Farm program expansion could reduce pollution

Capital News Service
LANSING — A proposal to increase state spending on the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) would reduce pollution from farm operations in the next few years, advocacy groups said. The voluntary program helps farmers evaluate their operation and make them economically and environmentally sustainable. More than 1,000 verifications have occurred in the past decade. The Snyder administration said the $1 million proposed for 2012-13 could pay off with five times that many verifications by 2015. If approved by the Legislature, it would almost double state funding for the program from this year’s $586,400.

More K-12 cyberschools could open if cap lifted

Capital News Service
LANSING—Legislation that would lift restrictions on the number of online charter schools that can operate in Michigan will soon come to a vote. House Education Committee chair Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, said the bill, passed by the Senate last December, will likely be voted out of committee in coming weeks. “Education is changing and it’s changing rapidly. If we don’t change, the world is not waiting,” McMillin said. “We’ve got to move forward or our kids are going to be left behind.”
The bill—part of a package of legislation aimed at revamping the education system—would eliminate limits on enrollment for online charter schools, currently at 1,000 students.

Tax ruling could power wind energy projects

Capital News Service
LANSING – A recent personal property tax ruling that will cost counties millions of dollars in revenue could prove vital for utility companies and energy inducing manufacturers around the state. The State Tax Commission ruling allows energy companies to pay substantially less in personal property taxes and gives a break to state manufacturers as well. Companies that build wind turbine blades, “casts” – which house the turbines — and related parts now pay significantly less in property taxes as a result of the ruling. In his State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder stressed how the reduction on taxes for industrial equipment will effectively boost the economy and create jobs. Mark Clevey, who is the manager of renewable energy programs at the Michigan Energy Office, called the tax ruling a positive for the future of state energy businesses.