Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Read on for legislative updates and things to do this month, along with other community information.
Gov. Whitmer’s State of the State Address
Last night, Gov. Whitmer called for action in her State of the State Address on the issues affecting Michigan families: improving access to education, expanding health care, fixing our roads, and ensuring our workers receive the compensation they’ve earned.
Every Michigan student has the right to a world-class education — one that equips them with the tools they need to succeed in this fast-paced economy while providing the individualized support they may need in the process.
Gov. Whitmer and I will continue the fight we started together last year to guarantee students of every age have the opportunity to pursue their own path to postsecondary education through the MI Opportunity and MI Reconnect Programs. And as we work to put our students on the path to success, I am committed to ensuring that they have access to mental health and remedial counselors every step of the way.
I’m will also continue working to pass the comprehensive legislative package my colleagues and I introduced last year to crack down on bad-actors committing payroll fraud to strip their employees the wages and benefits they’re owed.
I was proud to be joined by Thomson and Hill Elementary School Counselor Jason Vannest for Gov. Whitmer’s second State of the State address at the Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.
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 will be hosting sessions on Friday, February 28 from 10-11 a.m. at the Clio Area Senior Center 2136 W. Vienna Road in Clio. As well Friday, March 20 from Noon-1 p.m. at the Genesee-Johnson Library 7397 N. Genesee Road in Genesee. I hope to see you there!
MDHHS Public Forums: Behavioral Health
Please join the Michigan department of Health and Services and myself for a conversation about the future of behavioral health in Michigan. In December 2019, MDHHS outlined a vision for a stronger behavioral health system that integrates specialty behavioral and physical health services. If you, or a family member of yours, are served by Michigan’s Medicaid-funded behavioral health system, then MDHHS wants to hear from you! On January 30, 2020, MDHHS will hold an in-person public forum from 5:00pm-6:30pm at Saginaw State University’s Gilbertson Hall, 7400 Bay Road off Auditorium. If you are unable to make the in-person forum, they will also be hosting a virtual from on February 6, 2020, from 5:00pm-6:30pm. The link for the event will be shared on www.Michigan.gov/FutureOfBehavioralHealth in late January. If you cannot attend either forum, but still have questions or feedback, please email FutureOfBH@michigan.gov or visit www.Michigan.gov/FutureOfBehavioralHealth.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. day acts a reminder to us all how great the strength of liberty and justice truly are. Dr. King was a man of ambition, grace, bravery, benevolence, and most of all, servitude, who valued the goodwill of people, the gravity of civility and equality, and the act of service. He served his community every day, and because of this, MLK day should be a day to serve our community in commemoration of Dr. King. Several volunteers and I gathered at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center for the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service” event hosted by United Way of Genesee County where we packaged meals to provide struggling Genesee County residents with food. This event reiterated the importance of neighbors helping neighbors. Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” With this in mind, here is a reminder to be the light that drives out the hatred and darkness!
Kurt & Marge Soper Nature Center
On Jan. 13, I was proud to honor the Soper family by presenting a tribute to commemorate the opening of the Kurt & Marge Soper Nature Center at the Robert Williams Nature Center & Historical Learning Center. Kurt Soper served as Davison Township Supervisor from 2000 to 2014 and was instrumental in the creation of the Davison Township Parks and Recreation Department. He was involved in developing the Lake Callis Recreation Complex, Davison Dog Park and Black Creek Trail, as well as the renovation of the Kitchen School. His hard work and dedication has now been honored by the opening of the new Kurt & Marge Soper Nature center. With the center’s pristine trails, seasonal events, and educational programs all built on fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for our environment, the addition of the Kurt & Marge Soper Nature Center opens an exciting new chapter for the nature center. I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation to both the Williams and Soper families for their great generosity and tireless commitment to improving our community.
Lead Service Line Notification Bill
On Jan. 21, I was one of several legislators that testified in the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee about water quality legislation. Specifically, my bill would require a water supplier to annually notify customers if their residence is served by a lead service line. Additionally, the landlord of the property would have to disclose any lead service lines to the tenant in the rental agreement or a separate disclosure statement. This legislation seeks to improve disclosure and transparency by ensuring that homeowners and tenants alike are made aware of any lead service lines. This bill has passed the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee and will advance to the Ways and Means Committee for further discussion and voting. I look forward to continuing to work on this legislation and improve the quality of water in our state.
Delta Dental Foundation’s Community Mini-Grant Program
This year, the Delta Dental Foundation will be providing a total of $200,000 in grants to support programs focused on improving the oral health of children and/or adults. These grants are limited to a maximum of $5,000 each. The Delta Dental Foundation is now accepting applications for the first cycle with the deadline Jan. 31. Recipients will be announced in March. The second cycle application period is open from June 1 through July 31, and recipients will be announced in September. For those who have received a previous DDF Building Brighter Futures Community grant, you must complete and submit a grant reporting form before Feb.1, in order to be considered for a 2020 Delta Dental Foundation community Mini-Grant. If you are interested, please click here to find the application as well as the reporting form.
Collections Scam Warning
Michigan taxpayers with past-due tax debts should be aware of an aggressive scam that is making the rounds through the U.S. Postal Service. According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, taxpayers receive what appears to be a government letter about an overdue tax bill. This document asks individuals to contact a toll-free number to resolve a state tax. The letter aggressively threatens to seize a taxpayer’s assets-including all property and Social Security benefits-if the state tax debt is not settled. It appears to be credible to the taxpayer because it uses specific personal facts about their real outstanding tax debt that is pulled directly from publicly available information. The scammer’s letter attempts to lure the taxpayer into a situation where they could make a payment to a criminal. The state Treasury Department corresponds with taxpayers through official letters sent through the U.S. Postal Service, providing several options to resolve an outstanding debt and information outlining taxpayer rights. Taxpayers who receive a letter from a scammer or have questions about their state debts should call Treasury’s Collections Service Center at (517) 636-5265. Here, a customer service representative can log the scam, verify outstanding state debts, and provide flexible payment options. Taxpayers have rights, so please use them and be aware!
Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
Last November, Michigan voters decisively supported the “Voters Not Politicians” constitutional amendment that makes a commission of 13 randomly selected citizens – not elected politicians, consultants or lobbyists – responsible for gathering public input as well as census data to draw fair and representative district lines for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress for the 2022 elections. Now through June 1, you can apply to serve as one of the 13 commissioners on the first-ever Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. All eligible Michigan citizens are encouraged to apply to serve on the commission, which does not require any special skills or expertise. The application takes about 15 minutes to complete, and Commissioners will be compensated approximately $40,000 for their service. You can apply today or learn more at RedistrictingMichigan.org
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