Hello and welcome to my e-newsletter. I would like to take this moment to thank you for allowing me to serve you in the 95th House District and act as your voice in Lansing. This issue of my e-newsletter will provide an update on what’s going on at the Capitol this month, upcoming times to meet with me and other relevant information for our community.
As your representative, I am most effective at my job when acting on your input. I encourage you to reach out to me and my staff with any questions, comments or concerns you may have about issues in the district or legislation that will impact our state. You can contact me toll-free at (855) 347-8095, by email or through my website. Thank you for your commitment to the community we both call home; I look forward to hearing from you!
In this Edition:
- Legislative Update
- Winter Heating Prep
- Upcoming Events
Typically, the full state budget is rolled up into just two individual budgets, one for our schools and one that encompasses everything else. However, this year, we voted on each individual state department’s budget one-by-one. Below, you will find my explanations of how I voted. There were some good things in many of the budgets that I voted ‘no’ on, as well as some bad things in the budgets I voted ‘yes’ on. Ultimately, I had to weigh the good and bad and make a decision on how to best represent you and the interests of Saginaw County.
Voting ‘yes’ on the School Aid budget was not an easy vote for me. We are not adequately funding our schools and our students and teachers are paying the price. However, I also recognize that schools, who have already been forced to plan out the next year without knowing how much support they will receive, need a budget NOW, and that until we as voters begin electing only representatives and senators who truly value education, we’re only going to nudge the needle towards adequate funding. But the removal of mandatory closure language for partnership schools, an additional $30 million in funding for special education and enough funding to double the amount of literacy coaches in Michigan to help our struggling reading scores were instrumental in my final decision to vote ‘yes.’
I voted ‘no’ on the Department of Natural Resources budget because it eliminates funding for the Youth Employment Program the DNR has supported in Saginaw. This year, I had the opportunity to work with the youth who participate in this program at First Ward Community Center and experienced the positive impact it has on young people. This incredibly successful program gives at-risk youth in Saginaw the opportunity to earn a little money while cleaning up our state parks and neighborhood lots.
I voted ‘no’ on the Department of Corrections budget because it prohibits funding from being appropriated to counties that have adopted welcoming city ordinances. Local governments should have the right to adopt laws that best represent the communities they serve without fear that the state will punish them for their service. Additionally, this department is so underfunded that the state may have to close the vocational villages which serve to provide prisoners with skilled trades training so that they can return to society with an employable skill.
I voted ‘no’ on the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs budget because it eliminates additional funding needed to properly implement requirements of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, a body whose sole purpose is to provide quality legal representation for those who are unable to pay. Everyone deserves access to justice, not just people who can afford it.
I voted ‘no’ on the Transportation budget because it includes a provision that would prohibit the department from awarding contracts to contractors that require their subcontractors to pay into the same union fringe benefits as the general contractors. We must support and encourage young people who want to enter skilled trades jobs by supporting the organizations who fight to ensure those skilled trades workers will get a good living wage. Additionally, diverting money from the general fund and from internet sales tax to roads is not a sustainable or rational plan and only steals money from our public schools, colleges, universities, DHHS, corrections and every other state budget.
I voted ‘no’ on the General Government budget because revenue sharing receives only a 2.3 percent increase in funding compared to the governor’s 3 percent increase. Additionally, the Redistricting Commission, which was created by the passage of Proposal 2 last year, is reduced by $1.4 million.
I voted ‘no’ on the Community College & Higher Education budgets because it includes only a 1 percent increase in funding for both our community colleges and universities.
I voted ‘no’ on the Department of Health and Human Services budget because it spends an additional $13 million on implementing the Michigan Work Requirements law, which will ultimately strip healthcare away from thousands of Michiganders. This budget is also littered with provisions that take aim at the reproductive rights of women by continuing state-funded anti-abortion programs.
I voted ‘yes’ on the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy budget because it includes an additional $120 million in funding for drinking water protection, including funding for the lead and copper rule implementation and contamination clean up.
I voted ‘yes’ on the Judiciary budget because of additional funding appropriated for the pretrial risk assessment tools, allowing judges to make appropriate bail decisions. The budget also included additional funding for an online dispute resolution service to provide greater access to justice for those experiencing landlord/tenant issues and small claims.
I am hopeful the governor will veto the most egregious parts of this budget and that in the near future we can work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to restore funding to some of the essential services that were cut from the budgets passed last week.
Legislators from both sides of the aisle have recently joined together to introduce a package of bills to expand expungement laws in Michigan to give thousands of residents with old, non-violent and low-level criminal convictions an opportunity for a fresh start. Research indicates that by 2026, Michigan employers will need to fill half a million skilled trades jobs, for which expungement could serve as an important tool to lower barriers to obtaining professional licenses required for certain jobs. I’m proud to support this legislation, which will give many hardworking Michiganders the opportunity to redeem themselves and support their families, after taking responsibility for their past mistakes.
The package would increase eligibility for petitioning for expungement by increasing limits to two felonies and four misdemeanors, providing a path for more expungements of non-violent offenses. The current law allows for a combination of one felony and two misdemeanors or only two misdemeanors.
Winter Heating Prep
Prepare now to keep winter utility bills manageable
With summer drawing to an end, now is a good time to think about winter and heating your home. The Michigan Public Service Commission is urging Michiganders to plan ahead to make sure your utility bills are manageable when the weather turns cold.
Space heating in Michigan homes takes up about 55 percent of a household’s energy use annually, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. Here are six things to do to prepare your home and household budget for winter bills:
- Contact a certified professional and schedule a furnace tune-up so it runs more efficiently. Replace filters regularly; clogged filters make a furnace work harder. If replacing the furnace, look for the ENERGY STAR logo, which indicates a high-efficiency product.
- Discuss with your utility provider programs that can help to manage costs. Ask about or sign up for demand response or time-of-use programs, a budget plan, low-income assistance, active duty military shutoff protection or a winter protection plan.
- Research options before signing up with a propane provider. Locking in a contract now can mean lower prices. More than 8 percent of Michigan households use propane as their primary heating fuel, and the state leads the nation in total residential consumption.
- Now’s the ideal time to tackle home improvements that reduce energy waste. Seal cracks around windows and doors to keep heat from escaping. Check air ducts and seal openings for leaks. Insulate attics and crawl spaces. Install a programmable thermostat, which can save an estimated 10 percent a year on heating and cooling. Familiarize yourself with how to safely operate supplemental heating sources for your home, and portable generators should you lose power.
- Apply by Sept. 30 for the Home Heating Credit using Michigan tax form MI-1040CR-7. Contact the Michigan Department of Treasury or the federal Internal Revenue Service about the Earned Income Tax Credit, which could offset some living expenses by helping pay utility bills. Familiarize yourself with protections from shutoffs for those with medical emergencies or needing critical care. Call 2-1-1, a free phone service that links people with information or agencies that can help with utility assistance.
- If you’re considering purchasing your natural gas through an alternative gas supplier, be sure to shop around. Browse the MPSC’s CompareMIGas website to compare the rates of suppliers serving in your utility service area, but be sure you understand the terms and conditions before signing a contract.
Latino Legislative Day
I’m pleased to invite members of the Latin/Hispanic community across the state to come to Lansing and engage with the policy process and meet members of the Latino Legislative Caucus. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with their legislators, hear and learn from statewide leaders during the luncheon ceremony and connect with Latino organizations from across the state. Please register for the event here.
When: Wednesday, Oct. 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: State Capitol, 100 N. Capitol Ave. in Lansing
Never hesitate to reach out to me or my staff if you have any questions or concerns!
95th House District