Welcome to my latest Capitol Update! As your state representative, one of my most important jobs is to keep you updated on issues at the state Capitol and in our community. My staff and I are always ready to answer any questions about state government and provide any help you need in contacting state departments. I also look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on how to make state government work better for you.
You can also reach me at (517) 373-0159 or email@example.com. You can also visit my website at sowerby.housedems.com to find up-to-date information and news on my work in Lansing. I hope you find my updates useful and informative.
In this issue:
State Representative, 31st House District
$400-Per-Vehicle Refunds for Michigan Drivers
This week, Gov. Whitmer announced the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) plans to refund Michigan drivers $400 per vehicle. Historical vehicle policyholders will receive refunds of $80 per vehicle and motorcycles will also receive a refund. The money comes from a projected $5 billion surplus accrued by the MCCA, a nonprofit that reimburses auto insurers for personal injury medical costs. The refunds apply to any vehicle covered by an active auto insurance policy as of Oct. 31. Drivers who are eligible do not need to take any action to receive their refunds. The MCCA will begin sending the money to insurance companies in early March and the funds are to be disbursed to eligible policyholders within 60 days. I was proud to see the approval of Gov. Whitmer’s refund request by the MCCA so we can provide necessary relief to Michigan drivers and continue to protect a fund that pays for the cost of medical care for Michiganders seriously injured in a car accident.
Child Care Stabilization Grant
This fall, the Legislature passed and Gov. Whitmer signed a budget that includes over $700 million in grant funding to support child care providers. The Child Care Stabilization Grant is a non-competitive grant for child care providers to help stabilize operations and support the health and safety of children and staff. All Michigan families deserve to have access to safe, quality, affordable child care that meets their needs. To achieve this, we must ensure that our state’s child care providers are adequately supported and compensated to cover costs and help them stay open. I know the struggles child care providers have gone through during the pandemic, and I am happy to have voted for this important funding. To learn more about eligibility requirements and applications, please visit Michigan.gov/childcare.
Winter Saving Tips and Energy Assistance
As we gear up for winter, here are some simple steps that customers can take to keep their energy costs down this winter:
This November, DTE Energy joined with The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) in urging Michiganders to take advantage of programs to help make ends meet this winter. It also encourages customers who think they may have a problem paying their bills to reach out for help as soon as possible. Listed below are some resources for customers to reach out to:
Community Partners – Connect with an MDHHS community partner to help work through the process of applying for assistance.
Recently, the Michigan House of Representatives passed key pieces of legislation that will benefit Michiganders in the 31st district and across our entire state.
House Bill 5522 – Law Enforcement Supplemental
The House approved an appropriation supplemental bill to provide more than $300 million toward hiring initiatives, incentives, and other programs to attract and retain police officers. Ultimately, the bill lacked the ability to support other key areas, including funding for other first responders, such as our EMTs and firefighters. It is crucial that we are providing both our law enforcement and other first responders with the best resources available so they can safely and effectively do their jobs. My Democratic colleagues offered a series of amendments that would have bolstered this package to ensure we are taking a multifaceted approach to keeping our communities safe. Unfortunately, most of these amendments did not pass; however, this bill is a step in the right direction, and I was proud to vote yes in support. House Bill 5522 has moved to the Senate for further consideration.
Senate Bills 242 and 245- County Commissioner Four Year Terms of Office
Senate Bill 242 and 245 would extend county commissioner terms to four-year terms, up from their current two-year terms, beginning in 2024. As a former county commissioner having represented Clinton Township, I am opposed to these bills because they would fundamentally alter our state’s governance structure, take away decisions from voters and make county governments less responsive to the people they serve. Having shorter terms allows voters to give feedback to their elected officials on a regular basis and for elected officials to gauge the opinion of their constituency. This two-year term and regular interaction with voters mirror the terms of our state House of Representatives and those elected to the federal House of Representatives and is essential to how our government operates. By extending these terms, we are removing options for voters and disenfranchising them from having input on the direction and governance of their county. Decisions on the very foundations of our government should not be enacted without the public’s input. Despite my no vote, both bills passed the House.
House Bills 5602, 5603 and 5604- Economic Development Package
HBs 5602-5604 recently passed the House. They would allow Michigan to generate incentives for site development to create locations ready for job creation and make our state more competitive. If Michigan does not have the tools to help companies make those investments here, they will go elsewhere, along with the jobs that are retained or created. Using these funds, Michigan can lure investment from businesses in any number of sectors, including the auto industry that is so vital to our state. When more businesses locate and expand here, our Michigan communities and families directly benefit. This package includes critical safeguards to make sure that your taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, including that:
While there is still much more work to be done to make our state more attractive to businesses, this package of legislation, which I was proud to vote yes on, puts Michigan in a better position to compete for the best jobs of tomorrow.