In this e-newsletter:
Upcoming VIRTUAL Coffee Hour – Jan. 21
I am hosting a virtual coffee hour for the month of January on Friday, Jan. 21, from noon to 1 p.m. I will be providing a legislative update and offering an opportunity for residents of the 60th House District to share their thoughts and perspectives.
To attend the coffee hour, please email our office at JulieRogers@house.mi.gov by NOON on Jan. 20, and an access link will be sent that afternoon.
Attendees are also encouraged to submit questions in advance when they email the office to register.
Appointment to the House Appropriations Committee
I was recently appointed to serve as a member of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy for the remainder of the 2021-2022 legislative term. The appropriations committee’s main task is setting the budget for the state of Michigan.
As a former county commissioner, I wholeheartedly understand that a budget is a set of priorities. By serving on this committee, I am committed to ensuring that our state budget reflects the priorities and values of our community and the state of Michigan. As a lifelong environmentalist, I am also extremely honored to work on the department’s budget. We must ensure that we protect Michigan’s most precious resources for generations to come.
Legislation Introduced to Strengthen River Cleanup Efforts
On the heels of a dam operator polluting the Kalamazoo River and failing to follow through with cleanup efforts for more than two years, state Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) and I introduced bills (Senate Bill 813 and House Bill 5661) to strengthen the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) authority to protect Michigan’s water and natural resources from damage by dam operators.
STS Hydropower is the operator of the Morrow Dam, located on the banks of the Kalamazoo River in Comstock Township. In October 2019, STS Hydropower lowered water levels around the dam to make repairs deemed necessary by federal regulators. As they did, 400,000 cubic yards of sediment was released downstream into the river, where it remains and is causing ongoing damage to the river’s ecosystem of fish, wildlife and vegetation.
Senate Bill 813 and HB 5661 would amend the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to give EGLE the authority to issue written emergency orders when inland lakes and streams are threatened with harm to “public health, safety, welfare, property, or the natural resources or the public trust in those natural resources.” These bills would allow for state environmental regulators to order responsible parties to conduct the immediate cleanup of sediment in the Kalamazoo River and similar occurrences without the need for long periods of negotiation.
The Kalamazoo River has been facing an ongoing, man-made ecological emergency for two years now and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy and its subsidiary, STS Hydropower, should not be able to choose when or if they need to take responsibility for the mess they created. It is beyond unacceptable, and Sen. McCann and I will not sit idly by. The legislation that we introduced will give the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy the additional tools they need to require the responsible parties take corrective actions when they pollute our waterways.
For months, state environmental regulators from EGLE have attempted to reach a settlement agreement with STS Hydropower on the essential cleanup activities, but they lack the necessary statutory power to require activities, such as dredging, to remove sediment without the company’s active agreement to participate. This legislation is crucial to addressing this issue.
State of the State Address Will Be Delivered Jan. 26
Governor Whitmer announced that she will deliver her annual State of the State address on Jan. 26. This will be held in a virtual format and broadcast live throughout the state. More details on the 2022 State of the State address will be announced soon.
During her State of the State address, the governor will share her vision for Michigan and plan to address key issues to put Michigan first, including jobs, education, infrastructure and Michigan’s strong economic progress.
Following the State of the State address, in early February, the governor will provide her executive budget recommendation. The executive budget recommendation sets the stage for the rest of Michigan’s budget process.
January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a time to acknowledge those experiencing enslavement and those who have escaped. Michigan ranked in the top 10 states for human trafficking in 2019, with 364 cases. Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human traffickers still profit from trapping millions of people worldwide in horrific situations.
Human traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage and other manipulative tactics to force people to engage in commercial sex or to provide labor or services against their will. You can learn more information at the link.
To report human trafficking call: (888) 373-7888
YWCA Kalamazoo also provides resources and services for human trafficking victims and survivors. For more information, visit their website at www.ywcakalamazoo.org. They also have a 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (269) 385-3587.
Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
On the third Monday in January each year, we celebrate civil rights leader and activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On this day, not only do we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by closing all state offices, but we also commemorate his memory through a day of service.
As such, I am proud to be joining Western Michigan University, the Northside Ministerial Alliance, the city of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo Community Foundation and Bronson Healthcare System for the 2022 MLK Day Celebration. Specifically, I will be participating in the MLK Teach-In during session three (from 1-2 p.m.) – “It is always the right time to advocate for what is right: A Policy discussion (featuring local, state, and federal elected officials).”
The event is free and open to the public in the south ballroom at WMU’s Bernhard Center. You can also watch live here.
“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.” -Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966