As we enter the holiday season and prepare to celebrate all things winter, I hope you are taking time to rest and gather with loved ones. The end of the year is a perfect opportunity to express gratitude in our lives — and I am incredibly grateful to serve and represent you in District 1.
In this legislative year alone, the Senate Majority has passed critical legislation to address many of the issues and challenges facing our state. I am pleased that our caucus accomplished this by listening and engaging in real conversations with constituents. I look forward to our continued progress in the new year.
As always, if you need any assistance please contact my office at SenEGeiss@senate.michigan.gov or 517-373-7800.
IN THIS EDITION:
- Legislative Update
- Clean Energy Future Plan Signed into Law
- Reproductive Health Act the New Law of the Land
- Protecting Survivors of Domestic Violence from Further Abuse
- Financial Disclosure, Improving Transparency
- Improving Access to the Ballot and Defending Democracy
- Food Access News Story
- Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Against New Variants
- AG Nessel Launches New Consumer Protection Website, Holiday Scams Campaign
- Student Tools for Emergency Planning — Deadline Extended for the 2023-2024 School Year
- MI Dept. Of Agriculture and Rural Development Invites Feedback on Grant Programs Implementing MI Healthy Climate Plan
- Community Update
- Legislative Update — A Special Note
- Selfies with Santa: Holiday Storytelling Festival at Duffield Branch
- City of River Rouge Daughters of Rachel Christmas Caroling
- Gordie Howe Bridge Update
Clean Energy Future Plan Signed into Law
In response to the escalating impact of climate change, and the rising frequency of severe weather events and extreme temperatures in Michigan, our #MajorityForThePeople introduced the Clean Energy Future plan — Senate Bills 271, 273, 277, 502 and 519 — which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law last week.
This legislation establishes long-awaited clean energy and renewable energy standards, elevates energy efficiency targets, establishes a new Community and Worker Economic Transition Office and broadens the responsibilities of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).
These bills make significant and historic progress toward a sustainable future for Michigan and lay a solid foundation for continued work to improve Michigan’s energy industry and protect our air, land and water. Read more here.
Reproductive Health Act the New Law of the Land
Nearly 2.5 million Michigan voters showed overwhelming support for Proposal 3 in November 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. On November 22, Michigan took another bold step forward to ensure Michigan laws reflect Michigan values when Gov. Whitmer signed into law the Reproductive Health Act, including Senate Bills 474–477.
The Reproductive Health Act does the following:
- Protects and expands access to reproductive healthcare for Michiganders statewide;
- Aligns Michigan’s laws with the new reproductive health protections in Michigan’s constitution;
- Repeals the 1931 abortion ban, as passed by Senate Democrats earlier this year; and
- Repeals medically unnecessary regulations and removes reporting requirements and administrative burdens that are not placed on any other healthcare providers.
This legislation was crafted with constituents and advocates in mind — taking into account their diverse lived experiences and perspectives.
Protecting Survivors of Domestic Violence from Further Abuse
Domestic violence is a crisis facing women and families across Michigan and the United States. The issue of domestic violence is also deeply interconnected with gun violence, as more abusers are choosing firearms as their weapon of choice.
For a long time under state law, individuals convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor were not barred from possessing or carrying a firearm for any amount of time. This dangerous loophole was closed on Nov. 21, when Senate Bills 471, 472and 528 — sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Chang and Sen. Sue Shink — were signed into law.
Michigan has now joined the majority of states that have enhanced protections for survivors of domestic violence. Click here to read more about this legislation.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, visit the Michigan State Police webpage on domestic violence here for more information, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence here.
Financial Disclosure, Improving Transparency
For a long time, Michigan was one of only two states where lawmakers did not have to file any type of public report about their personal finances. After extensive input from stakeholders and lawmakers, bipartisan financial disclosure Senate Bills 613–616, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and Sen. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), passed the Senate nearly unanimously and are now one step closer to helping improve government transparency and codify Proposal 1 of 2022 — which was supported by 2.8 million Michigan voters just last year.
Per Proposal 1 of 2022, and going beyond it, the legislation passed would ensure that starting next year on April 15, each lawmaker must disclose:
- Every source of income;
- Assets held for investment or production of income;
- Significant liabilities;
- Positions held in organizations;
- Future employment agreements;
- Spouse’s occupation and more.
The Senate bills also extend this disclosure to candidates for office so that voters can vet these potential conflicts as they decide on who they want to represent them.
Improving Access to the Ballot and Defending Democracy
Last week, Governor Whitmer signed a record number of elections-related bills that protects election workers, brings the process of becoming an election worker into the 21st Century, creates regulations for use of artificial intelligence (AI) in political ads, and more.
Among my favorite pieces of elections-related bills signed is one that allows 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote when they receive their first drivers’ license. As the mom of a new driver, I was shocked to learn that he was given his selective service ID at the same time. It was strange to me that you could be pre-registered to fight and die for your country, but not pre-register to participate in its democracy — until now. Learn more about the elections bills (Senate Bills 367–374) that were signed into law here.
