Welcome to our December e-newsletter!
Included in this edition are some important legislative updates, community events and other resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1792 or email at FeliciaBrabec@house.mi.gov for questions about these or any other state-level issues.
State Representative, 55th House District
Upcoming Coffee Hour
Please join me for our upcoming Coffee Hour! This is an opportunity to chat, ask me questions and share how I can best represent you in Lansing. I will be hosting my Coffee Hour virtually this Saturday, Dec. 18, from 10-11 a.m. It will be streamed via Zoom and on my Facebook page. We hope to see you there!
H.O.P.E Legislation Signed into Law
I am so excited to have my first bill signed into law by Gov. Whitmer! Many of you are familiar with this lifesaving legislation that allows for HIV-positive organs to be transplanted into HIV-positive patients here in Michigan. I’m so grateful to have worked on this legislation with Gift of Life Michigan and so many other partners. Such amazing work by so many people!
PSYPACT Passes the House
More exciting news! Recently, two bills I introduced with state Rep. Bronna Kahle moved out of the House and are advancing to the Senate. House Bills 5488–5489, would include Michigan as a participating partner in PSYPACT, an interstate compact allowing licensed psychologists to practice telepsychology across state lines or temporary in-person, face-to-face psychological practice for up to 30 workdays. Given the unavoidable life changes and challenges brought on by the pandemic, the need for mental health care has exponentially increased, but the number of providers has not. PSYPACT would address this need and allow psychologists to increase access to care — particularly for populations that are currently underserved, geographically isolated or lack specialty care. Currently, PSYPACT has been enacted in 27 states. I am excited to continue advocating for this legislation and other measures that will promote access and remove unnecessary barriers to mental health treatment for Michigan residents!
Gun Violence Prevention
Last week, many of my colleagues in the Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Caucus held a press conference in the Capitol to introduce legislation that limits firearm magazine capacity to 10 rounds. They also spoke to the countless bills we have introduced over the term that aim to address the epidemic that is gun violence — including legislation I have introduced requiring safe storage. I will continue to work with my colleagues to pass common-sense gun safety measures.
Economic Development Bills Pass the Legislature
I voted in favor of House Bills 5602–5604. These bills would create a new set of dedicated funds for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to use to pay for industrial site preparation and provide economic incentives to companies looking to expand or move into Michigan. I also voted in favor of Senate Bill 85, which included nearly $1.5 billion to provide incentives for major economic development projects and relief for small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. These bills will allow Michigan to close the gap in key areas, like developing shovel-ready sites, providing economic assistance in critical industries, such as battery manufacturing, and ensuring that this state has the needed talent and workforce. It is important that as we continue looking at economic incentives we do so in a way that ensures tax-payer dollars are creating long-term results and high-paying jobs that benefit all Michiganders.
As part of this package, we voted on HB 5351, which would increase the small taxpayer exemption to the state’s personal property tax. Under it, entities with less than $180,000 in industrial personal property and commercial personal property would be able to qualify for the exemption. The current cap is $80,000. I voted against this legislation because further repealing the personal property tax without a long-term funding replacement will threaten the sustainability of our local governments to provide the essential services that we all depend upon. Unfortunately, this bill passed both chambers and will advance to the governor.
Supplemental Funding Passes the Legislature
I voted in favor of supplemental funding bills that passed the legislature. House Bill 4398 is a year-end supplemental to close the books on the 2020-21 fiscal year and provide additional federal funding for priorities, including coronavirus pandemic relief. Among the funding contained in HB 4398 was $150 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding for school safety programs, including screening and testing for COVID-19, as well as $140 million in additional federal ARPA funding for emergency rental assistance. The bill also contains nearly $170 million in federal ARPA for airport response grants and over $47 million in federal funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment block grants, among other measures. I am pleased that we were able to get the federal funding to help schools with COVID testing and additional funding for rental assistance to those in need. These measures all play a crucial role in Michigan’s continued recovery from the pandemic.
Whitmer Awards Grant to Fix Carpenter Road in Pittsfield
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is awarding nine state Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) Category F grants to cities and road commissions to help rebuild local roads across Michigan. Included is $375,000 for the Washtenaw County Road Commission to fix Carpenter Road. More information regarding the awarded projects is available at the Category F section of TEDF website.
Food Pantry in Ann Arbor
On 306 N. Division St. in Ann Arbor, there will be a Food Pantry held by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Throughout December, they will be providing free breakfast to the community to support those experiencing difficult times. The upcoming dates for their breakfast services will be on Dec. 18, 20 and 23 from 7:30-8:30 a.m.
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can ever be of any assistance.
Felicia A. Brabec
House District 55