Hello from Lansing!
It’s been another busy month in the Legislature! With so much activity, we’re just sending one newsletter for the last month, so this one is a little longer than those we’ve sent to date.
In the time since we last wrote, our office has had one bill pass committee, two bills pass the full House of Representatives, and we were happy to host Dexter’s Wylie Elementary School fourth-graders at the Capitol. I also played in the first state legislative bipartisan charity softball game!
If you’d like to learn more about the legislation we’re working on, our next constituent coffee hour is Monday, Oct. 23, from 8-9:30 a.m. in the Summit Township offices located at 2121 Ferguson Road, Jackson, MI 49203. If you plan on attending, please let my team know so we can keep an accurate head count and make sure to bring enough coffee.
As always, my team can be reached at CarrieRheingans@house.mi.gov or (517) 373-8835.
Last week, Dexter School District brought the fourth-graders from Wylie Elementary School to the Capitol. They are learning about how a bill becomes law. They have been researching House Bill 4159, introduced by state Rep. Julie Brixie, to designate the black swallowtail butterfly Michigan’s state butterfly.
(Above, Mrs. Kohler’s Fourth-Grade Class – Wylie Elementary School
Below, Mrs. Black’s Fourth-Grade Class – Wylie Elementary School)
Unfortunately, I did not get to meet with every class that came to the capitol last week, but it was so refreshing to talk to some of my youngest constituents. Go Dreads!
(Above – Wylie Elementary School Fourth-Graders in the House of Representatives Gallery)
Car Seat Bills Pass Committee and House of Representatives
Earlier this year, I introduced a bill package with state Rep. John Fitzgerald — House Bill 4511 and 4512, respectively — to bring Michigan’s child car seat standards closer to federal and industry standards.
These bills passed the House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee the House of Representatives in September and have been referred to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where they await further legislative action.
We look forward to these bills swiftly passing the Senate and being signed into law to help save children’s lives.
(Above, Safer Seats, Safer Kids Press Conference
Below, Testimony in House Transportation Committee)
Manoomin Bill Passes the House of Representatives
House Bill 4852 would designate manoomin as Michigan’s state native grain, and it passed the House of Representatives with a strong, bipartisan vote of 104-4. The bill passed unanimously from the House Agriculture Committee in September.
This bill has been referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee, which is the committee where most state designations go, where it awaits further legislative review.
Michigan Indian Day Resolution Passes the House of Representatives
On Sept. 20, I introduced, and the House of Representatives adopted, the 49th Michigan Indian Day Resolution.
Since 1974, the fourth Friday in September has been declared Michigan Indian Day in the state of Michigan. The resolution commemorates the significant achievements and contributions that Indigenous Michiganders have made to our state and to our country. Michigan is home to 12 federally recognized Tribes and thousands of Indigenous people from Michigan and across the Americas.
(Speaking in favor of House Resolution 136 – Michigan Indian Day)
Patient-Led Care Package Introduced
On Oct. 10, along with state Reps. Donavan McKinney, Reggie Miller and Curt VanderWall, I introduced a package of four bills, House Bills 5114, 5115, 5116 and 5117, that would both improve access to care for patients while reducing red tape for physician associates.
My bill, House Bill 5114, would expand mental health access for patients by adding PAs, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to our state’s Mental Health Code. Every PA is educated and trained in psychiatric medicine, but PAs are not recognized in state law as mental health providers. These exclusions create barriers for patients who may seek mental health care from a PA. Likewise, this bill will also reduce barriers for patients seeking care from psychiatric nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists who also already have the requisite training and education.
Rep. McKinney’s HB 5115 would eliminate clinical barriers by allowing PAs to delegate and supervise, which they are prevented from doing due to an outdated law. Allowing PAs to delegate and supervise medical assistants, for instance, would improve clinical efficiencies, hold PAs accountable and release physicians from liability when they are not supervising.
Rep. Miller’s HB 5116 would modernize the PA Title by changing it from “physician assistant” to “physician associate.” Health care delivery has changed and, today, PAs do much more than “assist” physicians. An updated profession title reflects the role of PAs in modern health care delivery and better informs patients about the role PAs play in their care.
Rep. VanderWall’s HB 5117 would improve license portability by entering the PA Licensure Compact with surrounding states. Like other compacts already in place for physicians and psychologists, the PA compact would allow PAs to more easily practice in multiple states, which could expand access to care, especially for residents along our state borders.
These bills have been referred to the House of Representative Health Policy Committee. You can view the entirety of the introductory press conference on YouTube.
Naloxone Distribution Bills Introduced
On Oct. 4, state Rep. Curt Vanderwall and I introduced a package of bills, House Bills 5077 and 5078, respectively, to allow employees of government agencies to distribute opioid antagonists, such as naloxone or Narcan, to members of the public or other community organizations. Currently, state law officially allows government agencies to administer naloxone to individuals, but it is unclear if such agencies may distribute naloxone to other people or organizations for them to use or distribute.
These bills have been referred to the House of Representatives Health Policy Subcommittee on Behavioral Health.
First Responder Licensure Reform Introduced
Last week, Representative Dave Prestin and I introduced House Bills 5154-55, respectively, to amend the Public Health Code to allow Michigan residents 17 years and older to apply for medical first responder and emergency medical technician licenses.
Currently, state law requires those applying for these licenses to be 18 or older. EMS has seen a shortage of people interested in doing this work, and this would provide another tool for EMS agencies to bring the next generation into the profession. Presently, Michigan allows high school students who are under 18 years old to train as EMTs, but they cannot apply for the license until they turn 18. These bills would ensure that recruits can enter this crucial workforce, instead of being lost to other industries as they wait for their 18th birthday.
Michigan Secretary of State Student Voting Summit
On Friday, Oct. 6, I joined many of my colleagues in the Legislature for the Student Voting Summit at Oakland University. Legislators joined breakout sessions with students at the university to discuss the issues that matter to them, to share our personal experiences in the Legislature and to highlight the positives of a career in public service.
Clean Energy Future Now Rally
Last month, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters held its Clean Energy Future Now rally on the steps of the Capitol in support of the clean energy legislation being debated in the Legislature.
The bills the coalition supports are:
These bills would put Michigan on a track to fulfill Gov. Whitmer’s goals of 100% carbon neutrality through the MI Healthy Climate Plan. As I do not serve on any environmental committees, I will not be able to vote on these bills until they come before me for a full vote of the House of Representatives.
Charity Softball Game
On Sept. 20, I joined my colleagues at Jackson Field — home of the Lansing Lugnuts — for the first bipartisan charity softball game. It was a blast! Proceeds from the event were donated to the Lansing City Rescue Mission.
The score didn’t matter (we lost) — we were just happy to avoid any career-ending injuries! I scored two runs and made the first out of the entire game.
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