Runestad bill would further protect children from lead poisoning

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad introduced a bill Tuesday that would further protect Michigan children from lead poisoning.

Senate Bill 399 would establish the duties of a new commission that would study the environmental threats of lead poisoning to children’s health and review and recommend improvements to the lead poisoning prevention program.

“No amount of lead exposure is considered safe. We need to continue to strengthen our efforts to protect our children and our families from all lead sources,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission will help make sure families in our community are protected from contaminants in their drinking water.”

Runestad said the new commission would provide the necessary guidance and oversight for the lead poisoning prevention program. It would evaluate the effectiveness of the program and make regular recommendations to the Legislature for improvements based on public hearings, best practices and other findings.

The commission’s recommendations would initially focus on ways to increase screening of children for lead poisoning, increase public awareness of lead poisoning risks, establish new ways to increase blood testing rates of children, and better manage sources of lead poisoning.

Runestad’s measure is part of a bipartisan bill package to expand protections for Michigan’s drinking water and keep residents safe.

Additional requirements in the plan to improve drinking water quality include:
• A comprehensive lead and copper analysis report at least one year prior to any change in water source;
• Reforming the emergency manager law into a three-person financial management team and prevent the team from changing a public drinking water source without public approval or making changes affecting public welfare, health or safety when cost is the primary factor;
• Granting the state auditor general authority to access and examine electronically stored and confidential information;
• Requiring lead service line disclosure statements in all rental contracts; and
• Requiring transparency in water utility ratemaking, billing, and shutoff practices.

“I’m always excited to see the progress we can make when both sides of the aisle come together to move Michigan forward,” Runestad said. “It’s the job of all of us to make sure we’re looking out for families, children and everyone in our community by protecting our drinking water.”

SBs 201 and 404 have been referred to the Senate Oversight Committee, while SBs 395 – 403 were referred to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Companion measures, House Bills 4751 – 4769, were previously introduced and referred to the House Government Operations Committee.