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 — and with such a busy couple of weeks in Lansing, there’s a lot to share, so let’s get to it! In this issue, you will find information on my upcoming events, 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!
December meeting information:
When: Monday, Dec. 11, from 9:05-10 a.m.
Where: Traverse Area District Library – McGuire Room
(610 Woodmere Ave., Traverse City, MI 49686)
When: Monday, Dec. 11, from 1-2 p.m.
Where: Red Door Coffee House
(19631 Maple St., Lake Ann, MI 49650)
When: Monday, Dec. 11, from 3-4 p.m.
Where: Leelanau County Government Center – Room CMR
(8527 E. Government Center Drive, Suttons Bay, MI 49682)
The Michigan Legislature will be on an in-district work period as of Nov. 14 until we reconvene session in the new year. So far, this has been the most productive legislative term in years, if not in decades. The Legislature passed over 198 bills so far, the vast majority with bipartisan support, and this year, the House voted more days than previous legislatures over the last 20 years. The work does not stop here. It is my great honor to put the people of Michigan first by delivering on our promises, and I am ready to keep the momentum moving forward.
More time in the 103rd offers more opportunities to connect directly with constituents — for example, this week, I had the chance to meet after business hours with eight home-based child care providers to hear directly from them about challenges they face and ways the Legislature can support and foster the success of these critical providers. This is a top issue not only for families and children in our region, but also for our businesses, many of which have reported that access to child care is a major hurdle their employees face and a barrier to attracting and retaining talent. If you would like to schedule a call or meeting with me or my team on an issue, please reach out to BetsyCoffia@house.mi.gov.
As always, 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, but to which I have added my name in support — can be found here. Real-time updates on my legislative work can also be found here.
Advocating for Seniors and Vulnerable Adults
I am proud to report that a bipartisan package of bills I’m part of just passed the full House of Representatives! This guardianship package sets out to reform processes for guardianships and conservatorships in Michigan based on recommendations from the state’s Elder Abuse Task Force. This is a very exciting and frankly long overdue development, as the changes our bill package proposes were recommended in 1998 by a Michigan Supreme Court task force, but most were not enacted — meanwhile, the problems protecting seniors and other vulnerable adults have persisted.
The stark truth is that more than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of financial or other forms of abuse and neglect under our current patchwork guardian/conservator system. 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 support guardians and conservators, protect wards/ and oversee these efforts including investigating allegations of abuse when necessary.
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. I am hopeful the Senate will soon take this package up for passage and send it to the governor’s desk so we can enact the long overdue protections our seniors and vulnerable adult Michiganders need and deserve.
Expanding Domestic Violence Resources
Recently, my bill, HB 4516, was unanimously passed by the Senate, and I am honored to report it has been signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer! Michigan law previously omitted sovereign tribal nations as recipients of state domestic and sexual violence treatment and shelter funding. This was despite the fact that in especially more rural areas of Michigan, tribal services may be the only sexual and domestic violence services available, and the tribes serve both Native survivors and non-Native survivors alike. My bill rectifies this and was drafted in partnership with survivors and tribal 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. Read more about HB 4516 here. My speech on the House floor can also be viewed here.
Promoting Affordable Housing
The House Economic Development and Small Business Subcommittee on Housing recently passed a package of bills I’m part of to shore up affordable housing resources for our state. My bill in the package, HB 5030, would allow the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to hold its debt until market conditions are more favorable for cancellation. Currently, MSHDA is required to immediately cancel the debt regardless of market conditions. This simple change will save the authority millions of dollars, which can then be redirected toward its affordable housing goals. More information on this bill and the others in the package can be found here. The bills will now be considered by the full Economic Development and Small Business Committee.
Supporting Youth Voter Turnout
My bill, HB 4569, is heading to Gov. Whitmer’s desk! As young people have the lowest voter turnout among all age groups, my bill would make strides toward closing that gap by allowing for voter pre-registration for those that are at least 16 years old. Note that this bill, which has had bipartisan sponsorship over the years, does not decrease the voting age, which constitutionally remains at 18. At age 16, many young people are learning about governance and are starting to be held accountable to our laws in significant ways when they get their drivers’ licenses. Research shows that, by enabling early participation in the democratic process through pre-registration, young people will be better prepared to be lifelong voters once they turn 18, as they will already be registered to vote. Especially at a time when young people are beginning college, trade school, work, military service, etc., ensuring that these new eligible voters will already be prepared to cast their ballots will be key to improving voter turnout in Michigan. The bill is part of a larger package to lift barriers that prevent individuals from exercising their right to vote and encourage voter registration. You can watch my testimony here and read more about HB 4569 and the other bills in this package here.
