We are now nearly five months into the legislative session and the first democratic trifecta in 40 years has shown that they can move bills quickly through the legislative process. Legislative leaders have made good on campaign promises to repeal right to work, reinstate prevailing wage, expand the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, protect reproductive healthcare, and have begun working on bills to strengthen the electoral process.
Much good progress has been made in Lansing, but so far environmental progress has moved slowly. The State Senate has passed bills to require water filtration at schools and daycares to protect children from lead poisoning, and the Senate has also voted to repeal “No Stricter than Federal,” which was a Governor Snyder-era law that required Michigan to have no environmental protections that are stronger than federal minimums. In the House, a strong bill package to create a statewide septic code has been introduced and we are working to ensure that it finally passes this year, as Michigan is the only US state that currently lacks a statewide septic code.
As summer recess approaches, we are still waiting for action on several of the transformative environmental policies that helped bring Democrats into the majority during the 2022 election. Here are some of the top policies that we are eager to see this legislature address:
Polluter pay: Recent polling shows that 93% of Michigan residents want polluting corporations to pay to clean up the messes that they make instead of relying on taxpayers to foot the bill. On top of that, most lawmakers who are currently serving in the majority ran campaigns on holding corporate polluters accountable, so this should be an easy win. However, those same polluting corporations spend extreme amounts of dark money on elections and lobbying. Despite strong support, it seems the influence of dark money on our legislative process could hold up strong polluter accountability bills from passing this year. Act Now
Water Affordability: Senator Stephanie Chang has been at the forefront of the fight for water affordability throughout her entire legislative career. This term, Clean Water Action has been a part of a large stakeholder group that she has been leading to ensure that we get water affordability legislation right. The key components we need to see in the bill package are a ban on water shutoffs for non-payment for families making less than 200% of the federal poverty line, and a guarantee that low income residents don’t have to pay more than 2% of their income towards water. Act Now
Climate and Energy: There is a long list of necessary changes when it comes to how we prepare for the climate crisis and ensure that all residents have access to affordable, clean energy. The Senate has introduced bills to increase renewable energy and make home solar easier and more accessible, but with energy policy the devil is always in the details. We will continue advocating for them to be as strong as possible. After massive power outages in DTE and Consumers Energy service territories this February, the Energy Committees in both chambers held hearings on power outages. However, these energy monopolies have managed to rake in massive profits while not investing in their infrastructure and merely holding hearings does nothing to hold them accountable. We will continue advocating for bills to be introduced to actually hold monopoly utilities accountable.