In this e-newsletter:
Upcoming Coffee Hour: April 16
My next coffee hour will be on Friday, April 16, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. This will be a virtual coffee hour.
To attend the coffee hour, please use the link below to register by noon on Thursday, April 15. An access link will be sent to those that register on the afternoon of April 15.
Bill Introduced to Prohibit Insurance Coverage Discrimination
I was proud to introduce House Bill 4551 last month to prohibit insurance providers from denying insurance coverage based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill was introduced with bipartisan support.
As a health care provider, I have seen firsthand just how important it is to have insurance, particularly health insurance. Everyone deserves affordable and quality care. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, it is more important than ever to proactively address Michigan’s health care disparities and ensure every resident has access to the care they need, when and where they need it.
On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court, in Bostock v Clayton County, Georgia, concluded that the term “sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity and, as such, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). House Bill 4551 would provide additional support for the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) to affirm its interpretation of the term “sex” in the statutes and rules it administers to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and therefore prohibit discrimination on those bases.
Protecting Michigan Workers
Recently, I partnered with state Reps. Brenda Carter, Sarah Anthony and Samantha Steckloff on a series of bills to restore prevailing wage and give local municipalities the freedom to protect local workers. House Bills 4592-4594 have received bipartisan support and all four pieces of legislation were referred to the House Committee on Workforce, Trades and Talent.
My bill in the package, House Bill 4592, would repeal the Local Government Regulatory Limitation Act, which prohibits local communities from enacting minimum wage laws, living wage laws, prevailing wage laws, unpaid leave or any benefit greater than that provided by state law.
While serving as a county commissioner, I experienced firsthand the frustration that comes with the challenge many local communities face to appropriately compensate skilled work on quality projects. Preventing local governments from enacting minimum wage laws has made Michigan a less attractive place to live for skilled workers. My bill would restore local control and allow workers to be compensated fairly.
Offering Flexibility in High School Math Courses, Uplifting Need for Financial Literacy
In our ever-evolving economy, financial literacy continues to be an area that needs to be uplifted. We can help ensure this need remains at the forefront by providing more options for students within the menu of mathematics courses.
That’s why I was proud to partner with Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich on legislation (HB 4595) to broaden the range of math classes that can count towards students’ graduation requirements. The bills would allow courses other than Algebra II, including accounting, business math, trigonometry, precalculus, financial literacy or approved curriculum in a CTE program to fulfill the math requirement.
Currently, Michigan students must complete Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and a math elective in order to graduate. These math requirements are often excessive and onerous for students who do not intend to use advanced math in their careers but would benefit from other math opportunities. Algebra II would remain an option for students who wish to take it.
Allowing flexibility around the courses needed to fulfill graduation requirements will empower our students to pursue the options that make the most sense for their individualized success and professional goals.
COVID-19 Town Hall a Success
Thank you to all who joined me for my virtual COVID-19 town hall, it was a resounding success. It was also an honor to bring together local and state experts to connect our community and provide an update on resources and ongoing vaccination efforts right here in Kalamazoo County.
A special thanks to our special guest panelists: Dr. Cheryl A. Dickson from WMed, the honorable Erin Knott, Ryan Hundt and Brenda Stewart from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Kimberly Berry from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. Their knowledge and expertise were extremely valuable.
As always, I welcome your input, feedback and ideas. Please contact my office with your suggestions as we work to improve the lives of Michigan residents.