Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including some updates and news from your state government.
Legislature Passes Historic K-12 Schools Budget
Last week, the Legislature passed a $17 billion K-12 schools budget. This historic investment in education will help level the playing field and ensure that students across our state are guaranteed a comparable, quality education. School districts will receive targeted equity payments to close the funding gap between districts, with baseline per-pupil funding starting at $8,700. Aside from closing the funding gap, House Bill 4411 includes funding for wraparound mental health services by restoring school nurse, psychologist and social worker positions; increased funding for special education; and more funding for the Great Start Readiness Preschool program.
While the Legislature made this historic investment in Michigan’s kids, the two chambers did not reach an agreement on the general fund 2021-22 budget or a supplemental budget bill that included $10 million in emergency relief for victims of the recent Wayne County flooding.
The House and Senate have adjourned for the in-district summer work period. While House leadership has scheduled session days in July, Senate leadership has stated that the Senate will not return until August.
MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes Offers Cash Prizes to Vaccinated Michiganders
Michiganders vaccinated against COVID-19 can win cash prizes of up to $2 million through the MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes. More than $5 million in cash prizes will be distributed in this lottery-style raffle. The sweepstakes also include nine $55 thousand college scholarships that will be given out to vaccinated residents between 12 and 17 years old. Sign up for a vaccine and the sweepstakes at mishottowin.com.
Legislature Approves $25M for Providers of Acute Crash Victim Care, Stronger Solution Needed
When changes to Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system were made back in 2019, we knew the law wasn’t perfect. Some problems were easy to anticipate — and plan for — while others were not. We are now faced with a prime example of both of those types of problems.
On the “easy to anticipate” side, legislators knew that the law as written would reduce reimbursements to certain treatment providers, specifically long-term care and spinal and neuro-rehab providers. On the “not anticipated” — and unintended — side, many legislators did not expect that rates would be reduced for people who made their no-fault auto insurance claim well before the law changed. Some providers anticipate that their rates will be cut even for clients they have been serving for years. (I have previously written about the brief that a bipartisan group of legislators, including myself, filed to urge the Michigan Supreme Court to interpret the no-fault changes to be prospective.)
While real solutions have been proposed, the Legislature instead decided to go with a Band-Aid in the form of a one-time $10 million appropriation to help offset losses experienced by providers. Initially, even with its flaws, I supported this idea. It was better than nothing — which, with July 1 fast approaching, appeared to be the only alternative. However, once this legislation was returned to the House from the Senate, I voted no. I heard from providers and clients that the now $25 million was effectively still nothing. And the convoluted requirements in the bill would make it difficult for providers to access funds. More troubling to family caregivers and long-term care facilities, they would only be reimbursed for 56 hours of care, regardless of how many hours of care are actually needed or provided. A less troubling but legitimate concern about Senate Bill 28 is that the money comes from taxpayer dollars instead of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Fund, the fund that insurance customers paid into for decades to cover serious, long-term injuries.
We need a long-term solution to ensure that Michiganders get the care they need to continue recovering from catastrophic injuries and to maintain their quality of life. I hope when the Legislature returns, we will get serious about fixing the very real problems with no-fault reform.
Bill Package Would Affirm Marriage Equality in Michigan
Marriage equality has been the law of the land in the U.S. since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 2015. However, dozens of Michigan laws still use outdated, gendered language when referring to marriage. That language would be updated by a 54-bill package that was re-introduced last week in the Michigan House. As part of the package, I sponsored a bill that would update the language in the Real Estate Transfer Tax Act.
Sunrise Grant Program Application Open through July 30
The $11 million Ingham County Sunrise Grant Program will help small businesses and nonprofits with pandemic-related financial needs. Awards of up to $25,000 are available to eligible applicants. Qualifying businesses and nonprofits must have 100 or fewer employees and be located within the county. The application window closes July 30, at 11:59 p.m. (Note that a previous reference to this program included the wrong deadline.) Find more information and apply here.
Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (517) 373-0587 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can help.