I’m honored to represent you in Lansing. Please let me know about the issues that are important to you at (517) 373-2577 or YousefRabhi@house.mi.gov. My office can also provide assistance if you need help accessing state services.
Representative, 53rd District (Ann Arbor)
Yousef and You Discussion Schedule:
I host regular Yousef and You forums for constituents to get updates and discuss legislative issues. Typically, discussions are at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of the month and 10 a.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month. In the summer months, I am planning to hold my Saturday discussions in person at outdoor locations. Monday evening discussions will remain on Zoom for now. I hope to see many of you there!
My next discussions will be:
Saturday, May 28, at 10 a.m. at RoosRoast, 1155 Rosewood St. in Ann Arbor.
Monday, June 13, at 6 p.m. on Zoom.
Save the Date: Town Hall on Supporting the Survivors of Car Crashes
I am passionate about protecting car crash survivors from the recent changes in Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law. The new law enacted a 45% cut in reimbursement rates for car crash survivors’ care. As a result, many providers have been forced out of the business and survivors have been left without life-sustaining care. I have introduced a bill to repeal the disastrous changes made to auto no-fault insurance in 2019, including the reimbursement cut (HB 5931). I have also worked with colleagues to introduce a package of bills to fix the system and ensure that consumers are getting what they pay for (HBs 5996–6005). The bills have been referred to the House Committee on Insurance.
I will be holding a town hall and panel discussion on this life-or-death issue on Thursday, June 30, at 6:30 p.m. at Ann Arbor’s Island Park, Shelter B (new shelter). I will share more details as they are confirmed.
Protecting Abortion Access in Michigan
Abortion is a crucial health care procedure. About 30,000 Michiganders choose to terminate a pregnancy every year. Although abortion is currently legal in Michigan, a 1931 law banning abortion is still on the books. It hasn’t been enforced for decades because it has been deemed unconstitutional. If that constitutional interpretation changes, the law goes back into effect. Performing an abortion in Michigan for any reason except to save the life of the pregnant person would be a four-year felony. There is no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or for health conditions that are not imminently deadly. Self-induced abortions would be subject to the same penalty.
We need to repeal this abortion ban because it remains a threat to the health and autonomy of Michiganders who are or may become pregnant. I support House Bills 5542–5548, which would repeal the ban and make necessary changes to remove it from other statutes. HB 5542 would also affirm that people have fundamental reproductive rights: the right to decide whether to use contraception and sterilization, to choose to carry a pregnancy to term, to terminate a pregnancy for any reason before the fetus could survive independently, and to terminate a pregnancy at any time if necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant individual.
I co-sponsored HBs 5542-5548 when they were introduced last November. They are in the House Committee on Health Policy, where the chair will decide whether to hold hearings and allow them to advance in the legislative process. Recently, the bill sponsor moved to discharge HB 5542 from committee so that it could be considered for a vote on the floor, but the motion was rejected in a voice vote.
“Keep the Power On, or Pay Up!”
Michiganders pay the highest residential electricity rates in the Midwest for reliability that is nearly the worst in the nation. Right now, everyone pays the price of power outages except the utility companies. Individual Michiganders lose the food in their fridge and the power they need to run their medical devices. Businesses lose stock and operating hours. Local governments lose when they have to pay for warming centers and backup generation. But utility executives and investors continue to pad their pockets with ratepayer money that should have been invested in keeping the power on.
My colleague Rep. Abraham Aiyash and I recently introduced a package of bills, House Bills 6043–47, to require utilities to compensate customers for the harm caused by outages and to require regulators to hold evidentiary hearings on electrical distribution plans.
These bills will help the people of Michigan hold these monopolies responsible for reliably delivering the service we purchase. The bills have co-sponsors from both parties and have been referred to the House Committee on Energy.
State Budget Update
We are in the middle of the state budget process in Lansing. The House and Senate have approved each chamber’s versions of the budget bills. Now the real process will take place in conference committee, where a few members from the House and Senate will negotiate with each other to settle on a single version of each budget. They will also consult with the governor about what she is willing to sign; she can veto line items on budget bills but cannot add anything to a bill that is sent to her desk. The resulting bills may be very different from the budgets we have seen so far. When the bills come out of conference, they will be presented to the House and Senate for up-or-down votes.
My Democratic colleagues and I offered a number of amendments to the House budget bills. Among other things, the amendments would have preserved Michiganders’ access to abortion and removed discriminatory language intended to bar transgender youth from participating in sports. These amendments were rejected by the majority without an opportunity for a record roll-call vote.
I voted “no” on all of the budget bills because they need substantial improvement. In addition to poison-pill language around abortion and transgender rights, this budget fell woefully short on funding vital state services. The House version of the budget diverts $1 billion from services and infrastructure for irresponsible tax giveaways, while direct-care and front-line workers’ wages remain inadequately funded. The EGLE budget failed to include $48 million the governor requested to help disadvantaged communities replace lead service lines and upgrade water treatment. The MDOT budget left out $150 million for critical road and bridge infrastructure. And the K-12 school budget did not increase the per-pupil foundation allowance enough to make up for our state’s worst-in-the-nation declines in per-pupil funding over the past 25 years.
There were a few bright spots in the House budget bills. The EGLE budget allocated $32.5 million of federal funds to conduct groundwater surveys and test for PFAS. The MDOC budget funds a proposal to reduce the fees charged for prisoners’ phone calls, which are essential in maintaining family ties and easing their re-entry into the community. And the House K-12 budget actually included more money to reimburse districts for special education costs than the governor requested.
Overall, there is still a great deal of work to be done to improve these budgets. I hope that the budget bills that emerge from conference will be versions that will better serve the interests of Michiganders.
Rain Gardens Prevent Flooding and Protect the Environment
Now that we’re finally past the frost season, many of us are working on garden projects. Consider installing a rain garden with Michigan native plants to allow runoff to filter into the soil slowly. This helps keep contaminants out of our streams and lakes, and it reduces flooding in the heavy rains that are becoming more and more common. Properties with rain gardens get a small credit on their Ann Arbor sewer bills to reflect their contribution to stormwater management.
Not sure how to design a rain garden or what to plant in it? The county has an educational program to train rain gardeners and Master Rain Gardeners. They also offer a native plant sale so that you can easily choose appropriate seedlings that will provide habitat for wildlife and beneficial insects. If you can’t plant a rain garden yourself, you can still volunteer to help maintain a public rain garden or to share educational resources in your neighborhood.