Ending Drug Manufacturer Immunity
I want to give a special shout out to this bill championed by state Sen. Jeff Irwin. For decades, Democrats have been calling for a repeal of a 1995 state law, considered the toughest corporate liability shield in the nation — the law prevented Michiganders and local and state jurisdictions from filing lawsuits against drug manufacturers over medications that cause injuries or death. This piece in Bridge Magazine gives a good overview and a sense of the settlements Michiganders have missed out on in the last 30 years while most other states have allowed such accountability and lawsuits for pharmaceutical companies. I’m glad to report to you that Sen. Irwin’s bill, Senate Bill 410, recently passed the Michigan Legislature with strong bipartisan support; in the House, for example, it received a final vote of 79-30 in a body of 110 members. Once Gov. Whitmer signs the legislation, residents and state and local governments will be able to bring claims against pharmaceutical companies and distributors for injuries caused by their products, for the first time since the year I graduated high school. This is a big deal, as the legislation will restore accountability to drug manufacturers and vital access to justice for our state and its people — and I was proud to vote for its passage.
- Rep. Coffia Calls on Congress to Restore Child Care Funding
- Gov. Whitmer Announces Over 70,000 Unserved Michigan Homes, Businesses to Connect to High-Speed Internet Through $203M in First Round of Grant Awards
- Coffia Secures Nessel Opinion Clearing Way for Federal Funding for Affordable Housing
- Northern Michigan representative addresses colleagues’ concerns over clean energy bills | WPBN (upnorthlive.com)
- Legislators Pass Bills to Enhance Michiganders’ Safety
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:
- Broadband Grants: Over $9.1 million has been awarded to our communities through the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program to connect underserved Michigan homes and businesses to high-speed internet. Cherry Capital Connection was awarded funding to provide services in Benzie County; Point Broadband Fiber Holding was awarded funding to bring services to Benzie, Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties; and Spectrum was awarded funding for service in Leelanau County. My office was pleased to write letters of support to help secure funding for the latter two projects!
- MI Nonprofit Relief Grants: The Michigan Nonprofit Association has announced the nonprofit award winners of the MI Nonprofit Relief Fund, a vital lifeline for Michigan’s charitable organizations grappling with the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local nonprofit awardees include the Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra, Friends of Traverse Area District Library (TADL), Glen Arbor Arts Center, Grow Benzie Inc., Leelanau Children’s Center, Leelanau Historical Society, Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, Traverse City Center of Entrepreneurship and United Way of Northwest Michigan.
- Michigan Arts & Culture Council Grants: The Michigan Arts & Culture Council (MACC) has awarded numerous grants to 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 the 103rd District include:
- Leelanau Historical Society: $2,500 The Leelanau Historical Society in Leland has been awarded a MACC grant to create additional employment and conduct research for an upcoming exhibit to attract new visitors and further preserve and highlight our region’s history.
- Northwest Michigan Arts and Culture Network: $3,600 The Northwest Michigan Arts and Culture Network has been awarded this MACC grant to pay local artists, designers and technicians a stipend for their work in supporting the arts in our communities.
- National Writers Series: $8,750 The National Writers Series engages world-renowned authors in the historic Traverse City Opera House, and this MACC grant will help facilitate those conversations, attract attendees and support student writers. My statement on this funding can be found here.
- Northwest Michigan Ballet Theatre: $11,250 The Northwest Michigan Ballet Theatre, a youth ballet company in Traverse City, will use this MACC grant to support their young performers and their upcoming performances.
- City Opera House: $13,500 The City Opera House in Traverse City has been awarded a MACC grant to promote and nurture the historic opera house as a regional hub for community connection through the arts, in addition to expanding their educational programs.
- Old Town Playhouse: $16,500 Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City will use this MACC grant to continue their community-building programs and support the regional jobs that they provide.
