Dear Neighbor, 

February was Black History Month, an important opportunity to celebrate contributions and achievements of African Americans both in the Senate and our communities. 

To start our commemoration of Black History Month, I was honored to speak at the unveiling of Senate Appropriations Chair Sarah Anthony’s official portrait. She is the first Black woman to serve in that role, and (notably!) her portrait is the first Black woman’s portrait to ever hang in our state’s Capitol. For far too long, perspectives like hers were left out of leadership and often ignored entirely, so I could not be more grateful for her trailblazing efforts to create an equitable, balanced budget that lifts all Michiganders.

In District 29, even closer to home, I had the honor of celebrating another Black woman’s historic achievements. The GIANT Awards is an annual opportunity to celebrate Black excellence in West Michigan, recognizing community leaders today who stand on the shoulders of “giants” who came before them. At this 41st GIANT Awards, Rep. Kristian Grant, the first African American woman to ever represent Grand Rapids in the state’s House of Representatives, received the William Glenn Trail Blazer Award, an important recognition of her faithful service to the Legislature and the people she represents.

I look forward to moments like these, where we take dedicated time to celebrate and honor the legacy of Black leaders who have helped shape our community and our state, especially when that legacy is being built before our eyes. And as we move into March, the work doesn’t change: leaders in Lansing are committed to building a Michigan that uplifts Black stories, elevates Black voices, and honors Black contributions every month of the year. 

As always, it is my honor to work for you and deliver honest, diligent representation in Lansing on the issues that matter most. I hope this newsletter informs you of other exciting things happening in the Legislature and throughout District 29.  


Winnie Brinks
Senate Majority Leader
29th District


Included in This Newsletter 

  • District Events 
  • Helpful Information 
  • Contact Us
  • Helpful Links 

District Events 

As you may know, there were a host of laws that were passed in 2023 and signed into law by the governor, but which did not go into effect at that time. They were not supported by the Republican minority, and thus fell short of the needed support of 2/3 of the full legislature for a law to take “immediate effect.” This means that all those laws would go into effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session in 2023. That day came on February 13 of 2024. Among those bills were the expansion of civil rights for LGBTQ+ Michiganders, the reinstatement of workers’ rights, protections on women’s access to reproductive healthcare, and more. I spent time in my district helping to spread the word about two of these laws that were especially important to me. 


Spreading the Word About the Earned Income Tax Credit

With families facing big economic challenges right now, my caucus worked hard to ensure that a policy we had been prioritizing for years was at the top of our list to achieve when we finally got the power to enact it: expanding Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit. We quintupled the Michigan match of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 6% to 30%. Public Act 4 of 2023 will help 700,000 Michiganders who have the hardest time affording the basics save an average of $3,150 per year. In fact, many of our neighbors are seeing refund checks from the 2022 tax year hit their mailbox this month because we ensured the policy was retroactive and could benefit Michigan families as soon as possible.  

But one in five eligible taxpayers don’t take advantage of the EITC – probably because they don’t know it exists. To help spread the word, I moderated a panel of community leaders, including Michigan League for Public Policy’s Fiscal Director Rachel Richards, Managing Director at The Source Erika Gonzalez, Kent Schools Services Network Executive Director Keenan King, and the Director of Economic Inclusion for the Community and Economic Development Association of Michigan, Brian Rakovitas. Their expertise helped inform social service professionals from across the region on how Michiganders can take advantage of this new investment in the current tax season, and what this investment will mean for families.   

For more information about the EITC’s expansion, click here.  


Celebrating the Repeal of the Retirement Tax

I also was fortunate to be invited to Advocates for Senior Issues for their monthly meeting for an opportunity to share about another important tax change that our caucus prioritized early in 2023: the repeal of Michigan’s retirement tax. For a decade, the unfair tax on retirement income punished those who had worked hard to plan and save for the experience of living on a fixed income after they retired. Repealing that unfair tax was an easy decision for our caucus, and I was happy to spread the word on how that change will benefit retirees across the state.   

For more information about the changes to taxes on retirement income in Michigan, click here 


Promoting Public Safety Through Preventing Gun Violence

Another critical achievement of 2023 was – at long last – taking substantive action to prevent gun violence. Bills to address gun safety have been a priority for my caucus for years, but the cries of constituents – moms and dads, teachers, law enforcement, doctors – went unheeded even after the tragedy at Oxford High School. 

Less than six weeks into our new majority, the tragic shooting at MSU occurred. I am relieved that the party in power at that time was not only willing, but also well-prepared to respond with policy change.  

Gun safety laws went into effect on February 13, including: 

  • Safe Storage: If a firearm is accessible to a minor, gun owners are required to store unattended weapons unloaded and locked, either with a locking device like a trigger lock or in a gun safe or case.  
  • Universal Background Checks: Previous state law only required background checks for pistol sales and effectively did not mandate such criminal background checks or registration for other types of firearms, such as rifles. Now, universal background checks for all firearm sales are required.  
  • Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Judges are now able to issue an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) to remove firearms from in a situation when individuals are found to pose a threat to themselves or others. 
  • Domestic Violence: Under previous state law, only felony convictions for domestic violence meant a person couldn’t own or buy a gun. Now misdemeanor convictions will ban a person from buying or owning a gun for eight years. 

I hosted a press conference on February 12 in Grand Rapids to raise awareness about the safe storage law in particular. Parents and caregivers – and anyone who is in contact with a child – need to know how to safely store their weapons to keep them out of the hands of kids. My thanks to GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom, Godfrey Lee Public Schools superintendent Arnetta Thompson, and Dr. John Cavacece of Trinity Health for joining me to uplift this critical policy change. 



Tax Help and Resources 

It’s tax season! Remember that the deadline to file state and federal taxes is April 15. If you have questions about filing your taxes or want to check your refund status, view account information and more, click here

Michigan families began receiving Working Families Tax Credit supplemental checks earlier this month. If you are a qualified recipient and believe there was an issue with getting your check, the Michigan Tax Help Center may be able to provide additional help.  


Call Michigan 2-1-1 

Michigan 2-1-1 is a toll-free service that provides residents with information. Specialists trained to assist community members will connect you with the proper resources. From utility payment assistance to household needs, 2-1-1 is a great tool for you and your loved ones to use.  

Though based in Lansing, MI, Michigan 2-1-1 supports about seven regions in the state of Michigan. You can text, email or call for help. For more information, click here.  

Helpful Information  

Contact Us

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

Helpful Links