Welcome to our March e-newsletter!
Included in this edition are important legislative updates, community events and other resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by telephone at (517) 373-0820 or by email at FeliciaBrabec@house.mi.gov for questions about these or any other state-level issues.
Felicia A Brabec
State Representative, 33rd House District
Virtual Coffee Hour
Please join me for our next Coffee Hour! This is an opportunity to chat, ask me questions and share how I can best represent you in Lansing. I will be hosting my Coffee Hour virtually this Saturday, March 18, from 10-11 a.m. It will be streamed via Zoom and my Facebook page. We hope to see you there!
Returning Citizens Initiative Introduced
This month, I joined Reps. Aiyash, Edwards and McFall in reintroducing four bills (HBs 4191, 4192, 4193, and 4194) that would codify the Returning Citizens Initiative program into law. The Returning Citizens Initiative began as a 2019 pilot program between the Michigan Department of State and the Michigan Department of Corrections to help returning citizens reintegrate into their communities by providing them with a driver’s license or state ID upon their release or parole and ensuring they understand that their voting rights have been restored. Providing identification to recently released Michiganders removes one of the largest barriers that returned citizens are facing in order to live and work in our state, with an ID being required to open a bank account, apply for housing, and register to vote. This legislation also takes a huge step toward lowering recidivism rates by helping to ensure that returned citizens have their basic needs met. The pilot program has helped thousands of returned citizens obtain IDs over the past few years, and I look forward to getting the program signed into law as soon as possible.
Gun Violence Prevention Bill Packages
I also joined several of my Democratic colleagues in reintroducing our gun violence prevention package (HBs 4138–48) in the House. These bills would require background checks (UBC) for all firearm purchases, establish safe and secure storage requirements, and allow for extreme risk protection orders. Those closely following the legislative process may recall these bills being introduced in the state Senate (SBs 76–86) a few weeks ago. When identical bills, often called a “double set,” are introduced in both chambers of the Legislature, it allows for both House and Senate members and committees to go through their own revision processes. Simply put, introducing a double set of legislation creates more opportunity for the best version of the bills to be signed into law.
For the past few weeks, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by state Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi), has held hearings for the House gun reform bill packages. While I don’t sit on the Judiciary Committee, I have been closely watching the hearings and greatly appreciate each and every Michigander who has come out to make their voice heard. Committee hearings exist to allow an opportunity for Michigan residents and organizations to share their thoughts and concerns about legislation they feel passionate about, but committee hearings also help to create amendments for bills that should be changed or made stronger before being voted on by the Legislature. Chair Breen is doing a phenomenal job leading the hearings, and I trust that the committee will present the Legislature with the best possible version of these bills to be voted on.
So far, the Judiciary Committee favorably reported out the House UBC package with one substitute bill for HB 4138. The entire bill package was then sent to the House floor for a vote on March 8, where I proudly voted to mandate background checks for all firearm purchases. According to several statewide polls, Michiganders overwhelmingly support universal background checks, and I could not be happier that we finally got it done. The House UBC package is now headed to the Senate floor for a vote.
1931 Abortion Ban Repeal
House bills 4006 and 4032 to repeal Michigan’s 1931 total abortion ban passed in the House. As I’m sure many of you are aware, the right to reproductive freedom was officially enshrined in the Michigan Constitution after the passage of Proposal 3 in 2022. However, our state’s outdated “trigger law” still exists, meaning that a total abortion ban could potentially go into effect if reproductive rights were to ever be excluded from the Michigan Constitution in the future. These bills ensure the legality of abortion of Michigan by removing any mention of an abortion ban in Michigan law. You can rest assured knowing that my Democratic colleagues and I will not stand in your way to access reproductive health care.
Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act Expansion
On its sixth reintroduction since 2014, a bill to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) has finally passed in both chambers of the Michigan Legislature and signed by Gov. Whitmer! SB 4 will expand the ELCRA to include protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, in addition to its original protections against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age, sex and several other factors. Our entire district, county and state is home to LGBTQ+ people who have waited long enough to be fully protected from discrimination under the law. I was thrilled to vote YES on this historic legislation, and I am incredibly happy to see it signed into law.
