In this e-newsletter:

Upcoming Coffee Hour: March 15

  • Community Violence Town Hall
  • Bottle Deposit Return Availability Legislation Introduced
  • Keeping Firearms as Raffle Prizes Out of Our Schools
  • Use of Purple Paint for No Trespassing Markers
  • Health Policy Hearing on Diabetes and Insulin

Upcoming Coffee Hour: March 15

Please join me for an informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues:

Friday, March 15

9-10 a.m. (please note the time)

Five Lakes Coffee at 2026 W. Main St. in Kalamazoo

While advanced registration is not required, anyone who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by emailing


Community Violence Prevention Town Hall

Violence, particularly gun violence, is a public health crisis in our community and many others throughout the state. More needs to be done at all levels of government and in partnership with the community and organizations who have been working diligently to prevent further tragedies. In order to raise awareness of the issue and to bring the community and the groups engaging on this issue daily together for a joint discussion, I will be hosting a town hall on community violence prevention on March 26 in the Van Deusen Room at the Kalamazoo Public Library.

Everyone is welcome to attend to meet with community organizations for informal discussions and visit vendors beginning at 5:15 p.m. A formal panel discussion focused on the causes of gun violence, current programs to prevent it and opportunities to improve those efforts, will run from 5:45-7 p.m. If you have comments, questions or suggestions, please come as we will be seeking community engagement with a question-and-answer portion of the panel.

Bottle Deposit Return Availability Legislation Introduced

Michigan’s historic bottle deposit law remains incredibly popular with Michiganders despite challenges to returning bottles that began during the COVID-19 pandemic that have not fully resolved. Some retailers are restricting when bottles can be returned, leaving customers with limited options to deal with their empty cans. On Feb. 7, I introduced House Bill 5421 to ensure reasonable availability for Michigan consumers to return their bottles and cans to retailers required to accept them under Michigan law. Retailers that sell deposit-eligible drinks would be required to accept deposit returns between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. If they are not open for that entire duration, then they would only be required to accept them during the hours they are open and operating between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. This guarantees that working families will have reasonable access to this service which retailers are already required by law to provide. Retailers have played an important role in the success of the bottle deposit law since 1976 as the resource for returning empty bottles and cans and consumers receiving their deposits back in exchange. This bill puts all retailers on a level playing field and ensures that they are meeting their responsibilities without providing an undue burden on retailers.

Keeping Firearms as Raffle Prizes Out of Our Schools

Firearms have no place in our schools as they are likely to upset and traumatize students and school personnel who have been trained to react to their presence through active shooter drills and other safety measures. Some schools in Michigan have conducted raffles as a fundraising effort on school property that offered a firearm as a prize. This sends the wrong message to our students and could provoke a potentially dangerous situation. On Feb. 20, I introduced House Bill 5453, which would ban the use of raffles which include firearms as a prize from being conducted on school grounds. Our schools are supposed to be a safe place for our children free from violent threats, and bringing firearms into the classroom, even to raise money, undermines that message and could cause harm. Regardless of varying perspectives on firearms policy, most Michiganders agree that guns do not belong in schools, and this bill reinforces that position.


Introduction of Purple Paint Bills

Use of Purple Paint for No Trespassing Markers

On March 6, I introduced a bipartisan package of bills with state Rep. Greg Markkanen from the Upper Peninsula, to allow property owners to use purple paint on trees or posts to mark no-trespassing areas of their property. My bill, HB 5561, and Rep. Markkanen’s bill, HB 5562, would bring Michigan in line with 15 other states including our neighbors Indiana and Illinois, that allow readily visible purple paint marks to indicate the border of an individual’s personal property. Under current law, this must be done by signs which can deteriorate because of weather, can be expensive to replace, can be removed and potentially harm trees if affixed with nails or screws. These bills would permit paint marks that are at least 8 inches long and located on a tree or post between 3 and 5 feet from the ground to serve the same purpose as a sign. This bill does not make any changes to the signing requirements which would remain as an option for property owners alongside the use of purple paint.


Health Policy Committee

Health Policy Hearing on Diabetes and Insulin Manufacturing:

Diabetes is a significant public health challenge that affects over 900,000 Michiganders, about 12% of the adult population. An estimated 240,000 others likely have undiagnosed diabetes. Untreated, diabetes leads to complications that can be expensive both for families and our health care system. It is vital that individuals have access to affordable treatment to keep their blood sugar levels under control to prevent heart disease, stroke, amputation, kidney disease, blindness and other serious complications.

To highlight the public health impact of diabetes and bring awareness to potential solutions to the challenge of affordable access to medicines including insulin, I held a Health Policy Committee meeting on Feb. 28. We heard a presentation from a professor at the Wayne State School of Medicine and head of endocrinology and metabolism at a major hospital system in Michigan on the prevalence, types, causes, results of failure to manage and effects of unaffordable treatments of diabetes. We also heard a heartbreaking story of an individual who had to ration their insulin because it was unaffordable, which resulted in their hospitalization with diabetic ketoacidosis.

Addressing the crisis of unaffordable medications for diabetes management will take multiple efforts, and no single solution exists. However, we heard testimony on one possible avenue in the form of House Bills 4890 and 5519, which would create the opportunity for Michigan to partner with a private-sector entity to manufacture insulin in a new facility in our state. Not only would this bring dozens of very high-paying jobs to our state but would provide an increased capacity for production of generic insulin, which could be offered to patients at a low cost. Other states are interested in this concept and Michigan is well positioned to lead the nation in providing affordable insulin to Michiganders and others throughout the US.