December discussion, Public retirement plans, Community announcements
Join me for a Yousef and YOU Discussion
I hold regular “Yousef and You” forums where anyone in our district can come to get an update on legislative issues, ask questions, and participate in open discussion. I hope many of you will be able to join me there. Due to Christmas, I will hold only one discussion in December. The regular twice-monthly schedule will resume in January.
The next Yousef and You forum will be:
Saturday, Dec. 16
RoosRoast Coffee, 1155 Rosewood St. in Ann Arbor
Attack on Retirement Security Thwarted
Last week, the Legislature met long into the night deliberating a package of bills affecting retirement benefits for public employees. The proposal under discussion could have put the state in control of the finances of about a quarter of local governments, selling assets and reneging on promised benefits. This would have undermined local autonomy and the retirement security of thousands of families. In addition, it would have further destabilized plans by preventing new employees from paying into them.
I am happy to say that citizen advocacy and legislative opposition prevailed in blocking this ill-advised proposal. Instead, the Legislature adopted a version based on the recommendations of a recent task force on retirement obligations. I voted against most of the bills in this second proposal as well, because they do nothing to address the underlying reasons for the stress on retirement funding — lack of revenue sharing from the state, limits on revenue tools for local governments, and downsizing of public employees. Instead, the bills focused on suggesting cuts to employee benefits. We can’t cut our way out of budget problems by diminishing benefits for the police and firefighters who keep our communities safe. Instead, we need a state government that is serious about supporting communities in their commitment to a future where we all share in Michigan’s prosperity.
Sign-up or Renewal Now Open for 2018 Pesticide Notification Registry
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development maintains a registry of people who would like to be notified when pesticides are applied on their neighbors’ properties. Pesticide applicators are required to notify people on the registry before they apply ornamental or turf pesticides on property directly adjacent to the registrant’s home. This gives people with special medical needs a chance to take measures to limit their pesticide exposure, such as closing windows and bringing in lawn furniture. Only those with medical conditions verified by a physician can sign up. I believe everyone has a right to know when pesticides are applied next to their homes, so I am working on a bill to open the registry to any resident.
Registrations must be renewed each year, and the deadline to submit an application and doctor’s certification to get on the 2018 registry is Feb. 1. Registration is free. Applications are available online at http://www.michigan.gov/mdardpest.
Help for People in Housing Crises
Washtenaw County has a centralized “single entry point” for people seeking urgent housing assistance or emergency shelter. Anyone who is at risk of becoming homeless or who is already homeless should contact Housing Access for Washtenaw County (HAWC) to be directed to appropriate services. In order to use resources efficiently, the individual organizations providing services do not accept direct applications, instead requiring people to contact HAWC for a referral. HAWC can be reached by phone weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (734) 961-1999. They also have walk-in hours Tuesdays 9 a.m. to noon at 9 S. Park St., Ypsilanti, and Thursdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 100 Arbana Drive, Ann Arbor.
During the winter months, daytime warming centers are available weekdays at a rotating location and weekends and nights at the Delonis Center downtown. More information can be found here or by contacting HAWC.
Hepatitis A Vaccination
Although Washtenaw County has had only nine recent cases of hepatitis A, public health officials are taking preventative measures because of a larger outbreak in Southeast Michigan. Hepatitis A is often transmitted through food and can be prevented through vaccination and handwashing. Like other forms of hepatitis, hepatitis A affects the liver. Although it does not become a chronic disease, it can be serious or even fatal. The Washtenaw County Public Health Department particularly recommends vaccination for certain populations, including health care workers, men who have sex with men, people with liver disease, and food preparation workers.
The Public Health Department will provide vaccines on a walk-in basis at:
- 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 15: Washtenaw County Annex 110 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor.
- 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 19: Northfield Township Public Safety Building at 8350 Main St., Whitmore Lake.
- 1 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 20: Washtenaw County Western Service Center at 705 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor.
- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 21: Washtenaw County Administration Building 220 N. Main St., Ann Arbor.
There is no cost to uninsured or Medicaid patients.