Welcome to my monthly e-newsletter! As your state representative in the 102nd Michigan Legislature, I am happy to provide these regular updates on my legislative work. In this issue, you will find a legislative update, information on recent state funding coming to our district, additional opportunities for local organizations and residents, and resources for how my office can assist you!
Neighbors and friends in House District 103 are encouraged to also sign up for these updates at my website, RepCoffia.com. You can reach my office by phone at (517) 373-3817 or by email at BetsyCoffia@house.mi.gov. Be sure to check out the latest on my social media platforms as well. As this legislative session continues, I welcome your continued feedback and encourage you to reach out if my team and I can ever be of assistance to you!
House District 103
Monthly Legislative Coffee Hours
Please join me for my in-person coffee hours where I give legislative updates and take your questions about the issues facing our state and our community! My legislative coffee hours occur in each of the three counties located fully or partially in the 103rd District — Grand Traverse, Benzie and Leelanau. These events are a great way to find out what policies I’m working on and to share your ideas and concerns with me!
November meeting information:
Grand Traverse County Coffee Hour
When: Monday, Nov. 13, from 9:05-10 a.m.
Where: Traverse Area District Library – McGuire Room
(610 Woodmere Ave. Traverse City, MI 49686)
Benzie County Coffee Hour
When: Monday, Nov. 13 from 1-2 p.m.
Where: Red Door Coffee House
(19631 Maple St., Lake Ann, MI 49650)
Leelanau County Coffee Hour
When: Monday, Nov. 13 from 3-4 p.m.
Where: Leelanau County Government Center – Room CMR
(8527 E. Government Center Drive, Suttons Bay, MI 49682)
MLCC Licensing Meeting
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) will be holding one of its regularly scheduled licensing meetings right here in the 103rd District. The meeting includes the administrative commissioners and MLCC staff, who periodically go on the road for these meetings to do more outreach with licensees. More information is available here.
When: Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 10 a.m.
Where: Chateau Chantal
(15900 Rue de Vin, Traverse City, MI 49686)
Legislation that I have sponsored can be found here or by going to legislature.mi.gov and clicking “Legislators” and then selecting “Sponsored Legislation” under my name. My co-sponsored legislation — which another legislator has sponsored and championed, but to which I have added my name in support — can be found here.
Advocating for Seniors
I recently joined a bipartisan coalition of legislators in re-introducing a package of bills reforming processes for guardianships and conservatorships in Michigan based on recommendations from the state’s Elder Abuse Task Force. Sadly, more than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse. While the vast majority of guardians and conservators genuinely act in the best interest of their wards, the current system allows for bad actors to abuse their power and cheat, neglect and steal from their vulnerable wards. My bill in the package, House Bill 5047, would create the Office of State Guardian to oversee these efforts, support guardians and conservators, and protect wards. I’m proud to join current House Judiciary Chair Kelly Breen (D-Novi), former House Judiciary Chair Graham Filler (R-DeWitt), and other legislators in sponsoring these bills. Stakeholders and members of the public have been sharing their input over several committee hearings already, and we are excited to apply valuable feedback to strengthen the legislation and bring all voices to the table as these bills continue through the legislative process. You can watch our committee testimony with Attorney General Dana Nessel here.
Leading on Clean Energy
Back in June, I joined a bicameral group of my legislative colleagues in introducing a package of bills to codify provisions in Gov. Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan and make Michigan a leader in the transition to reliable, affordable clean energy. Since then, we have had numerous conversations with all local and state stakeholders on how we can get this legislation to the finish line. My bill in this Clean Energy Future Plan is House Bill 4759, and a report from 5 Lakes Energy highlights the need to enact the package as quickly as possible, especially as a means of securing billions of dollars in additional federal investments in our state. Conversations on the bills are ongoing, and my fellow bill sponsors are committed to making sure Michigan is not only doing its part, but leading on efforts to protect our environment while holding utilities accountable for providing affordable and reliable clean energy to promote public health and wellbeing. The bills are currently being discussed by the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, where advocacy efforts should be directed to ensure the legislation is as strong on climate resilience as possible.
