Chang, Geiss bills pair with House legislation to reduce risks to residents’ health, environment 


LANSING, Mich. (February 27, 2024) — Today, the Senate passed House Bills 4185, 4186, 4188 and 4190, along with Senate Bills 225226. Taken together, the common-sense changes laid out in this legislation will help protect Michigan municipalities, residents and asbestos abatement workers from the health hazards that can occur when asbestos removal is handled improperly.

“This legislative journey began in 2018. Thankfully, our bicameral, bipartisan partnership persisted — and Michigan is taking action to protect Michiganders’ public health,” said Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “Asbestos exposure, both short-term and long-term, can have significant detrimental effects on an individual’s health. Our new laws enhance transparency and accountability in asbestos abatement.”

In 2017, an Auditor General report revealed that Michigan Dept. Of Environmental Quality Air Quality Division’s Asbestos Program (now the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy) was not able to properly monitor building demolitions and renovations in which asbestos could be released or reported violations. It also found that asbestos-accepting landfills were not being properly monitored.

A bipartisan bill package was developed to require public agencies to do a background check to identify if an asbestos abatement contractor has committed multiple violations. If safety or environmental violations are found, the contractor in question can be prohibited from contracting with a public agency.

Contractors bidding on public projects must disclose, via a signed affidavit, all environmental violations at the state or federal level that occurred within the last 5 years.   Public agencies may withhold payment until the contractors have proven that they have taken remedial steps if a violation occurs on the project at hand. Additionally, EGLE will collect notification fees to fund asbestos abatement inspections and file an annual report on asbestos inspector staffing levels.

Senate Bill 225, sponsored by Sen. Chang, requires a local government or authority to perform a background check before contracting with an asbestos abatement contractor. Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), would require EGLE to prepare and submit to the Legislature an annual report related to the EGLE’s asbestos program, the number of inspections and enforcement actions taken and more.

“This legislation represents a pivotal move towards safeguarding our community’s well-being by ensuring that we have the necessary resources and workforce to effectively identify and address asbestos hazards,” said Sen. Geiss. “By assessing the adequacy of our remediation inspectors, we will help curb bad actors who are improperly handling and disposing of these materials and ensure Michigan’s residents are no longer compromised by preventable environmental risks.”

Since 2018, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been working to address inadequacies with asbestos abatement in our state, and today the Legislature has taken another step closer to passage and finally changing our law. These bills will also assist the Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in addressing the lack of resources to conduct proper inspections to ensure safety. Supporters of this legislative package include the Michigan Townships Association, the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, LiUNA (Michigan Laborers), U.P. Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, FLOW, and more.