With the budget for the next fiscal year now passed and signed by the governor, 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 to provide anyone in our district an opportunity 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, Oct. 26
Community Room, RoosRoast Coffee
1155 Rosewood St. in Ann Arbor
Monday, Nov. 11
6 p.m. Banfield’s Bar and Grill
3140 Packard St. in Ann Arbor
I will also be holding a town hall jointly with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to discuss the upcoming census and its importance to our representative democracy. The Census Town Hall will be Dec. 2 at 6 p.m., and I will let you know the location once we have confirmed it.
A Fair Deal for Small Renewable Energy Producers
Several of my colleagues and I have introduced a set of bills to remove bureaucratic barriers that currently deny Michiganders the freedom to generate their own renewable electricity. The bills will remove the arbitrary cap on distributed generation, repeal energy accounting methods that penalize distributed generation and ensure energy producers are compensated fairly.
Small energy producers, such as homeowners or small businesses with solar panels, typically generate energy in the places and at the times it is most beneficial to the community as a whole. These small energy producers connect to the grid so they can receive electricity when they need more than their panels are producing and put electricity out onto the grid when they produce more than they need. Utility companies often sell the excess electricity generated by small energy producers at full price to other nearby consumers, saving the utility on transmission costs and reducing the need to build extra power plants to deal with spikes in demand.
Under the previous system of net metering, renewable energy producers got a one-for-one credit on their bill for electricity they produced. If a net metering consumer used 900 kWh of electricity in a month and produced 500 kWh from solar panels, they only paid the utility for 400 kWh. But Michigan changed the law in 2016 to allow a “distributed generation tariff,” and the Michigan Public Service Commission took advantage of that change to dismantle the net metering system. Now, that small energy producers must pay retail rates for all the power they use while getting a much reduced rate for what they put back onto the grid. Our legislation would repeal this change and require a full accounting of the costs and benefits of distributed renewable generation, in order to ensure fair pricing for ratepayers and small energy producers alike.
Michigan also caps distributed generation in a utility’s service area at just 1 percent of peak demand, and only half of this allocation is available for small-scale energy producers. This needless barrier is stifling the shift to cleaner energy, costing consumers money, and killing jobs. Our legislation would lift this restriction for the entire state.
I am glad to say that this bill package is both bipartisan and bicameral, meaning that it has support from legislators of both parties in the House and the Senate. That makes it much more likely that the bills will be able to get a committee hearing and advance through the legislative process. The House versions are House Bills 5143 through 5145, and they have been referred to the Committee on Energy.
Raising the Age for Juvenile Court Jurisdiction
Michigan is one of just four states where young offenders are automatically tried as an adult at age 17. As a result, 17-year-olds are housed with older criminals and do not get adequate and developmentally appropriate rehabilitative services, leading to bad outcomes including potential recidivism. I voted for a package of bills to raise the age at which the criminal justice system considers a person an adult to 18. The Legislature recently passed the bills, and governor is expected to sign them into law.
Under the Raise the Age legislation, 17-year-olds would be treated like other juvenile offenders. In the case of serious crimes, juveniles can be charged as adults through a hearing process in which the juvenile court waives jurisdiction. The state has worked out a funding deal with the counties to cover the increased costs of providing services for 17-year-old offenders.
Reforming our justice system has been a bright spot of bipartisan cooperation in this Legislature, with legislation on medical parole and civil asset forfeiture already signed into law. I hope to see the trend continue not only with the Raise the Age bills but also with bail reform and expungement relief.
Opportunity to Dispose of Waste Responsibly
Washtenaw County sponsors periodic County Clean-Up Days to encourage residents to dispose of waste responsibly. This reduces illegal dumping and keeps hazardous materials out of landfills that are not designed for them. The next Clean-Up Day will be Saturday, Nov. 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Eastern Michigan University parking lot across from Rynearson Stadium (799 N. Hewitt, Ypsilanti). They will be accepting household hazardous materials, tires, electronics, bulky items like mattresses and couches, recyclables, and construction waste.
These events are free. However, there is a suggested $15 donation per car to help decrease disposal costs and to help maintain these community collections. Residents may bring up to four tires for free; a $5 donation is suggested for each additional tire. Residents can also bring one television, appliance or computer, but a $10 donation is suggested for each additional item. Residential waste only, please.
For more information, visit https://www.washtenaw.org/DocumentCenter/View/13512/November-9-2019—EMU