Welcome to my monthly e-newsletter! As your state representative in the 102nd Michigan Legislature, I am happy to provide these regular updates on my legislative work, upcoming events and other news relevant to the district. In this issue, you will find information on my upcoming in-district coffee hours, recent legislative news and more.
Your neighbors and friends in House District 103 are encouraged to also sign up for these updates at my website, coffia.housedems.com. My office can be reached by phone at (517) 373-3817 or email at BetsyCoffia@house.mi.gov. Be sure to check out the latest on my social media platforms as well. As this legislative session continues, I welcome your continued feedback and encourage you to reach out if my team and I can ever be of assistance to you!
House District 103
Monthly Coffee Hours
Please join me for my in-person office hours when I will give legislative updates and take your questions about the issues facing our state and our community! Every month, I will hold a legislative coffee hour in each of the three counties that cover the 103rd District — Grand Traverse, Benzie and Leelanau. These events are a great way to find out what policies I’m working on and share your ideas and concerns with me!
Our March meeting information is as follows:
When: Monday, March 13 from 9:05-10 a.m.
Where: Grand Traverse Pie Company
(101 N. Park St., Traverse City, MI 49684)
When: Monday, March 13 from 1-2 p.m.
Where: Red Door Cafe
(19631 Maple St., Lake Ann, MI 49650)
When: Monday, March 13 from 3-4 p.m.
Where: Leelanau County Government Center – Room LCMR (8527 E. Government Center Drive, Suttons Bay, MI 49682)
During these first two months of the 102nd Michigan Legislature, since we began session Jan. 11, my office staff and I have already been hard at work returning hundreds of constituent inquiries by email, phone, mail and in person!
Before coming to the Legislature, I often heard folks express that they would reach out to their state lawmaker and get no response back. I am committed to doing things differently and personally review and help draft constituent responses every week with my staff. And, despite mass organized spam efforts (often from non-constituents) and sadly even some threats that have had to be reported to law enforcement, my office has also been able to assist dozens of constituents with inquiries such as recommendation letter requests and assistance with state agencies.
Please email me if we can be of assistance to you or use our Unemployment Assistance Form for assistance with unemployment benefits. Also, please note that each House office only has one staffer to address all scheduling and constituent inquiries, and each case is addressed in the order they come in. Thank you for your patience as we work hard to assist you. Providing complete information on your inquiry and contact information will help keep the process as efficient as possible for you and others seeking assistance!
One of the best parts of my time in office so far has been voting in favor of a number of important policies that reflect the needs of the 103rd District and delivering on key priorities. Here are a few highlights on my recent votes:
- Voted for Michigan’s largest tax break in decades by repealing the retirement tax on public and private pensions and restoring the working families tax credit (also known as the Earned Income Tax Credit) from 6% to 30%. This will assist nearly 5,000 households in the 103rd District and bring nearly $3 million into the local economy annually.
- Voted to repeal the 1931 law criminalizing abortion care, per the will of Michigan voters.
- Voted to expand Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which lays out anti-discrimination protections that currently apply to religion, race and more. Our vote this week expanded protections against discrimination in areas such as housing and employment for LGBTQ+ Michiganders.
- Co-sponsored and voted for required universal background checks for gun purchases.
- Co-sponsored and supported the adoption of a resolution honoring the courage of the people of Ukraine.
In other news, my first resolution — HR 55 — was adopted by the House of Representatives to declare March 5-11, 2023, as National School Social Workers Week in the state of Michigan! This was also my first time speaking on the House floor, and you can view a video of my speech here.
Only two months in, we have already successfully advocated for supplemental funding for a district-specific project! I recently voted in favor of HB 4016, which includes $3.8 million to renovate and improve Northwestern Michigan College’s aviation program and replace an outdated airplane hangar. This capital investment will help NMC’s top-notch aviation program attract more students and assist with our national pilot shortage. I applaud the efforts of my Republican state Sen. John Damoose in supporting this project’s inclusion in the supplemental as well. We have already begun to develop a working relationship and are actively in conversation seeking common ground on our priorities so that we can deliver for the people of Northern Michigan.
The recent budget legislation also boosts efforts to close the housing gap, ensure water affordability, fund community violence intervention, promote economic development, provide disaster recovery, support veterans’ mental health resources and so much more. The bill passed both chambers with bipartisan support and Gov. Whitmer has signed it into law.
As we continue working on the fiscal 2023-24 budget, I will continue to advocate for our district’s priorities, including investments in affordable housing, childcare, education, health care, small business support, equitable rural funding, support for our vital agricultural sector, community/workforce development and more!
Line 5 Update
Per a constituent request, I am happy to provide an update on the status of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. Line 5 is a 70-year-old oil and liquid natural gas pipeline that sits on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac and provides energy resources predominantly to Canada (95%) and a small number of American homes (5%). The pipeline is privately owned by Enbridge, a Canadian corporation that has been responsible for numerous violations and natural disasters, such as the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill and the Line 3 spill, the latter of which was the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.