Expanding Domestic Violence Resources
Recently, my bill, HB 4516, was unanimously voted out of the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety Committee! It previously passed the House Criminal Justice Committee and was voted out of the Michigan House with huge bipartisan support — 103 YES votes! Current Michigan law excludes sovereign tribal nations as recipients of state domestic and sexual violence treatment and shelter funding. My bill rectifies this and was drafted in partnership with survivor advocates to solidify the provision of these services. I am honored that this legislation is also supported by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians — a sovereign nation whose seat of government is located within the borders of the 103rd District. You can watch my House testimony from the committee hearing here, my Senate testimony here, and you can read more about HB 4516 here. My speech on the House floor can also be viewed here. The next step for this bill will be passage in the full Senate, where I am hopeful it will pass with additional bipartisan support!
State Funding for the 103rd District
I am thrilled to share that our communities in Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau counties in the 103rd House District have recently been awarded the following grant funding from the State of Michigan:
- Leelanau County Land Bank Authority: Blight Elimination Grant – $751,610The Michigan State Land Bank Authority (SLBA) has awarded a Round 2 Blight Elimination Program Grant to the Leelanau County Land Bank Authority to revitalize and return properties to a productive state and enhance local communities. During Round 1, Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau received $120,738, $200,000, and $57,000 in grant funding, respectively. More information is available here and my statement can be found here.
- Benzie County Road Commission: Protecting MI Pension Grant – $495,705The Michigan Department of Treasury has awarded a Protecting MI Pension Grant to the Benzie County Road Commission so it can put money back into the pockets of retirees and offset costs for local communities, keeping them from having to divert funds from critical public services or leave seniors in financial hardship. More information is available here, and my statement can be found here.
- Northwestern Michigan College: Student Success Grant – $193,600The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s (LEO) Office of Sixty by 30, Global Detroit and Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) have awarded Northwestern Michigan College a Student Success Grant to respond to student experience data through implementation of a multifaceted, evidence-based approach focused on student onboarding aimed at supporting adult students’ sense of purpose and efficacy. More information is available here.
- Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association: Specialty Crop Block Grant – $125,000The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has awarded the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Program Grant to expand Michigan wine demand across the U.S. utilizing consumer and industry wine education. More information is available here.
- Peninsula Housing: Rural Readiness Grant – $50,000MDARD’s Office of Rural Development (ORD) has awarded Peninsula Housing in Leelanau County a Rural Readiness Program Grant to support pre-development activities to expedite housing production, infrastructure improvements, and bolster rural economies to create a community-supported development plan for affordable housing solutions. More information is available here.
- Revitalization and Placemaking Program (RAP 2.0) GrantsThe Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) has awarded Revitalization and Placemaking Program (RAP 2.0) Grants to TART Trails and Discovery Center Great Lakes, both in Traverse City. The MEDC will partner with these grantees to proactively address community revitalization needs by investing in projects that promote population and tax revenue growth. More information on these grants can be found here.
- TART Trails, $500,000: Funding will be used for extension of the TART Bayfront Trail east from the Murchie Bridge through the Senior Center.
- Discovery Center Great Lakes, $691,683: Funding will be used to develop a real estate project.
- Michigan Arts & Culture Council GrantsThe Michigan Arts & Culture Council (MACC) has awarded 46 grants totaling $694,219 to 36 organizations located in Northwest Michigan for operational support, project support, capital improvements, arts in education and more. More information is available here. The grantees in our three counties are:
- Benzie, $77,073: Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra, Benzie Area Historical Society, Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts, Friends of the Garden Theater, Michigan Legacy Art Park.
- Grand Traverse, $240,500: Arts for All of Northern Michigan, City Opera House Heritage Association, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Music House Museum, Northwest Michigan Arts & Culture Network, Northwestern Michigan College/Dennos Museum Center, Old Town Playhouse, Traverse City Dance Project, National Writers Series of Traverse City, Archipelago for its Summer Musical Innovation & Leadership Academy (mini-grant), Forest Area Public Schools for summer band camp (mini-grant), Grand Traverse Pavilions for its 2024 summer Concerts on the Lawn series (mini-grant), Mashup Rock & Roll Musical for its production of Look Who’s Talking Heads (mini-grant), Traverse Symphony Orchestra for its Encore Winds Ensemble youth programs (mini-grant).
- Leelanau, $24,000: Glen Arbor Arts Association, Great Lakes Children’s Museum, Leelanau Historical Society for an archival inventory, online mapping & an exhibit on Sugarloaf Resort (mini-grant).
