Senate District 29 Update

July 9, 2021

Hello Neighbors, 

It is so important that we use every approach available to combat this virus, and since nearly all COVID deaths in the U.S. are now among unvaccinated people, getting vaccinated seems to be the most effective way to do this.   

In order to get more shots in arms, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of the “MI Shot to Win” Sweepstakes — a lottery-style raffle that gives vaccinated Michiganders a chance to win more than $5 million in cash and a combined total of nearly $500,000 in college scholarships. As of this week, the MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes has received more than 1 million applicants for the grand prizes, with approximately 45,000 young Michiganders already signed up for the scholarship drawing. The sweepstakes began Thursday, July 1, and will end on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. The first round of winners, including the recipient of a $1 million drawing, will be publicly announced Monday, July 12.  

Please visit MIShotToWin.com for eligibility rules and to enter, and as always, please continue to look out for your friends and neighbors and be patient with one another. For the latest updates, I’d encourage you to follow me on Facebook

Warm regards,

Winnie Brinks
State Senator
29th District

In This Issue 

Governor Whitmer Signs Supplemental Education Bill 

This week Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4421, which appropriates $4.4 billion in federal COVID relief funding to support schools across the state and help students and educators recover from the pandemic. This historic education funding represents the bipartisan work completed in late June to ensure that Michigan’s K-12 education system takes advantage of federal funding to make unprecedented investments in our schools.   

The bill distributes more than $4 billion from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, to power schools’ efforts to get our kids back on track. The ESSER funds will be distributed to districts based on their Title I, Part A allocation — which means more money will go to districts that serve students with the highest needs. The funds help meet a wide range of needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, including reopening schools safely, sustaining their safe operations, and addressing students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs resulting from the pandemic.   

This funding represents supplemental appropriations for the current year budget. Gov. Whitmer is expected to soon sign the K-12 budget for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. Representing a spending increase of 10%, it sends more money to Detroit and charter schools to wipe out the per-pupil funding gap, expands state-funded preschool to every 4-year-old in the state, pays to hire more school nurses and counselors, and directs millions to support students who need extra help reading. More details on this historic investment will be included in the next e-newsletter.

Protecting Our Freedom to Vote   

As you may have read by now, my Republican colleagues have introduced a 39-bill package of legislation aimed at making it more difficult to vote. And that’s not just my opinion — others who have also read the bills and done the analysis agree. Republican legislators are touting this package as a way to make voting easier, but it would effectively do the opposite. Limiting access to the ballot and placing unnecessary burdens on election officials are harmful to our democracy. Bills in this package are reminiscent of Jim Crow-era laws that systematically disenfranchised people of color and other groups from making their voices heard at the ballot box.  

Michigan’s elections have been carried out safely and effectively under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and these proposed changes to Michigan election law are solutions in search of a problem. In fact, the Michigan Senate Republicans recently found, through an extensive committee review, that there was no evidence of widespread, systematic voter fraud in the 2020 November election.  

Senate Bills 273-311 were referred to the Senate Committee on Elections. Senate Bills 277, 285, 302, 303, 304, and 311 passed the Senate despite my “no” votes and have been referred to the House Committee on Elections and Ethics. Senate Bills 303 and 304 passed the House on June 23, 2021. Should this issue come before me in the Senate for approval, I plan on voting against the rest of this bill package. Fortunately, some of Michigan’s largest job creators are also opposed to these efforts to limit the rights of the people of Michigan. Of course, I’ll keep advocating for your freedom to vote and speaking up about the harm that these voter suppression bills would do. 

Tips for Summer: Michigan’s Waters 

Take Water Safety Seriously  

Rip and structural currents, high waves, and other dangerous currents and wave conditions can occur in the Great Lakes along beaches, near the outlets of rivers, and near structures such as piers and break walls, especially during times that water levels are higher. According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project data, since 2010, 965 people have drowned in the Great Lakes. In 2020, 56 people drowned in Lake Michigan, making it the deadliest year on record. This season is shaping up to be just as dangerous.  

Many, but not all, state parks on the Great Lakes offer designated swimming areas that are identified by buoys or buoys and markers, a beach flag warning system, and water depth less than 5 feet at the time of installation. Check the flag upon arrival and be sure to monitor it throughout the day, as conditions can change very quickly. Keep close watch of children; Stay within arm’s reach and have them wear a life jacket. If you are caught in a dangerous current, remembering these three words could save your life: FLIPFLOAT, and FOLLOW.  

Never swim against a current. If you are in a dangerous current, assess which way it is pulling you. Then swim perpendicular to the currents flow until you are out of it and then swim toward shore. If you are too tired to swim to shore, continue to float and signal someone on shore for help. Also, the waves may eventually bring you back to shore. 

More information on avoiding dangerous currents and what you can do to escape them can be found on the Michigan Sea Grant website. These reminders can keep adventures along the shoreline enjoyable and safe for everyone.

Weekly Fishing Report The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ weekly fishing reportcovers everything you need to know about angler success in the last week. This should give you some great tips on what’s biting throughout the state. Information in these reports comes from DNR staff and partners from across the state — and if you see their staff, say hi! 

Please remember to always practice responsible recreation by cleaning up any leftover fishing line, hooks, or other equipment before you leave, and never dump unused bait into the water. Dispose of it in the garbage instead.Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers 
Last week was Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week, which served as a good reminder to keep our natural resources in mind as you enjoy our beautiful lakes and rivers. Here are some simple steps to keep aquatic hitchhikers from getting a free ride to a new location. Let’s work together to minimize the spread of invasive species. 

Remember, these are important steps to not only stop the spread of invasive species, but they’re also the law. Visit Michigan.gov/Invasives to learn more

Help for Those Impacted by Flooding 

HOMEOWNERS: Emergency resources are available for low-income residents affected by recent flooding. If flooding has damaged your home, you may be eligible to apply for the State Emergency Relief program to help with home repairs necessary to correct unsafe conditions. 
Visit Michigan.gov/MDHHS to see if you are eligible
Upcoming Virtual Coffee Hour 

I hope you can join me for a Virtual Coffee Hour Friday, July 16, from Noon to 1 p.m., on Zoom. This is a great opportunity to discuss important issues in our district from the comfort and safety of your own home. 
Please click here to register and feel free to include any questions you may have for me. I’ll do my best to address everyone’s question during the coffee hour, and we’ll send you the link to the meeting before the start of the event.
I look forward to chatting with you and hope to see you online! 

Contact Us

I have other questions. Are you and your office still available? 
To keep you and my staff healthy and safe, we are working remotely until further notice. Please call our office at (517) 373-1801 or send me an email at SenWBrinks@senate.michigan.gov, as you normally would, and we will do our best to avoid any interruption of service. 
I am still working diligently and engaging with folks in our community, but all in-person events have been canceled for the time being. You can follow me on Facebook or check my website at SenatorBrinks.com for more information on any future events.

Helpful Links   


More news:

Senate District 29 Update Senate District 29 Update Sen. Brinks Introduces Legislation to Protect Public Health Officials

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