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Changes to emergency manager law among recommendations from bipartisan committee on Flint

Senators Jim Ananich and Jim Stamas speak to the press after the committee released its recommendations.
YouTube MLive
Senators Jim Ananich and Jim Stamas speak to the press after the committee released its recommendations.

Lawmakers have ideas for how to ensure there is not a repeat of the Flint water crisis.

A reportreleased Wednesday by State Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, makes 36 recommendations.

The recommendations include smaller, quicker fixes like increasing the criminal penalty for misconduct by public officials if someone experiences bodily harm as a result, and reestablishing the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission.

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The report also includes longer term ideas like overhauling lead standards, establishing a commission to oversee Michigan’s environmental protection department, and testing children’s teeth for lead.

Stamas released the report after months of meetings of a joint House and Senate committee.

“Not all of our members have agreed with everything in it,” Stamas says, “but at the same time I think we’ve covered a very large part of what these issues were.”

Stamas said having more than one person in the emergency manager role ensures a better balance.

One of the recommendations is to replace emergency managers with a three-person "Financial Management Team." The team would be made up of a financial expert, a local government operations expert, and a local ombudsman.

Stamas said having more than one person in the emergency manager role ensures a better balance. 

“Having three individuals is how I think, a better approach to ensure that we have a more balanced look at how we’re affecting the communities as we take a very difficult situation and try to rectify it,” he says.  

However, some members of the committee were unaware the report was being released.

State Representative Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, says he did not see the report in advance and he has some concerns.

“I’m disappointed with the level of specificity,” he says. “I’m disappointed with the dearth of real solutions. There are so many places here in the report where they kind of punt the tough issues to future Legislature.”

The report could yield legislation to enact the recommendations – although it’s not clear when. 

You can listen to Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta and State Senator Jim Ananich, D-Flint, talk about the recommendations made in the report released today.


Reporters caught up with Sens. Stamas and Ananich in Lansing today. See this clip from MLive:


Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R