Dairy Business Builder Grant Now Accepting Applications Until Oct. 18
Michigan dairy farms and processors are encouraged to apply for the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) Dairy Business Builder Grant. This grant aims to encourage small- to medium-sized dairy farmers, entrepreneurs and processors in the Midwest to pursue projects such as dairy farm diversification, on-farm processing, value-added product creation and efforts to market dairy products for export.
Reimbursement grants of up to $100,000 each will be awarded to different dairy businesses after a competitive review process. During previous rounds of funding, grantees included Saltless Sea Creamery in Traverse City. Previous award recipients can be found here.
A “Helpful Hints” webinar for the Dairy Business Builder Grant was recorded on Aug. 22, 2023 and is available on their website. Applications for the grant will be accepted until Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. EDT. Applications will then be reviewed, and award announcements will be made in December.
What You Need to Know About Student Loan Payments
Federal student loan payments will be due starting in October, as the pause on federal student loan payments is ending.
You should know that at least 21 days before your first payment will be due, your loan servicer(s) will send you a billing statement or other notice that will include your payment due date, upcoming interest, and payment amount. That information should also be available on your loan servicer’s website.
To make sure you receive your notice before your payments resume, update your contact information in your profile on your loan servicer’s website and in your StudentAid.gov profile. If you don’t know who your servicer is, visit your StudentAid.gov account dashboard and scroll down to the “My Loan Servicers” section or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at (800) 433-3243.
If you are concerned you won’t be able to make your payments, you may apply for an income-driven repayment plan, which can lower your payments, depending on your income and family size.
The State of Michigan is here to help you as student loan payments resume. If you have questions or need assistance navigating the process, visit Michigan.gov/StudentLoanRestart.
For information or assistance from the federal government, visit StudentAid.gov or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243.
Double Up Food Bucks
Buying food is expensive right now, especially for our neighbors struggling to put food on the table. Double Up Food Bucks is here to help. For those who shop for groceries with a SNAP/Michigan Bridge Card, they can double their benefits to purchase fresh, Michigan-grown fruits and veggies using Double Up Food Bucks for up to $10 per day. The program is available at 240+ participating farmers markets and grocery stores across Michigan. With farmers market season around the corner, it’s a great time to use the program! Learn how it works and find a participating location near you at DoubleUpFoodBucks.org.
Free School Breakfast & Lunch Program
We know kids can’t learn when they’re hungry. That’s why I’m so thrilled K-12 students in Michigan’s public schools now receive nutritious school breakfast and lunch at no charge under the Michigan School Meals program. This will save families approximately $850 per child annually and save busy parents hours of meal prep each week.
As a former TCAPS classroom employee and volunteer who spent many years working with our elementary-aged children, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of hunger on both learning and behavior in school. I was proud to vote for this year’s state School Aid budget to include this breakfast and lunch provision, which will invest in our students by allowing them to stay focused on learning — not a rumbling stomach. Next, we will work to ensure that the program’s success extends beyond this school year so that we can continue supporting students’ basic needs and their overall success for years to come.
More information can be found at the Michigan School Meals website, and questions regarding the program may be directed to email@example.com.
Apply for State Boards and Commissions
As you may know, Gov. Whitmer makes appointments to nearly 250 statewide boards and commissions. These appointments are opportunities for Michiganders to engage with their state government on the issues they care about and represent their expertise and communities at the state level.
Vacancies can be viewed online. Each board listed includes the number of total members, number of vacant seats and specifications for each vacancy. If you match the descriptions and are interested in applying, please visit Michigan.gov/appointments.
E-News Archives, Publications & Recognitions
My e-news archive is available on my website here.
State publications on various topics are also available here. Physical copies of any of these publications can also be mailed to you by emailing my office with your request!
Do you know someone in the district who is retiring and would like a legislative tribute to celebrate their years of service? Has a local team or group reached a milestone that they would like to be acknowledged with an official certificate for each member? Our office can provide legislative tributes, letters and certificates on a wide range of recognitions for constituents and local small businesses. If you would like to request any of these materials for yourself or others, please fill out this form or email my office at BetsyCoffia@house.mi.gov. Please provide as much information as possible on the requested recognition, and we will work with you to arrange delivery or presentation of the recognition!