Food Access News Story
In the state of Michigan, many communities are struggling to access food on a daily basis. In fact, according to the 2022 Food Security Council final report, food insecurity increased to approximately 1.9 million people in Michigan at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 552,000 children. Throughout the holiday season, the issue of food insecurity is often exacerbated, and many families go without a holiday dinner. However, local food banks and food centers serve as vital resources and aid in reducing the food insecurity gap during the holiday season and beyond.
To learn more, click here.
Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Against New Variants
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommends all Michiganders 6 months and older receive the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine which is designed to provide protection against severe COVID-19 disease from currently circulating variants.
Most Michigan residents can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. For people with health insurance, most plans will cover COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to you. Michigan residents who do not have health insurance or have health plans that do not cover the cost can reach out to a health care provider or local pharmacy participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, their health department or visit Vaccines.gov for additional information on ways to obtain a free vaccine. For more information, click here.
AG Nessel Launches New Consumer Protection Website, Holiday Scams Campaign
With the launch of Attorney General Nessel’s annual Holiday Scam Campaign, the Department is also launching a new Consumer Protection website and logo! The website now includes:
- A new search tool to make finding consumer alerts and charities faster and easier;
- A page dedicated to common scams;
- The Michigan Identity Theft Support page and resources to detect and report identity theft for consumers and businesses; and
- Educational videos from Attorney General Nessel, the Federal Trade Commission and other trusted resources.
Michigan residents who follow the Department’s Instagram page and share at least five Instagram Stories will qualify for the drawing to win a $25 gift card. There is no purchase or entry fee required to win, and residents are not required to be present at a state office or event. The winner must be a resident of the state and their name will be randomly drawn from qualified users.
For more information, click here.
Student Tools for Emergency Planning — Deadline Extended for the 2023-2024 School Year
The Michigan State Police extended the registration deadline for the Student Tools for Emergency Planning program (STEP). This program equips teachers with free emergency preparedness materials, including guides, student handouts and starter kits. The basic hour-long lesson can be expanded to eight hours. Teachers, officials, first responders or volunteers can deliver the curriculum.
Complete and submit the registration survey by December 15, 2023. Both the new curriculum and old curriculum will be available for you to choose from.
If you have any questions about this free preparedness program, please contact Ms. Jane Troutman at email@example.com.
And speaking of students… the 2024 FAFSA application is now open. The FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid) opened on December 1. Graduating high school seniors and other eligible students can apply to learn what types of aid they may be eligible for to help pay for a range of costs for higher education including tuition, room and board and other fees at community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, trade schools and other post-secondary education institutions.
Visit the FAFSA website for more information.
MI Dept. Of Agriculture and Rural Development Invites Feedback on Grant Programs Implementing MI Healthy Climate Plan
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) launched a ‘2024 Industry Input Survey’ and is now asking for feedback for its upcoming grant programs next year. The results will help shape program priorities that better reflect the needs of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry.
In addition to the online survey, here are some upcoming industry stakeholder input meetings:
- Monday, December 11 via a virtual Microsoft Teams meeting at 2 p.m.
- Wednesday, December 13 at Eastern Market in Detroit in Shed 5 starting at 1:00 p.m.
The new grant programs launching next year includes over $10 million in funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service through the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) program and $1.8 million in state dollars for supporting Michigan’s food and agriculture supply chains.
Additionally, MDARD received $2.9 million for a new program aimed at helping minority-owned food and agriculture ventures in the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget. The department is working to build out this new program to support and expand minority food and agriculture businesses throughout Michigan. The survey closes on December 20, 2023. For more information, click here.
Legislative Update — A Special Note
My virtual legislative updates are set to return in January 2024. The next virtual update will be on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at 6 p.m. As always, you can register in advance using the link here:
Selfies with Santa: Holiday Storytelling Festival at Duffield Branch
Join the fun at the Duffield Branch Library who is presenting holiday stories with the Detroit Association of Black Storytellers. There will be activities to honor the season of many celebrations and take a selfie with Santa! You don’t want to miss this exciting celebration for the whole family — all ages welcomed! For more information call (313) 481-1711.
WHEN: Saturday, December 9 from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
WHERE: Detroit Public Library Duffield Branch, 2507 W. Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208
City of River Rouge Daughters of Rachel Christmas Caroling at City Hall
WHEN: Thursday, December 21 from 5:00-6:00 p.m.
WHERE: River Rouge City Hall, 10625 W Jefferson Ave, River Rouge, MI 48218
Gordie Howe Bridge
Planning to apply for the 2024 Community Organization Investment? Applications are open until January 31, 2024. Eligible non-profit or charitable organizations can submit funding applications for amounts ranging up to $25,000 (CDN) for events, programming and infrastructure improvements that will benefit the Delray/Southwest Detroit neighborhoods. Apply here.