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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Michigan’s Snyder RSVPs ‘No’ to Flint Hearing

LANSING, Mich. (CN) - As members of Congress gather Wednesday for a second hearing on the Flint, Mich., leaded-water crisis, Gov. Rick Snyder will be a no-show, his spokesman confirmed.

Though Steering and Policy Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives had invited Snyder to testify, the committee does not have subpoena power.

Snyder's spokeswoman Anna Heaton told news outlets Monday that the governor had to decline the invitation because he is scheduled to make a budget proposal in Michigan on Wednesday.

At the first hearing on Flint last week, which Snyder also did not attend, Democrats questioned the failure of Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to ensure Snyder's presence.

Speculation swirled that Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, did not subpoena Snyder so that the committee could focus on grilling Environmental Protection Agency officials who did appear.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat and Flint native, called Snyder's absence "deeply disappointing."

"Flint Families deserve answers and immediate solutions from the state about what is being done to make things right for the people of Flint," Kildee said in a statement.

The policies of Snyder's administration "led to this man-made crisis and he needs to answer questions so that the whole truth can be found," Kildee added.

Snyder appointed the Flint emergency manger who switched the city's water supply in 2014 from Detroit water lines to the Flint River, which was widely known to be corrosive.

Snyder, along with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, face criticism for ignoring the concerns of city residents about the water and delaying efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to study the lead contamination.

Wednesday's hearing in Washington is titled "The Flint Water Crisis: Lessons for Protecting America's Children," and is promised to focus on what can be done to aid the children of Flint poisoned by the city's leaded water, as well as to protect children across the country from facing similar devastation.

Reps. Rosa Delauro and Donna Edwards joined Congressman Kildee in inviting Snyder to testify last week.

"House Democrats are committed to getting Flint families and children - who are the victims in this state-created crisis - the immediate and long term resources they need to overcome this crisis," their letter to the governor said. "The ongoing Flint water crisis is a terrible tragedy."

The hearing is slated for 2 p.m. today.

Against the backdrop of this crisis, Michigan state lawmakers have faced criticism for amending the penal code without removing an antiquated language that bans couples from having consensual oral or anal sex.

The state Senate voted late last month to pass, with a vote of 37-1, Senate Bill 219, known as Logan's Law, to prevent the abuse of animals.

The statute that Logan's Law amends meanwhile includes text written in 1931 that says: "A person who commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal, is guilty of a felony."

Though infractions are punishable by up to 15 years in prison, the statute is not enforced and actually nullified by federal law.

Michigan is one of approximately 12 states with anti-sodomy laws, and one of a handful that uses language to essentially equate bestiality with sodomy.

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