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Snyder takes action to combat lead, enlists MEC staffer in the fight

MEC is proud to announce that Tina Reynolds, our health policy director, has been appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve on a new Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission. Snyder signed an executive order creating the commission in March and said it will be a permanent body.

Snyder also outlined tougher state standards for implementing the federal Lead and Copper Rule—changes he says will ensure that Michigan communities are able to provide safe, clean drinking water.

New commission to protect Michigan kids

The 15-member commission will advise the governor and the Department of Health and Human Services on policies and programs to meet an ambitious but achievable goal: ending childhood lead poisoning in Michigan.

That’s also the ultimate goal of the Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Homes (MIALSH), which Tina has helped to lead since she joined MEC in 2010. Last year, MIALSH succeeding in maintaining funding at $1.75 million for the 2017 budget, bringing the total funding for the past four budget cycles to more than $6.5 million. Before MIALSH formed in 2010, there hadn’t been significant state funding for lead cleanup programs in decades.

Tina is one of three commission members appointed to serve an initial three-year term; other members will serve one- or two-year terms. The commission also includes MIALSH members Rebecca Meuninck, deputy director of the Ecology Center, and Paul Haan, executive director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who became a hero of the Flint water crisis and received MEC’s 2016 Milliken Award, also will serve on the commission.

“I am honored to join this commission and grateful to Gov. Snyder for creating it,” Tina said. “Protecting Michigan kids from lead hazards has been a top priority of my work since I joined MEC. There’s an impressive level of collective expertise on this new commission, and I think we have a great opportunity to achieve real, meaningful progress toward making lead poisoning a thing of the past in Michigan. It’s not going to happen overnight, but the governor has demonstrated that he is serious about doing what it takes to make Michigan lead-safe.”

Tina noted that legislative action would be needed to make the commission truly permanent. Establishing a permanent commission was among 100 recommendations issued in November by the temporary Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board, chaired by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. The new commission will focus on implementation of the board’s recommendations and monitor the state’s efforts to eliminate lead exposure in children. Gov. Snyder’s latest budget proposal includes $2 million for implementing those recommendations.

Tina has extensive experience in the law and state public policy development. She holds a law degree from Wayne State University and a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources. She has worked in the Michigan Legislature as an environmental policy analyst, a legislative assistant and as legal counsel.

Tougher drinking water standards

Snyder has said the “dumb and dangerous” Lead and Copper Rule was a factor in the Flint water crisis, and first proposed overhauling Michigan’s program for implementing the rule close to a year ago.

While some of the changes the governor wants to see will have to be enacted by the legislature, he announced that he will make the following changes through administrative rules that don’t require approval from lawmakers:
  • Lower the “action level” for lead in drinking water from 15 to 10 parts per billion by 2020.
  • Require most public water systems to establish advisory councils so that citizens have improved access to information and input on decision making.
  • Require most public water systems to conduct a system-wide inventory of construction materials so they can accurately identify where lead service lines are located.
Other changes will require legislation. Those include requiring property sellers and landlords to disclose to renters or buyers if any service lines or plumbing are known to contain lead, and improving lead testing in water at daycares, nursing homes and other state-licensed facilities for children and vulnerable adults.

MEC President Chris Kolb, who advocated for strengthening the Lead and Copper Rule as a member of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force, praised the governor’s announcement.

“These improvements to the Lead and Copper Rule will establish Michigan as a leader in drinking water safety—a role we are obligated to take on after the failures that allowed the Flint water crisis to unfold,” he said. “Ultimately, we need to eliminate lead from drinking water entirely and address all other sources of lead exposure, but it’s going to take time and resources to get there. The governor’s tougher Lead and Copper Rule, coupled with the new Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission, is a good start. We look forward to working with him to finish the job.”

Snyder’s reforms to the rule are among the priorities in the 2017-2018 policy agenda MEC rolled out earlier this year.
-Andy McGlashen
RELATED TOPICS: lead poisoning, public health
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