Welcome to our April 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 next 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, April 30, from 10-11 a.m. It will be streamed via Zoom and my Facebook page. We hope to see you there!
Testimony on ID to Parolee Legislation
Early this week, I gave testimony on legislation that would provide returning citizens with a driver’s license or state ID upon their parole to help them reintegrate into their communities. The bills will codify an existing Secretary of State program to ensure prisoners have access to state identification when they are released from incarceration.
The bills require the Secretary of State to issue an official state personal identification card to eligible prisoners and deliver it to the Michigan Department of Corrections if the prisoner has not yet been released or to the address listed on the identification card if the prisoner is already released.
Successful reentry into society reduces the taxpayer burden and supports the community. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, formerly incarcerated people are 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public. This increases the likelihood of criminal recidivism and costs the taxpayers $50,000 per recidivism incidence. State IDs are necessary to find housing and employment, open bank accounts, and access public benefits that are crucial for reintegrating parolees into society.
Successful reentry for returning citizens results in reduced child poverty rates, better cognitive outcomes for children, and better physical, behavioral and mental health. I am so excited to continue to advocate for this important legislation!
Budgets Move Out of Appropriations Committee
This week, we reported out the fiscal year 2023 budget bills out of the House Appropriations Committee. I voted yes on many of these budgets while recognizing there is still work to be done to get budgets to a more favorable place. I offered several amendments in an attempt to improve them:
Health and Human Services Budget
I was pleased to see the Health and Human Services budget make much-needed investments into mental health care. This includes support for our community mental health system, school-based care, crisis stabilization units and more.
I offered an amendment that would provide funding for a multi-tier proposal to rapidly increase production of masters of social work (MSW) professionals over the next three years. This proposal would include a behavioral health workforce student recruitment fund, sign-on bonuses and sustainable training programs.
I also offered an amendment to restore jail diversion funding. The Jail Diversion Fund would be used by localities to develop or expand programs that redirect individuals with serious mental illnesses out of the criminal justice system and connect them with community-based mental health and support services.
Unfortunately, none of these amendments were adopted. I ultimately voted in favor of this budget, but I will continue to negotiate with my colleagues for improvements.
Community College and Higher Education Budget
I was pleased to see the proposed budget for Higher Education and Community Colleges increase payments toward the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS) fund, increase operational funding for public colleges and invest in student support services.
I offered an amendment that would strike $500,000 for pregnancy assistance tied up with anti-abortion counseling. While I support offering assistance and flexibility to pregnant students and parents, the funds would be tied to an existing law that limits the care, advice and recommendations the office could provide. If we are going to spend taxpayer dollars to support these students, we should empower the offices to offer a full range of support, and not tie the hands of office staff.
I also offered an amendment that would strike language preventing research grants from going to public research universities that conduct research on aborted fetal tissue. Many biomedical researchers depend on fetal tissue research to save human lives, with many of our most effective drugs, such as Tylenol, Benadryl and aspirin, coming from this research. I worry about the precedent such language would set.
I was pleased to see investment into the development and implementation of a statewide judicial case management system, which could help reduce local court costs, improve data management and increase efficiency.
There was also funding for the Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC), which helps investigate complaints. This funding will allow JTC to hire additional staff to help ease the backlog they are experiencing. I offered an amendment to provide funding for human trafficking specialty courts and a bullying prevention program. Unfortunately, neither amendment was adopted.
Expungement Fair at WCC
If you have a conviction in Washtenaw County, you’re invited to attend this FREE event to learn how your record can be expunged (made non-public). U-M attorneys, law students and staff will be on-site to assist with checking eligibility for expungement, completing applications for expungement and registering for fingerprinting. Washtenaw Community College staff will also be on-site to help with applying to WCC and connecting attendees to resources.
Attendees should arrive and check in at the event between noon and 2 p.m. to ensure service. Refreshments will be provided, and masks must be worn indoors at all times, except when eating or drinking.
If you have any questions, please contact Caroline Laman, pro bono administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Frances Walters, director of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office’ Conviction Integrity & Expungement Unit, at CIEU@washtenaw.org.
Road to Restoration Clinic in Ypsilanti
As of Oct. 1, 2021, changes in state laws reclassify certain violations as civil infractions and restrict when some violations may suspend your driver’s license. These qualifying violations and any sanctions or suspensions connected to them will no longer be enforced and will be cleared from driving records providing drivers with an opportunity to have their driving privileges reinstated.
The Department of State, along with the Department of Attorney General, DTE Energy and other partners, is holding free clinics to assist individuals who are eligible to have their licenses restored.
Clinic Date: May 10
Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Brown Chapel Church, 1043 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
Registration Closes: April 29
For more information, click here
Medication Take-Back Event Is Planned for Washtenaw County on Saturday
On Saturday, community members can drop off old, expired or unused medications at five drive-thru “Take Back” sites across Washtenaw County.
The event, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is intended to help reduce accidental poisoning from excess medications.
Different types of medications, such as pain medications, sedatives, antidepressants, ADHD medications, muscle relaxants and veterinary medicines in pill, capsule, or patch form will be accepted. Needles, syringes, liquids and lancets will not.
Click here for more info on locations.