Winter Edition | January 22, 2019
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence News for Legislators
Welcome to the newly redesigned "Great Lakes-St. Lawrence News for Legislators," a quarterly newsletter for GLLC members and other legislators interested in news and activities related to the GLLC and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River.
GLLC Member News
GLLC Leadership for 2019
The GLLC welcomes a new leadership team in 2019. Indiana Sen. Ed Charbonneau succeeds former Michigan Sen. Darwin Booher as chair, and Illinois Rep. Robyn Gabel takes office as GLLC vice chair. Sen. Charbonneau and Rep. Gabel will lead the GLLC's elected Executive Committee, which consists of legislators from each of the 10 jurisdictions in the region. Currently, all eight states are represented on the committee; appointments are pending from Ontario and Québec.

Invitation to State, Provincial Legislators to Join the GLLC
Clean water is essential to support a healthy population, a thriving economy, and a well-functioning ecosystem. As the major source of water for communities located within the Great Lakes basin, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are vital resources in which the region’s residents all share a common interest.

The GLLC is organized around the guiding principle of assuring that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River continue to provide a plentiful source of clean, affordable water to the region’s residents, businesses and industries. The caucus brings together members from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Québec and Wisconsin to take coordinated regional action to promote the restoration, protection, economy and sustainable use of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The mission of the GLLC is to take the best science-based recommendations from studies and put them into practice in the eight states and two provinces that share the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

State and provincial legislators are invited to join the GLLC. Membership in the binational, nonpartisan caucus is open to legislators from the Great Lakes states and provinces who have an interest in issues related to water quality in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region. There is no cost to become a member — only benefits.

Caucus Task Forces and Committees Forming in 2019
As a result of the strategic planning process conducted by GLLC leaders in 2018, the caucus is increasing its activities as an organization. The success of these activities will depend upon the extent to which the GLLC members are involved. Please consider volunteering a small amount of your time to these groups in 2019:

  • Following up on a resolution passed at the GLLC's 2018 Annual Meeting, the Task Force on Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day will draft legislation to commemorate the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River throughout the region. This is a short-term activity requiring three or four members to participate in two or three conference calls in early 2019.
  • The Birkholz Institute Steering Committee will develop plans for the GLLC's first Patricia Birkholz Institute for Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Policy, which will take place later this year in Michigan. This year's institute will build on the successful pilot event conducted in 2018 to address lead in drinking water. The 2019 Birkholz Institute will focus on reducing nutrient pollution. The Steering Committee's activities will run throughout the calendar year; the institute will take place in late 2019. Four members are needed for up to four conference calls and, if desired, participation in the institute.
  • In addition to these new groups, the GLLC's Task Force on Lead is seeking new members from New York and Pennsylvania.

Members who are interested in serving on any of these groups should contact GLLC director Lisa Janairo at 920.458.5910 or
Developments Related to GLLC Policy Agenda
Water Consumption
Within weeks of the start of the new year in state legislatures, new bills had been introduced to address concerns about lead in drinking water. Thus far, these bills prioritize testing in schools and/or child care centers. Examples include:

In follow-up to the 2018 pilot of the GLLC's policy institutes, members of the GLLC's Task Force on Lead are developing essential elements of model legislation to reduce the population's exposure to lead in drinking water. Included in this work are effective measures to address lead in drinking water in schools and day care centers. The task force will share the results of its work with GLLC members in February and will provide a progress report on the GLLC's quarterly web meeting on March 1, which will focus on eliminating lead in drinking water. Registration for the web meeting will open Feb. 1.
Aquatic Invasive Species
The signing of a new federal law in late 2018 could provide new tools for Great Lakes states in the fight against invasive species. The U.S. Congress authorized $50 million annually (through FY 2023) for a Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Invasive Species Program. Federal lawmakers still need to appropriate money for the program, the goals of which would be to improve invasive species monitoring, early detection and ballast water management systems.

In other news on aquatic invasive species, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer s extended the comment period for the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) Brandon Road Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement from Jan. 7 to Feb. 22. In December 2017, the GLLC Executive Committee submitted a comment letter on the draft study and EIS; comments on the final version will be submitted in February.
Toxic Substances
Debate over the future of an oil pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac is continuing in Michigan. In late 2018, a bill was signed into law to pave the way for construction of a new utility tunnel and pipeline. Opponents of the move say the existing twin pipelines — known as Line 5 — should be shut down immediately and that nothing should replace them.

Nutrient Pollution
In late 2018, the GLLC joined efforts by a consortium led by the Great Lakes Commission to develop an online tool for tracking progress on the goal of reducing phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40 percent. With GLLC representation on the Content Advisory Group for ErieStat, part of Blue Accounting, this new tool will be highly useful as a resource for state and provincial legislators seeking legislative remedies to address harmful algal blooms caused by nutrient runoff from agricultural lands and urban areas. The GLLC web-meeting on Dec. 14, 2018, featured an overview of Blue Accounting with a focus on ErieStat.

In other news, though it's mostly thought of as legislation that helps the nation's farmers and provides nutrition assistance to low-income individuals, the U.S. farm bill also is an important part of efforts to control nutrient runoff. The most recent version of the farm bill, signed into law in late 2018, is being praised by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition as a "winner" for the Great Lakes. The new law increases the amount of environmentally sensitive land that can be protected through the Conservation Reserve Program and invests more in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Coastal Communities
A mix of federal dollars and funds from the state of Michigan is helping get construction of a new Soo Lock off the ground. According to the Detroit Free Press, the state of Michigan has committed to providing $52 million. Full completion of the Army Corps of Engineers' project will require future, ongoing congressional funding. Total costs are estimated to be nearly $1 billion. In 2017, the GLLC passed a resolution on the need to modernize the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie — considered the lynchpin of commercial navigation in the Great Lakes.
Legislative Trackers
Federal Tracker
The GLLC monitors federal legislation on Great Lakes water quality and more. Last week, the GLLC staff posted the first update of this legislative tracker. If you know of legislation that should be added to the tracker, please contact Tim Anderson.

D.C. Capitol
State and Provincial Tracker
Are you working on legislation in your state or province on issues related to the Great Lakes, water quality, water protection or water management? If so, we want to hear about it and include it in our GLLC legislative tracker. Please contact Tim Anderson.

2019 Events
Mark your calendars for these GLLC events in 2019. All events are open to anyone who wishes to attend. Registration is required for all events. There is no charge to attend web meetings, but there is a registration fee for the GLLC's Annual Meeting. Registration for GLLC web-meetings opens one month prior to the event.
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. For more information, visit the GLLC website or contact Lisa Janairo, director of the GLLC, at or 920.458.5910.