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Legislative Black Caucus backs Flint's request for state of emergency; governor balks

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Updated 5:30 p.m. 

Flint has a new ally in its push for federal funds to fix the city’s water problems.

Michigan’s legislative black caucus is urging Gov. Rick Snyder to issue a state of emergency to address the continuing health concerns caused by the dangerous lead levels in Flint’s water.

“Issuing a health emergency is the most responsible thing to do,” says State Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint. “This is a public health crisis, and our children are most at risk. We urge Gov. Snyder to issue the state of emergency so the city of Flint can get immediate monetary relief.”

But Governor Snyder says the Flint situation may not qualify under the rules.

“If you looked at it as a traditional natural disaster, I’m not sure it would fit the quote-unquote ‘established’ criteria.”

The governor says the state is ready to provide back-up assistance to the city’s request for federal assistance. And he says the state has provided help to Flint with water testing and transitioning the city to a better water system.  

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency earlier this week.

Weaver says the declaration is needed to potentially free up state and federal aid.

The state has already spent $7 million to provide Flint residents with water filters and return the city to Detroit water.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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