‘Filter first’ bills signed to ensure clean water in schools ⋆

Gov. Whitmer signed off Thursday on a bipartisan package of bills to protect Michigan children from lead contaminated-water. 

The “filter first” bills will implement the Clean Drinking Water Act and require Michigan schools and childcare centers to install filtered-faucets, develop a drinking water management plan and conduct routine sampling and testing to ensure children have access to safe drinking water. 

“Flint has paid an unimaginable price for water contamination. This is why I continue to push legislation that focuses on clean water and why this filter first bill package has been a priority for me. We must take steps to protect Michiganders from harmful contaminants — especially our kids,” state Rep. Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint), the lead sponsor of one of the three bills in the package, said in a statement.

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“Lead poisoning can have devastating effects on the health and development of our kids. Having a drinking water management plan ensures the most up-to-date strategies and tools are in place to ensure safe water sources. I am elated that these bills are now signed into law,” Neeley said. 

The effort was cheered by the Michigan Environmental Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). 

“Michigan will become the first state to implement a solution that actually gets lead out of drinking water in schools and childcare centers while delivering dramatic cost savings,” said Joan Leary Matthews, senior attorney with the NRDC in a statement.

“The state has enacted landmark legislation that is the national model for protecting kids from lead in schools. These laws go straight to the solution by proactively requiring the installation of lead-removing filters without first testing for lead that will inevitably be found,” Matthews said. 

In a statement, the Michigan Environmental Council also noted that so far $50,000 has been set aside in the state budget to offset the costs of implementing these bills. 

“There has not been a bigger moment in the lead poisoning fight since lead paint was banned 45 years ago,” Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer for the Michigan Environmental Council said in the statement. “Momentum is on our side. We can make lead poisoning history, not current reality.”

Whitmer also recently signed bills guaranteeing lead screenings for all children between 12 and 24 months of age. Lawmakers are also working to pass legislation that would have more homes tested and treated for lead contamination. 

“Every parent wants to make sure their kids are healthy, and today’s bills ensure that our kids have safe and clean drinking water when they sip from the drinking fountain,” Whitmer said in a statement on Thursday.

“In Michigan, we have seen the devastating and long-lasting impact of lead exposure, and we are committed to making sure no child has to suffer through this again,” Whitmer said.

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authored by Kyle Davidson
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2023%2F10%2F19%2Ffilter-first-bills-signed-to-ensure-clean-water-in-schools%2F

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