There’s a lot happening in Lansing at the state Capitol right now. Republicans in the state House and Senate are holding up more than $5 billion in federal COVID relief for things like school safety, vaccine distribution, food assistance and housing assistance here in Michigan.
”For the Legislature to play political games with these dollars is completely irresponsible and reckless.” — State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor)
Lawmakers are also working on a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year. There are also efforts to look at the ways we produce energy in Michigan and make sure dangerous chemicals like PFAS don’t make their way into our water and food.
Listen: State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) gives an update on COVID relief, energy management and more from the state Capitol.
State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) represents Michigan’s 18th state Senate district. He says Republican leaders in the Legislature are hurting Michigan residents by delaying the allocation of COVID relief funds.
“This behavior of withholding federal dollars from our citizens as part of political leverage around a separate issue, I think, is very irresponsible. I don’t think there’s any endgame to it,” says Irwin.
“I am confident that these dollars will eventually get to the people because there’s only one right answer when you’re asked what to do with these federal dollars meant for our people in Michigan — appropriate them. Send them to our schools, send them to our hospitals, send them to our struggling renters. That’s what these dollars are for. And for the Legislature to play political games with these dollars is completely irresponsible and reckless,” he says.
Regarding recent conversations around energy production and management, Irwin says that he believes energy should be a publicly-owned utility, like water. “There’s a lot of different ways we could regulate our electricity grid,” explains Irwin. “We could treat it like Texas does, where it’s completely unregulated. We could have a more blended system like we do here in Michigan, where we guarantee monopolies to private companies, but then regulate it pretty heavily. Or, we could treat it like our water system… As we compare the kind of service we get here in southeast Michigan versus communities like Lansing that have a municipal authority, one of the things that comes out is that these public authorities have cheaper power, they have more reliable power and they have greener power.”
The prevalence of PFAS chemicals in water as well as in everyday items such as food containers and wrappers is getting some renewed attention under the Biden Administration. Irwin has been calling attention to these issues for years in the Legislature. He says the state needs to ban the use of these chemicals in food packaging.