LaSata introduces legislation to continue Benton Harbor response efforts

State Sen. Kim LaSata on Thursday introduced legislation that would allow Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to solve two problems at once: Divest herself of illegal campaign contributions and provide additional dollars to aid Benton Harbor residents struggling with contaminated water.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort,” said LaSata, R-Coloma. “My colleagues and I supported funding to replace lead lines in Benton Harbor, along with additional funds that can be used as needed toward various clean-up and response efforts. We’re also working on landmark water infrastructure reforms that will benefit communities across the state. It’s the governor’s turn to step up.”

Senate Bill 713 would provide an additional avenue for the governor to direct funds into the Benton Harbor response from the state by allowing the funds collected by a candidate for office above the current statutory limit due to an active recall to deposit up to 100% of any unused contributions to the state’s contaminated site cleanup contingency reserve fund.

Once excess funds are deposited into the emergency cleanup fund, they could then be allocated to help aid the state’s response to the Benton Harbor water crisis.

LaSata says the legislation comes after Secretary of State Benson recently noted that Whitmer would not be allowed to keep funds raised beyond the limit due to the current recalls against her if the recalls do not come to fruition — which appears to be the case.

“The people of Michigan do not support the governor’s shady campaign finance practices or the way her administration has handled water safety in the state of Michigan,” LaSata said. “This provides an opportunity for the governor to do the right thing by Benton Harbor, if she doesn’t want to return the money.”

The senator emphasized that while the administration continues to call on the Legislature to fund her promises, the Legislature has been working on a historic reform to the state’s water infrastructure that includes funding for site clean-ups, municipal water system repairs and replacements, as well as funding for lead line replacement.

Senate Bill 565 goes above and beyond many of the efforts the governor has proposed and will help communities across the state pull up and replace lead lines,” LaSata said. “We’re still negotiating the efforts to be included in the bill, but I assure the Benton Harbor community that the remaining needs of the community will be part of the conversation.”

SB 713 was referred to the Senate Elections Committee.