Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to my year in review e-newsletter! It continues to be a privilege to represent Northville, Plymouth and eastern Canton, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in Lansing.
I will continue to fight to ensure that every Michigander has access to the tools, resources and opportunities they need to succeed. I encourage you to stay up to date on what’s going on in Lansing and to let me know about the issues that matter to you so I can continue to best represent the interests of our community.
If there is anything I can do to help you and your family, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (517) 373-3816, MattKoleszar@house.mi.gov or by stopping by my office in Lansing. You can also catch me on Facebook and Twitter.
State Representative, 20th House District
In this Edition:
- Guaranteeing College Tuition for the Children of Fallen Police Officers and Firefighters
- Cleaning Up the Arbor Hills Landfill
- Budget Wins in Plymouth
- Ensuring Faster Election Results
- Protecting Our Students’ Mental Health
- UIA Resources
Year in Review
Guaranteeing College Tuition for the Children of Fallen Police Officers and Firefighters
Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed my Police Officer’s and Fire Fighter’s Survivor Tuition Grant into law. This bill guarantees free in-state college tuition to all surviving school-age children of police officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. Prior to this bill, only those who met certain income criteria would be eligible for the grant, depriving children who lost one of their parents access to this vital lifeline.
I’m incredibly proud of the work we were able to do here, and I’ll continue to advocate for legislation that supports all the remarkable work the first responders of our state do. Giving first responders the peace of mind that their children will be taken care of in the event of a tragedy is the least we can do.
Cleaning Up the Arbor Hills Landfill
Earlier this year, through years of community advocacy, grassroots organization and efforts by state Sen. Dayna Polehanki and myself, the state of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with Arbor Hills Energy, the owner of the facility next to the Arbor Hills landfill, to reduce its emissions of harmful and foul-smelling gasses. Arbor Hills Energy has two options:
- Build and operate a natural gas facility that converts landfill gas into pipeline-quality natural gas. This option would virtually eliminate all sulfur dioxide emissions.
- Install a sulfur treatment system that achieves at least a 64% reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions.
As a result of the settlement, Arbor Hills Energy will also have to pay $750,000 split between the federal and state governments. They also agreed to monitor hydrogen sulfide levels near Ridge Wood Elementary by installing a device that is owned and operated by an independent party. To track the levels, you can click here.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done here to make the lives of those living near the landfill better, and rest assured, I’ll continue to work to hold corporate polluters accountable for the damage they cause.
Budget Wins in Plymouth
Thanks to the historic budget passed this year, we secured a number of important investments locally in Plymouth. With $250,000 allocated to bring the Plymouth Cultural Center into ADA compliance and $1 million for the Michigan International Technical Center (MITC), we’re ensuring that our district gets the funding it needs to emerge stronger than ever from the pandemic. The MITC provides space for some of the most innovative automotive and mobility companies in Michigan to come together and work in close proximity just south of the Coldwater Springs Nature Area.
Ensuring Faster Election Results
Currently, absent voter ballots in Michigan can be processed legally only starting on Election Day. This leads to delayed election results and subsequent confusion. Years of underfunding and the pandemic have left our volunteer-based election system unable to quickly process the drastic increase in absentee ballots. If these delays continue, Republicans will continue to use them as false proof that our election system isn’t working, even though we have the most secure and reliable elections in the entire world.
That’s why I, along with state Rep. Kara Hope, introduced legislation to bring much-needed change to our election system without putting up unnecessary barriers to vote. This package of bills contains legislation that would allow election workers to preprocess ballots before Election Day so we get the results on Election Day. Restoring faith in our election system starts with these common-sense measures, not putting up barriers between you and your right to vote.
Protecting Our Students’ Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on our students, especially on their mental health. Study after study has shown that pediatric mental health emergency visits are on the rise. Our students need our help.
From increasing funding for public mental health services to providing mental health days for students, our caucus is doing everything we can to protect and ensure our students’ mental health. I’m currently working on legislation that will provide schools the resources to promote OK2SAY, Michigan’s student safety program promoting anonymous tips on potential threats.
My heart also goes out to those affected by the recent tragedy in Oxford. As a former educator myself, I understand the pain, trauma and anguish caused by this epidemic of school violence. While we’re certainly facing a mental health crisis, haphazard and irresponsible gun laws were ultimately what allowed this tragedy to occur. Addressing one issue means nothing if we don’t address the other. As your legislator, I will do everything in my power to reach across the aisle and craft legislation to prevent these needless and heartbreaking losses from ever happening again.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has added a virtual appointment option for customers needing assistance with their claims, including a dedicated link for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing utilizing voice-to-text closed captioning. Those customers can also watch this video to learn how to set up an appointment.
Once the virtual appointment is scheduled, customers will receive an email with a link to join the appointment via Google Meet on the appointed day and time. Customers will need to have a Gmail account to join from a mobile device. They do not need to have a Gmail account to join from a computer.
Hours of operation for virtual appointments are:
- Monday – Wednesday from 8:15 a.m. – 4:25 p.m.
- Thursday – Friday from 8:15 a.m. – 3:35 p.m.
No matter your situation, you can always contact the UIA advocacy line at (800) 638-3994 to receive free legal representation. UIA can be a tricky process, but remember, our office is always here to help.