It is my honor to represent the 38th House District at the Capitol as your state representative.
My staff and I are always here to help you with any questions you may have, and we strive to do our best to answer them or put you in touch with someone who can. If you have any other questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to call my office at (517) 373-0827 or email me at JoeyAndrews@house.mi.gov
Michigan’s 38th District
In this issue:
- District Events
- Capitol Update
- Community Update
After one of the most productive legislative sessions in years, the Legislature is taking action to allow Michiganders to reap the benefits of a historically productive legislative session ahead of schedule.
This means bills to cut taxes for seniors and working families, expand Michiganders’ access to reproductive freedom, invest in your kids’ classrooms, lower your utility bills, protect your community from gun violence and more will now be enacted sooner.
- Tax breaks for working families: Working families will get checks and tax rebates sooner, with refund checks printed and mailed 90 days faster. Larger ongoing tax cuts for seniors and working families will get to Michiganders sooner.
- Gun violence prevention legislation: Safe storage and extreme risk protection orders will be enacted, curbing the number of gun deaths sooner. Protections for survivors of domestic violence will be enacted faster.
- ELCRA and the conversion therapy ban: Protections for the LGBTQ+ community will be enacted faster, so no one is penalized for who they are and whom they love.
- Reproductive Health Act and other abortion rights legislation: Now, more Michiganders can access abortion care during a nationwide assault on reproductive freedom — ahead of schedule.
- Expand access to food assistance programs: More Michigan families will get help, saving time and money for the 710,500 Michiganders already receiving assistance, including more than 531,000 children. It will also save the state time and money by eliminating an extra task for frontline caseworkers to get people the support they need.
- Money for classrooms: The Legislature will bring more money into kids’ classrooms across Michigan faster, and will help students in Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Muskegon Heights, Ypsilanti schools get the support they’ve lacked for far too long.
We are proud of the work we have done to deliver real change. Next year, we will continue working at a historic pace to make a difference in Michiganders’ lives.
Banning Child Marriage
On Sept. 26, Michigan achieved a historic milestone with the signing of House Bill 4302 into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. This final piece completes our comprehensive package of bills (House Bills 4293-4302) to end child marriage in our state. Michigan now proudly stands as the 10th state in the nation to officially ban child marriage. As both a legislator and a father, I recognize the paramount importance of protecting children. The bills passed this term, including the one I sponsored, underscore our commitment to child safety. This achievement is a testament to the unwavering dedication of Michigan House Democrats, who tirelessly championed this cause, holding abusers accountable and safeguarding survivors. I am immensely proud to have played a role in this crucial legislation.
Lead Screening Legislation
The Michigan House and Senate recently made substantial progress in addressing lead poisoning among children through the enactment of bipartisan legislation. On Oct. 3, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 31 and House Bill 4200 into law. These bills require all children to undergo lead poisoning screening between the ages of 12 and 24 months, with provisions for parental opt-out. Senate Bill 31, sponsored by state Sen. John Cherry (D-Flint), mandates physicians to test or order a test for lead poisoning in minors. Furthermore, House Bill 4200, sponsored by Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit), will update a child’s immunization certificate to include a space indicating whether the minor has been tested for lead poisoning, beginning January 1, 2024.
Michigan continues its commitment to clean and safe drinking water with the signing of the “Filter First” bills on Oct. 19. These bills, consisting of House Bills 4341 and 4342, along with Senate Bill 88, are sponsored by state Reps. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) and Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint) and state Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit). Collectively known as the Clean Drinking Water Act, these laws require the installation of filtered faucets, the development of water management plans, and routine sampling and testing in schools and child care centers. This initiative aims to prevent lead contamination and provide children with safe and accessible drinking water.
Streaming Service Franchise Fees
The Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 4965, a bill I sponsored, on Oct. 19. This crucial measure prevents the imposition of new and burdensome fees on streaming services by closing a potential loophole that could have led to additional charges on every subscription video service. By ensuring that streaming services remain affordable and accessible, especially as they become increasingly integral to our daily lives, we are proactively addressing the evolving digital landscape. This step reaffirms our commitment to safeguarding the interests of Michigan residents, maintaining equitable access to digital content, and fostering an environment where innovation and progress thrive. I take pride in championing this bill and contributing to the ongoing efforts to prevent unnecessary financial burdens on our communities.
Benton Harbor Area Schools Debt Forgiveness
On Nov. 2, the Michigan House, in a decisive move, approved two budget bills, one of which brings significant relief to Benton Harbor Area Schools. I am pleased to announce that the school district will receive $10 million to alleviate its longstanding debt. Years of intentional underinvestment and the challenges posed by an appointed emergency manager had placed our schools in a precarious position. It was crucial for the state to rectify this mistake. I proudly cast my vote in favor of this funding, recognizing the immense financial burden our community has shouldered. This action marks a fresh start for Benton Harbor, allowing us to lift the dark cloud of debt that has loomed over our schools and community for far too long. As we embark on this journey, I am optimistic about the positive impact this debt relief will have on our schools and the broader community.
