Good afternoon, Neighbor.
I hope the new year has treated you and your loved ones well. Here in Lansing, we’ve been hard at work since the start of 2022. I’d like to take a moment to share with you some of the important legislation that was passed last week.
Tuesday, January 25th, 2022
Hands Free Bills
On Tuesday of last week, we passed House Bills 4277–4279, a package to combat distracted driving. These bills amend the current prohibition on texting while driving to outlaw the use of mobile electronic devices and other distractions, unless used through a “hands-free” method.
I am glad to support a set of bills that will help to reduce the accidents, injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving!
Wednesday, January 26th, 2022
First-Time Home Buyer Savings Program
On Wednesday, I voted yes on Senate Bill 145 and House Bill 4290 to create the Michigan First-Time Home Buyer Program. This program would allow residents of Michigan to use funds in a tax-advantaged First-Time Home Buyer Savings account to cover a down payment and closing costs for a new home purchase (assuming they have not previously owned a home for up to three years before purchasing the new property). These bills provide major tax advantages to new homeowners, especially those who are young and low-income.
I also voted to pass a large package of bills (HBs 5528, 5549, and 5550–5554) that collectively work to reform the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). Included in the package is a bill to create the new Office of Unemployment Citizen’s Advocate, which would provide additional resources for claimants who are having issues with the UIA. Another bill in the package shortens the time frame during which the UIA may issue a determination requiring restitution from three years to one year (save for more serious instances in which identity fraud or misrepresentation is suspected).
This package will bring about crucial reforms to the unemployment system, improving the process for workers throughout the state of Michigan.
Thursday, January 27th, 2022
Sliding Fee Discount for Certain Mental Health Services
Finally, on Thursday, we passed House Bill 5165, an important piece of legislation that strives to make mental health services more accessible. It would require that an individual’s ability to pay for certain mental health services be based on a federal sliding fee discount program. Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) must publish rules to establish a payment schedule that is fair and equitable. It must review the schedule at least every three years to ensure it’s up-to-date.
However, DHHS has failed to complete this task. Therefore, HB 5165 would replace the current statutory ability to pay determination process with the federal sliding fee discount program, which would apply a sliding fee schedule (SFS), so that the amount owed for services by eligible patients is adjusted based on the patient’s ability to pay.
Other bills passed by the Michigan House of Representatives last week include: