Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Read on for legislative updates and things to do this month, along with other community information.
Please join me at my coffee hours for an opportunity to come sit down, have a chat, ask me questions and share how I can best represent you in Lansing. My first session will be held on Friday, Oct. 4th, from 1-2 p.m. at the Davison Senior Center in Room 6. The next one will be held on Monday, Nov. 18, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the Forest Township Senior Center. Hope to see you there!
Firefighter Mike Wager
My bill, House Bill 4081, to designate a portion of M-57 as the “Firefighter Mike Wager Memorial Highway” passed the House unanimously and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. An eight-year veteran of the Clio Area Fire Department, Mike lost his life when his vehicle was struck by an intoxicated driver in July 2016. Though his life was cut tragically short, Firefighter Wager’s legacy of selfless service for his community will never be forgotten. His life was defined by a level of courage and sacrifice that we should all aspire to. I hope this highway dedication will inspire others to live a life committed to improving their communities in the same way Firefighter Wager did.
Unscrupulous companies stole an estimated $429 million in wages and overtime pay from hardworking Michiganders between 2013 and 2015, impacting more than 2.8 million people. In addition to the impact on individual workers, payroll fraud costs Michigan taxpayers $107 million a year in tax revenue. Recently, I introduced legislation that is part of a 12-bill package that will crack down on companies that intentionally commit payroll fraud. Specifically, my bill will expand whistleblower protection to public employees who report misconduct. This legislation will help to ensure that businesses who fail to pay workers the full wages to which they are entitled are held accountable.
School Aid Budget
As you may know, the School Aid budget recently passed the House and Senate. I am glad the Legislature was able to get this done because I recognize how difficult it can be to create a school budget without knowing how much revenue the state is allocating. However, I could not in good conscience vote yes on the School Aid budget as it was written.
The budget that passed both chambers includes $304 million to provide increases ranging from $120 to $240 per-pupil. The minimum foundation allowance would increase from $7,871 to $8,111 (3.0 percent) and the state maximum guaranteed foundation allowance would increase from $8,409 to $8,529 (1.4 percent). While I appreciate the willingness to move the budget in a positive direction by increasing per-pupil funding, it is nowhere near the level of funding needed to fully support our students. The School Finance Research Collaborative indicated that there is over a $2,000 per-pupil shortfall, which does not include additional costs for more expensive services needed by some students, including at-risk programs, special education and CTE courses. This budget does not keep up with inflation and continues to take a one-size-fits-all approach to educating our kids.
The School Aid budget will now advance to the governor for her consideration. I look forward to continuing conversations on how to improve school funding so that in Michigan we finally put our students first.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Alert
Cases of a deadly mosquito-borne virus called EEE have prompted health officials in Michigan to urge the public to cancel or reschedule outdoor events after dusk, especially if those events include children. The urgent appeal comes at a time when many schools and youth groups typically hold evening practices for marching band, football, cross country, field hockey and other activities that would be difficult to move indoors. Because mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging communities and schools in eight counties — Kalamazoo, Cass, Van Buren, Berrien, Barry, St. Joseph, Genesee and Lapeer — to consider canceling, postponing or rescheduling outdoor events in the evening or early morning hours, especially if they involve children. The people most at risk from being sickened by EEE are those younger than 15 and those older than 50.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips for protecting yourself from mosquito bites:
1.) Use bug spray: Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
Other effective ingredients include:
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
2.) Wear long sleeves, long pants, and shoes with socks: Even though it’s still warm out, long clothing can help prevent bites, especially if you apply insect repellent on top of the clothing.
3.) Inspect your home: Be sure there are no holes in the window and door screens so mosquitoes stay outside. Repair any screens that are damaged or have holes.
4.) Empty standing water around your home where mosquitoes breed: Look for water in buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires, planters, birdbaths, trash containers or any place where mosquitoes may lay eggs. Once a week, the CDC recommends, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold standing water.
5.) Stay indoors at dusk and after dark: This is when mosquitoes are most active and likely to feed.
6.) Use nets and/or fans to keep bugs at bay: For when you plan to eat outdoors/spend time outside when mosquitoes are active.
7.) Babies younger than 2 months old should not use insect repellent: Instead:
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
With a month left in mosquito season it’s important to continue taking precautions until the first hard frost, health officials say, when mosquitoes shut down for the winter.
Drive-Thru Flu and Immunization Event
Protect yourself, your coworkers, family and friends by getting your flu vaccination. The Genesee Health Plan (GHP) is making it easy by hosting its Sixth Annual Drive-Thru Immunization Event. Attendees can roll down their window, roll up their sleeve and drive into one of GHP’s headed drive-in service bays to conveniently receive their flu shot. Flu shots, additional vaccination and health resources will also be available inside the GHP office. The event will be held at Genesee Health Plan, 2171 S. Linden Road in Flint on Friday, Oct. 11 from 3-6 p.m. For more information visit www.geneseehealthplan.org or call (844) 232-7740.
REAL ID May Affect You, Especially if You Travel by Air
On Oct. 1, 2020, the federally mandated REAL ID law goes into effect, and if you travel by air, this law will impact you. REAL ID is the post-9/11 federal requirement that sets higher security standards for identification. Once in effect, a REAL ID will be required to board any U.S. flight or to enter some federal facilities. A REAL ID can be a U.S. Passport or an Enhanced Driver’s License – or you can turn your standard driver’s license into a REAL ID at the Secretary of State’s office. Learn more about the law and what documents you need to bring to get a REAL ID at Michigan.gov/REALID.
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can be of any assistance.
State Rep. Sheryl Y. Kennedy, Ph.D.
48th House District