Welcome to your weekly update on environmental action in Lansing!
After security concerns and COVID restrictions slightly delayed the 2021-2022 session start, the Michigan House has had little activity this week. However, the Senate and Governor Whitmer have had a flurry of activity around executive appointments and the State of the State. Here’s a rundown of the activity we are tracking in Lansing:
ICYMI: Legislative Action in Michigan This Week
Senators Seek to Hold Polluters Accountable
A group of Senate Democrats introduced legislation this week seeking to hold polluters accountable when they fail to clean up contaminated sites. The legislation comes on the heels of a report released by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) on the “Green Ooze” that leaked onto I-696 in Madison Heights in 2019.
The bills: These bills would eliminate the statute of limitations that protect polluters when they fail to quickly identify and contain polluted sites. With the passage of this package, bad actors would be responsible for cleaning up their polluted sites, regardless of how long the site had been abandoned.
Other Action in Lansing This Week:
Partisan Protest over COVID-19 Restrictions leads to Rejection of Gov’s Slate of Appointments
Senate Republicans on the Advice and Consent Committee moved to block 13 of Governor Whitmer’s appointments this week on purely political grounds. Several important committees that we engage with regularly were among the fallout, including the Natural Resource Commission, Michigan Civil Rights Commission, and the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development.
There are still hundreds of appointed positions that the Senate could vote to reject this session as part of their political play, including Public Service Commission appointee, Katherine Peretick. The Public Service Commission will play an especially critical role in the implementation and enforcement of the MI Healthy Climate Plan. We issued this statement calling for the Senate to put aside political games and allow the Governor’s appointees to get to work.
Gov. Whitmer Announces $500M For Water Infrastructure
As part of the annual State of the State address, Governor Whitmer called for the Legislature to pass a historic $500M package to reinvest in the state’s drinking water infrastructure. The plan would use federal funds, the state’s bonding authority, and existing state funds as part of the MI COVID Recovery Plan to provide money to local governments to reinvest in clean water. The plan includes:
- $235 million for clean water infrastructure grants
- $102 million to replace lead service lines in disadvantaged communities;
- $35 million to replace failing septic systems
- $20 million for substantial public health risk grants
Although a $500M investment in drinking water infrastructure is historic, the EPA has estimated that Michigan will need to invest nearly $1B in our drinking water infrastructure each year over the next 20 years to protect our public health.
House Committees Announced; Senate Committees Reshuffled After Departures
The Michigan House of Representatives announced standing committee assignments for the 2021-2022 legislative session. Our team worked diligently to ensure both returning and new environmental champions were selected to serve on key committees relevant to conservation interests. A list of the new policy committees can be found here.
The Michigan Senate also saw some restructuring of this existing committee with the departure of Sens. Lucido and MacGregor following their elections to other offices.
Check your Legislator’s Work with the Digital Accountability Suite:
We’re keeping our eye on what goes on in Lansing so we can keep you informed. Track your lawmaker’s progress on environmental legislation by using our accountability suite. Learn who values and acts to protect our land, air and water in our state government; hold elected officials accountable for their actions; and track decisions and legislation that impacts our natural resources and communities.
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