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Senate committee poised to reject Whitmer order

The MDEQ's Bay City Business Center
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Whitmer's order would reorganize and rename the Department of Environmental Quality.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to re-organize the department that enforces environmental rules. Senate Republicans are opposed to the Democratic governor's executive order to do that.

The Republican-led state Senate Oversight Committee has 60 days to make its recommendation on whether the Senate should accept or reject the order, one of the first signed by Whitmer since she took office.

Senator Lana Theis (R-Brighton) says the governor did not consult with the Legislature before signing the order. She says that puts lawmakers in “a difficult position.”

“We have an up-or-down opportunity here, and that’s it,” she said at an oversight committee hearing on the order.

This is one of the first standoffs between the Democratic governor and Republicans in the Legislature.

Business groups want Republicans to reject the order. Environmental groups back the order.

Tony Paciorek of Flint is a volunteer with the environmental group Clean Water Action. He told the committee better enforcement of water regulations might have averted the Flint water crisis.

“But if you don’t have that, there’s gonna be lives that will not be protected,” he said, “and there are going to be people that are going to be hurt. So it’s very crucial that you guys keep this going.”

It’s not clear what will happen next. With no action by the Senate, the order will take effect. The governor can also withdraw the order and send the Legislature a revised version.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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