Genesee Reps Introduce Bills to Increase Access to Justice for Flint Residents
LANSING — State Reps. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) and Phil Phelps (D-Flushing) introduced legislation today to increase the ability of residents affected by the Flint water crisis to seek justice and to hold state bureaucrats accountable for their role in creating public health emergencies. This comes as Flint residents were recently advised that a public health emergency declaration remains in effect for Genesee County residents, with recommendations that residents continue taking precautions regarding water usage and consumption from their pipes until they have all been replaced. This is not expected to occur until 2020.
“The people of Flint have endured this crisis for the past four years. It is critical that we provide residents the opportunity to seek justice for being denied clean water to drink, bathe and cook. Snyder and his administration are trying to run out the clock on Flint residents leaving them stranded without justice,” Rep. Neeley said. “My legislation will create a statute of limitations increasing the length of time for residents affected by a water emergency and give them an opportunity to have their day in court.”
Rep. Neeley’s House Bill 6101 would allow individuals to recover damages relating to the death or injury of a person or property as a result of a water emergency. Rep. Neeley’s bill will apply the statute of limitations retroactively, in an effort to make sure that all residents affected by the Flint water crisis are able to seek damages in court.
House Bill 6102, introduced by Rep. Phelps, would remove governmental immunity from state employees who were complicit in a failure to prevent public health emergencies, such as the Flint water crisis. This bill would make it easier for members of the public to access the justice system and pursue legal action against officials within the Snyder administration.
“It has become apparent that the Governor and Republican-controlled Legislature are not willing to do their jobs assisting Flint residents in their recovery. At the very least, we should remove the state’s immunity so the courts can sort out damages for those who file claims against the state,” Rep. Phelps said. “The government has let the door of justice slam shut on my constituents and locked it tight as they walked away. My bill will reopen that door and give the residents of Flint an opportunity to seek justice and ensure those who played a role in this crisis are held accountable.”