Senate District 29 Update

State Senator Winnie Brinks

October 15, 2021

Hello Neighbors, 

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the beauty of fall in Michigan, and especially in our district, as the leaves change color, and the weather is more amenable to outdoor activities. 

In this issue, I’ve included a legislative update, as well as some important and timely information I hope you find useful. Every day, I am grateful and humbled that I get to represent you as your State Senator, and I do my best to ensure that your voice is heard in Lansing.  

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, 

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Winnie Brinks
State Senator
29th District

In This Issue 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 

Health Policy 

Last week, the Senate committee on Health Policy voted unanimously to advance Senate Bill 578, my bill to expand the Naloxone standing order to include community organizations. This week, it passed the Senate with a unanimous, bipartisan vote. 
Expanding access to Naloxone is a key component of Michigan’s strategy to reduce opioid deaths. Much of the work of Naloxone distribution is done by community organizations as it is, and this bill expands access to this lifesaving drug with the goal of reducing overdose deaths.  

We also heard from stakeholders on Senate Bill 637 and Senate Bill 638, sponsored by Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes), respectively, which create a mental health diversion grant program to allow municipalities to expand or implement mental health jail diversion services via the deployment of community crisis response teams. I’m proud we voted these bills out with full support of the Senate Health Policy committee. These bipartisan solutions to the issues of policing, crisis response, and jail diversion are about common sense and empathy, not scoring political points, and I’m so pleased to be a part of their process. 

PFAS 

Last Week, with support from Attorney General Dana Nessel, I reintroduced a two-bill package to help victims of PFAS contamination seek justice and to better hold corporate polluters accountable for leaking dangerous chemicals into the environment. 

The first bill, Senate Bill 676, would allow the state to seek damages on behalf of the public for emerging contaminants like PFAS at sites where work is already underway to remove other contaminants. Many ongoing contaminant cleanup efforts do not address newly identified chemicals because the extent of their harm has been unknown for decades. The timeframe allowed the State to initiate claims for damages would still be limited to a six-year window, but the clock would start once the onsite work to address the newly discovered contaminant begins.  

The other bill, Senate Bill 677, would create a “discovery rule” postponing the start of the statute of limitations clock to allow for a more just timeframe. This would allow claimants, who often discover PFAS or have health issues from the toxic chemicals well after they first leached into the environment, to seek relief for a problem caused by no fault of their own. 

Instituting a discovery rule is both fair and reasonable. These bills don’t create any new obligations; they just ensure residents or businesses injured by PFAS contamination have an opportunity to bring claims once the contamination is discovered. Together, these bills would improve our ability to obtain just outcomes on behalf of our constituents who have had their lives and their families’ lives forever impacted by these harmful contaminants. The bills were both referred to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, where they await a hearing. 

I also recently had the opportunity to participate in a virtual press conference where leaders from communities impacted by PFAS contamination unveiled the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network’s (GLPAN) PFAS Action Agenda, as well as an outline of policy priorities to address PFAS in Michigan to protect impacted people and communities. My bills were highlighted by these advocates, and I was honored to be included.

ELECTION DAY IS COMING – KNOW YOUR OPTIONS 

With three weeks remaining until elections in many jurisdictions across the state, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson reminds voters that they have options to safely and securely cast their ballot. 

To find out if your community is holding an election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, visit Michigan.gov/Vote. Eligible citizens can register to vote online for one more week. Within two weeks of the election, they will have to register in person at their local clerk’s office, where they can also request, fill out, and return an absentee ballot all in the same trip. 

Already registered voters can vote from home by requesting to have an absentee ballot mailed to them. They can make the request in person at their local clerk’s office or online at Michigan.gov/Vote. If voters choose to go to their local clerk’s office, they can fill out their ballot and return it in the same visit. 

Voters can also cast their ballots in person at their polling place on Election Day. Polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

The Michigan Voter Information Center at Michigan.gov/Vote provides important information for voters ahead of Election Day, including a sample ballot, information about how to use voting equipment and how to contact your local clerk.

WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM HELPS LOW-INCOME MICHIGANDERS REDUCE HEATING BILLS 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is raising awareness during Weatherization Month of a program that reduces household energy costs by an average of $283 per year — benefitting approximately 1,300 low-income families in Michigan. 

Through the U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program (administered at the state level by the MDHHS Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity), trained weatherization professionals, or energy auditors, create a comprehensive energy analysis of the home. This analysis is used to determine the most cost-effective measures to install — such as insulation, blower-door-guided air sealing of key leakage junctures, and installations such as lighting and water saving measures — and to create a customized work order for the home. Trained contractors and crew members then install the identified energy-efficient and health and safety measures. 

Health and safety issues such as elevated levels of carbon monoxide, moisture problems, mold, ventilation needs, and heating systems safety and efficiency are also addressed. There is growing evidence that the program provides benefits beyond energy savings. Improved indoor air quality and appropriate ventilation strategies lead to healthier living conditions in weatherized homes. These healthier living conditions often lead to improved health outcomes such as reduced asthma triggers and fewer doctor visits.  

Eligibility is based on household income and if the home’s current condition is weatherization ready. Anyone interested in applying for the Weatherization Assistance Program can contact their local provider

BEGINNING OCT. 24: 10-DIGIT DIALING NEEDED FOR THOSE IN 616, 810, 906, 989 AREA CODES 

On July 16, 2020, the FCC adopted an Order (FCC 20-100) approving the designation of 988 as the 3-digit abbreviated dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, requiring all telecommunications carriers, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, and one-way VoIP providers (covered providers) to make any network changes necessary to ensure that users can dial 988 to reach the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) starting July 16, 2022. As a result, and for 988 to work, all providers will implement mandatory 10-digit local dialing nationwide. 

Beginning Oct. 24, callers who live in Michigan area codes 616, 810, 906, and 989 must dial 10 digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. On and after this date, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording will inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed. You must hang up and dial again using the 10-digit number. 

Callers within these area codes should also ensure that all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment programmed to complete calls to 7-digit local numbers will be reprogrammed to complete calls to 10-digit numbers. Some examples of equipment that may be programmed to dial 7 digits include life safety systems or medical monitoring devices, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarms, security systems or gates, speed dialers, mobile or other wireless phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and other similar functions.   

Also, be sure to check your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, your personal or pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included. 

UPCOMING COFFEE HOUR 

Each month, my team and I hold informal events where you can share your thoughts and concerns about issues affecting our district, and you also can hear about the latest from the Michigan Legislature. We have begun to transition back to in-person events, and I would love to have you join me at my next in-person coffee hour: 

Monday, October 18th from 6 to 7 p.m. 
Coffee and Conversation with Senator Brinks 
Seidman Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth  
139 Crofton St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507 

Until then, here are a few other reasons to contact my office: 

Comment on Legislation: If you want to express your opinion about legislation or learn more, my office can answer your questions and keep me informed of your comments. Your opinion matters! 

If You Need Help: If you have a problem dealing with any department of state government, such as accessing unemployment benefits, my office can help you 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. 

There’s No “Wrong” Reason: Any comment, question or concern is welcome. If your issue would be more appropriately addressed by a different unit of government, I will help direct you. Remember, I am here to serve YOU and your family. 

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. 

Helpful Links   

· State Senator Winnie Brinks 
· 29th Senate District Map 
· Michigan Senate 
· Michigan House of Representatives 
· Michigan Legislature 
· U.S. Senate 
· U.S. House of Representatives 
· Kent County 
· City of Grand Rapids 


More news:

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