Happy June! This month, I will be hosting my monthly in-person “Coffee with Christine” on Friday, June 24 at the Oshtemo Charter Township Building,7275 W. Main St. in Kalamazoo. We will be in the large meeting room at 9:30 a.m., and I look forward to giving updates and answering questions!
I will be adding a few additional coffee hours to my schedule this summer, so keep an eye out for those updates!
On Wednesday May 25, I introduced a House Resolution, HR 306. This is a resolution to urge the United States Congress to fund scientific research on gun violence and its effects on public health and to require the Surgeon General of the United States to issue annual reports to the public on the current state of gun violence in the country.
It is well past time that we start taking gun violence in this country seriously, and treat it as the public health threat it is. Taking this epidemic seriously requires that we put research and care into figuring out why it happens and how to stop it, just like any other public health crisis.
HR 306 was referred to the committee on Government Operations, and I hope to see my colleagues give it the attention it requires. Ideally in the near future, we will see it passed through the committee, but as with any legislation, we can’t predict how it will be received.
School Safety Town Hall
At the end of May, my office hosted our long-awaited School Safety Town Hall, featuring educators and gun violence prevention advocates. I was so happy to see a great turnout full of passionate constituents, all of whom want to make schools safer for our kids.
I was especially happy to see folks asking and answering questions and engaging in an overall respectful discussion. I appreciate everyone who decided to join us. If you were there, you likely saw that we had some news crews join us at the event as well.
The biggest takeaway from this town hall was that we need to continue building relationships, especially with our students. When we have a strong community, we are able to keep an eye on vulnerable individuals who may be victims of, or perpetrators of, harm. The best way we can reduce harm to our kids is connecting with them, so that we know who needs help as soon as possible. This means we need to invest more into smaller staff to student ratios, and initiatives like training and resources for our school staff members.
Of course, there is also the issue of access to firearms. I am going to continue working in the legislature to advocate for common sense gun reform, including safe storage laws and red flag laws. This is a top priority for me as a legislator, and I am happy to continue taking input from experts and community members in this fight.
Michigan Spark Grant
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will soon be taking applications for the Michigan Spark Grant. The Michigan Spark Grant is the result of Senate Bill 565, Public Act 53 of 2022, which provided a $65 million grant program to help local communities across the state who want to create, renovate or redevelop public outdoor opportunities for residents and visitors — especially those communities adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant opportunity is part of the single-largest investment, ever, in our state and local parks.
Eligible applicants must be local units of government or public authorities legally designated to provide public recreation, or regional or statewide organizations of such entities working together.
Applications will launch later this year; once announced, applicants will have up to eight weeks to apply. All projects must be completed by Dec. 31, 2026.
A total of $65 million of coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds was made available through Public Act 53 of 2022. Individual grant amounts — ranging from a minimum of $100,000 to a maximum of $1 million — will be distributed in three rounds:
- Round one: $15 million by the end of 2022.
- Round two: $25 million in the spring of 2023.
- Round three: $25 million in the summer of 2023.
Current information on the grant can be found here. This could be a great opportunity for our local municipalities, and I encourage anyone interested in applying to reach out to my office if you need assistance or further information.
Double Up Food Bucks
Farmers market season is in full swing, and I always encourage constituents to take advantage of the bountiful food production our area has to offer. However, we all know that everything, including food, is expensive right now. Double Up Food Bucks is here to help.
For those who shop for groceries with a SNAP/Michigan Bridge Card, they can double their benefits to purchase fresh, Michigan-grown fruits and veggies using Double Up Food Bucks. The program is available at 260+ participating farmers markets and grocery stores across Michigan. Right now is a great time to use the program! Learn how it works and find a participating location near you at DoubleUpFoodBucks.org.
I highly encourage anyone who may be eligible to check this program out! Fresh fruit and vegetables are delicious and nutritious. These have the added benefit of also being local!
Feel free to reach out to my office if you need assistance with accessing the program, and please share with friends and neighbors.
On Friday, June 17, the city of Portage will be hosting an event to celebrate the beginning of construction on the new Martin Luther King Jr. Park. This event will be at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.
Parks are such an important place for us to build community and spend time in nature. I am extra excited about this event, because not only is Portage getting a new park, but it will be dedicated to one of our country’s greatest heroes. For more information on the park, check out this MLive article from April.
I’m looking forward to marking the beginning of this new venture, and I hope to see many new and familiar faces there! RSVP to the City of Portage Facebook Event.
A resource my office has to offer, but many may not know about, are constituent publications! The House of Representatives produces several publications full of useful information for constituents to use, and my office can provide them.
At House Democrats Publications you can look through the publications we have to offer, and download your own PDF copy to keep. Or, if you prefer hard copies, you can call our office and request that we mail you a copy, and we will do so as soon as we have it stocked in the office.
Some of our most popular publications are our Constituent’s Guide, the U.S. and Michigan Constitutions, Services for Seniors and Veterans Benefits. Many of these publications include how-to guides for forms and services that can be very helpful.
As always, thank you for being a connected and dedicated member of our community! Please share this enews with your friends and neighbors, and encourage them to sign up for updates on my website. It is an honor to serve the 61st district; please never hesitate to reach out at ChristineMorse@house.mi.gov or (517) 373-1774.