I am glad to write to you once more as your state representative. As we move into fall, this continues to be a difficult time for too many Michiganders. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your family. If you are having issues with any part of the unemployment insurance application process, please fill out this form on my website so I can reach out to the UIA on your behalf and try to resolve them.
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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these forums are being held virtually. I am hosting virtual Yousef and You discussions on the 2nd Monday and 4th Saturday of every month. I hope many of you will be able to join me. Please see the details below to learn how to sign up for these discussions for the rest of the year!
Zoom Registration links: We are conducting our discussions over Zoom until further notice. Please use the following links to register for the Monday and/or Saturday discussions. You only need to register one time for each.
Monday Discussions: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0ldu2hqD8pGtUfNghXbl4P8ynQr1hzdhUv
Saturday, Sept. 26 @ 10:00 a.m.
Monday, Oct. 12 @ 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 24 @ 10:00 a.m.
Monday, Nov. 9 @ 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 21 @ 10:00 a.m. (held on 3rd Saturday to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday)
Monday, Dec. 14 @ 6:00 p.m. (last discussion of the year)
In recognition of Labor Day, I introduced House Bills 6186 and 6187. HB 6186 would protect every worker from the capricious whims of bosses by requiring a business-related “just cause” before firing a worker. Right now, workers can be fired at any time for any reason. A few workers are protected by contracts or collective bargaining agreements, and employers are prohibited from discriminating against people on the basis of race, religion, union organizing, etc. But the reality for most workers is that their livelihood can be taken away at any time, no matter how well they do their job. This system of “at will” employment creates a huge power imbalance and provides cover for discriminatory practices. This bill is modeled on a successful Montana law that extends just cause job protections to all workers past their probationary period.
I also introduced HB 6187 to protect workers who advocate for more personal protective equipment or wear better equipment of their own. It’s shocking that six months into this pandemic we are still experiencing massive shortages of professional-grade protective equipment (PPE) such as N-95 respirators. Many health care workers are now routinely asked to do things that were recognized as unsafe before the pandemic, such as re-using PPE and using less effective masks. At least one major hospital system has barred nurses from wearing genuine N-95 respirators provided by their union, even when the hospital would only provide surgical masks. Other workers, from waiters to janitors, are working in proximity to other people without being provided any type of effective PPE by their employers. Employers are required by law to provide PPE to protect workers from hazards, but all too often they threaten and retaliate against workers for wearing PPE, citing concerns about shortages, expense, liability or appearances. Many employers also ban workers from wearing PPE in excess of minimum safety guidelines. This bill would protect workers from any adverse employment action as a result of a worker advocating for PPE or wearing their own equipment that is as protective or more protective than what the employer has supplied.
In addition to introducing these bills, I am voting against Senate and House bill packages that would indemnify employers who harm workers and the general public by negligently exposing them to coronavirus. Big business and insurance interests are pushing to protect bad actors from being held accountable to even the most basic levels of occupational safety and consumer protection. We are all responsible for keeping each other safe in this pandemic. I oppose these and all attempts to give corporations a free pass to profit while harming the people of our state.
Budget Deal has been Reached
The legislative majority and the governor have agreed to a deal on the budget that will reportedly protect K-12 schools and local governments from cuts in the fiscal year that starts October 1. The most recent revenue estimates for the state were not as dire as the estimates from May, but we will still be short about $2.5 billion, over four percent of the state budget. Some of that could be made up out of the Rainy Day Fund, but there will be strong pressure to make cuts to essential investments in our state’s long term prosperity, like higher education and transportation infrastructure. I believe the best course is to instead raise more revenue from the extremely profitable corporations that currently benefit from tax cuts in our state.
Because as of this newsletter the full details of the budget deal are still being released, I do not know whether I will vote to support it. It cannot be amended for procedural reasons, so it will be “take it or leave it.” Without a budget, state government would shut down next Thursday, which would be particularly harmful given the need to respond to the coronavirus and its economic effects. In considering my vote I will have to weigh many factors, but my overall concern is voting in the best interests of the people of Ann Arbor and the state as a whole.
In a Hurry to Renew your Driver’s License?
Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, has announced special appointments and extended hours are available to renew driver’s licenses or state ID cards that are expiring in October. Customers with IDs of an expiration date up to Oct. 31 can make appointments for between 4 and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The deadline to make an appointment for one of these additional times is Sept. 30. To make an appointment, visit Michigan.gov/SOS or call 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).
Fight COVID– Answer the Phone
The Washtenaw County Health Department would like to remind everyone to answer their phone or call back if contacted by the county health department or the state MI COVID HELP line. Public Health contact tracers call people who have tested positive for coronavirus or who have been identified as being in close contact with a person who tested positive. The call may come from various numbers depending on which staffer is calling. If you do not answer, they will leave a voicemail if possible.
REAL CONTACT TRACERS WILL NEVER ASK FOR YOUR FINANCIAL INFORMATION OR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. Scammers have been known to “spoof” or fake the caller ID information so their calls appear to be coming from the health department, so you should never give this type of information to a caller.
Contact tracing is vital to containing the virus before it spreads to another set of people. You can help out by limiting your close contacts (in an enclosed space unmasked or within six feet for more than 10 minutes), keeping track of whom you are in contact with, and sharing that information with contact tracers if they call. They will preserve your anonymity, and they can provide resources to enable you to get tested or to isolate as needed, such as food or temporary housing. The Washtenaw County Health Department has more information about contact tracing here.
Fill out the Census Online!
It is crucial to get everyone counted in the United States Census. Many programs allocate resources based on census data, and Michigan’s new nonpartisan redistricting commission will also rely on the Census to draw fair and accurate district lines. If you have not filled out your census form yet, please do so online at https://my2020census.gov/ .