March is Women’s History Month, and it’s also the month when we hit Equal Pay Day. The average woman would have to work until March 14, 2023, to earn what the average male made at the end of 2022. Even as we celebrate the many achievements that women have attained, we still have a long way to go before we’ll reach fairness and equity.
I’m proud to be surrounded in the legislature by bright, passionate women who are driven to tackle problems and bring real, lasting solutions for the issues people face. We come from many different backgrounds and carry with us a variety of perspectives; a diversity that makes our collective efforts even more effective. We’re working together not only to uplift other women, but to work for the good of all Michigan’s residents.
As always, it’s my honor to work for you, the people of District 29, and deliver honest, diligent representation in Lansing on the issues that matter most. I’m proud to share the progress we have already made in this newsletter.
Senate Majority Leader
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Legislative Updates
- Repeal of 1931 Abortion Ban
- Senate Passed ELCRA Amendment
- Restoring Workers’ Rights
- Lowering MI Costs Plan Signed into Law
- District Events
- The Kroc Center Hosts Disability Awareness Day
- Capitol Rally with Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords
- Lakeside Elementary School Visits Capitol
- Helpful Information
- Contact Us
Repeal of 1931 Abortion Ban
Almost 2.5 million Michiganders voted this fall to create a constitutional right to reproductive freedom and protect women, their bodies, and their rights. On March 8, 2023, Michigan Senate Democrats took a stand for Michiganders’ reproductive freedom by passing legislation to repeal Michigan’s 1931 statue, which criminalized abortion care and other related services. When the 1931 law was passed, women had only been permitted to vote for a decade; the 1931 legislation was drafted and enacted by an entirely male Legislature. It did not reflect the needs of Michiganders then, and certainly did not reflect the needs of Michiganders today.
In response, the Senate passed a series of bills:
- Senate Bill 2 repeals the 1931 ban on contraception and other information about reproductive health.
- Senate Bill 37 updates the code of criminal procedure.
- Senate Bill 39 repeals the law that criminalizes providing an abortion.
- Senate Bill 93 repeals penalties for the sale of drugs or medicine to be used for abortions.
Seeking an abortion is a deeply personal decision that should be left up to an individual and their healthcare providers, and with the support of their loved ones; it should not be made by politicians. Reproductive freedom (or the lack of it) can affect the whole person: physical health, mental health, financial stability, capacity to care for children or other family members, ability to create a family later in life, and so much more.
My colleagues—Senator Erika Geiss, Senator Sarah Anthony, and Senator Rosemary Bayer—were the lead sponsors on this historic bill. I’m grateful for their leadership, and for the political will in Michigan to ensure that reproductive freedom is afforded to all.
Senate Passed ELCRA Amendment
The Michigan Senate Democrats continue to make history and tackle longstanding policy needs, recently passing Senate Bill 4 to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civils Rights Act to provide protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. I was able to join Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as she signed the bill into law on Thursday.
Nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ+ Americans report having experienced discrimination in their everyday lives. Twenty-two states and more than 100 cities have adopted these common-sense, inclusive and comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ people. Michigan has become the 23rd state to adopt comprehensive non-discrimination laws.
This momentous moment was made possible by the leadership of my friend and colleague Senator Jeremy Moss, Michigan’s first openly gay Senator, and 50 years of hard work by the LGBTQ people, legislators, and allies on whose shoulders we stand. It’s good for the economy — and puts us on the right side of history — when our state’s laws are more welcoming and protect people from being discriminated against for who they are or who they love.
Restoring Workers’ Rights package passes Senate
On March 14, 2023, the Michigan Senate voted to pass legislation protecting Michigan’s working families.
For too long, Michigan laws weakened wage and workplace protections and collective bargaining. By passing the Restoring Workers’ Rights legislation, we’re protecting the freedom to join to negotiate — creating safer, more equitable workplaces, with fair pay that helps Michigan families thrive.
The Restoring Workers’ Rights legislation, and the repeal of so-called Right to Work in particular, will help families by guaranteeing workers’ rights to join to negotiate for pay raises, lifting worker pay to help deal with rising costs, protect their right to safety, and helping create good-paying jobs that are available to all workers.
By repealing anti-worker laws, we’re making our state a place where people want to come, work hard, and build a life knowing that they will be respected and able to earn a good living.
Lowering MI Costs Plan Signed into Law
Done! On March 7, 2023, the Governor signed into law the largest tax relief initiative Michigan has seen in decades. The bill will overhaul the unfair and unpopular retirement tax and expand the Working Families Tax Credit to 30% of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.
The Lowering MI Costs Plan also invests $50 million of surplus tax revenue in significant, sustainable, and ongoing dedicated funding to affordable housing.
With this broad, meaningful tax relief, we are restoring fairness for Michiganders who need it most. Speaker Joe Tate and I are proud of the hard work done in both the Senate and the House to make this great legislation happen for Michigan!