Repealing Right to Work & Restoring Prevailing Wage
Both the Michigan House and Senate voted this month to repeal Michigan’s so-called “right-to-work” law. In 2012, despite wide bipartisan opposition, anti-worker “right-to-work” legislation was passed during lame-duck without committee hearings and without an opportunity for amendment or public input. Wealthy corporate interests, led by Betsy DeVos, pushed radical Republicans to pass the legislation, suppressing workers’ freedom to negotiate with their employers without government intrusion. When Michigan voters elected pro-worker majorities in the Legislature last November, they said loud and clear that they want Michigan to be a workers’ rights state. We are building a Michigan for all working people, and we should frame all of our labor legislation within the framework of expanding workers’ rights and freedoms.
My colleagues and I also voted to restore the prevailing wage for public construction workers that was repealed by the 2018 Republican majority. Prevailing wage laws establish minimum wages for skilled construction workers employed on taxpayer projects and protect local construction standards in the competitive low-bid process. According to research by the Economic Policy Institute, there is no evidence that the 2018 repeal of prevailing wage reduced public construction costs or benefited taxpayers; the data shows that states without prevailing wage laws negatively affect construction workers, businesses and communities. Reinstating prevailing wage in Michigan means safer and higher quality construction projects completed by highly skilled workers and sets a fair competitive bidding process for contractors. This law will help guarantee that every worker receives a fair wage for their work.
Ann Arbor Orchid Festival
Join the Ann Arbor Orchid Society for its annual Orchid Festival on March 18-19 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens (1800 N. Dixboro Road in Ann Arbor). There will be orchid displays from orchid societies across Michigan, artwork featuring orchids, vendors selling fabulous plants, free classes and raffles to win plants! Judging is being held on March 18 at 8 a.m., and admission to this family-friendly event is free of charge.
MI Future Educator Fellowship Stipend
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that the MI Future Educator Fellowship and Stipend programs’ first payments are being awarded to provide financial assistance to college students aspiring to become teachers.
To be eligible, future educators must apply through the MiSSG Portal, submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and:
- Be working toward their first teacher certification.
- Must have earned at least 56 semester credits or 84 term credits with a cumulative 3.0 GPA.
- Began the Education Preparation Program full-time in fall 2022 or later.
- Be a Michigan resident.
For more information or help applying for the fellowship, visit Michigan.gov/mistudentaid or contact MI Student Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org, (888) 447-2687, or @mistudentaid on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Help Feed Michigan Kids This Summer
The Michigan Department of Education is looking for community members, partner organizations, program sponsors and others to help support the health and wellness of Michigan children by spreading the word about the availability of nutritious meals for children all summer.
Meet Up and Eat Up Summer Food Service Program sponsors work hard to plan and prepare meals for children in their communities. Last summer, healthy meals were served daily at about 1,600 sites throughout the state. The Michigan Department of Education encourages all school sponsors with eligible sites to continue providing meals during the summer months. Children and families rely on programs like this year-round.
Program success is a team effort. One way people can assist is by highlighting the Meet Up and Eat Up program in their communities. Community partners can also help by identifying the best site locations, marketing and advertising the program, and contributing to program costs. If community partners use social media to publicize the program, more families can connect to summer programming and nutritious meals.
To find sites throughout Michigan, visit the Meet Up and Eat Up site locator map at www.michigan.gov/meetupeatup. All site information (mealtimes, days open and serving dates) is updated regularly throughout the summer months. Sites in the 33rd House District currently include:
- Pioneer High School (601 W. Stadium Blvd).
- Westerman Preschool & Family Center (2775 Boardwalk Drive).
- Pathways to Success (2800 Stone School Road).
- Allen Elementary School (2560 Towner Blvd.).
- CAN Hikone Community Center (2724 Hikone Road).
- CAN Bryant Community Center (3 W. Eden Court).
For more information about how you can help with the Meet Up and Eat Up SFSP this summer, contact Michigan Department of Education at (517) 241-5374 or email@example.com. For more information on the SFSP, visit www.michigan.gov/sfsp.