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Schuette: `If you can’t drink the bad water, you shouldn’t pay for it’

February 2, 2016

Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE said Monday he’s looking into getting Flint residents out of paying their water bills as the city’s water supply continues to be considered unsafe to drink.

In the opening moments of a press conference about his office’s investigation into the Flint water crisis, Schuette declared, “If you can’t drink the bad water, you shouldn’t pay for it.” 

Later, asked to expand on that statement, Schuette said, “we’re looking at what we can do internally,” given the AG office’s work on consumer protection matters. 

Schuette mentioned a couple possible avenues, including obtaining some federal funding, but didn’t go into much detail today. Asked for more later, Schuette spokesperson Andrea BITELY said the AG is “strongly pursuing the water payment situation” through the AG Consumer Protection Division. 

“All I can tell you is that the water right now in Flint, they’re not using it to water the yard, right, in the winter,” Schuette said Monday. “And secondly, if you can’t drink it, you shouldn’t pay for it. And I think it’s an outrage to expect people to pay for something you can’t drink.” 

State health experts have said Flint’s water is OK for bathing, but children shouldn’t drink water while in the bathtub. Schuette seemed to question this notion today, saying, “I would certainly not bathe a newborn child or a young infant in this bad water.” 

Gov. Rick SNYDER and his administration appear to have gotten behind the idea of relieving Flint residents from paying their water bills. 

Part of the $28 million appropriation for Flint requested by Snyder and passed by the House last week includes $3 million for Flint as a “potential payment” to make up for revenue loss from unpaid water bills. 

In essence, the state and the city are allowing people to not pay their bills and preventing shutoffs from happening as a result, said Harvey HOLLINS, Snyder’s point person on urban initiatives. Hollins spoke Monday at a Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) meeting in Lansing. 

Hollins told the commissioners the state is looking at freezing those payments for a period of time and said that it’s unclear how many people are paying their water bills in Flint right now.

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