I’m honored and humbled to continue serving as Lansing’s voice at the Capitol. 2020 was a year unlike any other, placing significant challenges and burdens on workers and families in our community. As we move forward into the new year and new term, rest assured I will continue to put your priorities at the top of my legislative agenda.
Included in this edition of my e-newsletter are some important legislative updates and information on an upcoming virtual event, along with resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-0826 or email at SarahAnthony@house.mi.gov for questions about this or any other state-level issue.
State Representative, 68th House District
Upcoming Virtual Happy Hour
I will be hosting my first 2021 virtual happy hour this upcoming Monday, Jan. 25 from 5:30-8 p.m. We will be joined by special guest Stephanie Glidden, who serves as Chief of Staff to the Unemployment Insurance Agency, where we will be discussing the latest news in Lansing and our state. Please RSVP for this event by clicking here and my office will reach out to you with the necessary Zoom information to your email address on the day of the event. I hope to see you on Monday!
When: Monday, Jan. 25, from 5:30-8 p.m.
How: RSVP by clicking here.
Ushering in a New Year and Term
On Jan. 13, I was happy to have joined with my colleagues for our official swearing in ceremony to mark the opening of the 2021-2022 legislative term. I’m excited to share with you all that I will be embarking on a few new exciting pathways in the upcoming term, including being appointed to serve as Democratic Vice Chair of the House Rules and Competitiveness Committee (formerly Ways and Means), selected as the Vice Chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus, and chosen as a member of the House Insurance Committee.
In addition, I’m proud to share that I have also been re-elected by my fellow House Democrats to continue serving as the Caucus Chair for this term. As part of the leadership team, I assist with crafting and implementing the Caucus’ legislative agenda, messaging and communication with other members. After a year unlike any other, I’m greatly looking forward to continuing this important work on behalf of the hardworking people of our Lansing community and beyond.
Counterfeit Airbag Bill Signed into Law
At the end of last year, I was pleased to have had Gov. Whitmer sign House Bill 4924 into law, now Public Act 269 of 2020. I sponsored this bill as part of a bipartisan package that will take the necessary steps to establish criminal penalties for people who install or reinstall faulty airbags.
Counterfeit airbags are a problem not only in Michigan, but nationwide as well. They are often purchased online by customers looking to snag a bargain, or by repair shops seeking to cut costs, but they consistently malfunction and can lead to severe injury or death. We must do all that we can to keep our drivers safe and ensure the integrity of the airbags in our vehicles, and these new laws will do just that.
Supporting our Local Governments
As one of the last orders of business for the 100th Legislature, my colleagues and I joined together to pass crucial supplemental funding that will provide additional support to small businesses and community members who are continuing to fight the effects of COVID-19. This funding will serve as an important first step in addressing the needs of so many.
One aspect that I do believe was lacking in this agreement was additional funding allocated to better assist and support local governments in overcoming the severe revenue shortages they are facing due to the ongoing pandemic. Because Lansing serves as our state’s capital, our community has a unique set of needs that many other municipalities do not, including the added costs and personnel needs for increased security measures in recent weeks at the Capitol building and complex.
As the new year and new term continue on, please know I will continue fighting to prioritize additional COVID-19 assistance to cities facing significant revenue shortfalls.
Capitol Commission Update
On Jan. 11, after nearly a year of constant advocacy to make our state’s Capitol building safer, the Michigan State Capitol Commission has taken an incremental step and banned the open carrying of firearms inside the Capitol building. I firmly believe this does not go far enough: we must ban ALL guns in the state Capitol. Throughout this fight, I have consistently warned the commission that it is not a matter of if violence occurs in the People’s House, it’s a matter of when. Our work is not yet done to ensure our Capitol building is truly a safe place for all. I will continue to advocate for a total ban of firearms moving forward.
You can watch my past testimony in front of the Capitol Commission by clicking here.
In recent weeks, 2021’s first Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) met to review our state’s current revenues and projections for the next few fiscal years. While revenue for the 2020-2021 fiscal year may be coming in lower than the previous years due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, it is still higher than the previous state forecasts from August of 2020, which is an encouraging sign. For the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year, which is the budget Gov. Whitmer and my legislative colleagues will begin to craft, overall revenue is expected to be $874.8 million higher than earlier projections. During the CREC, state budget officials emphasized that our state will likely be recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic for several years to come.
To read the House Fiscal Agency’s Executive Summary of the CREC, click here.
Classifying Domestic Terrorism as a Federal Crime
Following the formal opening of the 101st Legislature, I quickly took action to introduce House Resolution 8 and renew my call on Congress to enact legislation classifying domestic terrorism as a federal crime.
Extremism and domestic terrorism have been on the rise in recent years, leaving federal authorities like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security with the challenge of facing legal limitations for prosecution due to outdated federal definitions that fail to explicitly outlaw it. In addition to prosecutions, designating domestic terrorism as a federal crime would open access to additional tools and resources for law enforcement agencies to gather further data, track situations and combat violent extremism.
I first introduced this resolution back in 2019, and more than 400 days have passed. Since then, we’ve seen acts of domestic terrorism unfold throughout our nation, including right here in Lansing when heavily-armed protesters stormed our state Capitol. We cannot continue on like this; which is precisely why we must give our federal agencies the proper resources and scope to investigate domestic terrorism as a federal crime.
Supporting Small Businesses
On Jan. 14, the Michigan Strategic Fund approved two grant programs totaling $58.5 million in relief to help meet the urgent needs of small businesses and live event venues impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program will provide $55 million in grants to meet the urgent need of Michigan small businesses that have experienced significant hardships due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants of up to $20,000 will be awarded to businesses that are fully closed, with grants of up to $15,000 awarded to businesses that have been partially closed, or otherwise are open and can demonstrate an impact.
The Michigan Stages Survival Grant Program will provide up to $40,000 in one-time grants to eligible Michigan live music and entertainment venues that have experienced a significant financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for a total of $3.5 million in grants.
Click here for more information and eligibility requirements for these important measures to support Michigan’s small businesses and event venues.
Ingham County Vaccine Info
In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced they would grant Gov. Whitmer and eight other governors’ request to release millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Michigan also entered a new phase of vaccine distribution, beginning to offer vaccinations to Michiganders ages 65 and older; frontline essential workers including public safety officers, frontline state and federal workers and jail and prison staff; and pre K-12 educators, support staff and childcare providers.
For the most up-to-date information regarding the state’s COVID-19 vaccination progress, visit michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.
For Ingham County-specific information, including how to register, click here.