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 email@example.com. 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:
State Representative, 31st House District
Upcoming Virtual Coffee Hour
On Monday, May 17 at 10 a.m., please join me for coffee and conversation via Zoom. We will be discussing COVID relief assistance, state legislation, and other issues of the day. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, and concerns that you may have. Please register and feel free to share with any residents who might be interested. I hope to see you there!
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
MSHDA rolls out online application tool for COVID Emergency Rental Assistance
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has federal funds available to help tenants facing pandemic-related hardships avoid eviction while ensuring landlords can recoup owed rent through the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program. A new online tool has been launched to help streamline the application process for renters and landlords seeking assistance. By visiting Michigan.gov/CERA, the online application can be accessed, along with eligibility criteria and additional information about the program. Those who do not have access to the online application can apply for assistance through their local Housing Assessment Resource Agency (HARA). As we continue to navigate the pandemic, it is important to have such helpful tools and resources for individuals and families worried about housing instability.
Part 115 NREPA (Solid Waste) Legislation Passes the House
The Michigan House recently passed a bipartisan bill package, House Bills 4454 through 4461, that would enact necessary changes to update Michigan’s disposal laws. I was proud to sponsor a bill in the package, HB 4456. It would modernize the fees to better align with departmental costs, streamline the process for post-closure and give the department power to require more oversight of companies not meeting the regulations in place. Michigan’s solid waste laws are outdated and fail to recognize the massive leaps forward in recycling and non-landfill disposal options while our counties continue to operate under solid waste plans that are decades old. This legislation is long overdue, and it will be a huge step forward in how our state handles recycling and solid waste if signed into law.
Local Government and Municipal Finance
The House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance recently passed House Bill 4066 that would preempt local municipalities from implementing or enforcing knife ordinances more restrictive than the state law. I voted no on this legislation because House Republicans continue to attack local control and the powers that municipalities should maintain. The bill now awaits a vote on the House floor.
This committee also heard testimony on HB 4496 that would expand County Treasurers’ ability to enter into tax foreclosure agreements with commercial properties in addition to residential properties. While I believe this would be an excellent tool for counties to provide relief to those businesses hit hardest by the ongoing pandemic, I’m working with the bill sponsor to ensure transparency is prioritized and local municipalities are not severely affected through decisions made at the county level. This bill is awaiting further testimony and a committee vote.
Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation
The House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation recently passed House Bill 4470. This bill would amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) to increase the fine for illegally taking a lake sturgeon to $5,000. Sturgeons are highly sought for their eggs, also known as caviar, and their high price leads to poaching and illegal fishing. As Democratic Vice-Chair of this committee, I am always committed to protecting the threatened species that inhabit our Great Lakes. Therefore, I voted in favor of HB 4470. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary where it awaits further legislative review.