We are one Michigan. Anything that affects one community, affects us all. The water crisis in Flint has been a black eye for our state, a violation of human rights, and an absolute nightmare for the people of Flint. High lead levels and toxicity from the Flint River have created an epic state of emergency for citizens who had believed in their government, and their government failed them. That failure goes all the way up to the Governor’s office.

Lead poisoning is known to cause violent behavior, kidney failure, depression, low birth weight, and disrupts normal brain functioning, among its many symptoms. Now, the people of Flint have this hurdle to overcome. Gov. Snyder — and his administration — failed to respond with appropriate urgency, showing a clear lack of humility. It has become impossible to passively standby and watch this occur.

Tonight, we heard the governor’s State of the State address. As an elected member of the Michigan House of Representatives, I was expected to attend. Ultimately I did not.

Highland Park still lacks functioning water meters to fairly bill residents, and its once thriving water treatment plant has been left in shambles. The Southwest Detroit incinerator continues to ruin the air quality for the neighbors. Detroit Public Schools is predicted to run out of funds in April. Unions have been busted due to the Right to Work. Emergency managers were used to decimate local control and trounce democracy. All of these things, whether initiated by him directly or not, happened on Gov. Snyder’s watch. If someone caused my mother great harm and permanent damage, I could not sit there while that person told the world about all the great things they have accomplished. For those reasons, and after carefully searching my conscience, I could not take my seat to participate in a spectacle of political posturing, meant to distract from the catastrophes our state is currently facing.