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State employees who intentionally distort data could face jail time under a proposed law

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Rep. Phil Phelps official website

A state lawmaker wants to make it a felony for state employees to manipulate data in official reports.

State Representative Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, says there’s no law on the books to punish state employees who intentionally distort data to change the outcome of an official report.   

Critics claim that’s what happened with state reports that downplayed problems with Flint’s drinking water after the 2014 switch to the city’s namesake river. If that’s what happened, Phelps says that should be against the law.

“If that was proven to be manipulation of data or removing data that changed the outcome, it could be subject to a five year felony,” says Phelps.

Phelps concedes one problem is the only people who seem to understand what’s happening with the data are the same people producing the reports for the state.

Phelps plans to introduce his bill when state lawmakers return to Lansing next week.   

Gov. Snyder's office issued a statement saying it has not had an opportunity to review Phelps' bill.

"Certainly we share a common goal of protecting the health of people in Flint and across our state." the statement read.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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