Happy November and Thanksgiving!
I hope this issue finds you and yours safe and well. As the Legislature begins to draw to a close for 2021, things have been heating up in Lansing, and unfortunately, not in a good way. Every representative was elected to serve and should have an equal voice in that service. That has not always been the case, but I will keep fighting to ensure our voices are heard. As always, I’m just a phone call or email away — and never forget, we are stronger together!
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I introduced, and the House passed, House Resolution 179, which declared October 2021 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the state of Michigan. Domestic violence affects all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds. There were more than 57,000 incidents of domestic violence reported to Michigan police in 2019.
One of my goals is to focus on the ones who often bear no physical signs of abuse — children. More than 15 million children in the U.S. live in homes where domestic violence occurred at least once. Children are watching, they are affected and they need our help too. I was one of those children growing up, and no one ever asked in the midst of the chaos if I was okay.
I shared my testimony with Channel 4 reporter, Paula Tutman, to continue to raise awareness in efforts to get help for the voiceless — the children. You can watch that segment here: Michigan Rep. Stephanie Young introduces bills to protect victims of domestic violence, abuse – YouTube. You can watch my floor speech here.
Election Bills Establish Barriers to Voting
The Republican-led House passed a series of three bills that would create barriers to free, fair and accessible elections disguised as “election integrity.” Michigan already has a voter ID requirement, one that has worked for years. Voters who come to the polls without ID sign an affidavit of identity under penalty of perjury. Voter ID laws, such as those recently approved, strictly on a party-line, disproportionately hinder seniors, people of color, college-age voters and low-income residents. The three bills, Senate Bills 303 and 304 and House Bill 5007 were presented to the governor and promptly vetoed.
Judiciary Committee Hears Gun Violence Bills
The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bipartisan package of bills intended to discourage drive-by shootings, including my bill, House Bill 5030. The increase in drive-by shootings and gun deaths prompted the package, and the legislation is named in remembrance of three-year-old Messiah Williams, who was murdered in a drive-by shooting last October when 67 bullets ripped through his Flint home. His family and the Genesee County Sheriff testified in support of the bill package as well, during what was emotional, heart-wrenching testimony.
My bill will increase the penalties for someone who shoots a firearm and additional penalties if the vehicle is known to have a minor child inside. The committee took testimony but has not voted the bills out to the floor.
Citizens Rally for “Second Look Legislation”
I joined criminal justice reformers from all over the state to push for “Second Look Legislation.” Michigan has one of the largest populations of incarcerated people serving life without parole. This legislation would safely reduce the number of individuals serving excessive, counter-productive sentences. It would guarantee all incarcerated individuals a “Second Look” once they have spent at least a decade in prison.
It’s this type of work that could benefit from legislation I introduced (HB 4617) that gives incarcerated persons access only to their own criminal files, via FOIA. Current FOIA laws prohibit inmates from requesting information themselves. They have to rely on a third party. Having met and worked with several men who have been exonerated from crimes they did not commit, I learned that this legislation could have potentially shaved decades off of their sentences. I’ll keep doing the work to get this voted out of the House Oversight Committee.
Delivered Daily Invocation
I was proud and honored for the opportunity to stand before my colleagues and offer a word of prayer by delivering my first invocation to the Michigan House of Representatives. I spoke about love for one another, because Love is the Work!
Bills Introduced to Address Lead Poisoning
Even before the lead water emergencies in Benton Harbor and Hamtramck became frontpage news, I was working with my colleagues on a recently announced 10-bill, bipartisan package meant to better identify, prevent and treat lead exposures statewide. The bills also plan to confront related environmental injustice issues that disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color. My bill, House Bill 5419, requires a lead paint inspection on the sale of any home that was built before 1978. Homebuyers have a right to know what they are buying, especially when they plan to have small children living in the residence.
A Constituent Celebrates a Milestone
My team and I enjoy recognizing the accomplishments and milestones of our friends and neighbors. Most recently, I had the honor of recognizing Mother Merlene Beasley on her 80th birthday. Mother Evangelist Merlene spent her life devoted to her husband of 55 years, her six children, 10 grandchildren and her church. Mother Merlene truly loves God and is reaping the benefits of a life well-lived!
District 8 ‘Community Conversations’ 2021
The theme of my October Community Conversation was the historic $70 billion state budget. With the onset of cooler weather, we went back to our virtual Community Conversations twice a month.
The morning event featured Andrew Solon, the director of legislative and external affairs for the State Budget Office. He talked us through the budget process on the state level, including where the money comes from and where it goes.
On the local level, we heard from Steve Watson, the city of Detroit budget director. He talked about the city budget process and where the funds come from and how they are spent.
At our Friday evening Community Conversation, we heard from three of the entities that I helped secure grants in the state budget and how these investments will benefit real Detroiters. Recipients of the grants include the Detroit Children’s Center, Development Centers Inc. and Detroit Horse Power.
As always, you can watch either or both meetings on my Facebook page.
With the holidays coming up we will have morning conversations only in November and December during our regular time of 10 a.m. Login information is always the same. Join us live on Facebook or via Zoom. Meeting ID: 827 2740 1164. You can also join us by phone by calling (312) 626-6799 and entering the Meeting ID.
We will also share additional resource information for individuals and families who may be in need of other services. Now that it’s coats and boots season, we wanted to be sure residents were aware of resources to keep their homes safe and warm.
I believe elected officials are only as good as the people who support and hold them accountable. I am grateful for this team of faithful volunteers who braved the cooler temperatures and went canvassing in the Grandmont Community Association area to share information and bring back any concerns. Teamwork makes the dream work!
We all know there are individuals and organizations that deserve special recognition for the tremendous work they do to serve the people of our communities and our state. If you know an individual or organization that has truly gone above and beyond for their neighbors, you may fill out the form on this page to request an official state tribute so we can show our full appreciation for their efforts.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to call me at (517) 373-3815 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEPHANIE A. YOUNG