Capital Catch-Up: April 4, 2022
Special Edition: Michigan Communities Win Big with Fund MI Water!
On Wednesday, Governor Whitmer signed Senate Bill 565 – a historic, $4.7 billion investment in Michigan’s water, state parks, clean energy, and transportation.
After decades of chronic underinvestment in our water infrastructure at the state level, these funds are a transformational opportunity for communities that have struggled with lead-laden drinking water, severe flooding, and PFAS contamination to revitalize their local economies and to improve public health and wellbeing.
SB 565 includes long-standing MLCV priorities, such as:
- $515 million for wastewater and stormwater upgrades, including projects to prevent severe flooding in Southeast Michigan
- $750 million for drinking water improvement projects, including $138.8 million to replace lead service lines in Benton Harbor and Detroit
- $450 million for local and state parks and trails, including $30 million for a state park in downtown Flint
- $88 million to address emerging contaminants, including $8.6 million to ensure Oscoda residents have PFAS-free drinking water in their homes
- And much more!
The bill, which relies on federal COVID recovery funds and infrastructure dollars, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (95-7 in the House, and 34-3 in the Senate). The bill’s passage and scale of investment is a powerful reminder that ensuring safe, clean drinking water and protecting Michigan’s natural resources are top priorities for all Michiganders, regardless of background or party.
Thank the Governor and your lawmakers for getting this transformational legislation across the finish line — send them a message in minutes.
Storyteller Focus: How Will SB 565 Help Real Michiganders?
Jasmin Maciel-Gutierrez and her family were shocked when they woke up to their home, vehicles, and belongings submerged in water after severe storms and rainfall hit Detroit. With the effects of climate change accelerating and an increase in severe weather, we know we will see more flooding that leaves Michiganders with large-scale property loss. SB 565’s $515 million investment in stormwater and wastewater upgrades will help prevent severe flooding backups in communities like Jasmin’s.
Anthony Spaniola is an attorney and the co-chair of Great Lakes PFAS Action Network. Spaniola is from Oscoda — a small community along Lake Huron which found itself at the epicenter of the statewide PFAS crisis stemming from the now-defunct Wurtsmith Air Force Base. PFAS are a class of chemicals that have been linked to cancers, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, and a host of other severe health problems. Michigan also has the most identified PFAS sites of any state in the nation.
Tony’s personal experience dealing with PFAS contamination has taken him to the halls of Congress, where last year he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the usage of PFAS-laden firefighting foam on military bases. SB 565’s provisions for $88.2 million to address emerging contaminants, like PFAS, will help protect Michiganders like Tony from this dangerous class of compounds.
MLCV in Action! — How We’ve Set the Pace to #FundMIWater
At Michigan LCV, our staff and volunteers have been tirelessly working to advance SB 565 by engaging key stakeholders and rallying support from communities statewide. Our efforts have included:
- Legislative Lobby Meetings: 115+
- Lobby Meetings with the Governor’s team: 40+
- Emails sent to lawmakers: 1,471
- Michigan LCV organized calls from constituents to lawmakers: 389
- Media coverage in outlets across the state: 46
Michigan LCV volunteers played a critical role in getting SB 565 across the finish line. Our Advocacy & Outreach team hosted multiple phonebanks over the course of a full year to elevate the voices of Michiganders and to capture this critical opportunity to invest in our water. Our amazing team of volunteers connected over 389 voters to key Representatives urging them to pass a fully funded SB 565 to protect and provide safe drinking water, rebuild our aging waste and stormwater infrastructure, and address toxic contamination. Our work once again showed that when we work together and push for change we will make a big impact.
Michigan LCV’s Accountability Corner — Rep. Julie Rogers’ Work to Fully Fund MI Water
In this week’s scorecard focus, we will be highlighting Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), who championed the final push for water affordability within SB 565. While Rep. Rogers’ floor amendment to add a water affordability grants program to SB 565 was ultimately not included in the final version of the bill, her advocacy highlighted an essential issue for Michigan communities to her colleagues, hopefully paving the way for further policy discussions.
“While I support local municipalities like Kalamazoo investing in water infrastructure so that residents have access to safe, clean drinking water, it must remain affordable, especially to our most vulnerable residents who are on fixed incomes and/or in lower socioeconomic sectors,” Rep. Rogers said. “That is why I offered an amendment to SB 565 to include grant funds for water affordability programs to help keep access to safe, clean drinking water available to our residents.”
Water affordability is a growing crisis for Michiganders, especially in low-income and BIPOC communities who have seen water prices skyrocket over the past several years. In Michigan, where we are surrounded by 21% of the world’s fresh water resources, no family or individual should have to go without affordable access to clean, safe drinking water.
To learn more about Rep. Rogers’ and her voting record, or to check your own lawmaker’s score, check out our digital scorecard!
Public Service Spotlight: Joshua Lyman
Joshua Lyman works as a policy aide to Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit), who serves as the Democratic vice-chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He has supported Rep. Tate’s efforts to pass SB 565, institute a water shutoff moratorium, require contaminated site clean up to the best feasible standard, and pass the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. Joshua’s work on these issues helps advance clean water for all Michiganders. We are lucky to have him as an advocate for conservation issues in Lansing!
Q: What is the importance of investing in water infrastructure?
A: Detroit, Midland and even our friends above the bridge have had to deal with devastating floods in recent years, and our aging water infrastructure couldn’t keep up. [SB 565’s] investment in our infrastructure sets Michigan on a path to protect communities and create long-term solutions to prevent flooding for families across the state.