In this e-newsletter:
Upcoming Coffee Hour: May 21
My next coffee hour will be on Friday, May 21, from 8 to 9 a.m. This will be a virtual coffee hour. Please note the start time for 8 a.m. I will be providing a legislative update and offering an opportunity for residents of the 60th House District to share their thoughts and perspectives. In addition, we will also be joined by our special guest, Kalamazoo County Clerk Meredith Place, to discuss recently proposed voting legislation.
To attend the coffee hour, please use the following form to register by noon on May 20. An access link will be sent to those – who register on the afternoon of May 20.
Bipartisan Bills Introduced Targeting Sexual Misconduct
Following a recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, I joined with a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce a package of bills to protect sexual assault survivors. House Bills 4851-4858 were crafted to correct several legal shortcomings highlighted by the 2018 investigation into Larry Nassar of Michigan State University.
Unfortunately, many survivors who speak up are either not believed, or the adult they told failed to report the sexual predator, which allows the assault and abuse to continue. The bills in this package are common-sense, yet desperately needed, policy changes that will help ensure that survivors in our state are protected and able to have their unique and individual needs met.
Additional legislation dealing with sexual assault, Senate Bills 223-227, has been introduced in the Senate, where the Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety has begun taking testimony on the bills.
Verdict of Derek Chauvin Murder Trial
After repeated injustices, the April 20 verdict was long overdue. Last summer, the world witnessed the unacceptable use of excessive police force as George Floyd took his final breaths. Police officers are supposed to protect and serve their community, not serve as judge, jury, and executioner.
The Black Lives Matter movement did not end with the verdict. We must use these atrocities as a catalyst to work for immediate reform in our law enforcement and criminal justice departments. It is beyond time that we specifically address the systemic racism Black members of our community face each and every day.
Bill to Repeal Medicaid Work Requirements
House Bill 4645 was introduced in April, and comes on the heels of a recent Biden administration decision to rescind the waiver that had been granted to Michigan under former President Trump approving the work requirements. This comes also after a federal judge blocked them from going into effect last year.
As a health care provider, I have seen the devastating consequences of families having their health insurance ripped away just when they need it most. Now that the Biden administration has moved to rescind the waiver, that would have forced thousands of Michiganders to jump through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops to qualify for coverage. It is time to remove this dangerous language from state statute. House Bill 4645 was introduced with bipartisan support.
Myself, along with state Reps. Tim Sneller (D-Burton), Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Twp.) and Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Twp.), introduced a four bill package this week that would strengthen Michigan’s foster care to adoption process while ensuring equity in placement policies for LGBTQ+ families. The package would collectively repeal Public Acts 53-55 of 2015, controversial for allowing child placement agencies to refuse state adoption referrals based on an agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
In addition, the package would authorize second-parent adoption in Michigan, allowing a same-sex parent to adopt their partner’s biological or adoptive child regardless of whether the relationship is legally recognized.
The introduction of this legislation follows the announcement of Bethany Christian Services, a religious foster care and adoption agency with locations in numerous states, who will expand their current Michigan policies to now allow LGBTQ+ parents to adopt children nationwide. Bethany Christian Services previously received criticism due to their adoption practices that discriminate against LGBTQ+ parents, despite being funded in-part by taxpayer dollars.
2022 Budget Discussion
Unfortunately, House Republicans have continued partisan tactics with very little negotiations taking place in the constructing of the 2022 budget. Many of the bills introduced in the last few weeks were quarter budgets, meaning only 25 percent of the year’s budget was allocated. I voted no on many of these bills because of my experience in local government. I thought it was irresponsible to allocate only a quarter at time. Let me be clear: this tactic is unprecedented. Many agencies and local governments rely on our state budget to create their own budgets, and this could have a chilling effect on locals’ ability to serve their residents.