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‘Filter First’ bills set up for a vote

Drinking Water
Joost Nelissen
Drinking water

Bills meant to prevent lead and other contaminant exposure in schools are being set up for a vote in the Michigan House this week.

The package, known as "Filter First," would require schools and childcare centers to implement water testing and filtration systems.

Representative Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) says kids deserve access to safe water.

"I know how much parents trust these institutions with safeguarding their kids' health and safety. And so, with kids spending upwards of 30 to 40 hours a week in the hands of these institutions, I think the least we can do is make sure that the water they're consuming is free from any sort of contamination," Puri said.

One bill in the package would create a new "Clean Drinking Water Access Act," requiring drinking water management plans be created within 15 months of the bill taking effect. It would set guidelines for bottle stations, drinking fountains, and testing.

Another bill would extend those requirements to childcare centers, while a third bill would detail signage to reflect whether water sources are filtered or not.

Puri says Michigan would be setting a precedent by passing the legislation.

"Being the clean water state, home of the Great Lakes, we take a tremendous amount of pride in our water and making sure that Michigan students, regardless of where they're going to school, regardless of how old they are, have access to safe water," Puri said.

The package appears to have a clear path to the governor.

One bill, HB 4342, is already on its way to her desk. Another, HB 4341, received Senate approval last week and needs the House to concur with changes the Senate made.

A third bill, SB 88 has a slightly more complicated path. It began as similar legislation to a Republican-sponsored House bill, HB 4340. But that bill was left behind and while the Democrat-backed SB 88 advanced.

It was scheduled for a vote Thursday, but that was delayed. House Republicans voiced protest over the advancement of SB 88 instead of HB 4340.

Minority Floor Leader Bryan Posthumus (R-Cannon Twp) noted SB 88 hadn't gone through a House committee hearing yet.

"This bill has skipped that process, meanwhile we have a bill on the floor that has gone through that process, heard input and is ready for us to vote," Posthumus said.

Regardless of the votes on HB 4341 and SB 88 not occurring last week, Puri said he felt confident they had the support to pass whenever a vote could be held.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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