Following new, partisan energy laws signed by the governor this week, State Rep. Phil Green reiterated the importance of his recently proposed legislation that ensures Michigan is acting responsibly and ethically.
Green’s bill, House Bill 5322, specifically forbids state funds from being used to purchase or subsidize any project that utilizes forced or child labor. This includes, but is not limited to, sourced material for solar panels and electric vehicle battery components. Corresponding legislation specifically outlines similar guardrails for the Michigan Strategic Fund – which is used to provide grants, loans and appropriations to attract new corporations to the state – and lays out mechanisms for enforcement.
“Michigan should not give a single taxpayer dollar to entities that profit off forced labor and child labor,” Green said. “As our state transitions as part of these new laws, we must avoid propping up unethical supply chains. These bills protect children and make Michigan a leader in standing against these practices. This walks the walk and is not just talking the talk.”
Forced labor has long been an unsavory practice in various areas of the world, and the increase in needed materials for renewable energy has led to an uptick in reports of human rights abuses, including human trafficking, slave labor and child labor.
Reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo and western China have revealed massive and systematic efforts to extract and export materials such a lithium, cobalt, manganese, palladium, and other minerals using virtually any means necessary.
“Where is Michigan getting its materials from and who is our state doing business with when they use taxpayer dollars? That will be a major focus, and it should be,” Green said.
Green’s proposal remains under consideration in the House Government Operations Committee, where it was referred after introduction earlier this month.
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