State Representatives Phil Phelps (D-Flushing) and Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) introduced a package of four bills today to address various concerns stemming from the Flint water crisis, as the legislators work to correct several problems in state government that led to the humanitarian catastrophe in the community.
Rep. Phelps introduced two of the bills — instituting an emergency response plan to create clear guidelines for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Michigan State Police (MSP), along with other state agencies, to mobilize in the event of a water crisis; and a bill to require the DEQ to start using profile testing, a sampling methodology which requires a series of samples to be taken to measure lead levels from the faucet, home water lines, supply lines and water mains.
“It’s clear that one of the many problems of the Flint water crisis was the mobilization in the community, with government organizations pointing the finger at each other rather than finding a way to work together to put the people in need first,” Phelps said. “My first bill would make sure those organizations had the knowledge of how to work together, with my second bill fixing the flawed testing requirements of the DEQ, which was allowed to drop testing samples and push back any emergency response that was needed.”
Rep. Neeley introduced the other two bills — creating a water ombudsman to independently hear complaints from residents, investigate as necessary, publicize their findings and advocate for water customers; and another bill to update DEQ testing, adding periodic testing of schools and day care centers.
“For too long, the concerns of the residents of Flint fell on deaf ears from those at all levels of local and state government. Even I couldn’t get a response from the governor’s office when we all knew something was wrong,” Neeley said. “My bills would make sure the citizens of Michigan would have someone to go to who would actually listen to their concerns and do something about it, as well as prioritize the safety of our children. Flint’s youth will feel the disastrous effects of the Flint water crisis for their entire lives, but we can do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen to other children in our state.”