- 20Fathoms: Small Business Support Hubs Grant: $3,300,000 The Traverse City Center for Entrepreneurship AKA 20Fathoms has been selected by Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) for this grant as one of 27 organizations that will serve as entrepreneurial hubs across the state of Michigan, providing comprehensive resources and support to the state’s small businesses. Resources available from the hubs will include one-on-one coaching, cohort-based learning and accelerators, mentor matchmaking, pitch competitions, networking events, access to capital, partner referrals, and statewide resource navigation.
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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline Approaching to Get Health Insurance During Open Enrollment Period
Time is running out to enroll in a health plan during the Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period, which ends on Jan. 15.
High-quality health insurance leads to a healthier Michigan, and all Michiganders can evaluate their options at HealthCare.gov before the Jan. 15 enrollment deadline. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to afford the health insurance you need or that it’s too difficult to enroll, help is available! Newly extended subsidies can help Michiganders find a health plan for less than $10 a month, and there is more free, local enrollment help available. Find out more at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
If you need health coverage in 2024, act now! You must enroll by Dec. 15 to have coverage beginning Jan. 1. If you sign up between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15, your coverage will begin on Feb. 1. Resources are available at Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or by calling the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services’ call center at (877) 999-6442 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Public Input Opportunity
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced a public input opportunity for Michigan’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. This program awards funds to projects to enhance the state’s specialty crops’ competitiveness.
To ensure practical program priorities, MDARD asks the public to share input by emailing their comments to email@example.com by 5 p.m. EST on Nov. 27. The input received will be considered when developing final program priorities for 2024. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mdardgrants.
Grant Funding Opportunities
Additional federal and state grant opportunities include:
- Farm Innovation Grant: The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) is now accepting applications for a one-time farm innovation grant program. The program is designed to help develop and support innovative solutions to real, immediate and future problems facing Michigan’s food and agriculture industry. Proposals must be received no later than 3 p.m. on Nov. 20.
- Horticulture Fund Grant: The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is accepting grant proposals for the 2024 Horticulture Fund designed to support Michigan’s nursery and ornamental horticulture businesses. Proposals must be received no later than Nov. 22.
- Dam Risk Reduction Grant: The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has announced its Dam Risk Reduction Grant program request for pre-proposals. The grant program will provide funds to dam owners for repair, alteration or removal activities necessary to address risk associated with publicly or privately owned dams. Pre-proposals must be received no later than Dec. 4.
- Financially Distressed Municipalities Grant: Cities, villages and townships experiencing financial struggles can now apply for a grant to help fund special projects and free up tax dollars for important services. Applications are now being accepted for the grant program. Municipalities interested in applying for an award must submit applications to the Michigan Department of Treasury by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 8, 2023.
- Apprenticeship Grant: The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) is encouraging organizations who can help provide underrepresented individuals with access to life-changing career pathways through registered apprenticeship to apply for funding from the Michigan Statewide Targeted Apprenticeship Inclusion and Readiness System (MiSTAIRS). The application deadline is Dec. 18 at 5 p.m.
- Health and Wellness Enhancement Grant: The Michigan Fitness Association (MFA) Health and Wellness Enhancement Grant is from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) to assist Michigan-based fitness businesses in promoting health and wellness in their communities. Grant applicants must meet the qualifications for membership with the MFA, but do not currently have to be a member. All grant applications must be completed by midnight on Dec. 31.
- Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Grant: This federal pilot program has made $65 million available to help agricultural employers with financial challenges in hiring agricultural workers. Grant applications will be accepted through Jan. 3.
- Rural Development Fund Grant: The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is offering a competitive grant program to promote the sustainability of land-based industries and support improving infrastructure in rural communities. Proposals must be received by 3 p.m. on Jan. 9.
- Lead Line Replacement Grant: All publicly owned community drinking water systems are eligible for this funding. There are no local match requirements. A webinar and Q&A will be held at 2 p.m. on Nov. 29/. Representatives of publicly owned Type I Community Water Supplies with known lead service lines and their consultants should plan to attend. Proposals will be accepted until Jan. 31.
- Small Business Worker Protections Grant: Michigan small businesses with 250 employees or less can apply for a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Workplace Improvement to Safety and Health (MIWISH) matching grant up to $5,000 to make improvements to their workplace health and safety. The grant period began Oct. 1 and will continue until grant funding is expended.
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 go to Michigan.gov/appointments.
E-News Archives, Publications and 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!