The legislative committee looking into the Flint water crisis wrapped up hearings Tuesday without hearing from Governor Rick Snyder, his senior aides, or former emergency managers who were in charge of the city at the outset of the debacle.
State Senator Jim Stamas (R-Midland) chairs the special joint legislative committee. He says the next step is for committee members to meet with each other to come up with recommendations to be released by the end of the month.
Stamas says there was no need to call in Snyder, former Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant, and four former Flint emergency managers who were in charge as the city transitioned to a new water source. Stamas says criminal investigations will determine who’s responsible. The committee’s job, he said, is to fix Flint’s trouble and make sure a similar crisis doesn’t occur again. “The investigations are still ongoing for accountability,” said Stamas. “But with the amount of information this committee’s received, I think Flint residents deserve the opportunity for solutions to begin, so I wanted to move forward with that.”
Stamas says investing more in water infrastructure will be part of the recommendations, and so will changes to Michigan’s emergency manager law. An independent commission named by the governor found that the law doesn’t allow for checks and balances that could have averted the water crisis.
But state Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) says the committee should have heard from decision-makers who were in charge as the debacle played out. “I think for this committee to have credibility, we needed to hear from the governor, we needed to hear from the EMs, we needed to hear from the EMs, we needed to hear from the people who were central to this crisis, and we haven’t,” said Irwin.
Stamas said the risk created by criminal investigations and lawsuits likely would have kept the decision-makers from showing up. He says testimony from Snyder and former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley are also part of the committee’s records. He also there’s nothing stopping the committee from re-convening and calling witness if a new turn of events warrants it.