I’m proud to announce that this week, the Senate passed a sound state budget full of transformative, innovative, and equitable investments.
Some highlights of the Senate budget include funding to:
- Support our kids and families as the future of our state, and the programs, services, teachers and schools they need to thrive.
- Increase per-pupil funding to the highest level in history.
- Make child care more accessible and affordable to assist working parents and improve development for kids around the state.
- Improve higher education opportunities and affordability.
- Protect and improve our air, land and water.
- Support small businesses, entrepreneurs and farmers, and encourage greater diversity and representation in all our state’s important industries.
- Expand proven, bipartisan programs to create jobs and support workers, offer better wages and educational training opportunities.
- Address the needs of our veterans and public safety professionals.
- Ensure our justice system is more efficient and equitable and offers greater opportunities for justice-involved individuals while they are incarcerated and when they return to our communities.
This budget is more than a compilation of numbers on a page—it’s a representation of our commitment to addressing the real needs of the people of Michigan. These bills detail smart investments informed by thousands of conversations we’ve had with constituents, small businesses, and community leaders. This budget is historic for all the right reasons, and I’m proud of the work Democrats have done to prioritize those who have long been ignored or left behind.
The proposed budget bills are now headed to the House for consideration and will continue to be negotiated with the House and governor’s office to reach final funding decisions.
As always, it’s my honor to work for you, the people of District 29, to deliver honest, diligent representation in Lansing on the issues that matter most.
Winnie BrinksSenate Majority Leader29th District
In This Issue
- Legislative and Government Updates
- Filter First Legislation Passed by Michigan Senate
- Absentee Voting Ballot Expansion for Military Members
- Sexual Assault Reform Package Passed
- District Happenings
- Act Now to Safely Store Your Firearm
- “Remember Their Names” Commemoration Event
- I-96 and Bridge Work in Kent County
- Welcoming Chief Brad Brown to GRFD
- Helpful Information
- Contact Us
Filter First Legislation Passed by Michigan Senate
On April 20, 2023, the Michigan Senate voted to pass Senate Bills 88 and 89 (sponsored by Senators Cherry and Santana), also known as the Filter First legislation. The bills will require all Michigan childcare centers and schools to implement a Drinking Water Management Plan, install filtered bottle-filling stations or filtered faucets on outlets designated for drinking water, and test the filtered water to ensure that the filters are installed and operating properly. Training for childcare staff will be provided, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will provide guidance to schools and childcare centers. Funding to support this initiative was approved last year.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, low levels of lead in blood can negatively affect children’s intellectual development and academic achievement. As a lawmaker, it is incredibly important to me that the well-being of Michigan youth is prioritized.
Absentee Voter Ballot Expansion for Military Members
Overseas servicemembers can be disenfranchised if their mailed ballots arrive late. In the first law related to implementing Proposal 2 (passed by Michigan voters in November), our servicemembers now have assurance that they can fully participate in our democracy.
Senate Bill 259 was signed by Governor Whitmer into law on May 2, 2023. This legislation will allow for absentee voter ballots from military members, their spouses, and voting-age dependents to still be counted if they are signed and dated by Election Day and received up to six days after the election.
Everyone’s vote matters. I’m glad to see this important change come to fruition.
Sexual Assault Reform Package Passed
I am proud of my colleagues in the Senate for passing a bipartisan package of legislation to bolster state laws regarding sexual assault and offer greater support for survivors.
The bills in the package include key policy reforms that have been passed through at least one legislative chamber each term since 2018:
Senate Bill 66 (Sen. Stephanie Chang) would require the Department of Education to make materials regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment available to school districts and require districts to provide those materials to students in grades 6-12.
Senate Bill 67 (Sen. Dan Lauwers) would prohibit sexual contact or sexual penetration under the pretext of medical care and create felony penalties for a violation.
Senate Bill 68 (Sen. Erika Geiss) would amend the sentencing guidelines to include the new felonies proposed by SB 67.
Senate Bill 69 (Sen. Lana Theis) would prohibit medical professionals from performing sensitive procedures and examinations on minor patients except under certain circumstances and create a felony penalty for a violation.
Senate Bill 70 (Sen. Ruth Johnson) would amend the sentencing guidelines to include the felony proposed by SB 69.
Senate Bill 71 (Sen. Roger Hauck) would require medical professionals to preserve a patient’s records for medical services involving vaginal or anal penetration for at least 15 years and create penalties for a violation.
Senate Bill 72 (Sen. McDonald Rivet) would amend the sentencing guidelines to include the felonies proposed by SB 71.
Senate Bill 73 (Sen. Sue Shink) would provide a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption for any information that would reveal the identity of a party who proceeds anonymously in a civil action in which that party alleges that they were the victim of sexual misconduct.
Sexual assault affects so many people within our communities, and I will do my best to continue to advocate for survivors as well as those who love and support them. These legislative efforts are just the first step.
Act Now to Safely Store Your Firearm
The news of another gun found in a child’s backpack in a Grand Rapids school should trouble us all.
The reality, and ubiquity, of guns in our community places an unfair and heavy burden on our educators. I’m grateful for their swift and decisive action which has kept our kids safe, and I grieve the stress that the danger of guns has placed on them.
We need to be clear: it is the responsibility of adults, not children, to address this danger head-on. As legislators, we have done this by passing safe storage laws, which ensure that every gun owner must keep their weapon out of the hands of children. These laws have not yet gone into effect, but that should not stop every gun owner from taking steps today to safely store their guns. Everytown for Gun Safety has found that nearly half of all parents with a weapon in the home wrongly believe their children don’t know where a gun is stored.
