Happy New Year! After making it through a year unlike any other, I would like to take a moment to recognize each and every one of our residents in the 1st House District. 2020 posed immense challenges for our community, state and nation, and was filled with heartbreaking losses, as I suffered several of my own. In the face of this, our community has continued to join together with strength, resilience and care that gives me hope for our future. I carry this hope with me to Lansing, where you and your family remain at the top of my mind with every vote I take on the House floor.
Throughout the past term, I have worked hard to make state government more transparent, accountable and equitable for our community and state. This edition of my e-newsletter will provide a look at some of the legislation I’m proud to have worked on during the 2019-2020 term, along with a few other updates as we head into the new year.
Feel free to reach out to my office by calling (517) 373-1054 or emailing TenishaYancey@house.mi.gov if you would like to offer your input, or if you are ever in need of assistance. I look forward to continuing to work with you in my efforts to serve our community in Lansing.
1st House District
2019-2020 Legislative Accomplishments
Over the past two years of my first full term in office, there have been so many important projects I’ve been proud to work on and support on behalf of the 1st House District and Michiganders everywhere. Below, you’ll find a few highlights.
Removing the Tampon Tax
As one of the first pieces of legislation I introduced during the 2019-2020 term, I joined with my colleague Rep. Brian Elder on a pair of bills that would have exempted feminine hygiene products from the sales and use tax in our state. As it stands, tampons, sanitary napkins and similar feminine hygiene products are subject to Michigan’s 6% sales and use taxes.
Women are already facing economic disparities in their paychecks every payday; there is no reason we should also be forced to pay this additional tax for taking care of our reproductive health. During the 2017-2018 legislative term, the House and Senate passed sales tax exemptions that included dental prosthetics, fundraising sales by nonprofit organizations, certain leases of school buses from private companies and certain agricultural equipment. Rep. Elder and I are not alone in considering feminine hygiene products equally as deserving of this exemption, and I will continue to advocate for this legislation in the new term with plans to reintroduce the legislation. To read more on these efforts, click here.
Auto Insurance Reform
After decades of attempts to usher in auto insurance reform in Michigan, the 100th Legislature finally took the necessary steps forward for the drivers of our state. While the legislation was by no means perfect, it still represented an incredible step in the right direction to guarantee auto insurance rate relief, especially for communities like ours in Southeast Michigan that have historically been required to pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in the state and nation.
Throughout countless generations, we’ve deeply felt—time and time again—the impacts of redlining and other discriminatory insurance industry practices that have zeroed in on Detroit and its surrounding communities. The reform ushered in by the bipartisan agreement prohibited insurers from using sex, marital status, home ownership, credit score, educational attainment, occupation or ZIP code to establish rates on any type of auto insurance policy moving forward. While the use of territory ratings is something my colleagues and I are looking to address in the new term, the step toward rate relief and removal of many discriminatory factors was a start so many drivers needed in our community and beyond.
Support for UAW Members on Strike
As a member of the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus, supporting policies and issues of importance and concern to working people in Detroit and our state has been high on my priority list. In the fall of 2019, UAW workers organized a 40-day strike for better wages and increased job security. I proudly joined local UAW chapters on the picket line throughout the strike, and will always stand behind our brothers and sisters in labor in their endeavors for quality employment opportunities and the security needed to build the life they deserve.
Codifying Sales and Use Taxes for Certain Businesses
At the end of 2019, I was proud to have House Bill 4543, now Public Act 146 of 2019, signed into law by Gov. Whitmer. As my first bill to be enacted into law, PA 146 was part of a bipartisan package that ensured marketplace facilitators, or online retailers like Amazon, eBay or Etsy, and other out-of-state retailers that sell or facilitate the sale of goods in Michigan pay their fair share of state sales and use taxes, just like any other retailer that physically operates in our state is required to do.
To read the House Fiscal Agency legislative analysis of this package as enacted, click here.
Updating Revenue Sharing Practices in Michigan
In 2014, the Local Stabilization Authority Act (LCSA) was created to allow for a share of Michigan’s 6% use tax to be used to reimburse municipalities for losses of personal property tax (PPT) revenue from the legislative tax changes. Communities requested to reopen the reporting window for 2013-2015 taxable value calculations in order to remedy miscalculations, which were granted under two Public Acts from 2018, but municipalities found that the one-month window was not enough time to correct the reporting miscalculations.
Last year, my colleagues and I from both sides of the aisle joined together to offer Michigan’s municipalities another opportunity to remedy any miscalculations through a package of bills that passed the Legislature and were signed into law by Gov. Whitmer. House Bill 4929, now Public Act 197 of 2020, became my second bill signed into law. I’m proud to have been part of this package that offers the opportunity for our local communities and units of government to collect their rightful portion of shared revenue after they’ve been afforded enough time to remedy any miscalculations.
To read the most recent legislative analysis of this package, click here.
Criminal Justice Reform
During the 2019-2020 term, criminal justice reform has been at the forefront of our legislative agenda for members on both sides of the aisle. Through an incredible feat of bipartisanship, we were successful in ushering much needed change for a system that impacts thousands of Michiganders. From raising the age of automatic prosecution as an adult from 17-years-old to age 18, to comprehensive expansions of our expungement practices and eligibility requirements and much more, the accomplishments of the past term have taken us one step toward a truly equitable, just place to call home.
In addition, I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of the package that would end the practice of using driver’s license suspensions or revocations as sanctions for certain offenses that aren’t related to driving factors. House Bill 5851 passed the Legislature as 2020 drew to a close, and was recently signed into law by Gov. Whitmer as Public Act 380 of 2020. As my third public act as your state representative, this has served as a humbling experience, and I will continue to fight for further reform as the new year and new term continue.
To read the most recent legislative analysis of HB 5851 and the rest of the package, click here.
Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration
In 2019, Gov. Whitmer created the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration to evaluate different aspects of our criminal justice system and to craft recommendations for statewide policy and budgetary changes. I was proud to have been appointed as a member of the task force, where we spent months identifying alternatives to incarceration, ways to safely reduce jail admissions and length of stay—especially given the impacts of COVID-19 on our jails and prisons—and improving the effectiveness of Michigan’s justice system to ensure we offer every resident of our state equitable treatment.
By January 2020, the Task Force released our findings and policy recommendations, which have resulted in quite a few important legislative packages getting passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Whitmer. These packages have included legislation to:
- Eliminate driver’s license suspension as a penalty for offenses unrelated to dangerous driving;
- Increase the use of arrest alternatives at the front end of the system;
- Prioritize alternatives to jail when sentencing people for low-level offenses; and
- Reduce jail admissions for people on probation and parole.
Like I mentioned in the previous section, I was proud to have introduced House Bill 5851, which has been signed into law by Gov. Whitmer as Public Act 380 of 2020.
Detroit Caucus Update
At the end of last term, I was humbled to have been unanimously elected by my colleagues in the Detroit Caucus to serve as Chair for the 2021-2022 term. Other members of the Caucus’ leadership team include Reps. Tyrone Carter, Stephanie Young and Helena Scott. Together, I look forward to working with this talented group of leaders to ensure better jobs, better education, and more opportunities for Detroiters and our neighboring communities. The Detroit Caucus has always served as a strong voice for our community in the Legislature and I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue that legacy in the new year and term.