Advance Notice: Briefs

Enviros praise Senate passage of bill allowing state regulations to be stricter than federal standards

By: - May 17, 2023 4:05 pm

Jared Strong/States Newsroom

The Michigan Senate voted Wednesday to reverse a rule enacted during GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration that doesn’t allow state agencies to impose regulations stricter than federal regulations.

Supporters of SB 14, which passed along partisan lines, 20-18, and now heads to the state House for approval, say the legislation will allow Michigan to protect its natural resources and respond more efficiently to crises.

The vote today undid a historically bad decision, said Alexis Blizman, policy director for the Ecology Center, which works to promote clean energy policy in Michigan.

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“When No Stricter than Federal became law it was a dark day for Michigan. This law was passed during the 2018 lame duck legislative period, and was among the worst laws passed in the worst legislative session in history for Michigan’s environment,” Blizman said in a news release.

Bill sponsor Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) said that prior to the 2018 law banning stricter rules, Michigan was able to enact stringent lead-in-drinking-water restrictions following the Flint water crisis. 

“This bill is simple. It is about restoring the necessary tools that Michigan needs to curb threats to our natural resources, protect the well-being of Michigan’s citizens and be able to act promptly doing so. Michigan’s economy thrives when our citizens are healthy and our environment is protected,” McCann said.

Today marks a new beginning for fighting the climate crisis, Clean Water Action Policy Director for Michigan Sean McBrearty said in a news release Wednesday.

“After 40 years of inaction, the people of Michigan, our water, and our health can’t wait any longer for lawmakers to be proactive and enhance the environmental protections on which we all rely,” McBrearty said.

Some Republican lawmakers proposed substitutes to the bill, which were all rejected, and then offered explanations of their no votes.

Repealing the restriction takes power away from lawmakers, who were chosen by Michigan residents to represent them, and gives it to random people subject to far lesser standards of public accountability, Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) said.

“Why is it that as a member of this Legislature. … I’m going to allow some guy or lady who gets hired by some department and has protections against being removed from that job? Why are we just letting them set up sorts of rules that we’ve never discussed? Why do we even put in our bills in the first place that we’re just going to let them make these rules?” McBroom said.


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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.