Given the risks that Enbridge and Line 5 pose to the Great Lakes — the largest freshwater system in the world — a court battle has ensued to shut the pipeline down in favor of numerous low-risk clean energy options. The latest action in the case was Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s appeal to move a lawsuit from federal court back to state court. Enbridge now has 10 days to respond to the appeal as of March 3. While it is out of the Legislature’s hands at this time, I continue to maintain my position that Line 5 should be shut down. I await the outcome of the court case along with all of you.
Gov. Whitmer Makes Budget Recommendations
On Feb. 8, Gov. Whitmer released her fifth executive budget recommendation to lower costs, grow Michigan’s economy, attract people to our state and build a brighter future for anyone who wants to call Michigan home. The budget recommendations covered a wide variety of topics:
- Lowering costs
- Workforce & economic development
- Public health & safety
An in-depth look at the budget numbers can be found here.
Help Feed Michigan Kids This Summer
The Michigan Department of Education is looking for community members, partner organizations, program sponsors and others to help support the health and wellness of Michigan children by spreading the word about the availability of nutritious meals for children all summer.
Meet Up and Eat Up Summer Food Service Program sponsors work hard to plan and prepare meals for children in their communities. Last summer, healthy meals were served daily at about 1,600 sites throughout the state. The Michigan Department of Education encourages all school sponsors with eligible sites to continue providing meals during the summer months. Children and families rely on programs like this year-round.
Program success is a team effort. One way people can assist is by highlighting the Meet Up and Eat Up program in their communities. Community partners can also help by identifying the best site locations, marketing and advertising the program, and contributing to program costs. If community partners use social media to publicize the program, more families can connect to summer programming and nutritious meals.
To find a site in your community, visit the Meet Up and Eat Up site locator map at www.michigan.gov/meetupeatup. All site information (mealtimes, days open and serving dates) is updated regularly throughout the summer months.
For more information about how you can help with the Meet Up and Eat Up SFSP this summer, contact Michigan Department of Education at (517) 241-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the SFSP, visit www.michigan.gov/sfsp.
Patients Could Lose Medicaid Coverage Beginning April 1
An important change is coming for Medicaid recipients, as the Medicaid Continuous Coverage rule is expiring, and individuals will once again need to renew their eligibility to remain on Medicaid coverage. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Medicaid programs were required to keep enrollees continuously through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. At the end of 2022, the federal government passed a year-end budget bill that set March 31 as the expiration for this continuous coverage rule.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will begin sending Medicaid redetermination/renewal packages one to two months before they are due. It is absolutely critical that you keep an eye on your mailbox for those documents to ensure you do not lose coverage if you remain eligible. MDHHS explains what you need to do to be prepared for these changes here.
This change in federal rules has the potential to be disastrous for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Michiganders, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to find solutions. As a member of the House Health Policy Committee, I, and Health Policy Chair Julie Rogers, have had multiple conversations lifting up this issue to House leadership, the MDHHS, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services and numerous stakeholders about ways we can minimize the effects on our vulnerable populations. We are advocating for strong action to help keep Michiganders from falling through the cracks and losing healthcare coverage.
This is my most urgent priority at this time, and I will not rest until we have found a way to keep as many Medicaid recipients as possible qualifying for benefits next year or helping those who no longer qualify access continuation of coverage via the Affordable Care Act. Follow me on social media and keep reading our monthly e-news, as I will continue to update the community on new developments.
Michigan Youth Livestock Scholarship Application Open
Applications are open for the Michigan Youth Livestock Scholarship. The Michigan Youth Livestock Scholarship Fund (MYLSF) has awarded $731,130 in scholarships and educational awards to outstanding youth who have exhibited at the premier livestock events in the state of Michigan since it started in 2000.
To be eligible for either the MYLSF general scholarship or the statewide scholarship, the applicant must be a resident of Michigan and a graduating high school senior or high school graduate continuing their education at an accredited institution in the year in which they are applying.
For the general MYLSF scholarship, the applicant must be a youth exhibitor at the Michigan Livestock Expo or the Michigan Dairy Expo for a minimum of three calendar years before the year of application. For the statewide scholarship, an applicant must be a youth exhibitor at a local, county or statewide exhibition for a minimum of three years before the year of application.
Specific proceeds from the Michigan Livestock Expo Sale-Abration auction and charitable donations help fund the scholarships. The fund is governed by an 11-member board, composed of volunteers from Michigan’s agricultural community. Also, in 2022 approximately $15,000 was deposited into the Michigan Education Saving Plans for youth exhibitors who compete in judging and showmanship events at the Michigan Livestock Expo on the Michigan State University campus.
The application can be found here. Applications must be submitted electronically no later than 11:59 p.m. on May 15.
E-News Archives, Publications and Recognitions
My e-news archive is available on my website here.
State publications on various topics are also available on my website here. Physical copies of any of these publications can also be mailed to you by emailing my office with your request.
Do you know someone in the district who is retiring and would like a legislative tribute to celebrate their years of service? Has a local team or group reached a milestone that they would like to be acknowledged with an official certificate for each member? Our office can provide legislative tributes, letters and certificates on a wide range of recognitions for constituents. If you would like to request any of these materials for yourself or others, please fill out this form or email my office at BetsyCoffia@house.mi.gov with as much information as possible on the requested recognition, and we will work with you to arrange delivery or presentation of the recognition!