Welcome to my e-newsletter! I’m honored and humbled to serve as our community’s voice at the Capitol in Lansing. As we continue into the term, rest assured that the challenges families in our community and state are facing are at the top of my legislative priorities.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-0837 or email at AmosONeal@house.mi.gov if we can help.
State Representative, 94th House District
In this issue:
HB 5215: Family Protection Act
There are many types of families, and Michiganders grow their families in many ways, including with the assistance of fertility treatments, assisted reproduction and surrogacy. This week in Lansing, I was proud to introduce a bill in a package that will finally update our parentage laws.
Many children in our state are at risk because they do not have a path to establish their legal connection to their parents. This act is critical to ensuring that all children can access the security of legal parentage, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. The act protects Michigan’s children by updating our law to clarify who can be a parent and how to establish parentage.
This bill immediately received a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, and I look forward to its swift passage.
HB 5188: Drain Code Package
Last week in Lansing, I led a package of bills that will provide much needed support for our local drain commissioners in Michigan.
Under current law, commissioners are limited in the amount of maintenance work they can perform on a single drain in a year. This bill proposes to raise the current maintenance dollar limitation from $5,000 per mile per year to $10,000. The current maintenance limit of $5,000 places stringent constraints on what a drain commissioner can do to perform maintenance on existing drainage systems each year.
Whether the existing drainage system is an open channel ditch/watercourse or an enclosed underground system, much of the necessary maintenance of current drainage infrastructure across the state cannot be efficiently performed under the current maintenance limit.
HB 5175: Prisoner Financial Aid
Another bill I recently introduced that we were grateful to have an immediate hearing on would allow Michigan to invest in all college students by providing equal access to student financial aid programs whether their classroom is online, on campus or in prison.
Under current law, seven colleges and universities in Michigan have degree or certificate programs for incarcerated students. Four of these are bachelor’s degree programs. Students are not charged for enrollment in these programs, and most are funded through private grants, institutional funds, as well as limited federal financial aid. Inadequate financial resources create limitations to starting or expanding a degree program in prison, but these bills would change this.
Michigan has eight student financial aid programs, only half of which are accessible to incarcerated students. These bills will expand these final four programs to include incarcerated students. None of the changes will impact current budgets or require a large state investment but will have an immeasurable and lasting impact. Individuals who obtain a degree are less likely to become incarcerated again. It is time we focus more on rehabilitation and provide the support that these individuals need.
HB 5225: Messiah’s Law
I continue to be an advocate for protecting our community against gun violence. That is why I am so passionate about my work in the Michigan Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Caucus, and I am honored to help state Rep. Cythnia Neely (D-Flint) by introducing one of the bills in her bipartisan package.
This week, I introduced House Bill 5225, which would create harsher penalties for drive-by shootings. These bills are named after 3-year-old Messiah Williams, who died after a drive-by shooting in Flint. Too many lives have been lost from drive-by shootings, and it is time we crack down on these incidents, so families do not have to keep burying their loved ones.