LANSING — After Gov. Rick Snyder finally declared a state of emergency in Flint following the city’s water being poisoned due to irresponsible oversight from the state-appointed emergency manager, a series of proposals have been introduced to address the city’s water issues and prevent future water crises. These proposals include 20 recommendations from Gov. Snyder’s own bipartisan task force and a series of bills introduced in the Legislature. Despite these proposed solutions — and the city still not having clean water more than four years later — legislative Republicans have not taken meaningful action on these policies. State Rep. Phil Phelps (D-Flushing), who played an active role in urging Gov. Snyder to address the city’s water crisis, is again calling for Republicans to act on these legislative proposals to provide Flint residents relief.
“Instead of attacking economic freedom and making last-minute power grabs during lame duck, we should be focusing on the issues that matter most to Michigan families,” Phelps said. “The people of Flint are still suffering today because of decisions made by a greedy emergency managers and poor leadership from the administration. Although the national media may have moved on, the people of Flint still do not have clean water. It is time for Republicans to stop playing petty political games and act on our legislation to provide actual relief to the people of Flint.”
In addition to the 20 recommendations from Gov. Snyder’s bipartisan task force, Democratic legislators have introduced a series of legislative packages to provide support to the city of Flint and prevent additional water crises from occurring throughout the state. These proposals include:
- Restoring citizen oversight commissions for water quality, air pollution, and oil and gas. Michigan had air and water quality commissions in the past, but they were abolished by former Gov. John Engler in 1991.
- Requiring lead and copper rule testing and notification, along with water testing in child care centers and schools. This is the only legislation to be voted out of committee, but there has been no indication of it being brought to a vote in the full House.
- Creating the Accessible and Affordable Water Act to require all state departments and agencies to establish water affordability criteria as necessary.
- Holding state bureaucrats accountable for their role in creating public health emergencies and seeking justice for those affected.
None of the legislation that has been introduced to address the Flint water crisis, provide justice for Flint residents, or to prevent water catastrophes throughout the state has been signed into law over the past two years.
“When we fought to pass the bipartisan commission’s recommendations two years ago, Republican leaders claimed we were out of time but promised we would get to these bills in the next term. But here we are, in yet another lame-duck session, and only one of these bills has been signed into law. This is a massive failure,” Phelps said. “My Republican colleagues should not only be ashamed, but they should feel a sense of personal accountability. If even one more life is lost that could have been saved with these proposals, it is a stain of failure on this body.”