LANSING — House Bill 5220, introduced by state Representative Phil Phelps (D-Flushing) that passed earlier today in the House Appropriations Committee, was fast-tracked through the full House during session. The legislation will bring $28 million in funding to the city of Flint to deal with immediate relief needed in the continuing crisis revolving around the lead-tainted water supply and health concerns.
“It was imperative that we acted quickly, and I appreciate that legislators on both sides of the aisle realized how needed this money was in the Flint community,” Rep. Phelps said. “I urge the Senate to pass HB 5220 just as quickly, because the timeline is short, and the need is now.”
The funding will be divided up between the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Michigan State Police. All departments will coordinate efforts to use the funding in the community, from plumbing fixture replacements in schools to supporting the National Guard’s efforts.
“The people of Flint have been sending out the call for help for more than a year now, and while I appreciate the expediency at which this legislation is being moved, I must stress that there is much more to be done,” state Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) said. “This amount of money is only a step toward fixing the problems that will occur decades from now in our children and their development, and we must pull out all the stops in ensuring their needs are tended to above all else.”
The House Appropriations Committee passed the supplemental bill unanimously, including an amendment from state Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio) that expands support so all individuals at risk of increased blood lead levels receive analysis and case management.
“Though lead levels in blood dissipate quickly, the lead remains in organs and the central nervous system, affecting development and causing lifelong damage,” Faris said. “We must remain diligent in addressing the immediate and future health needs of all those affected by this crisis.”
As the governor laid out in his State of the State address last night, this measure is just the first in a series of actions needed to help the residents of Flint recover.
“This bill funds the state’s immediate response to this crisis. Now, we must continue the work of determining and funding Flint’s long-term needs,” said Rep. Phelps.