Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Read on for legislative updates and things to do this month, along with other community information.
Meet & Greet
Please join me for an opportunity to come sit down, have a chat, ask me questions and share how I can best represent you in Lansing. I hope to see you there!
Friday, Dec. 20, from 3-4 p.m.
Board Room of the Clio Area Schools Administration Building
430 N. Mill St. in Clio
Monday, Jan. 13, from 11 a.m.-noon
Montrose Senior Center
200 Alfred St. in Montrose
Monday, Jan. 13, from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Forest Township Library
123 W. Main St. in Otisville
As many of you know, budget negotiations have been ongoing over the last several months. Earlier in October, Gov. Whitmer issued 147-line item vetoes to help facilitate budget talks with the Legislature. Last week, the Legislature finally agreed to a supplemental bill package to restore some of the funds that the Governor vetoed. I was proud to vote in favor of this legislation and was pleased to see funds allocated to support important measures such as public health, public safety and public education.
Some funding highlights include: school safety grants, higher education tuition grants, reimbursements to county jails, PFAS contaminant clean-up and testing, autism services, opioid response funding, county veteran services, corrections officers funding, local law enforcement training and foster care visitation programs. There is still work that needs to be done to fully fund our schools and fix our infrastructure, but this was certainly a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with my colleagues next year to fund other critical priorities across our state.
Affordable Higher Education
On Dec. 10, I joined my colleagues state Reps. Ben Frederick and Sarah Anthony in welcoming members of Rise Michigan, a student organization advocating for access to affordable education. We held a press conference to call for action on legislation that would ensure Michigan residents have access to the affordable higher education they deserve. My bill, the MI Opportunity Scholarship Program, would provide last-dollar tuition assistance to eligible students for up to three years of community college, or until the student earns 60-semester credits and/or an associate degree. Rep. Frederick’s bill, the MI Reconnect Grant Program, is an economic-growth and workforce development program that provides a tuition-free pathway to an in-demand industry certificate or associate degree for Michigan adults aged 25 and older.
Gov. Whitmer challenged the Legislature during her first State of the State address to expand access to community college and provide additional support for students pursuing careers in skilled trades through technical education. Although Rep. Frederick and I introduced bipartisan bills to answer that call, both are still awaiting hearings before the House Appropriations Committee. We must equip Michigan’s students with every advantage to keep them competitive in this fast-moving job market, and that includes recognizing the various pathways open to students pursuing success.
Notable Visits to the State Capitol
On Dec. 5, I was joined by Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich in welcoming World War II veteran Victor Cross to the Capitol to present a special tribute in recognition of his heroic service. Victor Cross fought with the 87th Infantry Division, 345th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, Company B during some of the fiercest fighting in WWII, including the Battle of the Bulge. I was grateful to take the opportunity to honor one of our own local heroes for his unwavering courage, commitment and dutiful service to our country. Victor Cross was just 19-years-old when he took up his rifle to fight back against the invading German army in what Winston Churchill once called ‘the greatest American battle of the war.’
Words alone cannot express the appreciation I have for Mr. Cross’ many contributions to the preservation of our cherished liberties. After returning from the war in 1945, Mr. Cross worked as a tradesman as a specialist in arc welding for seven years, before eventually became a machinist at a Chevrolet plant in Flint for 22 years before retiring.
Welcoming Students to the Capitol
It was my pleasure last week to be able to meet with the students from Hill McCloy High School while they were touring the Capitol. They were able to see the House floor and learn more about state government. It is always an honor to have students come experience the Capitol and learn how the Legislature works. I encourage any schools or individuals interested in scheduling a tour to contact the Capitol Tour Service at (517) 373-2353.
A Countdown to REAL ID
In less than twelve months, the REAL ID law goes into full effect, significantly changing the rules of the game for domestic air travel and the ability to enter some federal facilities, including military bases and nuclear power plants. Today, as the countdown to REAL ID continues, it’s time to consider if you are ready.
When the law goes into effect Oct. 1, 2020, anyone who travels by air domestically will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant document. Some identity documents already meet the high security standards of the REAL ID Act, including valid U.S. passports, DHS Trusted Traveler Cards and enhanced driver’s licenses. If you have one of these, you are REAL ID-ready and good to go. If you don’t, you have the option of turning your standard driver’s license or state ID card – the kind most of us have, into a REAL ID by visiting any Secretary of State office and presenting the required identity documents listed at Michigan.gov/REALID. Here in Genesee County, just 39.9 percent of Michigan driver’s licenses are REAL ID-compliant.
The REAL ID deadline is now only months away. Are you ready? For more information or to make an appointment with the Secretary of State’s office, visit Michigan.gov/REALID.
Federal Financial Aid 101
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) is the largest source of student financial aid in the nation. Make college or career education possible by filling out the FASFA to get grants, loans and work study opportunities. Families can get help filling out the FASFA at a Genesee County Financial Aid event on Jan. 23, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Genesee Valley Center Library, 3293 S. Linden Road in Flint. The time to start an application is now!
Financial aid is given on a first-come, first-served basis so the best way for parents and graduating seniors to ensure they don’t miss out is to complete the FASFA now. Parents and students must attend this event together; you will need to bring your social security numbers and 2018 Federal Income Tax Returns and W2’s. Enjoy snacks and refreshments, help from skilled advisors and counselors, and a chance to win prizes! For more information on the Federal Financial Aid event, contact Genesee County Career and College Access Network (810) 591-4541.
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