Democratic lawmakers put people first with public health support 

LANSING, Mich., April 11, 2024 — Three House Democrats, state Reps. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw), Christine Morse (D-Texas Township) and Julie M. Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) were bestowed Michigan Association of Local Public Health’s (MALPH) 2024 Friend of Public Health Award yesterday for their efforts toward promoting the wellbeing of Michiganders.

“I am blessed beyond words, truly — to be honored by this award,” O’Neal said. “My job as a state representative is my passion, and it feels so good to be recognized for my continued work and commitment to Michiganders. However, my work does not end with recognition, it stems far beyond that; I am here to help make Michigan a better place, where we are putting all people first.”

Representative O’Neal is a true champion for public health statewide, but particularly in his downtown of Saginaw,” said Christina Harrington, Saginaw health officer and director. “Here [in Saginaw], he is a strong advocate for health equity and innovation in public health — and he works tirelessly to make sure we have the resources we need to do these jobs on behalf of our community. I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of this award.”

The three award recipients are recognized for their outstanding efforts in the promotion of public health in the state and within their local districts. Each of the House Democratic members were chosen by the MALPH Board of Directors. The selection criteria included effective legislative support to promote local public health programs; leadership; and deliver increased services for better health for residents, alongside increased public awareness.

“I was honored to receive the Michigan Association for Local Public Health’s Friend of Public Health Award along with my colleagues Reps. Rogers and O’Neal,” said Morse, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. “I am immensely grateful for all the services our local public health departments provide and am dedicated to working with them to ensure they have the funding they need.”

“The essential services that local public health provides to our communities is critical for the health and safety of our residents. I am humbled by receiving this award today during the annual reporting of county health rankings. Whether it be championing policies to improve maternal and infant health or lead poisoning prevention, I am thrilled to join my legislative partners in these initiatives,” stated Rogers, chair of the House Committee on Health Policy.

MALPH is an association that acts as the liaison between local and state departments and the Legislature. The association was founded in 1985 as a private nonprofit. The association was created to represent Michigan’s 45 diverse city, county and district health departments. Its mission focused on strengthening local public health departments and local governing boards. 

“I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with state Reps. Rogers and Morse at both local and state levels for many years and am beyond grateful for their unwavering commitment to public health throughout,” said James A. Rutherford, Kalamazoo public health official. “Not only did Reps. Rogers and Morse provide critical support and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic that was invaluable to my role as Kalamazoo County’s Health Officer, but they also championed positive changes impacting important initiatives tied to maternal infant health, safe drinking water, opioid addiction, gun violence prevention and lead poisoning prevention. At the state level, their contributions to legislation aimed at making Michigan a healthier place to live helped secure funding for essential public health services in our state, underscoring their dedication to the wellbeing of Michiganders across the board.”