Legislature Likely to Act on Flint Water Crisis This Week

Oct 12, 2015

Credit MPRN

(MPRN-Lansing) State lawmakers hope to act quickly this week to help resolve Flint’s water problems. 

Gov. Rick Snyder is asking the Legislature to approve about $10 million to address the city’s water contamination crisis. A number of top Republican lawmakers say they’re on board with the governor’s request.

“I’m committed to taking action,”

said state House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant).

“I need to spend some more time with it to figure out exactly what that action looks like. But it’s clear there’s going to be a need for some money from the state and I’m in support of that.”

State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) says he expects to take action on the issue this week, but said late last week that the specifics of where the money will come from still needed to be worked out. The chair of the House Appropriations Committee says he intends to hold a committee vote on the funding this week.

“The state is in a good enough fiscal position to handle this. And I want it handled,”

said state Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville). Some lawmakers say the state bears at least some responsibility for the crisis because an emergency manager oversaw Flint’s decision to switch water sources. Cotter says they should approve the money regardless of the state’s role in the crisis.

“I don’t think it’s about a determination of guilt, who’s at fault,” he said. “What we know is, irrespective of all of that, is that people right now don’t have access to clean water. And that’s a serious problem.”

None of the lawmakers offered a specific source from which they preferred to take the money as of late last week. But Cotter said the state’s “rainy day fund” is an option.

Pscholka says he doesn’t think lawmakers need to dip into the state’s savings. He says he’d rather see it come from sources such as the state’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund or state agency budgets such as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He said it could also be a combination of those sources.