LANSING —State Representative Bill LaVoy (D-Monroe) said, “Michigan needs to refocus its priorities and create a new legislative agenda,” in response to Gov. Rick Snyder’s fifth State of the State address. Attempts to run the state like a business have resulted in a bureaucratic culture that erodes trust and seriously damages credibility, especially when it comes to protection of public health.

Michigan has already experienced disasters like the Flint water crisis and the shutdown of municipal water systems due to toxic algae in Lake Erie. The potential contamination of the Great Lakes from Enbridge Line 5 and groundwater contamination caused by deep injection waste wells should cause great alarm among Michigan’s citizens.

“We cannot say our state is strong while residents of our state are and may continue to be poisoned by tap water,” LaVoy said. “We are told that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has full command of a situation, and this is how things turn out. People should also be very concerned about Line 5 and about the MDEQ permitting waste injection wells in fragile karst areas. There is a very real possibility of more drinking water contamination.”

The citizens of Michigan have a right to expect certain things from government, such as transparency, accountability and openness. House Democrats have introduced a plan to bring the Governor’s Office and the Michigan Legislature under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. Increased transparency will empower citizens, enabling them to know how and why their government operates the way it does.

“Giving greater access to Michigan residents well help keep officials accountable and help them advocate for the things they most care about. Our state ranks dead last in government accountability and transparency. Citizens want greater accountability and the best way to do that is increasing their access to information,” LaVoy said.