Welcome to my latest Capitol Update! As your state representative, one of my most important jobs is to keep you updated on issues at the state Capitol and in our community. My staff and I are always ready to answer any questions about state government and provide any help you need in contacting state departments. I also look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on how to make state government work better for you.
You can also reach me at (517) 373-0159 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit my website at sowerby.housedems.com to find up-to-date information and news on my work in Lansing. I hope you find my updates useful and informative.
In this issue:
- Upcoming Coffee and Conversation
- Treasury Issues Guidance on Unemployment Income
- Prescription Drug Legislation
- Freedom of Information Act Expansion
State Representative, 31st House District
Upcoming Mt. Clemens Virtual Coffee Hour with Congressman Andy Levin
On Friday, April 9 at 4 p.m., Congressman Andy Levin will join me as my special guest for a virtual coffee hour to hear from our Mt. Clemens constituents. We will discuss federal and state legislation, the COVID-19 response and other issues of the day. We will also take questions and do our best to address your concerns. Please register and feel free to share with other Mt. Clemens residents who might be interested.
Register in advance for this meeting at the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Guidance Available on Treatment of Unemployment Compensation for 2020
The Michigan Department of Treasury has posted a notice for taxpayers explaining how unemployment compensation for the 2020 tax year will be treated.
The federal American Rescue Plan Act excludes unemployment benefits up to $10,200 from income for the 2020 tax year for those within certain income brackets, and taxpayers who may have anticipated owing taxes may now be entitled to a refund.
There is no need for taxpayers to file an amended federal return unless the calculations make the taxpayer newly eligible for additional federal credits and deductions not already included on the original tax return.
Prescription Drug Changes Pass out of State House
Last month, I was proud to join my colleagues in the State House on both sides of the aisle to support sweeping changes to Michigan’s pharmaceutical drug laws to lower prices for Michiganders and ensure they’re getting the quality health care they deserve. These bills will go a long way to helping make sure the medicine people need to live is affordable and decisions are made by a patient and their doctor – not their insurance company. Some highlights of the bill package include:
- Capping insulin co-pays to $50 per month;
- Ending “Non-medical switching” or the practice of insurance companies forcing patients to change from medicine that is working so that it costs the insurance company less;
- Regulating Pharmacy Benefits Managers, drug supplier middlemen that have driven prescription drug prices up to line their own pockets; and
- Allowing patients to shop at so-called “out-of-network” pharmacies if they can find a lower price.
These bills are a significant step forward for our state, and it is my sincere hope the Michigan Senate moves quickly to advance these to the governor’s desk.
Freedom of Information Act Expansion
Ten bills to create more transparency and accountability in state government passed the State House of Representatives last week with unanimous support. These bills would subject the governor’s office and Legislature to the Freedom of Information Act and establish ways for the public to see non-confidential information on what their legislators are doing with taxpayer dollars.
This will provide the necessary public oversight that our state has been lacking for many years. We are one of the only two states that do not provide open records for the governor, lieutenant governor, and the legislature. Since my first term in office, I have supported this legislation and am happy to see them pass out of the House. I hope that the Michigan Senate moves quickly to send this legislation to the governor’s desk.
These bills are a great first step, but I promise to keep fighting until Michigan becomes a leader in transparency.