Disability Awareness Day
This week, I joined Rep. Carol Glanville and the many advocates from Disability Advocates of Kent County for their Disability Awareness Day. It was a joy to share the commitment was have in the Senate to view every issue through the lens of equity and inclusion.
Our whole community is better when all people contribute their ideas, experience, and strengths. I’m grateful to advocates who continue to draw attention to barriers, who uplift innovative solutions, and who amplify the voices of those who have been traditionally marginalized. We are committed to bringing more voices to the table is how we create policies that include every Michigander.
Lakeside Elementary School Visits Capitol
Thank you to the Lakeside Elementary students and staff for coming to visit me at work during their Capitol tour!
There are often school groups in the halls of the Capitol, but welcoming visitors from my own district is always a joy. If your class comes to the Capitol, be sure to reach out to my office (firstname.lastname@example.org) – I’d love to find time to greet you and to welcome our next generation of leaders.
Capitol Rally with Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords
On Wednesday, March 15, 2023, I was honored to speak alongside former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Governor Whitmer, and gun safety advocates on the Capitol steps. So many advocates gathered to bravely share their stories of surviving gun violence and to make a clear call for gun safety legislation. And we are meeting that call: Our package of gun safety bills passed the Senate on Thursday. The days of inaction on gun violence in Michigan’s legislature are over.
Staying Safe during Power Outages
The recent winter storms have resulted in thousands of Michiganders losing power. Power outages can lead to potentially dangerous situations, including food spoilage and a lack of heat and running water. Be sure to remain safe during power outages and check in with your fellow neighbors.
If you do choose to use a portable generator safety to stay warm, please keep the following in mind:
- Do not run a generator indoors or in a partially enclosed space like a garage
- Never use a worn-out cord or one that does not have a three-pronged plug
- Install a battery or smart carbon monoxide alarm device inside your home
Here are some other supplemental heating sources:
- Electric space heaters
- Kerosene and gas space heaters
- Fireplaces and wood burning stoves
Read this power outage checklist from the Michigan Public Service Commission to better prepare. In the meantime, remember to be kind and considerate to utility crews. Their efforts help to restore power lines and improve road conditions throughout Michigan.
Consumer Complaints and Price Gouging
If you are ever without power and you have specific consumer complaints, please feel free to file a complaint or submit power outage feedback to the Office of Attorney General Dana Nessel. Also, please be aware of price gouging of essential goods, supplies, and lodging during winter storms. Report price gouging to the Michigan Attorney General’s office or call 877-765-8388.
Gov. Whitmer joins Wayne State University to announce new initiative, lowering the cost of college
Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined Wayne State University officials to announce the Wayne State Guarantee, a new initiative offering incoming Michigan students with family incomes of $70,000 or less a tuition-free degree with zero out-of-pocket expenses. The program will begin in the fall of 2023 and cover the full cost of tuition and standard fees. This is made possible thanks to the bipartisan Michigan Achievement Scholarship program, which Governor Whitmer signed into law in 2022, saving students up to $8,250 on their associate degree at a community college, up to $20,000 at a private college, or up to $27,500 at a public university.
Who’s Eligible for the Wayne State Guarantee
- Incoming first-year undergraduates who are Michigan residents admitted for fall 2023 as a first-time undergraduate in a degree-program.
- Household income of $70,000 or less and assets of $50,000 or less as confirmed on the 2023-24 FAFSA.
- Michigan residents eligible for the Pell grant in 2023-24 are also eligible.
- Must be enrolled full time (12 or more credit hours per semester) each semester. Funding is for the fall and winter semesters.
- WSU must receive your 2023-24 FAFSA by April 1, 2023, and be eligible to receive federal student aid.
- Must be admitted to WSU by April 1, 2023.
The Wayne State Guarantee covers the full cost of tuition and standard fees (matriculation, registration, and student service fees) with a combination of federal, state, and other WSU scholarships and grants. The award is renewable for up to four years, with the option to apply for a fifth year if the student is on track to graduate in that year.
Upcoming Coffee Hour
Join me in person in SE Grand Rapids to discuss the issues that are important to you!
WHEN: Friday, March 24, 2023, from 9:00-10:00 am
You can register for this coffee hour here, or call our office at (517) 373-1801 to RSVP. You will receive the location details and an email reminder before the event.
Hope to see you there!
The Office of Senate Majority Leader Brinks values input from all Michiganders but prioritizes District 29 constituent concerns. If you have questions or concerns, but are not a resident of District 29, I encourage you to reach out to your local State Senator. Click here to find who represents you in the Senate.
Comment on Legislation: You can stay updated on legislative advancements through my biweekly e-newsletters or by clicking here. Given the high volume of messages my office receives daily, please note that it may take time for your inquiry to receive a response.
If You Need Help: If you have a problem dealing with any department of state government, such as accessing unemployment benefits, my office is available to help resolve it. While we usually cannot assist with local or federal issues, we will always do our best to help direct you to the appropriate person or organization for help.
You may always feel free to call my office at (517) 373-1801 or email me at SenWBrinks@senate.michigan.gov.