What a difference a year makes! With over a thousand bills introduced in both chambers of the legislature — and more than 230 signed into law by the Governor — our first year in the majority in Lansing has made a huge impact. In this e-news, you’ll find ten of my favorite changes that happened in 2023.
As always, it is my honor to work for you, the people of District 29, to deliver honest and diligent representation in Lansing on the issues that matter most.
Senate Majority Leader
Legislative Updates | The Best of 2023
Thousands of Constituents Served
Between assisting people with individual needs regarding unemployment, insurance, human services, etc., discussing important issues at coffee hours, visiting local businesses, participating in roundtables, supporting nonprofit organizations and tracking the opinions expressed in emails and phone calls on wide-ranging topics, my team and I interacted with thousands of constituents this year.
There is so much more we could list! As always, it is my privilege to represent you in the State Senate and ensure the resources of the state government are serving you as well as possible. I look forward to what 2024 will bring, and I wish you the happiest of holidays!
More Money for Schools
We passed the highest per-pupil allocation in Michigan’s history. We’re giving free breakfast and lunch to all public school students. We’re offering more funding for kids who need extra help — like language learners and students with disabilities. We’re giving incentives to go into the field of teaching.
Tax Fairness (for those who need it most)
We expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) so that people who support families but struggle to make ends meet will pay a fairer state tax rate and have more to spend on their essentials. We rolled back the unfair retirement tax that was passed ten years ago; now seniors will save an average of $1,000.
An Energy Plan that Takes Climate Change Seriously
The Clean Energy Future package was signed into law, setting ambitious but achievable targets for our state. By 2040, Michigan will produce all its energy from clean sources. We will devote resources to energy efficiency and waste reduction programs that will lower costs for families and small businesses. We’ll streamline permitting of utility-scale clean energy, driving billions of dollars of federal and private investment in Michigan and creating good-paying local jobs.
Big Investments for Local Projects
Together with hardworking House members who represent our area, we were able to secure one-time investments in this year’s budget that will make a transformational impact locally: $35 million to overhaul two Grand Rapids fire stations for faster response times and more resources for GRFD, $20 million for Wyoming’s City Center infrastructure project which will transform our whole region, $6 million for construction of a lodge at Martin Luther King Park on the southeast side, $50 million to non-profits and community partners including the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, John Ball Park Zoo, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids Ballet, Mercy Health’s Mobile Mammogram unit, Mary Free Bed’s rehabilitation hospital for children and more.
Reproductive Rights Protected
Not only did we repeal the draconian 1931 abortion ban, we passed the Reproductive Health Act, which protects healthcare providers who are offering medications like mifepristone, strikes down TRAP laws that were intended to prevent access to abortion, repeals burdensome insurance requirements like having a separate insurance rider in case you someday needed an abortion and empowers public universities to share all medical options with students, removing protections that might limit student access to reproductive care.
Protecting Drinking Water
We repealed the Snyder-era law that kept our state from acting decisively on pollution. Under that old law, Michigan could not enact protections that were stricter than the federal government’s environmental rules. For example, Michigan could not set PFAS standards that were based on what scientists told us were safe, because that would surpass the federal standards. Now, state lawmakers are able to be more nimble and responsive in order to protect the health of Michiganders. We also passed “Filter First” laws that equip schools and childcare centers to install filters in their faucets that protect kids from lead exposure.
Civil Rights for LGBTQ+ Michiganders
Until this year, our civil rights laws did not prevent discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. One of the first things on our agenda with our new Democratic Majority was to expand our state’s Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Amendment to include protections for LGBTQ+ people. We also banned the use of conversion therapy so that Michigan’s youth will no longer be subjected to this dangerous practice that is unanimously condemned by the medical community.
Transforming Unused Properties, Building New Housing
We unlocked new tools to finance affordable housing and set up a Transformational Brownfield Fund that allows Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood and other municipalities to convert vacant land and other abandoned property into productive space. Fewer eyesores and more jobs, more businesses, more houses and more tapped potential!
Action on Gun Violence Prevention
For years, efforts to pass common-sense solutions that addressed the epidemic of guns in our communities got zero support in the Michigan legislature. Even after the shocking murders at Oxford High School, Democrats were not able to convince those in leadership to do anything at all.
I count myself among the millions of parents and activists who breathed a sigh of relief when the hard-fought package of gun safety measures was finally signed into law on MSU’s campus in the weeks following the tragic violence there. Those laws will go into effect in February 2024 — including mandates that guns must be stored safely and out of the reach of children, the ability to temporarily remove guns from people who display extreme risk of violence and the universal requirement of a background check before a gun can be sold.
With all the important work that we have done this year, it’s good to reflect on what we’ve achieved. I’m already looking forward to what we’ll continue as we move into 2024.
It’s my privilege to represent you in the legislature!
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, contact 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.