Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Good morning, District 9! After an eventful week in Lansing to close out the month of February, I’m happy to bring you this week’s legislative update. As we inch closer and closer to Spring, I want to remind you that should you ever need anything from my office, you can always reach out at (517) 373-6990 or email me at KarenWhitsett@house.mi.gov, and my staff and I will be happy to assist you. In the meantime, have a great week!
Tuesday, Feb. 22
Amending the Unemployment Law to Provide Equity to Michiganders
Last Tuesday, we passed Senate Bill 445, legislation that would amend Michigan unemployment law to allow individuals who filed PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) claims at the beginning of the pandemic to be eligible for unemployment benefits if they were able and available for part-time work.
This bill aims to resolve a conflict between state and federal law. Under Michigan law, in order for an individual to be eligible for unemployment benefits, a worker must be able and available to perform qualifying full-time work, while PUA extended federal benefits to both full and part-time workers. By amending Michigan unemployment law, this bill ensures that those who were able and available for part-time work and collected PUA benefits will not have to pay that money back. I am proud to have supported legislation that will bring equity to Michiganders who faced unemployment during the pandemic.
Wednesday, Feb. 23
Protecting Michiganders’ Medical Freedom Through the “Right to Try” Act
I also voted yes on House Bill 5637, a bill that would amend the “Right to Try Act” to expand the definition of “investigational drugs, biological products, devices or other treatments” to include those used to treat the coronavirus disease during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a survivor of an incredibly severe case of COVID-19, this is a bill that is very important to me. This bill makes experimental treatments available to patients suffering from COVID-19, without having to wait for said drug or treatment to be approved by the FDA. When someone suffers from a severe illness, they deserve to be able to make the medical choice that they feel is best for them. This bill ensures that a patient’s decision to pursue experimental treatment of COVID-19 is a decision that is made between that patient and their doctor, and I was glad to support this bill both in the Health Policy Committee and on the House floor.
Thursday, Feb. 24
Removing the Reward Cap for Information Leading to Arrest and Conviction
I was also proud to help pass HB 4173, a bill to eliminate the reward cap of $2,000 that a county may offer for information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone who has committed a crime within the county or escaped from the county jail. While a simple bill, it can have significant impacts on the safety of our communities throughout Detroit, Dearborn and the rest of the state. Allowing for higher rewards could lead to more people coming forward with information about dangerous individuals, leading to more arrests and convictions, and reducing crime in our neighborhoods. I am glad to have voted yes on a bill to keep our streets safe.
Creating a License Plate for Prostate Cancer Awareness
Finally, I was glad to support HB 4334, which would allow for the creation of a prostate cancer awareness license plate. The license plate would not only act as a means by which to spread awareness, but it would also serve as a good reminder for men to get their preventative prostate screenings. Most importantly, the license plate will assist in providing much-needed funding for prostate cancer research. I’m glad to have supported this bill, and I hope I’ll see some of these license plates on the road soon.
Other bills passed by the Michigan House of Representatives this week include: