On Wed, March 20th, People’s Water Board gathered in Lansing to meet with Michigan legislators on new and reintroduced water bills. At 11:30am we held a press conference with State Senator Stephanie Chang who will formally introduce four co-sponsored bills tomorrow. They are:
|Short Title / prior #||Long description||Potential Sponsor|
|Decriminalization HB 4389/4390||Decriminalizes the act of re-connecting water service (because of a shut-off due to inability to pay) from a five year felony to a civil infraction for a first or second offense and a misdemeanor for the third offense.||Irwin/Wojno|
|Affordability HB 4394||Addresses the water rate structure that unduly burdens low income residents by amending the social welfare act to create a residential water affordability program within DHHS in order to ensure that water bills are based on household income.||Alexander|
|Billing Procedures/Disputes Similar to HB 4712||Allows some customers, who have not received a water bill by ten days after the end of the billing period, to no longer be responsible for paying that bill if s/he contacted the department in writing twice and the department did not respond within 30 days.||Hollier|
|Shut Off Protection HB 4393||Institutes water shut-off protections for seniors, families with minor children, and those who are disabled, and provides for clearer notices and a process for potential shutoffs. Creates a low-income water assistance fund similar to the vulnerable household warmth fund. Intended to mirror the statute Michigan has for utility shut-off protections.||Chang|
We will be sharing more information soon about how these bills (and others) can help address water crisis issues in communities across the state, and advance the human right to water in Michigan.