Legislation Attracting Data Jobs to Michigan Passes
On Nov. 8, the House of Representatives passed crucial legislation on a bipartisan basis to drive job creation in Michigan. House Bills 4905, sponsored by state Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn), and 4906 provide exemptions for data center equipment from use tax and sales tax, highlighting a commitment to fostering good-paying jobs in a high-demand field.
Speaking on the House floor, I underscored the significance of this legislation:
“These exemptions are more than incentives; they are opportunities for Michigan. Companies must meet a minimum investment, ensuring accountability. If they fail to qualify, they will pay back all incentives, plus interest. And, importantly, these exemptions have a sunset, expiring if they’re not working.”
As the sponsor of HB 4906, I believe this legislation will not only benefit Berrien County but has the potential to positively transform communities across the state. The need for data centers is on the rise, and Michigan is positioning itself for growth.
Michigan Clean Water Grants
On Sept. 15, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced a substantial investment in Michigan’s water infrastructure. The MI Clean Water Plan grants, facilitated through EGLE’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), are designed to assist communities in upgrading their water infrastructure to ensure clean and safe drinking water while protecting the environment.
Here are some of the recent grant awards in our area:
- St. Joseph: A grant of $3.3 million has been allocated for water main replacement, lead service line replacements along the I-94 Business Loop, and water filtration plant upgrades.
- South Haven Area Water Sewer Authority: A grant of $3.6 million has been awarded for the replacement of blowers and diffusers in the secondary treatment system. New ultraviolet disinfection will replace the existing chlorine disinfection system.
- St. Joseph: A grant of $333,333. This funding provides for the Upton Drive reconstruction, sewer replacement and force main river crossing.
To read the full press release and learn about the $81.2 million in MI Clean Water grants, designed to help Michigan communities upgrade water infrastructure and protect health and the environment, click here.
Governor Whitmer Allocates $8 Million for Local Road Repairs in Small Communities
On Oct. 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced an $8 million road funding grant for 47 villages and cities across Michigan, each with populations under 10,000. This initiative is facilitated through the Community Service Infrastructure Fund (CSIF) Category B program, aimed at supporting road projects in smaller communities.
One notable recipient of these grants is Benton Harbor, which will receive $192,950 for road improvements on Jefferson Street. These grants are intended to expedite local road repairs, saving drivers time and money. The funding will support a range of road improvement projects, including resurfacing, culvert replacement, pavement crack sealing, preventive maintenance and stormwater management. Read more here.
EGLE Announces Funding to Expand Lake Michigan EV Charging Network
On Oct. 23, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) unveiled $1.2 million in funding, providing matching grants to advance the strategic deployment of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure along Lake Michigan. This initiative is part of the multi-state project, the Lake Michigan Circuit, involving Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Its goal is to create a scenic route along Lake Michigan’s 1,100 miles of drivable coastline with reliable charging stations.
The Lake Michigan Circuit project supports Michigan’s efforts to have 2 million EVs on its roads by 2030, reduce pollution from internal combustion engines, and work toward carbon neutrality by 2050. Matching grants are open to public, private or nonprofit entities for publicly available level 2 chargers or direct current (DC) fast chargers. The locations for these chargers were determined based on optimization analyses conducted by Michigan State University College of Engineering.
A minimum of $1,225,000 in funding is expected, with $325,000 designated for level 2 chargers and $900,000 for DC fast chargers. Individual site-specific awards can reach up to $5,000 for level 2 chargers and $70,000 for DC fast chargers. Applications are due by Dec. 4, and more information is available on the Lake Michigan Circuit webpage.
Gov. Whitmer Announces Over 70,000 Unserved Michigan Homes, Businesses to Connect to High-Speed Internet Through $203 Million in First Round of Grant Awards
On Oct. 26, Governor Whitmer’s $203 million ROBIN grant connects 70,000 unserved Michigan homes and businesses to high-speed internet, expanding access to vital services and economic opportunities. For the list of ROBIN Batch 1 Grant Awards, including parts of Allegan and Berrien Counties, visit Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) Grant Program.
Benton Harbor marks second year of meeting state and federal lead standards
On Nov. 13, Benton Harbor celebrated its second consecutive year of meeting stringent state and federal lead standards in drinking water. Recent tests by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy revealed lead levels at an impressive 1 ppb, complying with EPA regulations. With the completion of galvanized iron residential service line replacement and all known lead lines replaced, the city is now focusing on in-home plumbing and water plant investments. The latest six-month monitoring period showed a 90th percentile lead calculation of 1 ppb, positioning Benton Harbor to remain compliant with Michigan’s lead action level. The city continues efforts to enhance water plant operations and corrosion control techniques. Read more here.