I am glad to write to you as your representative in Lansing. Legislation and the budget process are moving quickly following the spring in-district work period. In order to best 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, 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.
53rd House District
Health Care Town Hall
Next week, I will be joining special guest Congresswoman Debbie Dingell at a town hall to discuss federal and state issues related to health care. It is unacceptable that people living in one of the wealthiest nations on the planet find health care so unaffordable. I am glad to finally see serious discussions underway about how to achieve universal coverage at the national and state level.
Tuesday, April 23
6:30 to 8 p.m.
Annenberg Auditorium, 735 S. State St. in Ann Arbor
I will be holding 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, April 27
Community Room, RoosRoast Coffee, 1155 Rosewood St. in Ann Arbor
Monday, May 13
Ann Arbor Public Library, Westgate Branch, 2503 Jackson Ave. in Ann Arbor
Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction
I support a package of bills known as “Raise the Age,” which would end Michigan’s practice of automatically trying 17-year-olds as adults. House Bills 4133 through 4146 and 4443 have broad support from law enforcement, criminal justice reformers and experts in adolescent development. Michigan is one of four U.S. states that automatically prosecutes 17-year-olds accused of crimes as adults. However, evidence from the Centers for Disease Control shows that holding these young offenders in developmentally appropriate settings rather than adult facilities significantly reduces the likelihood that they will re-offend.
As a society, we do not consider 17-year-olds mature enough to enter into contracts, vote, or serve in the military. It is time for our criminal code to recognize that immature offenders have different needs and a greater potential for rehabilitation. Juvenile facilities provide more protection, better educational opportunities and more programs to enable young offenders to rejoin the community as productive citizens.
The bill package would still allow some 17-year-olds to be tried as adults at the request of a prosecutor or judge, but it would end the practice of sending all 17-year-olds accused of serious crimes through the adult system. In the short term, it will likely cost more to provide juvenile services to this additional population. Over time, though, the improved outcomes and reduced recidivism will result in savings for our state. The debate in the Legislature over these bills has focused on how to fairly apportion the costs and savings across different levels of government. Because counties would be partly responsible for paying for the increase in juvenile services, while the state would see savings on adult corrections costs, the bills propose a larger state role in supporting juvenile services.
The Raise the Age legislation is an important step in creating a fairer criminal justice system and I am glad to see that it is likely to pass with bipartisan support. The Raise the Age package was reported out of House Judiciary Committee this week and I hope to have the opportunity to vote for it on the floor soon.
Promoting Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is the way forward for Michigan to secure sustainable, affordable energy for all of us. Rather than put barriers in the way of renewable energy providers, our public policy should support green energy jobs and help ensure a healthier future.
Last week, I introduced House Bills 4465 and 4466 to prevent tax increases for people who invest in home renewable energy systems. Under the bills, home renewable energy systems would not add to the taxable value of a property until it is sold. The legislation also clarifies that home renewable energy systems are not subject to personal property tax, which usually applies only to industrial equipment. I am glad that HB 4465 and 4466 were taken up for a hearing by the House Tax Policy Committee this week, increasing the likelihood they will move forward to become law.
In addition, my House colleagues and I intend to introduce a package of bills to remove regulatory barriers to renewable energy production for homeowners, businesses, farms, and other energy users. This Energy Freedom legislation would create sensible policies for net metering and fair value pricing, removing red tape that makes it difficult for ordinary people to generate their own energy.
Most home renewable energy producers want to remain connected to the grid, using grid power when needed and selling excess renewable energy back to the grid. Currently, Michigan law places an arbitrary cap on the number of customers who can choose to “net meter” in this way.
The bill to be introduced would remove this cap, allowing more Michiganders to become energy producers and receive a credit on their electric bill.
Another bill will set fair value pricing, which ensures that energy producers will get a fair price for the energy they produce. Fair value pricing takes into consideration both the costs of providing grid service to renewable generating customers and the value of the energy they produce. The valuation method takes into account the fact that renewable energy is usually produced at times of peak need (during the day when the sun is out) and in locations near where energy is consumed, adding value for the system as a whole.
Local Ecology and Waste Management Info
City compost collection has resumed for the season. If you are looking for information about composting, recycling, or trash pickup, the city’s Waste Watcher newsletter is a good source. It’s also a useful reference guide for disposal of home toxics, electronics and bulky items.
Upcoming events related to city services and sustainability include:
Saturdays until June 29, 8 a.m. to noon: Free compost or mulch, up to one cubic yard, is available, while supplies last, to Ann Arbor residents. City of Ann Arbor Composting Facility, 4170 Platt Road in Ann Arbor. More information can be found by clicking this link.
Sunday, April 28, noon to 4 p.m.: Celebrate Earth Day at the Leslie Science and Nature Center, located at 1831 Traver Road in Ann Arbor. Learn more at a2earthday.org.
Saturday, May 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Annual Open House at the Water Treatment Plant, 919 Sunset Road in Ann Arbor, will have tours, giveaways, light refreshments and kids’ activities. For more information, visit a2gov.org/a2H2O.
Saturday, May 11, 9 a.m. to noon: Recycle Ann Arbor is hosting a paper-shredding event in the parking lot of their drop-off station, located at 2950 East Ellsworth Road in Ann Arbor. Please visit recycleannarbor.org for more details and fee information