Michigan House Dems Propose Air, Water Testing In Schools

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LANSING – Some House Democrats on Monday announced legislation they said would aid in creating healthy school environments to help students learn and the creation of a Better Classroom Caucus to address environmental and health factors in schools.

Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) will chair the new caucus, a statement said. Mr. Wittenberg along with Rep. Stephanie Chang(D-Detroit), Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) and Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton) announced the package of bills in Detroit.

The bill would require environmental assessments be conducted for any proposed school construction site and water and air quality testing in every school.

“Studies show that school location and air pollution are linked to student attendance and academic performance, so if we want our kids to be healthy enough to attend school and to do well in school, then we need to make sure they have a healthy school environment,” Chang said in a statement. “These bills outline steps our schools and the state can take, such as my bill that addresses school siting, to create a healthier physical environment for our students.”

The proposed legislation would also create a one-time $9 million appropriation for water and air quality testing. Schools would also be encouraged to conduct an energy audit every three years under the bills.

“Given recent events in our state regarding water and air quality, it’s vital that our schools regularly conduct tests to ensure that our students are drinking clean water and breathing clean air,” Camilleri said. This package protects students’ long-term health, while also giving parents and families the certainty they deserve about the environmental standards of their child’s school.”

Another bill would suggest a lighting standard in newly constructed schools that would be in line with leadership in energy and environmental design standards. An environmental literacy task force to help students understand and address environmental challenges would also be created under the bills.

“Educating our high school students about sustainability and environmental concerns will make them better stewards of our natural resources,” Pagan said. “The students of today are tomorrow’s teachers, scientists and community leaders who will be making impactful decisions about our environment.”