Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! It is a privilege to represent Livonia, Redford Township and Detroit, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in Lansing. I encourage you to stay up to date on what’s going on in Lansing and continue to let me know about the issues that matter to you.
In this issue:
- Legislative Updates
- Expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act
- Restoring Workers’ Rights
- Closing the Marital Rape Loophole
- Constituent Resources
- Opioid Overdose Prevention
- Community Updates
- Detroit Sidewalk Replacement Program
- Behavioral Health Town Hall
- Upcoming Coffee Hours
Expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act
The Michigan House of Representatives passed landmark legislation last week adding protections for LGBTQ+ Michiganders to the state’s civil rights law. As the first openly queer woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature, I was proud to cast my vote in favor of House Bill 4003 and its companion Senate Bill 4, which expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
In 2018, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued an interpretation of ELCRA stating that discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual orientation. In July 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in Rouch World v. Michigan Department of Civil Rights that interpretation to be constitutionally valid. HB 4003 and SB 4 codify that decision into law to protect the rights of Michiganders from interpretations of future courts.
I also want to take a moment to share my gratitude for those in our community who have worked tirelessly over the last 50 years to bring this moment to fruition. It is because of their persistence and determination that all Michiganders can live and work with equal protection under the law.
Restoring Workers’ Rights
Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives passed critical legislation to uplift working people across the state. House Bills 4004 and 4005 restore worker freedoms and re-establish union rights by eliminating the state’s so-called “right-to-work” laws. Since their adoption in 2012, these laws have siphoned resources away from unions, which impaired their ability to bargain effectively on behalf of their members. Workers in states with expanded workers’ rights make almost $9,000 more annually, which is a 15% difference, according to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
House Bill 4007 makes sure that skilled workers are paid what they’re worth by reinstating the statewide prevailing wage law. The Legislature repealed the prevailing wage law in 2018 and claimed that it would save taxpayers money on public construction projects. No evidence of those savings ever materialized; in fact, studies have shown that construction projects where prevailing wage is paid are more likely to be completed on time and under budget.
The House Labor Committee took testimony from people supporting and opposing the bills, including union workers. This is in stark contrast to 2012, when the Legislature adopted “right-to-work” bills without any hearings, keeping the bill language secret until the last possible moment. My colleagues and I have been pushing for its repeal ever since.
Michigan workers deserve to be treated with dignity in the workplace and afford to take care of their family’s most basic needs. I was proud to cast my vote in favor of these bills.
Closing the Marital Rape Loophole
This week, I testified before the House Criminal Justice Committee in support of my bill to close Michigan’s marital rape loophole. HB 4202 strikes the “mentally incapacitated” exemption from the state’s ban on marital rape. Michigan’s legal definition for “mentally incapacitated” includes instances where a spouse has been drugged or coerced and is unable to give consent.
This bill would close a glaring loophole in Michigan’s Penal Code that permits marital rape when the perpetrator’s legal spouse is mentally incapacitated. State law currently precludes charges or convictions for criminal sexual conduct in such cases, leaving Michigan as one of the few remaining states to expressly allow marital rape in law.
While the law this legislation addresses is outdated, it still has very modern implications for survivors of marital rape seeking justice. I’m grateful to Committee Chair Kara Hope for holding this hearing, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to close this loophole once and for all.
Opioid Overdose Prevention
In an effort to reduce the occurrence of overdoses and help residents learn to treat an overdose, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is launching OpiRescue, a smartphone app aimed at reducing harm.
The OpiRescue app helps anyone, including first responders, prevent opioid misuse and reduce opioid overdose deaths by addressing education, prevention and tracking of overdose reversals.
The OpiRescue app provides:
- Educational content to identify and reverse overdoses.
- A Naloxone finder to locate the medication nearby.
- A treatment locator.
- Information on how to report an overdose reversal.
MDHHS partners, including Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans and Syringe Service Programs, actively involved in caring for members of the public experiencing opioid use disorder will have access to a dashboard for their region. The dashboard will allow those partners to view overdose reversal data in near real time and allocate additional resources as needed to areas with increased reports of overdose reversals.
For more information on Naloxone and how to obtain the medication, visit Michigan.gov/Naloxone.
Detroit Sidewalk Replacement Program
The city of Detroit has launched the application process for its Sidewalk Replacement Program. It is now taking applications from churches and neighborhood block clubs within the city. The work is expected to begin around May 1 and last through mid-November.
Repairs for sidewalks will be given priority for in the following categories:
- Near schools, churches and parks.
- Identified and requested by registered neighborhood block clubs.
- Adjacent to city road resurfacing projects.
- Requested by elderly and disabled residents.
- Along city jurisdiction commercial corridors where cleanup and beautification is planned.
- Existing backlog of requests from prior years.
To request sidewalk replacement, please submit an online form here.
Behavioral Health Town Hall
On Thursday, March 30, my special guest Rep. Stephanie Young and I will host a Behavioral Health Town Hall event at the Redford Charter Township District Library from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
We will facilitate a panel discussion with folks who have utilized different services related to behavioral health. Additionally, we will hear from the Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and a representative from the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network to discuss services and resources available for behavioral health. There will also be light refreshments served. If you have any questions about the event, please feel free to reach out to my office.
Upcoming Coffee Hours
I hope you can join me for one of my upcoming coffee hours! I look forward to having an informal conversation with you about the issues families face in our community. I host two coffee hours a month, one in-person and one virtual. The location for in-person coffee hours will rotate throughout the year between Livonia, Redford Township and Detroit.
My in-person April coffee hour will be held in the Redford Township District Library, 25320 Six Mile Road, Redford Charter Twp., MI 48240). We will also be joined by a special guest, state Sen. Mary Cavanagh. You can join the livestream for my virtual coffee hours on my Facebook page.
- Virtual: Mon., March 20, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
- In-Person: Sat., April 1, from 2 to 3 p.m.
Never hesitate to reach out to me or my staff if you have any questions or concerns!
Speaker Pro Tempore
17th House District