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. As the budget process begins again, I particularly want to hear about how you think our state should allocate our resources. 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:
Monday, Feb. 10
Cellar, Argus Farm Stop, 1200 Packard St. in Ann Arbor
Saturday, Feb. 22
Community Room, RoosRoast Coffee, 1155 Rosewood St. in Ann Arbor
Public Comments Open for PFAS Regulation
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is accepting comments on the proposed rules to regulate PFAS chemicals in drinking water, 2019-35 EG. At least two million Michiganders have been exposed to PFAS in drinking water, including people drinking Ann Arbor municipal water. There is currently no federal or state limit on PFAS in drinking water, but toxicological and epidemiological research indicates even very low levels of PFAS can cause cancer, high cholesterol, thyroid problems and other ill effects. After public comments, the ruleset will go back to the new Environmental Rules Review Committee, which is dominated by representatives of polluting industries.
The draft rules would set Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) on seven of the thousands of PFAS compounds. Those levels would be: PFNA 6 ppt, PFOA 8 ppt, PFHxA 400,000 ppt, PFOS 16 ppt, PFHxS 51 ppt, PFBS 420 ppt, and GenX 370 ppt. There would be no requirement to limit or test for other PFAS.
You can make a public comment on the draft rules through Jan. 31 by emailing EGLE-PFAS-RuleMaking@Michigan.gov.The proposed rules can be viewed here.
I have submitted the following comment for ruleset 2019-35 EG:
I am glad to see our regulators proposing standards to protect the people of Michigan from toxic PFAS, which build up in the environment and our bodies. But these draft rules do not go far enough to protect human health.
For too long we have given polluters the benefit of the doubt, allowing them to put millions of tons of chemicals out into our environment without any safety testing. Only once entire communities had already been poisoned did regulators propose drinking water limits and cleanup rules. Due to the negligence of polluters, the inaction of previous administrations and the willful dismantling of environmental protection by lawmakers, communities like Ann Arbor have been left on the hook for costly water service improvements.
That’s obviously the wrong way around. The proposed rule would set MCLs for seven PFAS compounds. But there are an estimated 4,700 PFAS compounds. How long would it take to do testing and administrative rulemaking on each one? Longer than the lifetimes of the people whose health will be ruined, though unfortunately probably not longer than these compounds will persist in our soil, streams and rivers. We must regulate PFAS as a class now to prevent this entirely predictable environmental and public health catastrophe.
These proposed MCLs are a step in the right direction but we can do much better than that for the people of our state.
Moving Michigan to 100 Percent Renewable Electricity
Current law will only require utilities to generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by next year, and there are no provisions to increase renewable generation beyond that. With Michigan already seeing negative effects of climate change such as toxic algal blooms and torrential rain, it is clear we need a more ambitious transformation of our energy policy.
Progressive Democratic members of Congress have proposed a resolution in support of a Green New Deal, a set of policies that would create jobs through investments in solutions to pollution and climate change. That resolution calls for setting a goal of carbon neutrality by the year 2050, meaning that fossil fuel emissions would be either eliminated or offset. In the spirit of the Green New Deal, I have proposed a policy that would go even farther than that net-zero goal. House Bill 5420 would require all electrical utility generation to be renewable by 2050. The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) does not count nuclear generation or carbon offsets towards that 100 percent renewable goal. Michigan’s RPS would rise to 25 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2032, 75 percent by 2040, and 100 percent by 2050. This would make other goals, such as achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, more feasible.
Moving to clean energy will save consumers money as the cost of renewable generation is now competitive with fossil fuels and is still falling rapidly. The people of Michigan will also benefit from cleaner air and water, and from the public health gains that accompany those pollution reductions. I am proud that 29 of my colleagues have added their names to HB 5420 in support of a brighter, healthier future for our state.
How to Keep Your Healthy Michigan Medicaid Coverage
Starting this month, people ages 19-62 who use Healthy Michigan Medicaid (a.k.a. Expansion Medicaid) will need to document 80 work hours a month or qualify for an exemption in order to keep their health care coverage. If a person does not meet the required work hours for three months in a 12-month period, their coverage will be terminated.
I opposed this change to the law because Medicaid is about providing health care, not micromanaging people’s employment. Administering the requirement will divert millions of dollars from health care to bureaucracy. The majority of people subject to the work requirement are already exempt or working enough hours. But many of them will lose their coverage anyway due to the difficulty of reporting their status. Based on the experience of other states that implemented work requirements, policy analysts believe 200,000 people might lose their coverage. Of those who lose coverage, the majority will do so due to administrative errors and reporting difficulties, even though they are working or exempt.
It will be very hard to reach all 670,000 recipients of Healthy Michigan Medicaid to inform them of these complex new requirements, which are in addition to the existing income-based eligibility rules. Please help spread the word in our community so that people do not lose coverage unnecessarily. For more information, visit this page.
Here’s what you need to know to keep your coverage:
Claiming an Exemption: If you already received a letter saying you are exempt, you do not need to take further action. People ages 18 and under or 63 and older are also exempt. You can claim an exemption if you are:
- pregnant or were pregnant in the past two months
- living with a disability/medical condition that limits your daily activities or needs frequent medical care
- living with a chronic substance abuse condition
- on unemployment
- receiving SNAP (food stamps) or TANF (cash assistance) benefits
- a survivor of recent domestic violence
- a parent of a child under six or caring for a person with a disability (one per household)
- a former ward of Michigan foster care younger than 21
- released from prison or jail in the last six months
- able to show other good cause (e.g. family member is seriously ill)
To claim one of the listed exemptions before Jan. 31, fax or mail in this form. Starting Feb. 1, you can claim an exemption at http://michigan.gov/mibridges or call (833) 895-8366. You may be asked to provide more documentation to support your exemption claim.
Documenting Work or Activity Hours: You can also meet the requirement by:
- working 80 hours every month
- going to school full time
- working at an internship
- doing vocational or job training
- participating in a tribal employment program
- participating in substance abuse rehab
- volunteering (may only be used for three months in a calendar year)
- looking for a job
Starting Feb. 1, you will need to document these activities each month through MiBridges http://michigan.gov/mibridges or by phone (833) 895-8366.