In this E-Newsletter:
- Upcoming IN-PERSON Coffee Hour — May 20
- Resolution Recognizing Bike Month Passes House for the Second Year in a Row
- Budget Bills Being Reported from House
- Bill Introduced to Address Forgiveness Days for Schools and Staffing Shortages Caused by COVID-19
- Fighting for Reproductive Rights
Upcoming IN-PERSON Coffee Hour – May 20
My coffee hour for the month of May will be on Friday, May 20, from 1-2 p.m. This will be an IN-PERSON coffee hour at the Westwood Fire Station, 1310 Nichols Road in Kalamazoo.
I will be providing a legislative update and offering an opportunity for residents of the 60th House District to share their thoughts and perspectives. While advanced registration is not required, individuals who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by sending an email to JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
We will be following all CDC guidelines related to COVID-19. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that you please stay at home.
Resolution Recognizing Bike Month Passes House for the Second Year in a Row
On May 10, my resolution to declare May 2022 as Bike Month in the state of Michigan, House Resolution 294, was adopted with bipartisan support for the second year in a row by the Michigan House of Representatives.
As a former county commissioner, I worked on a resolution in Kalamazoo County regarding complete streets to try to make it safer for multimodal transportation and cyclists. Riding a bicycle is an excellent form of exercise that improves mental and physical health and is part of a healthy lifestyle for many individuals.
Events like Bike Month and Bike Week are crucial in helping teach bicyclists and motorists how to safely co-exist on the road. As we approach the sixth anniversary of the “chain gang” tragedy in Kalamazoo, I am continuing to advocate for legislation that will strengthen penalties for those who injure vulnerable roadway users, including bicyclists. My heart goes out to the families whose loved ones never came home that day.
Cycling provides an economic benefit to Michigan’s economy, including employment, retail revenue, tourism expenditure, and increased health and productivity. As a physical therapist, I encourage everyone to make movement a priority during the month of May and enjoy a bicycle ride with friends or family.
My floor speech can be viewed here.
Budget Bills Reported from House
Earlier this month, the Michigan House of Representatives reported 16 budgets for various state departments. Unfortunately, many of the budgets fell far short of the governor’s executive budget recommendation, which led me to offer several amendments during the committee process.
As a health care provider, I am always looking at my work in Lansing through a health care lens, and this has been true in the state budget process as well. For the Department of Health and Human Services budget, I offered an amendment during committee to restore $52.2 million for behavioral health inpatient capacity and $1.1 million for administrative support for state psychiatric hospitals and centers.
Quite simply, there are not enough beds or staff to meet the needs in our long-term psychiatric hospitals. This is impacting individuals who need intensive support, case management and medical teams. This funding sought to keep the flow of patients moving and get them to the appropriate setting best serving their needs.
I also introduced an amendment during committee to appropriate $200 million to create a fund for auto accident survivors who have been negatively impacted by these changes. The Michigan Public Health Institute reported that more than 1,500 people have lost the care they were promised when they paid their insurance bills, more than 3,000 care workers have been laid off, and nearly 100 businesses that once provided care for auto crash survivors have had to close or stop serving those clients.
Not only have people lost their health care — some have even died. According to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, at least seven people have died as a direct result of the crisis in care, brought about by these changes.
It was also disappointing to see that the Republican leadership removed the governor’s recommendation to include funding for a study on the auto no-fault insurance market to enforce compliance with consumer protection provisions in the auto no-fault reform. The growing care crisis proves that this study is needed and long overdue.
I also offered an amendment to provide resources for the identification, prioritization, remediation and redevelopment of contaminated properties across the state. Michigan is home to more than 24,000 contaminated sites, and any sites that represent an urgent or growing threat to humans and our water resources need to be prioritized. This amendment would also require the state to identify the cumulative public health and safety risks presented by clusters of contaminated sites and then coordinate with local health departments and local community groups on mitigation strategies. It is very important for the state and local health departments to work together on public health issues.
An additional amendment that I offered during committee would have provided $10 million to the Department of Civil Rights to establish a legal aid fund for anyone that may be prosecuted for performing or receiving an abortion in a case of rape or incest.
The leaked Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade is devastating, as it will likely take away the right to abortion care. If this occurs, abortion will be illegal in Michigan, even in cases of rape and incest. In the event that some county prosecutors pursue prosecution of abortion providers or even people who have had abortions, we need to ensure that legal resources are available.
Finally, I was extremely disappointed in the discriminatory language that was included in the K-12 budget. Michigan students have been through enough throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than marginalizing and ostracizing LGBTQ+ students, we should be ensuring that our schools have the resources they need to support our students.
Thankfully, there are several more steps that need to be taken before the budget is finalized, and I will continue to advocate for the priorities that matter most to Michiganders.
Bill Introduced to Address Forgiveness Days for Schools and Staffing Shortages Caused by COVID-19
As the sister of an educator, I know just how challenging the COVID-19 pandemic has been on our teachers, students, administrators and schools. To say this situation has been disruptive is an understatement. This is why I introduced House Bill 6100 to provide our schools with some grace for the days that they had to close, due to COVID-19 staffing issues. This is one way we can help our education system navigate these unprecedented circumstances.
Specifically, the bill would forgive 5-9 days that were impacted due to staffing shortages related to COVID-19.
The bill defines “staffing shortage caused by COVID-19” as a shortage in staffing that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, as determined by the district.
Similar legislation was signed into law in 2019 to forgive four additional snow days that occurred while the state was under a state of emergency due to extreme cold temperatures during the 2018-2019 school year.
Fighting for Reproductive Rights
Like so many of you, I was devastated when I learned of the leaked opinion overturning Roe V. Wade earlier this month. The landmark decision on Roe v. Wade that was issued in 1973 was the culmination of the work of generations of individuals from all walks of life, fighting for bodily autonomy. Yet, here we are, almost 50 years later, fighting to protect the fundamental American value that the government should not interfere in decisions best made between individuals, their families and their health care providers. No two pregnancies are the same and no one needs or wants politicians making medical decisions for them.
Michigan still has an oppressive law on the books from 1931 that criminalizes abortion WITHOUT exceptions for rape or incest. While this may seem like a dystopian reality, unfortunately, it is a very real possibility that we must be prepared for. This is why I am fighting along with you in the state legislature.
In November 2021, I proudly joined the Michigan Progressive Women’s Caucus to introduce the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), a comprehensive bill (House Bill 5542) that would put the right to abortion and other reproductive health care into state law. This would guarantee individuals’ freedom to make decisions about their own reproductive health, including to have an abortion. The RHA was introduced with six companion bills (House Bills 5543–5548) that would further update sections of state law to comply with changes the RHA would require once enacted. The state Senate has also introduced the RHA package to mirror what was introduced in the House.
I am also proud that we have such a strong champion in Gov. Whitmer. In April, Gov. Whitmer filed a lawsuit and used her executive authority to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s Constitution protects the right to abortion.
For Michiganders, this issue is beyond settled. According to a poll from January 2022:
- 67.3% of Michiganders support Roe and 65.7% support repealing Michigan’s 1931 trigger ban on abortion.
- Over 77% believe abortion should be a woman’s decision. A sizeable majority of Michiganders agree that abortion is a decision for a woman to make in consultation with a medical professional she trusts.
A woman’s health, not politics, should drive important medical decisions. Women must be able to make their own medical decisions with the advice of a health care professional they trust.
We know that outlawing abortion does not prevent abortion — it merely puts people in danger of unsafe medical procedures, increasing their risk of injury and even death.