I am glad to write to you once more as your representative in Lansing. The Legislature has been particularly active this month on a number of contentious issues, and the budget has been progressing through the committee process. In order to represent you and your priorities, I rely on your feedback. You can get in touch with me by phone at (517) 373-2577, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my website. I will keep you updated on developments in Lansing with this monthly e-newsletter. If you would like to unsubscribe, please email me at email@example.com.
I look forward to working together to move Michigan forward.
I will be holding two “Yousef and You” forums each month where anyone in our district can receive an update on legislative issues, ask questions and participate in open discussion. I hope many of you will be able to join me there.
The next Yousef and You forums will be:
Saturday, May 25
Community Room, RoosRoast Coffee
1155 Rosewood St. in Ann Arbor
Monday, June 10
812 Monroe St. in Ann Arbor (21 and over)
Addressing Michigan’s Auto Insurance Rates
The Legislature is currently debating the best way to ensure that Michigan drivers are able to get affordable and adequate car insurance. Most Michiganders recognize that car insurance rates in our state are too high and that drivers in some areas are paying extortionate rates. Legislators by and large agree. The debate is over how best to approach the problem.
This month, Republicans in the House and Senate have advanced similar proposals, while Democrats have announced an alternative plan. The Republican proposals would allow people with other health coverage to choose lower levels of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) on their auto insurance, in return for an average reduction in the PIP portion of their premium for a limited time. As a result, many people would lose the protection of the current system, which guarantees unlimited coverage for all people injured in crashes. Additionally, the PIP rate reduction comes with a massive loophole—rates would only have to be cut “to the degree practicable,” with no mechanism to enforce it. And there would be no guaranteed reduction or limitation on rate increases for the rest of the insurance premium, so Michiganders could end up paying more for less coverage. The House and Senate Fiscal Agencies estimate that this tiered PIP proposal would increase taxpayer-funded Medicaid expenses by about $70 million over ten years.
I support the Democratic plan, called the D.R.I.V.E. plan because it would actually enforce lower overall rates, and it has strong protections against the use of discriminatory non-driving factors in setting rates. The D.R.I.V.E. plan would guarantee a 40 percent reduction in the entire premium, not just the PIP portion, and it would not allow rates to rise faster than inflation. The plan would also create a new fraud authority to protect the system and consumers.
The governor and the legislative caucuses are negotiating over these proposals, and I hope that the outcome will be a plan that both covers the needs of those injured in crashes and provides real savings for insurance consumers.
Bills Restricting Reproductive Rights Pass Both Chambers
The Michigan House and Senate each passed similar legislation this month to ban the use of the dilation and evacuation method of abortion except to save the life of the pregnant woman. Dilation and evacuation is the method least likely to cause complications in abortions performed after 13 weeks. I opposed these bills because I do not think the Legislature should be interfering in patients’ and doctors’ ability to decide which medical procedures are appropriate to their individual situations.
The bills that passed the Legislature refer to the dilation and evacuation procedure in sensational and nonmedical terms. Despite passage, the bills are unlikely to become enforceable law in the absence of other changes. Current Supreme Court precedent upholds the right to terminate a pregnancy up to the point where a fetus could survive outside the uterus—between 24 and 28 weeks. Similar arbitrary bans on abortion methods have been struck down in other states. Our Governor has also stated she will veto these bills if they come to her desk.
As legislation restricting reproductive rights gains momentum in statehouses across the US, I will continue to advocate for the rights of Michiganders to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.
Monthly Data Now Available on Ann Arbor Drinking Water
In honor of Water Awareness Month, the City of Ann Arbor has launched www.qualitywatermatters.org* to provide more up-to-date information to the public about our municipal water. The municipal water utility is required to provide annual information* about water quality to customers, but they have also decided to start providing monthly reporting in response to recent concerns about PFAS, dioxane, and other water quality issues. The site also provides information on hydrant flushing schedules and new water and sewer rates.
Mayor’s Green Fair
The City of Ann Arbor is hosting the annual Mayor's Green Fair on Main Street between William and Huron Streets on Friday, June 14, 2019, from 6–9 p.m. This annual event celebrates our community's environmental leadership as exhibited by citizens, nonprofits, government and businesses. It’s an opportunity for everyone to learn about local efforts to protect the environment and to share their own ideas. This year's theme is “Envisioning a Sustainable Ann Arbor." I will have a table at the Green Fair, and I hope to see you there!