December 2023

The Caucus Current

Lead, Nutrients, and PFAS: 2023 Great Lakes Legislation

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus (GLLC) monitors state and provincial legislation in all 10 jurisdictions of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin, especially bills connected to the GLLC Policy Agenda.

So far in this biennium, the GLLC has identified and tracked more than 500 bills in the policy areas of water consumption, nutrient management, toxic substances, coastal resiliency, and aquatic invasive species. While the majority of these bills are still under consideration, more than 60 have been enacted. Several of these new laws address the goals and priorities laid out in the GLLC Policy Agenda.

This includes new policies in Michigan on lead testing and action-level thresholds in schools and child care facilities; Québec's new water pricing model; Wisconsin's expansion of its Producer-Led Watershed Grant Program; and far-reaching new PFAS regulations in Minnesota.

Water Consumption

In 2019, the GLLC Task Force on Lead approved this model policy, emphasizing reducing exposure to lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities. The model policy calls for mandatory lead testing of all sources of drinking water in schools and child care centers. If lead is found to be in excess of 5 parts per billion, an alternate water source must be provided, and notification needs to be sent to parents and the coordinating state/provincial agency. The model policy further requires inventories of lead service lines, and for that information to be provided to affected residents.

Earlier this year, Michigan passed legislation to step up lead testing requirements. SB 31 requires the testing of minors, and under HB 4200, the results of those tests must be included on the child’s immunization record. HB 4341, HB 4342 and SB 88 create the Clean Drinking Water Act, outlining funding and requirements to prevent exposure to lead in drinking water. The act calls for annual testing, as well as water filters, in all schools and child care centers. This legislation matches the shut-off threshold in school and child care centers agreed upon by legislators who helped develop the GLLC Model Policy: 5 parts per billion.

Michigan joins Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Ontario, and Québec in adopting this standard. Most of these jurisdictions adopted this requirement in the past five years. Indiana requires testing in schools and child care centers with a 15 parts per billion threshold. Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania encourage, but do not require, testing for lead in school and child care facilities.

Also related to water consumption, Québec approved a new water pricing policy with higher rates for commercial users and water bottlers. Additionally, Bill 20 creates a “Blue Fund” to collect these increased fees. This fund will then be used to finance projects for “…the protection, restoration, development, and management of water.” Set to go into effect in January 2024, the rates threshold will be lowered to 50,000 liters (roughly 13,000 gallons), increase by 3 percent annually, and include a surcharge for water withdrawn and placed in bottles or other containers.

To read more: click here

Opportunity for Legislators: Harmful Algal Blooms Science & Policy Workshop

In partnership with the Great Lakes Commission, the GLLC is seeking legislative participation in the upcoming Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Science & Policy Workshop on April 9-10, 2024, in Oregon, Ohio.

Legislators will be joined by agency and scientific leaders to discuss HABs in the Great Lakes region and potential solutions. The GLLC is looking for two members per state/province to join this workshop.

If you are interested in representing your state or province, please reach out to Jess Lienhardt at [email protected] as soon as possible as space is limited. Scholarship funds are available to assist with travel and lodging costs.

New GLLC Website

We are excited to announce the launch of a new website for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus (GLLC)! The new website is integrated into the CSG Midwest platform and includes necessary updates and additional features to better communicate the work of the GLLC.

If you are having trouble finding any of the resources from the previous site, please contact Jess Lienhardt at [email protected].

Be sure to take a look at the searchable, sortable GLLC State and Provincial Legislative Tracker for the latest of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence legislative activity:

State and Provincial Legislative Tracker

Upcoming Events

GLLC Web Meeting: Binational Oil Spill Response in the Great Lakes

January 19 at 10:00 a.m. CT/ 11:00 a.m. ET

Zoom - Register Here

GLLC Task Force on Climate Resiliency Web Meeting: Flood Resilience Policies

February 23 at 1:00 p.m. CT/ 2:00 p.m. ET

Zoom - Register Here

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Science & Policy Workshop

Great Lakes Commission and GLLC

April 9-10, 2024

Oregon, OH

Save the Date: GLLC 2024 Annual Meeting

September 9-10*, 2024

Duluth, MN

*new dates

About the GLLC

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus (GLLC) is a binational, nonpartisan organization that exists solely for the purpose of engaging state and provincial legislators in the policymaking process related to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Secretariat services are provided by The Council of State Governments' Midwestern Office. Financial support is provided in part by The Joyce Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation provides support for the GLLC's work on nutrient pollution.

For more information about the caucus, visit the GLLC website or email [email protected].