Hello from Lansing,
The last two weeks in the Legislature have seen some of the largest legislative changes in Michigan’s recent memory. The Legislature passed an expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity, repealed Michigan’s so-called “right-to-work” laws, restored prevailing wage for government construction projects, repealed the 1931 abortion ban, and passed meaningful gun control measures for the first time in decades.
I was so happy to have been a co-sponsor for every one of these major policy priorities, and I look forward to Gov. Whitmer’s signatures on them all.
As always, you can contact my team through email at CarrieRheingans@house.mi.gov or by phone at (517) 373-8835 with any questions, comments or concerns.
Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Expansion
For decades, LGBTQ+ advocates have tried to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in our state civil rights act. For decades, the Republican-dominated Legislature refused to even take up these bills. On March 8, the Legislature took a bipartisan step to finally enshrine these protections into law.
Sen. Jeremy Moss’s Senate Bill 4 passed the Senate on March 1 and a week later, 63 of my colleagues and I passed the bill in the House of Representatives. Gov. Whitmer just signed SB 4 into law yesterday! I refuse to accept discrimination of any kind here in Michigan and am proud to have voted to protect Michiganders from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Firearm Safety Legislation
Last week, the first part of three firearm safety bill packages — focused on requiring background checks on all gun purchases — was passed by the House of Representatives, and included the following bills:
- HB 4138 ensures that there is no difference in Michigan law between a pistol and a rifle.
- HB 4142 ensures background checks for all firearm purchases.
- HB 4143 institutes severe punishments for forging a firearm license application.
On March 8, these bills passed both the House Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives. I am a co-sponsor of this entire package, as well as legislation focused on creating and implementing extreme risk protection orders and safe storage of firearms.
The Senate is considering the corresponding three packages of bills and passed them all out of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on March 16.
I suggest signing up for committee email notifications through the legislature’s website to stay up to date on the status of this important legislation.
Repeal of Michigan’s 1931 Abortion Law
On March 8, the House of Representatives repealed the criminal, archaic abortion ban in Michigan. The Senate also passed these bills this week, and they are now on their way to the governor for her signature to become law.
So-called “right-to-work” laws banned collective bargaining agreements from containing clauses requiring union workers to pay dues. For more than a decade, these laws have diverted union resources from essential work, such as contract enforcement, contract negotiation, new union organizing and political organizing to the task of dues collection. As an instructor at the University of Michigan and a dues-paying member of two unions, I have experienced firsthand the negative consequence of unions being required to represent both dues and non-paying dues members alike.
The House of Representatives passed House Bills 4004 and 4005 on March 8. I was a co-sponsor of this legislation and happily voted for both bills. These bills, along with the corresponding Senate bills, also passed the Senate earlier this week.
Repealing these laws will restore workplace safety, wages and benefits. Repealing these laws makes it easier to be a worker in Michigan and creates a better state with stronger worker protections for all of us.
Prevailing Wage Restored
On March 8, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 4007, which would restore the practice of using local prevailing wage on government-funded construction projects. I was a co-sponsor for this legislation. The Senate passed its version of this bill this week as well.
Social Worker Month Resolution Adopted
As many of you may know, I was trained as a social worker. My husband is also a social worker, and my office employs two masters of social work interns from the University of Michigan. Social work is near and dear to my heart, and I personally know just how hard — and rewarding — it is to do social work. This month’s theme is “Social Work Breaks Barriers,” and I was proud to describe how we have social workers at the most elected levels ever in Michigan’s history: U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Congresswoman Hillary Scholten, Michigan Sen. Stephanie Chang, Michigan Reps. Felicia Brabec, Betsy Coffia, Kimberly Edwards, and myself, and dozens of others in counties, cities and townships across the state.
To honor these hardworking individuals and their service on behalf of our society, I introduced House Resolution 54, which declared March 2023 as National Social Work Month in the State of Michigan.
I was joined on the House floor by my interns, Amal and Morgan, who drafted the resolution, and in the gallery by several friends and colleagues from the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
The House adopted this resolution — happy National Social Worker Month everyone!
Michigan Public Service Commission Hearing on Recent Power Outages
For those of you reading this who lost power last month, I wanted to be sure to highlight the upcoming Michigan Public Service Commission’s hearing regarding the recent power outages across our state.
The MPSC will hold two in-person town halls in areas hard hit by the recent ice storm on Monday, March 20:
- Noon to 2:30 p.m., at American 1 Credit Union Event Center, 128 W. Ganson St. in Jackson.
- 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fordson High School’s auditorium, 13800 Ford Road in Dearborn.
The MPSC also will hold a virtual town hall meeting, live streamed over Microsoft Teams, on Tuesday, March 21, from 6-8 p.m. A link to participate through Microsoft Teams will be posted closer to the day of the virtual town hall at the event’s webpage.
I have been active in discussions on how the Legislature will hold utility companies accountable for lengthy outages, and I look forward to ensuring that Michiganders get the most reliable electricity for the lowest cost. Stay tuned on this front.
Next Constituent Coffee Hour
Please join me for a constituent coffee hour on Monday, March 27 from 9-10:30 a.m. at the Ann Arbor District Library, Westgate Branch (2503 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48103). My kindergartener is on spring break that week, so she will be joining us — so, if you have kiddos, bring them along!
My team and I are always looking for the next best place to host our coffee and happy hours. If you would like to make a suggestion, reach out to any of my official social media pages to share your thoughts!