I am writing you today to invite you to my upcoming coffee hour on Friday, Dec. 10, from 9 to 10 a.m. These events provide an excellent opportunity to receive updates on my work at the Capitol and discuss any other questions or concerns you may have.
We have begun to meet in-person, and this month’s Coffee with Christine will be held at the Oshtemo Township Building, 7275 W. Main St. in Kalamazoo.
Climate Resiliency Package
House and Senate Democrats introduced a bill package to better equip Michigan communities affected by climate change. Extreme weather, power outages and flooding experienced across our state have created a growing need to invest in jobs, weatherization and infrastructure upgrades. To make this happen, Democratic legislators realize we need policy changes to protect Michiganders and the natural world around us.
As part of this bill package, state Sen. Jeff Irwin and I have put forth legislation (SB 750 and HB 5582) to create weatherization and disaster relief navigator grant programs to assist individuals in getting the financial assistance they need for pre-weatherization, weatherization, emergency relief, home repair or clean energy.
Learn more about this comprehensive bill package here.
Reproductive Health Act
The Progressive Women’s Caucus introduced the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). The RHA protects individual decision-making in a person’s reproductive health based on medical advice, not political ideology. This bill package also repeals and amends outdated and unconstitutional prohibitions on reproductive health care to bring it more in line with the treatment of other forms of medical care.
Here are a few key points of the RHA:
What is the Reproductive Health Act?
The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) ensures access to safe, legal abortion in Michigan. It guarantees that people are free to make their own medical decisions without politicians interfering by repealing dozens of Michigan’s outdated abortion laws.
What does the Reproductive Health Act do?
The RHA protects all individual decision-making in the area of reproductive health. This includes decisions about reproductive health care, like:
- Deciding to use or refuse contraception (birth control) or sterilization.
- Deciding what type of birth control to use, if any.
- If pregnant, deciding to give birth or have an abortion.
How does the RHA protect access to abortion?
- The RHA ensures abortion is treated like all health care, with regulations that reflect current medical standards by repealing and updating Michigan’s outdated and unconstitutional laws restricting access to abortion.
Repeals and Updates
Michigan’s Reproductive Health Act will:
- Remove medically inappropriate regulations requiring facilities that provide abortions to be licensed as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities.
- Increase privacy and safety for minors seeking an abortion by removing the parental consent requirement.
- Repeal laws that require patients seeking abortion care to receive biased, medically inaccurate information.
- Remove barriers to state and federal funding for health care entities that also provide abortion care.
- Repeal the law requiring patients seeking an abortion to undergo a state-mandated 24-hour waiting period.
- Codify current standards of medical practice that determine who can perform abortions.
- Prohibit criminal punishment of pregnant people for actions they take during pregnancy that would not otherwise be made criminal or punishable.
- Lift the ban on private insurance coverage for abortion care.
- Remove unnecessary barriers to accessing abortion via telemedicine.
Short-Term Rentals House Vote
Many people have contacted my office regarding House Bill 4722, legislation that limits local governments’ ability to regulate short-term rentals of private residences. For example, this includes those listed on Airbnb and VBRO. After a late-night House Session, I voted against the passage of the bill. Protection of individual property rights is important, but so is local municipalities’ ability to make the best decisions for their unique communities. HB 4722 passed the House and Senate and is headed to the governor’s office for a final decision.
House Democrats, Gov. Whitmer Deliver Historic Investments in Child Care
On Nov. 8, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the launch of the Child Care Stabilization Grant that will distribute $350 million in grants to give every full-time child care professional a $1,000 bonus and keep childcare programs open and serving kids.
I was proud to vote YES on the historic, bipartisan budget that made a $1.5 billion investment to expand child care access and opportunities for Michigan families. We know that for our economy to continue its rebound, Michigan families need reliable access to quality and affordable child care.
The Child Care Stabilization Grant application is now open. Licensed child care providers are eligible to apply and should visit www.Michigan.gov/childcare to review frequently asked questions and apply. Child care professionals will be awarded bonuses directly from their employer and do not need to apply. This is a non-competitive grant. Every eligible child care provider that submits a complete application will receive a grant award.
House Democrats will continue to partner with Gov. Whitmer to ensure quality care for our kids, better wages for frontline heroes like our dedicated child care providers and the stability all Michigan families deserve.
Last week, I attended the Kalamazoo County Veterans Day Ceremony to present Colonel James Saur with a special tribute as Veteran of the Year. Colonel Saur served in the United States Air Force for 26 years, including active duty in the Vietnam War. As an active member of the Joseph B. Westnedge Post 36 of the American Legion, Colonel Saur remains dedicated to serving our community.
It was a privilege to honor Colonel James Saur and all our veterans in Kalamazoo County. Spending my first years of marriage as a military spouse, I have a deep appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service members and their families.
Morse Force Intern Corner
My office is always busy as my staff and I work to serve constituents across House District 61. Fortunately, we have the assistance of a team of amazing legislative interns who contribute their time and skills to my office and our community.
With myriad bills and policy initiatives moving through the Michigan Legislature, it can be difficult to share everything going on in Lansing. I have asked my interns, Abby and Rhea, to share a policy they feel passionate about with all of you.
Please enjoy the Morse Force Intern Corner!
Upcoming Bill on Returning Citizens Voting Resources:
An upcoming House Bill that I find both important and interesting focuses on returning citizens’ voting rights. Often when citizens are released from prison, they are receive very few resources to help them rejoin society. This bill, introduced by state Rep. Lori M. Stone, seeks to help recently released parolees prepare to vote again. With recent voting laws, it is often hard for parolees to easily reenter society; however, this upcoming house bill seeks to provide four important resources to released parolees, including:
- Information that lets the parolee know their right to vote is no longer restricted.
- Information on how to register to vote.
- Information on the process for completing an absentee ballot.
- A list of dates for upcoming elections.
This bill is incredibly important and helpful for those returning to society. The information and resources it would provide would aid many released prisoners in getting over roadblocks that may make it harder for them to vote.
Good News for Menstruating Michiganders!
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 153, which repeals taxes imposed on feminine hygiene products, often known as the “tampon tax.” The state of Michigan will no longer apply a 6% tax on menstrual products, essential items that must be purchased. This tax unfairly disadvantaged those who menstruate, as, on average, the lifetime tax burden would total $4,800. Our society often overlooks period poverty, and this bill aims to help save money for other necessities too. According to the Associated Press, over $6 million in revenue comes from the taxation of feminine hygiene products in Michigan. This bill is a step in the right direction toward full reproductive health rights and encourages more states to eliminate the tax.
As always, please reach out to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (517) 373-1774 with any questions or concerns you may have.
State Representative, 61st House District