MRWA Legislative Update

Jon Bumstead, Director
Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

Members of the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly,

As a former state representative, and current board member of the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, I wanted to provide my first legislative update as state senator. I began my first term in the Michigan Senate in January of 2019 representing the citizens of Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo Counties. In my first term as state senator, my colleagues selected me to serve on several committees focused on both policy and appropriations.

I now serve as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Environmental Quality as well as Vice-Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, which handles all policy legislation related to natural resources. Look below for a full list of my committee assignments:

Appropriations Committees
o Vice Chair of Appropriations
o Chair of Natural Resources & Environmental Quality subcommittee
o General Government subcommittee
o K-12 & Michigan Department of Education subcommittee

Policy Committees
o Vice Chair of Natural Resources
o Education and Career Readiness
o Energy & Technology
o Finance

I am proud to take on the role of Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Environmental Quality. I have lived my entire life as a riparian landowner on the Muskegon River, and I understand the importance of protecting our rivers, lakes and all other natural resources of our state. As Chair of this subcommittee, I had a key role in shaping the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budgets for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

In September, the Michigan Legislature worked together and finalized a budget to fund our state for the 2020 fiscal year. Throughout the budget process, I developed a great partnership with EGLE Director Liesl Clark and my Democratic colleagues. Water quality is not a partisan issue, and I wanted to make sure this budget reflected the input I received from the voters in my district.

The EGLE budget that was sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer included $120 million to support drinking water protection initiatives throughout the state. One growing concern is the issue of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other contaminants leeching into our ground water. $40 million in this budget is dedicated to the containment of these contaminants and investing in technologies to protect our public water systems.

We also included $35 million to provide drinking water infrastructure upgrades to help local communities satisfy the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Other investments included a private well testing grant program, grants to help local communities develop watershed and asset management plans, and grants to help communities comply with the state’s recent Lead and Copper Rule changes.

Although these programs are now part of the final budget, the governor vetoed various other sources of critical funding intended to protect our drinking water and natural resources. This includes $7.5 million designated for private well testing and other efforts to ensure residents do in fact have clean drinking water. She also struck down $15 million for municipal airport well monitoring costs associated with PFAS containment.

$500,000 was originally budgeted for the Michigan Geological Survey. This program helps analyze and protect our natural resources by mapping subsurface water flows in Michigan. Understanding how water flows is important to contain and protect our water from contamination. $150,000 was included to fund the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP). For over 40 years, CLMP provided technical assistance to support volunteers monitor the water quality of their lakes throughout state. Governor Whitmer vetoed both of these programs.

I was optimistic about the budget we sent her, but I am disappointed in many of her veto choices. The legislature sent the governor a responsible budget that utilized existing resources to fund important programs and invest in our state’s clean water and natural resources.

While I believe some of the governor’s veto choices were questionable, I am proud of the funding that was included in the final budget. Funding for PFAS containment, lead and copper rule implementation and other drinking water infrastructure upgrades continue to show our commitment to the preservation of water quality.

As state senator, I will continue to work with my colleagues in the legislature as well as the governor to invest in the safety of Michigan families and the preservation of our natural resources.