I am glad to write to you once more as your representative in Lansing. In order to represent you and your priorities, I rely on feedback from constituents. You can get in touch with me by phone at (517) 373-2577, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on my website, rabhi.housedems.com. 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 hold two “Yousef and You” forums each month where anyone in our district can come to get 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, Nov. 23
Community Room, RoosRoast Coffee, 1155 Rosewood St. in Ann Arbor
Monday, Dec. 9
Please note there will be no Saturday Yousef and You forum in December.
Preventing Tax Increases on Renewable Energy
Last week, my bill, HB 4465, was signed into law!
Together with its two companion bills sponsored by state Rep. Bronna Kahle and state Sen. Tom Barrett, my bill, now a Public Act, will break down a significant financial barrier to access for residents seeking to invest in home solar energy. By clarifying that residential solar panels and other alternative energy systems do not count towards your property tax assessment, this change will help to spark renewed investment in a clean energy future.
I am proud to share this moment with all of you. It is moments like these that remind me that when we work together we can move Michigan forward!
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 4465, HB 4069, and SB 47 on Nov. 14. Together these bills will protect those who invest in small-scale renewable energy systems from being hit with tax increases.
Repealing Corporate Giveaways
Last week, I introduced House Bill 5254 which will repeal the Michigan Economic Grown Authority (MEGA) tax credits. MEGA credits were intended to create jobs and assist industries struggling during the Great Recession. No new credits have been certified since 2011, but payouts are slated to continue through 2032 despite record corporate profits.
It’s time to end this program, which has already cost our state billions of dollars that could have been invested in the sorts of things that really drive lasting economic growth: schools, water systems, roads, and other public infrastructure. The bipartisan bill would limit MEGA payouts to $200 million in the first year, $100 million in the second year, and would end the program the following year.
Prohibiting Housing Discrimination on the Basis of Source of Income
This week, state Rep. Robert Wittenberg and I announced a pair of bills that will ban discrimination against people who use benefits to help pay for housing. All too often, people wait years to be able to get housing assistance, only to be unable to find a landlord willing to accept a Section 8 voucher. This contributes to homelessness and segregation in our communities.
Ann Arbor is particularly affected by this problem; we are the 8th most economically segregated metro area in the entire country. Although the city does include source of income in its nondiscrimination ordinance, it does not spell out many of the less overt methods of housing discrimination. It also does not have the same enforcement and education resources as the state Department of Civil Rights and the state Housing Development Authority.
My bill would extend the protections of the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act to ban source-of-income discrimination in housing transactions and authorize the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to investigate such discrimination. Rep. Wittenberg’s bill would amend the landlord and tenant act to specifically ban certain discriminatory practices, such as discounting subsidy income in calculating income threshold qualifications.
The crisis in affordable housing has many causes, from low wages to federal housing disinvestment, to local obstacles that must be overcome to build affordable units. But we can, and should, make a difference on the state level by addressing discrimination against people who use housing vouchers, disability income, Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and other legal sources of income.
Apply to serve on the first-ever Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
Now through June 1, 2020, you can apply to serve as one of 13 commissioners on the first-ever Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Last November, Michigan voters decisively supported the “Voters Not Politicians” constitutional amendment that makes a commission of 13 randomly-selected citizens – not elected politicians, consultants or lobbyists – responsible for drawing fair and representative district lines for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress. The commission is a historic opportunity for Michigan voters to draw electoral maps and give us more impartial elections.
All eligible Michigan citizens are encouraged to apply to serve on the commission, which does not require any special skills or expertise. The constitution simply requires that each commissioner performs his or her duties impartially and with integrity. The application takes about 15 minutes to complete, and commissioners will be compensated about $40,000 for their service. Commissioners will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible applicants in the summer of 2020 and will gather input from the public as well as census data to determine electoral district maps which will take effect for the 2022 elections.
You can apply today or learn more at RedistrictingMichigan.org (https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1633_91141—,00.html)
Energy Assistance and Shut-off Protection
With winter quickly approaching, some Michigan residents may struggle to pay their energy bills and keep their homes warm. Did you know that Michigan law provides utility shut-off protection, and in some cases payment assistance for qualifying customers? The Michigan Public Service Commission has information available for residents in need of home heating help and any customer struggling with their energy bills should contact 2-1-1 (via either www.mi211.org or by dialing 2-1-1) for assistance in finding programs for which they may qualify and determining assistance eligibility. Military customers, senior citizens, those facing a medical emergency, and customers for whom a shut-off of power would be immediately life-threatening may be eligible for shut-off protection. Follow the links above or contact your utility provider for additional information.