The past two weeks of lame duck session have set a record in our 54th District office, with a total of 653 issue-related emails received — and counting! Thank you all for letting me know your thoughts and concerns about bills moving through the Legislature during lame duck. I value your input and encourage you to continue reaching out and letting me know your opinion on these important policies. My staff and I are working diligently to personally respond to each and every email.
This lame duck session there has been a lot of concern over the bills haphazardly moving through the House and the Senate. In the interest of full transparency, I would like to quickly update you on the bills that affect our communities and how I voted.
Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave
The bills which have received the most notoriety are Senate Bills 1171 and 1175. Both have passed both wings of the Legislature and were presented to Governor Snyder on Dec. 6. These bills adversely modified the citizen initiatives that were adopted by the legislature in September. In a previous newsletter, I explained why I voted in favor of adopting the minimum wage initiative and voted against adopting the paid sick leave. But, when both Senate bills arrived at the house on Dec. 4, neither met my expectations of what constitutes a good bill. I voted against both Senate bills.
House Bill 6269 passed by a margin of 103-3. The bill changes how the state of Michigan manages coal ash waste. The passage of this bill will entrust the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) with monitoring coal ash impoundments, coal ash landfills, hydrogeological monitoring plans, detection monitoring programs, solid waste management programs, and inflow design flood control system plans; as well as, creating a coal ash care fund and imposing various fees for landfills and impoundments to be located in the state of Michigan. This bill ultimately will increase the costs of running the DEQ, but I believe that in the new year, our Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will be more in tune to the interests of our state than the federal administration.
On Dec. 5, the Michigan House passed HB 5598. This was the first bill of six that are packaged together to reform education. I voted against this bill. Not because the entirety of the bill package is bad, but because HB 5598 is a costly and superfluous requirement for the state of Michigan and for the institutions that create our teaching programs. It prohibits the approval of teacher preparation institutions unless all full-time faculty complete at least 30 hours of continuing education per school year. I believe that teachers and professors with years of experience have better uses of their time than to go around the state and spend up to 30 hours of their time observing up to nine different teaching environments. I do not believe this standard would make the faculty of teacher preparation institutions any more qualified to do their jobs.
Of course, with two weeks of lame duck session still remaining and with literally hundreds of bills that may come up for a vote before the year is through, we must all remain vigilant and guard against legislative and special interest meddling against the will of the people. I had hoped that the last weeks of the 99th Legislature could be a bipartisan, good-faith effort for the common good. While my colleagues and I have been able to send some good bills to the governor, there has, unfortunately, been a lot of questionable bills passed, too. Please keep your letters coming. Together, our voices will be heard.