Governor Whitmer Signs Bill Prohibiting Water Shutoffs

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bills 241, 676, 1137, 1234 and 1246 as well as House Bills 5481 and 5824 into law, which would help a number of residents concerned about watershutoffs, among other things, during the pandemic.


Senate Bill 241, creating the Water Shutoff Restoration Act, promotes access to clean water and protects Michiganders from the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring that every occupied residence has access to clean running water to regularly hand wash consistently per CDC guidance. The bill prohibits water shutoffs due to nonpayment and mandates that water services be restored to residences where shutoffs have occurred, in most circumstances, through March 31, 2021. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit. 


“Every Michigander deserves access to clean water, especially during a global pandemic,” said Governor Whitmer. “This legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Stephanie Chang, will help ensure every Michigander can wash their hands and give their child a glass of water at the dinner table. My administration will continue working to ensure clean water for all Michiganders, and I look forward to partnering with everyone who wants to get this done.” 


“I am beyond thrilled that Governor Whitmer signed Senate Bill 241 today and am grateful for her leadership and the bipartisan support from my colleagues,” said Chang. “During this pandemic, access to clean water is more important than ever to ensure that Michiganders in big cities, suburban towns, and small villages across our state can have water to drink and wash their hands. So many Michigan families are struggling, and with COVID-19 still raging, we need to ensure that we are protecting Michigan families’ health and economic security. I will be eternally grateful to the advocates who have pushed for change for more than a decade.”  


“We are thankful for Sen. Stephanie Chang’s leadership in introducing Michigan Senate Bill 241,” said Monica Lewis Patrick, president & CEO of We the People of Detroit. “We also applaud Governor Gretchen Whitmer for recognizing the public health crisis created when Michigan residents don’t have access to water by signing the bill into law. The passage of Bill 241 is moving us in the right direction. However, we must also recognize that water affordability issues will not go away with the pandemic; thus, we must all do more. We stand with water activists across Michigan who have been advocating for water affordability for over a decade. We urge state and local leaders to implement policy changes beyond 2020 to permanently protect water affordability and ensure water access for all Michiganders.” 


Senate Bill 1246 amends the Open Meetings Act to allow public bodies to meet electronically and remain in compliance. It also extends current remote attendance provisions to March 31, 2021. Once public bodies are again able to meet in-person, the bill requires compliance with social distancing and cleaning guidelines if they chose to hold in-person meetings. Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, sponsored the bill. 


“Throughout this pandemic, Michigan’s local leaders have continually adapted while providing critical essential programs and services—which are vitally important to residents and communities during this time,” said Neil Sheridan, executive director of the Michigan Townships Association. “We thank both Gov. Whitmer and the Legislature for extending the timeframe allowing townships and all local governments to meet virtually to conduct public business. SB 1246 ensures that our local leaders can continue to work on behalf of their community while safeguarding the health and safety of both elected officials and residents.” 


“Local governments are providing critical services in response to the pandemic while ensuring the business of government continues in support of our residents and their livelihoods,” said William Wild, Mayor of the City of Westland and president of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees. “That wouldn’t be possible without extending the no-reason virtual meeting provision that the legislature and governor have now made law, and we thank them for their effort.” 


Senate Bill 1234 amends the General Property Tax Act to adjust the procedures for obtaining a “poverty exemption” and, in certain situations, allows for extensions of the exemption without having to reapply. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake. 


Senate Bills 676 and 1137 amend the General Property Tax Act to establish a process for a former property owner to claim surplus proceeds from the sale or transfer of property, in accordance with the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Rafaeli LLC v. Oakland County. These bills were sponsored Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township and Jim Runestad, R-White Lake. 


House Bill 5481 amends Article 26A of the Occupational Code to align with recently enacted federal regulations concerning Appraisal Management Companies. Rep. Diana Farrington, R-Utica, sponsored the bill. 


House Bill 5824 amends the State Equalization Act to allow a one-time extension for equalization of assessment rolls, effectively codifying Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-87. The bill is tied barred with Senate Bill 5825, which has not yet been presented. Rep. Jim Ellison, D-Royal Oak, sponsored the bill. 


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