In this e-newsletter:
- Upcoming Coffee Hour: June 16
- Women Veterans Recognition Day Legislation
- Affordable Care Act Legislation
- Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Bills Pass the House
- Expanding Crime Victims’ Rights Protections
- Ensuring Safe and Secure Absentee Ballot Requests
- Summer Interns Working for the 41st House District
Upcoming Coffee Hour: June 16
Please join me for an outdoor, informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues at my next coffee hour:
Friday, June 16
Davis Street Park, 901 Davis St., Kalamazoo, MI 49008
While advance registration is not required, anyone who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by emailing JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
Women Veterans Recognition Day
June 12, 2023, is the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948 by President Harry S. Truman. The act made it legal for women to serve in all four branches of the military rather than in limited clerical capacities or as nurses. While women have served in our military in a variety of capacities since the founding of our nation, this act finally removed legal prohibitions to their service. In honor of the many women who have served our nation as members of the armed forces and in commemoration of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, the Michigan Legislature and governor have offered annual resolutions recognizing Women Veterans Recognition Day since 2018.
My bill, House Bill 4555, permanently designates June 12 as Women Veterans Recognition Day as an annual day of recognition for the nearly 44,000 women veterans who make Michigan their home and the more than 2 million women veterans throughout our nation. I am happy to report that HB 4555 passed the House and Senate and is headed to the governor’s desk for her signature. It passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support and received unanimous support in the Senate. With any luck, Michigan will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act with the governor’s signature on HB 4555 and the implementation of Women Veterans Recognition Day in law permanently.
Affordable Care Act Protections Legislation
This month, my colleagues and I introduced a series of bills in the House and Senate to codify the most popular and important consumer protection provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into Michigan law. Federal court cases in recent years have posed a threat to these vital protections, specifically required coverage for preventive services is under threat by a decision in the case Braidwood Management v. Becerra. Michiganders have come to rely on the protections afforded under the ACA including prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage of individuals with preexisting conditions, guaranteeing that dependents up to age 26 can remain on your health insurance, and ensuring coverage for critical preventive care services.
The bills are:
- HB 4619 (Rep. Rogers): Prohibit discrimination in offering health insurance based on gender, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation and prohibit charging a different rate based on race, color, creed, marital status, sex, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, resident, location of risk, disability, or lawful occupation of risk.
- HB 4620 (Rep. Kimberly Edwards): Prohibit denial of insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- HB 4621 (Rep. John Fitzgerald): Require insurance coverage of dependents up to age 26.
- HB 4622 (Rep. Reggie Miller): Prohibit lifetime and annual limits on benefits.
- HB 4623 (Rep. Matt Koleszar): Require coverage of recommended preventive services as approved by the director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services after consideration by the United State Preventive Services Task Force.
These bills came before the House Insurance and Financial Services Committee on June 8 for a hearing. We are working diligently with stakeholders including doctors, patient advocates, health insurers, hospitals and others across the medical field. Protecting Michigan residents’ health care access from federal judges with a political agenda by placing these bills in law is one of my highest priorities.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Bills Pass the House
In February, I coordinated the re-introduction of House Bill 4120-4125, a bipartisan package of bills that were developed over hundreds of hours of discussions and consultation with survivors, experts, community organizations and advocacy groups arising from the MSU/Larry Nassar scandal. The bills were voted out of committee in April and were passed by the House on May 24 with overwhelming bipartisan support. Two of the bills received unanimous support. These bills are long overdue, and I am hopeful that we will finally enact this important legislation to prevent future tragedies.
- HB 4120 (Rep. Rogers) would require that comprehensive training materials be provided to individuals who are mandated to report child abuse and neglect unless their employer already provides substantially similar training.
- For more information on the other bills in the package, you can click the following links: HB 4121, HB 4122, HB 4123, HB 4124, HB 4125
Expanding Crime Victims Rights Protections
I was proud to work with a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce a series of four bills to amend the Crime Victim’s Rights Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure to provide victims of crimes additional protections and resources. The four bills in the package are:
- HB 4420 (Rep. Rogers): A bill to provide an explicit provision in Michigan statute that makes it clear to law enforcement and prosecutors that they are permitted and encouraged to engage and initiate survivor-focused outreach with survivor service agencies.
- HB 4421 (Rep. Stephanie Young): Allow a victim’s face to be blurred in recordings of court proceedings that are uploaded to the internet for public viewing.
- HB 4422 (Rep. Graham Filler): Updates the definition of serious misdemeanor to include additional crimes for the purpose of allowing victims to access resources for which they are not currently eligible.
- HB 4423 (Rep. Greg VanWoerkom): Allow remote victim impact statements.
This legislation also passed the House with wide bipartisan support on June 7. If enacted, these bills will ensure that victims of domestic violence are not retraumatized when being faced with their abusers in court, have access to resources to escape their current situation, and are protected from unnecessary exposure in public video records.
Ensuring Safe and Secure Absentee Ballot Requests
I introduced HB 4570, which codifies the existing practice by the Secretary of State, to allow individuals to request an absentee ballot online through a safe, secure and identity verifying online portal. This bill does not impact the manner in which a person votes, where they vote, when they vote or provide an alternative voting process. It simply allows a registered voter to apply online for an absentee ballot to be sent to their home. Voters still must fill out the paper ballot and return it either via mail or by physically returning it to the local clerk or designated secure ballot dropbox.
This bill was passed by the House Elections Committee on May 17, and I am hopeful it will be voted on by the House this year.
Summer Interns Working for the 41st District
Through the 41st District Service Office, I have six interns joining me in serving the community and learning the legislative process. They will be helping me engage our community as we knock on doors and talk to residents about what is important to you with a focus on supports for mental health. In addition, they will be getting one-on-one mentoring on the legislative process as they develop projects and present their findings on potential legislation.
When you see these young people gaining valuable work experience in your neighborhood, please share your thoughts so that I can better serve you as your state representative!