In this e-newsletter:
- Coffee Hour with Rep. Rogers — Dec. 16
- Legislative Update — Lame Duck
- Youth Art
- Free Rapid COVID-19 Tests
- District Number Change and New Contact Info
December Coffee Hour Discussion
Please join me for an informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues at my next coffee hour:
Friday, Dec. 16
Factory Coffee, 205 W. Lovell St. in Kalamazoo
While advance registration is not required, anyone who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by emailing 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 home.
Legislative Update — Lame Duck
The post-election “Lame Duck” end of the 2021-22 legislative session was relatively uneventful. We did not pass a major supplemental appropriation, and we sent just 55 bills to the governor to sign or veto. Bills that did not pass this session will expire. However, they can be re-introduced next session and start over in the process.
We did pass one of my priorities as Kalamazoo’s representative, Sen. Sean McCann’s Senate Bill 1047 to add a much-needed judge position to Kalamazoo’s circuit court. This will help ensure prompt access to justice for people in our area. Unfortunately, we failed to pass Senate Bill 1207, which would have moved Michigan’s presidential primary to be the first in the Midwest. Having an early primary would give Michiganders a much bigger role in deciding who the nominees will be. It’s not clear, though, whether we have time to try again to get this enacted in the new legislative term, because we would need a supermajority to make the change go into effect before the next presidential primary.
I was glad that a major attempt to privatize our community mental health system failed, due to opposition from mental health care advocates, providers and patients. However, I was deeply disappointed not to be able to pass bills to address sexual assault and provide accountability for institutions that fail in their duty to protect. Year after year, the Michigan Legislature has let down the brave survivors who came forward in the hopes that telling their stories would result in real changes to protect others.
I introduced a few bills in November and December:
- House Bill 6509 would implement a recommendation of the School Safety Task Force to install highly visible markers on the outside of school buildings to identify doors and interior rooms for first responders.
- House Bill 6511 would require dry cleaners to phase out the use of toxic perchloroethylene (PERC) solvents in favor of safer alternatives. When I served on the Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority board, I was shocked by the number of PERC-contaminated dry cleaning sites that had been left for taxpayers to clean up. Now, as a state legislator, I have introduced this bill to address the problem at its source and prevent further pollution of Michigan’s land, air and water.
- House Bill 6566 would prohibit raffles held at schools from awarding firearms as prizes. It is not appropriate to have guns in schools as students and staff are facing increasing threats of school shootings.
- House Bill 6567, together with Rep. O’Neal’s House Bill 6568, would reinstate the Good Time system in Michigan prisons. Michigan is one of only six states without a good conduct system to help inmates earn shorter sentences. Restoring Good Time would help reduce the unnecessarily long sentences in Michigan’s prisons and promote a safer environment for staff and incarcerated people.
I am looking forward to working on important issues with a new Democratic majority next year in the 102nd Legislature. My particular priorities include restoring personal injury protection benefits for survivors of vehicle crashes, preventing lead poisoning and holding polluters accountable for cleaning up messes like the Morrow Dam sediment release.
Focus on Youth Art
As a co-chair of the Legislative Art and Culture Caucus, I enjoy supporting and uplifting the arts whenever possible. In the 2021-22 legislative term, we have hosted over two dozen pieces of art created by Kalamazoo youth. We usually showcase them in my office for three months and then present the youth with a commemorative plaque indicating their artwork was displayed in our state’s Capitol. One of the young artists, Alivia Boyd, came with her family in November to view her artwork on display and tour the Capitol.
Free Rapid Tests for COVID-19
Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Michigan. You can access early treatment and protect others by getting tested if you suspect you have COVID-19. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with Project Act to make it easy to get free rapid tests delivered to your door. It’s as simple as entering your name and address on their website. You can order one box containing five tests for each address every calendar month.
District Number Change
It has been an honor to serve you this term. As always, if you have ideas, questions or concerns, please reach out to my office at JulieRogers@house.mi.gov. Our phone number is currently (517) 373-1785. In the new year, due to new district boundaries, our district number will be District 41, and the new office phone number will be (517) 373-1783.