Legislation creating a new MISS Dig law passed the Michigan Senate on November 29 in a 26-12 vote, but failed to make it through the House before the 2012 Legislative Session closed on December 13. Supporters plan to reintroduce the bill during the 2013 session.
The MISS Dig regulations, which require permits before excavation near buried utility lines, would substantially increase a farmer’s responsibilities when they till their fields, according to Farm Bureau officials. Both the Michigan Farm Bureau and the Michigan Agri-Business Association oppose the bill as passed by the Senate.
The bill requires that farmers call MISS Dig before performing normal farming practices at any depth below 12 inches in the road right-of-way or below 18 inches in the farm field. Once the utility lines are marked, the farmer would be required to dig by hand – the bill calls it “soft excavation” – if digging within 48 inches of the line. Opponents of the bill argue that calling MISS Dig is already required by law before excavating, and that farmers engaged in routine tilling are not excavating and should be exempt.
MISS Dig is Michigan’s statewide one-call notification system that was developed in order to provide excavators and the general public the ability to inform multiple owners of underground facilities of excavation with a single call. MISS Dig is a not-for-profit independent company that processes information from excavators and passes that information on to affected utilities.