Dear Neighbor,

Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including updates and news from your state government.

Testimony Begins for Justice for Kids and Communities Package


Testimony began on Tuesday in the House Criminal Justice Committee on the 20-bill, bipartisan Justice for Kids and Communities package (House Bills 462443). This legislation is based on the recommendations from the governor’s 2021 bipartisan Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force. The task force, led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, assessed Michigan’s juvenile justice system using case-level data analysis, focus groups and interviews with more than 100 stakeholders across the state. The task force came up with 32 recommended changes to improve Michigan’s juvenile justice system. This package is based on the six priorities that have been identified as the most crucial policy changes for juvenile justice reform.

The Justice for Kids and Communities Package will transform Michigan’s juvenile justice system by bolstering community safety, reducing disparities and improving outcomes for kids and their families. More specifically, the bills will:

  • Establish best practices and minimum funding for juvenile justice.
  • Provide for appointed counsel for kids.
  • Require a closer look at each child’s suitability for diversion programs by creating specific factors for courts to consider.
  • Strengthen and expand the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman for handling, investigating and reporting incidents in juvenile detention facilities.

These changes are definite improvements and are needed to ensure that Michigan’s kids and their families have a constructive experience with juvenile justice. Additional testimony on these bills is expected in the upcoming weeks.

Voting Rights Updates Pass House and Senate

In November 2022, Michigan voters overwhelmingly supported Proposal 22-2, which expands voting rights in our state. In June, my colleagues and I introduced bills to implement this proposal, which amended the state constitution. This week, both the Michigan House and Senate voted on their versions of the Proposal 2 implementation package.

My bill (HB 4698) allows identification from “educational institutions” and local units of government to be used as ID for election purposes. Other bills in the package would:

  • Implement nine days of early voting and allow for municipal and county agreements on early voting sites (HB 4696).
  • Require that secure ballot drop boxes are located in cities and townships with one box for every 15,000 voters within that municipality (HB 4697).
  • Allow registered voters to have an absent voter ballot sent to them before each election by submitting a single signed application covering all future elections (HB 4699).
  • Require that absent voter ballot applications and ballots have prepaid postage for voters to return them by mail at no cost (HB 4700).
  • Change maximum precinct sizes from 2,999 voters to 5,000 voters (HB 4701). This anticipates voters’ continued reliance on absentee voting as well as early voting.

Uniform Power of Attorney Act Receives Committee Hearing

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee heard legislation I introduced to enact the Uniform Power of Attorney Act in Michigan (House Bills 464446). The UPOAA standardizes power of attorney law and improves older statutes by offering greater clarity and protections. Currently, Michigan has no general codification of the law of agency concerning powers of attorney. This package would:

  • Increase accessibility by incorporating easy-to-understand explanatory material: UPOAA is a stand-alone statute that provides an easy-to-use form with simple cautionary instructions.
  • Help prevent elder abuse by imposing clear fiduciary duties on an agent to act in the elderly principal’s best interest.
  • Encourage the acceptance of powers of attorney by allowing any third party who in good faith accepts a signed, notarized power of attorney to rely on a legal presumption that the signature is genuine.

Thirty-one other states have already enacted the UPOAA, and Massachusetts and Vermont have introduced bills this term. This bill is expected to be voted on in committee this week.

Local Artist to Install Art in Former Washington Park

Lansing Mayor, Andy Schor, recently announced the City of Lansing’s 2023 Arts Impact Project awardee. This program is part of Lansing’s Arts and Culture grant program, which will allocate more than $150,000 to local artists and cultural groups this year.

This year’s awardee, Tamara (Tea) Brown, is a painter and muralist. Her 2023 Arts Impact Project will include nine pop-art-style portraits of women who have been inducted into Michigan’s Women’s Hall of Fame. The project will take place at Debbie Stabenow Park, previously known as Washington Park.

Governor Proclaims Juneteenth Celebration Day

Last Monday, Gov. Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II declared June 19 as Juneteenth Celebration Day in Michigan. This proclamation celebrates African American history as well as the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is a new federal holiday, and legislation has passed both the state House and Senate that would make Juneteenth a state holiday. While these official recognitions are recent, Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black Americans since the end of slavery.


Kara Hope

State Representative