LANSING State Representatives Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) and John Kivela (D-Marquette) voted today in favor of House Bills 4398-4440, a package of legislation introduced in the House Committee on Natural Resources that makes changes to the Department of Environmental Quality’s dredging permit process.

“This legislation lessens the burden and speeds up the process for small businesses performing necessary dredging,” said Dianda. “Cutting red tape and substantially lessening fees will prove beneficial for northern Michigan bays and harbors during the upcoming busy shipping and tourism season.”

HB 4398 and 4440 reduce the permit fee, from the current $1500 to $50, for dredging material from Great Lakes and inland lakes, respectively. The projects would need to be determined largely sand, at more than 90 percent, and 10,000 cubic yards or more. The original version of the legislation would have slashed it to $500, but amendments were adopted to further reduce the fee. HB 4399 provides for an expedited dredging permit process under emergency conditions. This bill would allow the DEQ to issue a permit before the current 20-day objection period if it has been determined that “emergency conditions warrant a dredging project to protect property, public health, safety or welfare.” The package of bills now moves to the Senate for consideration.

“Providing an expedited process to carry out an emergency dredging project is critical to guaranteeing lake access to not only residents of the Upper Peninsula, but the thousands of tourists we attract up here,” said Kivela. “Our waters are what make our state great and I’m extremely pleased with the House passing this important legislation.”