I am honored and humbled to be your state representative. As we continue facing the challenges of the pandemic and its ripple effects throughout our society, please know that my staff and I are here for you.
If you are in need of support or resources, have any questions regarding legislation or state government in general, please feel free to reach out to me at my office via JulieRogers@house.mi.gov or by calling (517) 373-1785.
State Representative, 60th House District
In this e-newsletter:
- Virtual Town Hall on Expanded Eligibility for Expungement – July 27
- In-Person Town Hall on Lead – Aug. 5
- Protecting Vulnerable Road Users in Michigan
- State Budget Update
- First Six Months
- Auto No-Fault Update
- UIA Branches Reopening
- Legislative Canvassing
Virtual Town Hall on Expanded Eligibility for Expungement: July 27
I, along with special guests state Rep. Christine Morse (D-Texas Township) and state Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo), will host a virtual town hall on the new Michigan law that expands eligibility to petition for an expungement and automatic expungement. This virtual town hall will be for residents of Kalamazoo County on Tuesday, July 27, from 6 – 7 p.m. The town hall will “open” to the public at 5:50 pm.
We will be joined by several local and state experts for updates on this topic; Attorney General Dana Nessel; John Pallas, first assistant in the Criminal Trials and Appeals Division of the Michigan Attorney General’s office; Donna Innes, the chief defender with Kalamazoo Defender; and Jennifer Klempnow, special initiatives manager and lead with the Clean Slate program run by Michigan Works! Southwest.
To attend the town hall, individuals should register by 4 p.m. on July 26. Individuals who register will receive a link to attend the town hall the evening of July 26. Kalamazoo County residents should use the following information to register for the virtual town hall on July 27 from 6 – 7 p.m. A captioning service and ASL interpreter will also be provided.
Click here to register.
In-Person Town Hall on Lead: Aug. 5
On Aug. 5, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., I will be hosting an in-person town hall on lead and community resources at the Douglass Community Association located at 1000 W. Paterson St. in Kalamazoo. Doors will open to the public at 5:15 p.m.
I will be joined by Matt Milcarek from Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services Inc. (KNHS), representatives from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Lead Services Section, and experts on the dangers of lead exposure in early childhood. Various local community organizations will also be onsite with resources.
While advance registration is not required, if you would like to RSVP our office can be reached by phone at (517) 373-1785 or by e-mail at JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
Protecting Vulnerable Road Users in Michigan
Earlier this month, I, along with state Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo), state Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) and state Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), introduced bipartisan legislation to protect vulnerable road users in Michigan.
Senate Bills 580 (McCann) and 581 (McBroom), and House Bills 5181 (Kahle) and 5182 (Rogers) would create enhanced penalties for drivers who injure or kill a vulnerable roadway user, such as cyclists, pedestrians or wheelchair users.
Recently, preliminary data released by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association shows that pedestrian deaths by car crashes increased 21% in 2020. Additionally, at a national level, the overall number of traffic incidents and pedestrian fatalities increased 53% in the period between 2009-2018.
Reporting by Outside Magazine has shown that in 2020, more than 675 cyclists were killed in automobile-related accidents in the U.S. The deadliest year for cyclists and pedestrians across America since 1990 was just a few years ago. Sadly, 857 riders lost their lives in 2018.
As a fellow cyclist and practicing physical therapist, I know just how important movement is to our mental and physical health. Bicycling is part of a healthy lifestyle, and I am proud to be from the bike-friendly community of Kalamazoo. Unfortunately, even Kalamazoo has experienced its share of bicycling-related tragedies.
In 2016, nine cyclists were hit by a person driving a truck while riding together near Markin Glen Park. Five of the cyclists were killed, and the other four were seriously injured and hospitalized. Earlier this year during the 10th annual Kalamazoo Area Bike Week, a 61-year-old man was killed in a crash on W. KL Avenue, near the location where a runner was previously hit and killed. These heartbreaking instances prove that we need to do more to protect our vulnerable roadway users, and I am proud to be part of this package to do just that.
State Budget Update
School Aid Budget
On July 13, Gov. Whitmer signed House Bill 4411, the School Aid budget, into law. This budget makes the largest investment in preK-12 schools in Michigan’s history. The signing of HB 4411 marks a historic moment for the state by reaching the goal of eliminating the funding gap between districts at the minimum and maximum foundation allowances, as set forth by Proposal A of 1994. The bill finalizes the fiscal year 2022 School Aid budget, which totals $17.1 billion, including $85.4 million from the state’s general fund, and provides cost adjustments and supplemental funding for the current 2021 year.
The budget includes $723 million to eliminate the gap between the minimum and maximum foundation allowance by setting both at $8,700 per pupil, an increase of $589 per pupil from the current year minimum amount and an increase of $171 per pupil from the current year target amount. In addition, intermediate school districts receive a 4% operational funding increase.
The FY 2022 School Aid budget also increases access to early education through the Great Start Readiness Program, which provides preschool to families at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. The new investment includes $121 million in federal funding and $47.5 million from the School Aid Fund, for a total investment of $168.5 million. The full-day per child allocation is increased from $7,250 to $8,700, and additional funding is provided to expand the program.
In addition to closing the gap and increasing access to preschool programing, the 2022 School Aid Budget makes strategic investments in the following:
- The budget recognizes the need for additional school counselors, psychologists, nurses and social workers by providing $240 million over 3 years for additional hirings in high-need districts. After 3 years, these new hires are fully funded in an ongoing manner by the district.
- The mental health of our students continues to be a top priority. This budget provides an increase of $17 million to support school-based mental health programming, which will help ensure our students have access to the resources they need to live happy and healthy lives.
