes region - to $7.50 a ton, which would be the most expensive, according to information supplied by House Democrats. The increased fee would raise an estimated $170 million a year. The money would be sent back to local governments.

New landfills would be banned until 2010.

A simple majority of lawmakers in both the House and Senate would have to approve putting the issue on the ballot before voters would get a chance to weigh in on the issue.

Democrats say they want to go to voters because Republicans have stalled their efforts to cut down on Canadian trash.

Bills that would raise the dumping charge and ban new landfills have not moved in the Legislature.

Republicans also have introduced proposals to ban Canadian trash. Under the plan, a state prohibition on foreign trash would take effect if federal lawmakers pass legislation allowing it. Democrats consider that passing the buck on the garbage issue.

The federal legislation authorizing the trash ban is pending in Congress.

Some restrictions on new landfills in Michigan recently expired, prompting some Democrats to worry that new dumps could soon open in the state.