Today is the day to take action to safely store your gun. Click here to learn how.
“Remember Their Names” Commemoration Event
A few weekends ago, I had the distinct honor of participating in “Remember Their Names,” a commemoration of the many people who have died in school shootings since Columbine. A list of the names of those who have died was read; with every name read, it became clearer and clearer that our nation has a persistent issue with gun violence.
Thank you to U.S. Representative Hillary Scholten, State Representative Carol Glanville, Former GR Mayor George Heartwell, GRPS Superintendent Leadriane Roby, and all the other leaders in our community who were present on that day. Preventing gun violence is more important than ever for Grand Rapids and all of Michigan, and I’m committed to continuing to work toward legislation that meaningfully addresses this crisis.
I-96 and Bridge Work in Kent County
On April 24, 2023, MDOT is starting resurfacing about three miles of I-96 from Cascade Road to M-11 (28th Street). The project also includes bridge improvements on Burton Street over I-96 and resurfacing the ramps at the I-96/M-11 interchange. Based on economic modeling, this investment is expected to support 73 jobs.
Burton Street is scheduled to be closed over I-96 from June through August, with traffic detours
using Patterson Avenue, M-11, and Kraft Avenue. It is estimated that this project will end sometime in November.
During your daily commute, please remember to slow down and be mindful of construction workers and join me in celebrating the continued improvement to the safety and longevity of Michigan’s roads.
Grand Rapids Installs New Fire Chief
Team Brinks had the pleasure of witnessing the swearing-in of the 25th Chief of the Grand Rapids Fire Department, Brad Brown. Chief Brown is a 27-year veteran of the fire service and has served on the GRFD for many years. He was appointed in April after a national search. Brown takes over now-retired Chief John Lehman, who had served as the city’s chief since 2016.
Stroke Awareness Month
So many of us have a loved one who has been impacted by a stroke, including me. Last week the Senate passed a resolution to recognize May as Stroke Awareness Month in Michigan. The resolution was introduced by my colleague, Senator Rosemary Bayer, who was joined by her husband in sharing the story of his ongoing recovery after surviving a massive stroke four years ago.
I’m grateful for organizations who work hard to spread awareness and do impactful research that can improve outcomes. If you don’t know FAST (face, arms, speech, time), watch this video to learn more about what to do when you suspect someone you love is experiencing a stroke.
For more information about strokes, visit Community Awareness (michigan.gov).
Gov. Whitmer Proclaims May 8–12 as Teacher Appreciation Week
Governor Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed May 8–12 as Teacher Appreciation Week.
Governor Whitmer’s fifth budget recommendation continues historic public education investments. Her budget includes the highest per-student investment in Michigan history without raising taxes and free breakfast and lunch to all Michigan public school students, making it easier for kids to learn and educators to teach in classrooms.
Gov. Whitmer Proclaims May as Military Appreciation Month
Governor Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed May as Military Appreciation Month in Michigan, honoring military members and their families throughout the state by recognizing their sacrifices and celebrating their successes.
Michigan is committed to making the state the premier choice for military service members, veterans and their families to live, work, serve and play. In support of this effort, the MVAA helps connect veterans with federal, state and local benefits and resources they earned for their service. To learn more about employment, healthcare, education and quality-of-life benefits, veterans can contact the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center at 1-800-MICH-VET or visit www.michigan.gov/MVAA.
For more information on upcoming ceremonies and activities to honor veterans and military families, please visit the MVAA events calendar at www.michigan.gov/mvaa/events.
Summer 2023 Job Market Forecast for Michigan Teens (Ages 16–19)
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget’s Michigan Center for Data and Analytics released its summer (June–August) teen employment forecast for 2023. For more information, including resources for finding summer employment, click here.
Helping Medicaid members keep their coverage
Take action to avoid a gap in coverage
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government declared a Public Health Emergency (PHE), allowing Medicaid members to keep their health care coverage. Per recent federal legislation, eligibility renewals will start again in June. Monthly renewal notifications will be sent by mail beginning in May.
Following these steps will help determine if you still qualify:
- Make sure your contact information is up to date.
- Check mail or text messages for a letter.
- Complete your renewal form (if you get one).
If you’re a Medicaid member, learn more about how these changes may affect your health care coverage at Michigan.gov/2023benefitchanges.
Applications Now Being Accepted for the Fostering Futures Scholarship
Young adults who have experienced foster care on or after their 13th birthday are eligible to apply for a scholarship from the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.
The priority deadline for the Fostering Futures Scholarship application for academic year 2023-24 is August 1, 2023. Eligible students enrolled at a Michigan degree-granting college or university may now apply to receive scholarship funds for tuition, fees, room, board, books and supplies.
Fostering Future Scholarship Applicants with questions should contact the state Treasury Department’s Student Scholarships, Grants and Outreach area at email@example.com or call toll-free at 1-888-447-2687.
I’m looking forward to hosting a Drinks with Brinks event in the Grandville/Wyoming area on Friday, May 19 . This is an opportunity to meet and greet constituents from Senate District 29 and hear what’s on your mind. This event is less formal than my coffee hours; it gives me a chance to have one-on-one conversations instead of a big group format.
WHEN: Friday, May 19, 2023, from 5 – 6 pm
If you’re interested in attending, sign up here and we will send the event details to you via email.
If you can’t make it, stay tuned for future opportunities in this newsletter or at facebook.com/SenatorBrinks.
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.Helpful Links