- Additional investments for special education in the amount of $74.2 million will ensure our students and educators can excel in the classroom.
- The budget also provides funds for students who need them the most through a weighted funding formula which distributes education dollars more equitably.
- Maintains funding for economically disadvantaged populations and adds $1.5 million for dental screenings.
- Supports for English language learners are increased by 4% and proration of funding is eliminated with an investment of $12.2 million.
- The budget incentivizes districts to adopt a year-round school calendar by helping to provide for HVAC and infrastructure improvements that will improve learning spaces. An investment of $75 million in federal funding will assist in providing matching grants, and $60 million from the School Aid Fund will increase foundation allowances for eligible districts by 3% for three years.
- The budget includes $10 million to support school safety initiatives. Funding provides up to $50,000 per school building or $250,000 per school district.
- Support for children impacted by the drinking water emergency in Flint is increased by $2.4 million.
I was proud to vote in favor of this budget because it will help support our Kalamazoo students and teachers for generations to come. This transformational investment in our public schools brings every district up to the same level of per-pupil funding.
General Omnibus Budget
Unfortunately, before we adjourned session on June 30 for our in-district work period, the Republican leadership in Lansing could not come to an agreement on the general omnibus budget. It is possible that we are brought back to Lansing for a day in both July and August, but at this time, it is unclear when that will be. Further negotiations are yet to be resolved, including the bulk of the state’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget for departments, agencies, community colleges and public universities. After a year of constant challenges, it is my hope that we will continue to work across the aisle to pass a budget that reflects our priorities and meets the moment here in Michigan.
However, we did pass Senate Bill 27, which is a supplemental appropriation bill that allocates $384.7 million. Of this amount, $367.7 million is from federal COVID relief funding. The bill also appropriates $17 million from the state’s general fund. Highlights of funding include the following:
Department of Education
- COVID-19 Child Care Public Assistance, $105 million (federal) to provide a 40% rate increase to Child Development and Care (CDC) program providers beginning on Oct. 1, 2020, and ending Sept. 30, 2021.
Department of Health and Human Services
- Hospital COVID-19 Grants, $160 million (federal) to provide grant awards to hospitals based on total state Medicaid inpatient claims revenue to help cover increased hospital costs and reduced hospital revenue related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Nursing Facility Grants, $100 million (federal) to provide a $23 per day increase to nursing facilities that have experienced a 5% or greater decline in the nursing facility’s average daily census for Medicaid recipients.
- Emergency and Disaster Response and Mitigation, $10 million (state general fund) to assist areas of the state with restoration costs and other expenses resulting from weather-related events that occurred in June 2021.
Department of Treasury
- Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Fund, $7 million (state general fund) to pay required payments to those deemed wrongfully imprisoned and eligible for compensation.
First 6 Months
Auto No-Fault Update
For the last several months, I have heard from thousands of individuals throughout the state sharing their concerns regarding the recent changes to Michigan’s auto no-fault law that went into effect on July 1. As a practicing physical therapist, I have a deep appreciation and firsthand understanding of the specialized care that is needed following a catastrophic auto accident.
On June 23, I introduced House Bill 5125 that would provide a one-year delay for implementation of the 55% fee schedule reduction for providers as well as the 56-hour cap for family caregivers providing in-home care to their loved ones. It was referred to the House Insurance Committee and has not yet had a hearing.
On July 1, Public Act 21 of 2019 went into effect. Unfortunately, two provisions included in the law, a 45% reimbursement cap for specialized rehabilitation care and a 56-hour attendant care cap for family members and friends of injured survivors, will be devastating if not fixed.
Several suitable and bipartisan auto no-fault reform bills have been introduced this session specifically to fix the unfair fee schedule, but to date, no committee hearings have occurred. As a stopgap, Senate Bill 28 was put forth as an extremely temporary solution to provide some funding to ensure that providers can maintain the care they are currently providing. While the funding was increased through the negotiation process, the legislation does not put forth a long-term solution, and the funding will be depleted in a couple of months. It also uses general fund dollars to put a Band-Aid on a very significant financial burden for patients, families and providers.
I am calling for an immediate hearing on my bill and quick passage; and when session resumes, we need to come together and find a sustainable, collaborative solution.
UIA Branch Offices Reopening
The Unemployment Insurance Agency is offering in-person unemployment insurance services by appointment only at 12 local unemployment offices. This includes the Unemployment Insurance Agency office in Kalamazoo at 1601 S. Burdick St.
Michiganders can go online to schedule appointments. Each appointment slot is 15 minutes and may be scheduled up to a week in advance. Appointments are available from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. Customers must schedule an appointment online at Michigan.gov/UIA and click on Schedule an Appointment. Please note that walk-ins will not be accepted.
The agency will still maintain some COVID-19 safety protocols such as requesting that customers wear a mask before entry. Customers should bring their driver’s license or photo ID and any other documents pertinent to their claim. Individuals who are late for their appointment may have to reschedule. Click here to view the full press release.
If you find that you are in need of assistance with your unemployment claim, you can contact my office using this form.
What We Have Been up To: Legislative Canvassing and Six-Month Check-in
Throughout the last month, my team and I, along with the 60th District Service Office, have been out in the community and knocked on more than 3,000 doors. Not only have we had incredible conversations about my work in Lansing, but we have also been providing our community with important information about lead and lead abatement resources. I want to give a special shoutout to the interns of the 60th District Service Office for leading these efforts.
We look forward to meeting you at the door sometime this summer!