Summer has arrived in Macomb County, and I am looking forward to enjoying the outdoors, especially on our beautiful Lake St. Clair. My family and I are excited to participate in the many activities our community will host over the coming months, as well as take advantage of the parks and other recreational services in our area. In this month’s newsletter, I will cover the latest progress on legislation I have been working on and share an exciting update on Wyatt’s Law. As we all head toward the water this summer, I wanted to share a boating safety video our office put together and cover some interesting information regarding boating and fishing here in Macomb County you may find useful. Finally, I wanted to announce a few changes to our regularly scheduled in-person coffee hours. I appreciate all the calls and messages I have received, and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to keep our community great. Remember, there is no reason too small to contact my office. My staff and I are here to serve YOU.
State Rep. Kevin Hertel
Many of you have followed the progression of Wyatt’s Law, a bill named after a child who fell victim to predators with a previous history of child abuse. This bipartisan package will establish a statewide child abuse registry in Michigan. The bill will let us accurately track confirmed cases of those abusing or neglecting children. I am truly honored to say that the governor signed Wyatt’s Law into statute on May 5, and I was proud to work across the aisle to get this done for our kids, parents and families. It is my sincere hope that this law will keep serial abusers away from our children by making information regarding those convicted of child abuse available to parents. I would like to thank the many people who have worked tirelessly to make this possible, especially Wyatt’s mother Erica Hammel. Ms. Hammel never gave up in her fight so families will be spared the loss she felt.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, more than 800 dogs and 200 cats have been used in research laboratories in Michigan alone since 2019. My Republican colleague Rep. Tommy Brann and I reintroduced a bill that would stop the unnecessary euthanasia of animals here in Michigan by providing an opportunity for dogs and cats to be adopted as a pet once their time in the research laboratory has ended. We felt called to action by a four-legged constituent named Teddy, whose owner brought this issue to my attention in 2021.
After waiting for action, our bills were taken up by the House Regulatory Reform Committee for consideration. I was pleased to finally have the opportunity to speak on the importance of this bill and do it alongside Teddy’s owner and my constituent Mr. David Rubello. To learn more about the history of the legislation, and see Teddy, please find a link to the WXYZ Detroit story here.
To follow updates on Teddy’s Law, please use this link.
Water Infrastructure Updates:
Residential flooding is an expensive and frustrating reality for many Macomb county residents. In March, we received $10 million from the federal government for greatly needed improvements on water infrastructure and water systems across Michigan. $4.5 million of the funds allocated will be used entirely to expand the water retention system at the Chapaton Pump Station in St. Clair Shores.
During the flood last summer, over 4 inches of rain fell in the southeast of Macomb County. This caused the Chapaton Retention Basin to rapidly fill with the stormwater and combine with sewer overflow. A potential second crisis was averted by releasing the already chemically treated water from the Nine Mile Emergency Bypass providing an overflow for the Chapaton Basin, a decision that saved over 4,000 homes from flooding.
This spring, I voted in favor of a $4.7 billion infrastructure investment to address the constant flooding that this community and many other Michigan communities have been dealing with for generations. Ensuring that the water in Lake St. Clair and the bodies of water into which it flows remains safe, clean and drinkable through these investments will prevent high-cost cleanup that is inevitable if we continue to let these systems degrade. The three projects with their full costs are:
- Reinforcement of Segment 6 of the 15 Mile Interceptor ($16 million)
- Chapaton Retention Basin In-System Storage ($17 million)
- 9 Mile Pump Station at Chapaton Retention Basin ($33 million)
Water infrastructure is a vital component of our state’s successful stewardship of the vast majority of our nation’s fresh water. The Chapaton Retention Basin that services the residents of St. Clair Shores and Eastpointe will utilize a new technology that will add 7 million gallons of additional water storage space that will decrease the combined sewer discharges into Lake St. Clair by 30%. These improvements to the basin will reduce the risk of flooding local basements and improve the quality of our drinking water supply, as well as the drinking water for all the residents of Southeast Michigan. This would have a tremendous positive impact on Macomb County, home to nearly 9% of the state’s population, not to mention the roughly 4 million people who rely on Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and other downstream bodies for their household water supplies. Although this isn’t an issue we are going to fix overnight, passing the largest investment to our crumbling infrastructure in state history is a big step toward solving this infrastructure crisis.
On April 14, I introduced legislation to address an ongoing cost to the residents of St. Clair Shores. It would provide a tax rebate to residents within the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) who have been paying increased sewer and water charges since September of 2006 to cover the city of Highland Park’s delinquent water infrastructure bills.
In 2012, the state shut down the Highland Park water treatment facility in response to numerous health violations, and the community was forced to switch to Detroit’s system. Highland Park and GLWA have yet to come to an agreement regarding repayment of these outstanding bills, and the balance of these bills have been dropped in the laps of taxpayers since 2006. What was once intended to be a temporary solution to recover Highland Park’s water and sewage system costs has become a massive problem.
For the last 10 years, residents of the GLWA communities have paid over $3 million in subsidies and unfairly carried the responsibility of repaying the bills of Highland Park through increased rates on their own water bills. House Bill 6041 seeks to recover and return this money rightfully owed to our taxpayers. It’s time for the GLWA to seek alternatives that don’t involve unfairly burdening our community’s members with millions in additional taxation. I am hopeful that this legislation will receive bipartisan support and correct this ongoing issue. You can track the progress of HB 6041 by using the link above.
Letter of Support For Funds to Reopen Lake St. Clair Metropark’s North Marina
This week, I wrote a letter of support for funding to renovate and reopen the Lake St. Clair Metropark’s North Marina. This redevelopment plan would implement safety and access renovations, correcting an average revenue loss of $125,000 per season and translating to roughly 1,000 overnight visits. Now boaters and visitors to the park will be able to stay in Macomb County and support our hospitality industry, as well as the many small businesses who serve the marina and surrounding area.
The redevelopment of the North Marina infrastructure ensures that visitors to Lake St. Clair can safely dock and enjoy all our community has to offer. I have already asked the state to give $5 million for the first phase of this project because I know this reinvestment in the North Marina will have a long-term impact and extend the life of our aging seawall.
The preliminary engineering total cost estimate for the North Marina renovation is $11.8 million and would include not only the installation of a new sea wall, but also the addition of five floating docks, a new boater services building and renovated public restrooms. Phase one of this project would prioritize building the seawall, updating and electrifying each boat slip, and raising the promenade walkway. I am hopeful that the State Budget Office will find our request realistic and that we can all enjoy the newly renovated North Marina in the very near future.
DID YOU KNOW? The boating industry in the state of Michigan is the third largest market in the United States, capturing $7.8 billion in revenue while also supporting 32,000 jobs and 15,000 small businesses. So, when you are out on the water, remember the old saying: “When safety is first, you last.” I hope you find the boating safety video my office put together a helpful reminder of some tips and laws that keep you and your loved ones safe while enjoying all of our state’s lakes and waterways. View the video here.
COFFEE HOURS: Join Me For Conversation
Please join me at my regularly scheduled coffee hours to ask questions about what is happening in Lansing and let me know what you think about issues affecting our communities and our state. Regularly, our coffee hours are the first Friday of the month at the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center from 10 to 11 a.m., and the second Saturday of the month at Eos Café & Coffee House from 11 a.m. to noon.
My coffee hours in June will be:
CANCELED: Our usually scheduled first Friday coffee hour June 6, has been canceled.
Second Saturday, June 11, 11 am. to noon at Eos Café & Coffee House
30625 Jefferson Ave. in St Clair Shores
I look forward to seeing you there!