Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Read on for legislative updates and things to do this month, along with other community information.
International Women’s Day
This week, my colleagues and I celebrated International Women’s Day by wearing red to honor women throughout the world. The Progressive Women’s Caucus is fighting for women’s access to the health care services they need, earned paid sick leave, equal pay and equal opportunity for all women, and to create a more gender-inclusive world for our daughters and the young women we mentor. Join us at http://www.miprogressivewomen.com.
I recently co-sponsored several pieces of legislation. Please see short summaries of each below:
- A bipartisan, three-bill package that adds attempted assault to the section of law dealing with courtroom assault, and increases penalties for assault and attempted assault on courtroom personnel including law enforcement, judges, prosecutors and court reporters. These bills are a response to a deadly courtroom assault in Berrien County, which left two dead and two injured, and an attempted assault in Ingham County in 2016, which was fortunately stopped by police officers in the courtroom before any fatalities occurred. The bills do the following:
- House Bill 4303 adds “attempted assault” to the section of law that criminalizes assault on personnel in courtrooms.
- HB 4302 increases the penalties from a maximum of 10 years in prison to a maximum of 15 years.
- HB 4304 updates the sentencing guidelines to reflect the attempted assault provision and the increased penalties.
- A bill to ensure that fair determinations are made when the entire Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT) hears an assessment dispute. There have been previous incidents highlighting the need for legislation to clarify the actions necessary by the MTT in making decisions. This legislation would create a fair policy, neither favoring the petitioner (citizen/business) or respondent (local unit of government), to be used for all assessment disputes.
- A bill that aims to close the dual homestead loophole by not allowing a second homeowner from out-of-state the ability to retroactively rescind their out-of-state homestead upon being discovered and before their Tax Tribunal hearing. The legislation also imposes a penalty on these out-of-state homeowners for intentionally taking advantage of this loophole.
- House Joint Resolution H, or the “Right to Read” bill. The legislation proposes an amendment to the Michigan Constitution to provide a right to literacy.
State of Michigan wind storm damage assistance
The wind storm this week left hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents without power, and many people are dealing with property damage. If you experienced property damage and will be working with your insurance company to file a claim, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) can help explain policy language and tell you what your insurance company must do.
The DIFS website has information on what to do after a disaster. You can also fill out an online complaint against your insurer if you believe they acted wrongly in response to your claim by clicking here. If you would like to speak with the DIFS Office of Consumer Services, call toll free at (877) 999-6442.
Scouts invited to participate in June 3 Iron Belle Trail Challenge
For the third year in a row, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is challenging Scouting groups across the state to lace up their boots, grab their water bottles and take part in the Iron Belle Challenge 3, set for Saturday, June 3. The challenge is an annual DNR-sponsored hiking event, offered in conjunction with National Trails Day in June, to highlight the Iron Belle Trail’s hiking and bicycling routes running between Belle Isle in Detroit all the way to Ironwood in the western end of the Upper Peninsula. The trail offers a 1,273-mile hiking route and a 791-mile bicycling route, providing plenty of stretches of scenic hiking trails for Scouts to explore.
“The past two years, we have had great participation from both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts USA,” said Ray Rustem, DNR youth programs specialist. “The Iron Belle Challenge has welcomed Scouts to hike all over the state, in locations like Detroit, Battle Creek, Cheboygan and Ironwood, to name just a few.” Rustem said last year’s hike attracted nearly 1,100 hikers who trekked more than 6,000 miles.
All Scouts who participate in the Iron Belle Challenge 3 will receive a commemorative patch. For an even bigger challenge, participants are invited to return to the trail Saturday, Sept. 23 (National Public Lands Day), to complete a stewardship activity and earn a special rocker for the patch.
For more information about the Iron Belle Challenge 3 or to register a Scout troop, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrscouting or contact Ray Rustem at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-284-6070. Learn more about the Iron Belle Trail by exploring an interactive map at www.michigan.gov/ironbelle.
Daylight Saving Time: Set Your Clock and Check Your Preparedness
The time change for daylight saving time is this Sunday, March 12, at 2 a.m. Many people make a habit of testing the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when they change their clocks. Checking these lifesaving devices twice a year is a good way to help keep everyone in your home safe.
The Genesee County Health Department recommends that you also examine your emergency supplies when you change your clocks. They suggest that you make sure emergency food supplies have not expired, test the backup cell phone charger in your emergency kit, check the batteries in your emergency flashlights, and more. If you do not have an emergency preparedness kit, now is the perfect time to make one. For the county health department’s complete list of recommend supplies, click here.
March is Reading Month
Students across Michigan are celebrating reading this month as part of the national “March is Reading Month” campaign. Once again, I am lucky this year to be visiting elementary classrooms in the 48th District as a guest reader for March is Reading Month activities. I have enjoyed this opportunity throughout my time in the House and plan to participate in the program again next year.
It is important to read to young children, and with older children, all year long. A few minutes of reading every day can have a huge impact on the life of a child by helping to improve their skills and developing a sense of joy that can be found in reading. A favorite activity of mine is to sit with my granddaughters and read a book; the oldest now loves to read and we have already started reading to the youngest who cannot even talk yet. Take some time and read to a child in your life.
Davison Annual Health and Wellness Expo
The fifth annual Davison DDA Wellness Expo will be held Saturday, March 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 208 E. Fourth St. in Davison. There will be resources for health, wellness, relaxation and fitness.
St. Patrick’s Day Party
The Davison Area Library is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Party on Saturday, March 11, from 2-3 p.m. for kids ages 4-12. Join to celebrate leprechauns and everything green! Decorate cookies and have a lucky good time at this party sponsored by the Davison Library Board. Please visit the Genesee District Library website for more details and to register.
“There is scarcely a spot in all the new world that more nearly unites in itself all the glories and beauties and advantages that constitute a perfect tourist’s paradise.” –Michigan Central Railroad, 1888.
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can be of any assistance.