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Flint ‘water fix’ bill passes in Michigan House

Posted at 10:30 AM, Jan 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-20 10:30:45-05

LANSING, Mich. — Less than 24 hours after Gov. Rick Snyder called on legislators to move quickly in approving a $28 million in emergency funding for the Flint water crisis, the bill was approved unanimously Wednesday afternoon.

The House starting taking a vote at about 4:45pm.  It passed 106-0.

The House Appropriations Committee took up HB 5220 at about 10:00 a.m. Wednesday. It was unanimously passed out of committee less than an hour later. Snyder announced the bill Tuesday night during his State of the State address.

Snyder wants to commit $28 million more—a mix that would use approximately $22 million of state money, in addition to federal money—in the short term to fix the disaster that has put residents at risk for lead exposure.  It is the second wave of state aid to be committed since October, when $9.3 million was announced.

The proposal would allocate state funding to six different departments and would help pay for filters, replacement cartridges, bottled water, more school nurses and additional intervention specialists. It also will fund lab testing, corrosion control procedures, a study of water system infrastructure, potentially help Flint deal with unpaid water bills, case management of people with elevated lead-blood levels, assessment of potential linkages to other diseases, crisis counseling and mental health services, and the replacement of plumbing fixtures in schools, child care centers, nursing homes and medical facilities.

Here's where the state money would go:

  • $11.8M: Dept. of Health & Human Services for purchase of more bottled water, filters, further lead investigation and testing
    • An additional approx. $6M will come in the form of federal and 'restricted' funds
  • $5.7M: Dept. of Environmental Quality to make up for lost revenue from unpaid water bills and fund new water infrastructure
  • $2M: Dept. of Licensing & Reg. Affairs to replace plumbing fixtures installed in public buildings
  • $2M: Dept. of Military & Veterans Affairs to support National Guard operations for three months
  • $930K: Dept. of Education to hire additional nurses for the Flint School District
  • $100K: State Police to fund operations of the Flint Water Inter-agency Coordinating Committee

Tuesday night, Snyder said he also plans to appeal President Barack Obama's denial of a federal disaster declaration for the area. On Saturday, Obama signed an emergency declaration, clearing the way for $5 million in federal aid, but denied Snyder's request for a disaster declaration based on the legal requirement that such relief is intended for natural events, fires, floods or explosions.

Flint's water became contaminated with too much lead when its water source was switched in a cost-cutting measure in 2014. The more corrosive water from the Flint River caused the city's water pipes to leach lead into the drinking water. Protesters called for the governor's resignation as he delivered his State of the State speech Tuesday night.