Welcome to our September e-newsletter!
Included in this edition are some important legislative updates, unemployment assistance updates and other resources I hope will prove helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1792 or email at FeliciaBrabec@house.mi.gov for questions about these or any other state-level issues.
State Representative, 55th House District
Upcoming Coffee Hour
Please join me for our Coffee Hour! This is an opportunity to chat, ask me questions and share how I can best represent you in Lansing. I will be hosting my Coffee Hour virtually this Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10-11 a.m. It will be streamed via Zoom and on my Facebook page. We hope to see you there!
FY 22 Budget Passes the Legislature
I was proud to work with my House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do one of the most important jobs our communities sent us to Lansing to do: pass a budget on time to fund vital programs. I voted YES on a budget that includes critically needed boosts for childcare, higher education, water infrastructure, direct care worker pay and so much more!
For over a decade, I have been working to increase wages for our direct care workers. These professionals have been our frontline heroes both before and during the pandemic. A fair wage is long overdue. I was thrilled to see a $2.35 hourly pay boost for our direct care workers included in the final budget.
Similarly, this budget increases funding for our higher education institutions, which need these investments to overcome some of the challenges brought on by the pandemic. There will be a 1% one-time operations increase and an additional 4% one-time increase for Michigan colleges and universities. There will also be $86 million for a one-time additional payment toward the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System’s unfunded liability for participating universities.
I am also extremely pleased to see funding toward multiple programs I have been advocating for throughout the budget process, such as $5 million toward a Jail Diversion Program and $238 million toward a Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. We were even able to secure a grant for United Way of Washtenaw. These funds will be used toward programs designed to provide community financial stabilization and workforce development. I’m thankful that we were able to secure them additional funding to help in their all-important work. Overall, I am very pleased with the investments this budget makes.
This month, I joined state Sens. Jeff Irwin, Adam Hollier and Erika Geiss in introducing expulsion prevention legislation to bring transparency and fairness to the process for long-term suspensions, expulsions and alternative school placements. The legislation requires that:
Every student has the right to receive an education. We need to ensure that when a student is deprived of that right because of suspension or expulsion, they are afforded due process. We know how damaging it can be for kids to be removed from school. These bills are designed to keep kids in school and reduce the number of students who are removed from the classroom.
Bills to Support Women in the Workforce
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a substantial impact on our nation’s economy and the workforce that supports it, especially its women. Women make up less than half of the U.S. workforce; yet, they account for the majority of the decrease in employment. As we continue to recover from the ongoing effects of this public health crisis, I am excited to join the Progressive Women’s Caucus in compiling a package of bills that aims to address the barriers that women in particular face when re-entering the workforce.
My bill in this package requires employers to disclose family leave policies to employees. This will include paid or unpaid maternity, paternity or medical leave offered to its employees or employee applicants. Passing policies that remove barriers to entry into the workforce gives women the tools they need to gain financial independence, supports working families and helps our state’s economy thrive.
Mental Health Listening Tour
I am so excited to announce our plans to host a mental health listening tour around the state. The listening tour will take place throughout the next few months in several different regions around the state. Interested community members will be invited to a roundtable discussion on the current state of our mental health system in Michigan, existing barriers and ideas for improvement.
After talking with many community partners and consumers, it became clear that folks would like to be active participants in creating legislation, as opposed to simply reacting to an already crafted plan. My team and I are planning to coordinate listening tours in various regions of the state that will give our community partners the opportunity to inform the legislation we create. Check out my website to stay up to date with the date, time and location of the tours.
Constituent Services Pop-Up Event
If you need help with something, we’re bringing our services right to you! The event is open to all constituents living in Washtenaw County.
On Monday, Sept. 27, from 2-5 p.m., we will be on hand to provide you with assistance and resources at Packard Health (2650 Carpenter Road in Ann Arbor).
This is a collaborative event with state Sen. Jeff Irwin and our special guests, state Reps. Ronnie Peterson and Yousef Rabhi.
We believe that everyone deserves equitable access to the things you and your family need to live and thrive. A major function of our offices is connecting constituents, like you, with the right resource and helping to clear any red tape that may be preventing you from accessing those resources. Our teams are happy to help get you what you need!
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can ever be of any assistance.
Felicia A. Brabec
House District 55