Senator Geiss Legislative Update

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you are safe, healthy, and have taken the opportunity to get vaccinated against Covid-19. For a couple of months now, we have worked together to turn the tides in our community’s battle with the coronavirus and the situation looks brighter every day.

Nevertheless, until our communities reach the 70% vaccination threshold, we cannot let our guards down completely. Please, if you have not yet received your vaccine, do that as soon as possible. You can find vaccination information at michigan.gov/coronavirus, and by texting your zip code to GETVAX (438829).

As conditions improve, please continue to follow me on Facebook for information and updates regarding the ever-changing landscape of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. I am ready to reinvest much of my focus into the issues which first compelled me into public service, which can be boiled down to equity, justice, and protecting the
community. The events that have transpired since the onset of the pandemic have shone a brighter spotlight on these issues than ever before. And though COVID-specific matters are beginning to take a smaller share of our days the fight for equality and justice is more crucial.

We are roughly halfway through this year’s portion of the fi rst year of the 101st legislature. We have done a lot so far, but much still remains. And despite working against the seemingly persistent backdrop of the pandemic, we have had some successes and continue to press forward on the other issues we’re tackling. As we begin the latter half of another year, I remain steadfast and committed to the principle of Justice for All. At the time of writing this, I have introduced 14 bills and 4 resolutions so far this term. This newsletter presents some highlights.

I cannot, of course, address every issue that you may be facing. As such, I have included contact information for useful resources. I encourage you to contact the relevant agency if you need further assistance. And if you need help getting connected to the correct place, please reach out to my offi ce at: (517) 373-7800 (offi ce) or (855) 347-8006 (toll-free).

Cheers,

Senator Erika Geiss
6th District

Toll Free: (855) 347-8006 | Phone: (517) 373-7800
Website: SenatorGeiss.com
Email: SenEGeiss@senate.michigan.gov
Click here to review PDF version of newsletter


Reasons to CONTACT ME

Make your voice heard!
As we take up legislation that affects you, your family, and/or your community, please contact my office to make your opinions known. Additionally, if you are dealing with issues with state government or state departments, please reach out so that we can help.

Access free information!
At no cost to you, the state provides information regarding a range of different topics such as: veterans benefits and services, guides for tenants and landlords, tax preparation, children’s health and safety, and much more. If you think our office may have information that would be useful to you, contact us and we can help find and distribute the correct publication with state government or state departments, please reach out so that we can
help.

We are here to help!
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns that have not been addressed in this newsletter but fall under the purview of the state government, give us a call or send us an email. A member of our office will
be happy to help you find the relevant contacts for handling your situation.

CONTACT ME!
Website: SenatorGeiss.com
Email: SenEGeiss@senate.michigan.gov
Phone: (517) 373-7800 | Toll-free: (855) 347-8006


MICHIGAN DEPARTMENTS

There are 17 major departments along with the Executive Offi ce in the state Executive Branch.
Governor’s Office ……………………………………(517) 373-3400
Lieutenant Governor’s Office …………………….(517) 373-6800
Department of: Agriculture and Rural Development ……….(800) 292-3939
Attorney General …………………………………(517) 335-7622
Civil Rights ………………………………………..(800) 482-3604
Corrections ………………………………………..(517) 335-1426
Education ………………………………………….(833) 633-5788
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy ……(800) 662-9278
Health and Human Services ………………….(517) 241-3740
Insurance and Financial Services …………..(877) 999-6442
Labor and Economic Opportunity …………..(517) 241-6712
Licensing and Regulatory Affairs ……………(517) 335-9700
Military and Veterans Affairs …………………(517) 481-8001
Natural Resources ………………………………(517) 284-6367
State ………………………………………………..(888) 767-6424
State Police ……………………………………….(517) 332-2521
Technology, Management and Budget …….(517) 241-5545
Transportation ……………………………………(517) 241-2400
Treasury ……………………………………………(517) 335-7508


HELPFUL NUMBERS CONTACT ME IN OUR COMMUNITY

CRISIS HOTLINES
National Domestic Violence Hotline ……………………………………………………………..(800) 799-7233
Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention ………………………………………………………………..(517) 372-6666
Suicide Prevention ……………………………………………………………………………………(800) 273-8255
HEALTH SERVICES
Child Health Care Services (MIChild) ……………………………………………………………(888) 988-6300
Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority …………………………………………………………(800) 241-4949
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program ………………………………………………………..(866) 485-9393
Michigan Department of Health & Human Services ………………………………………..(855) 275-6424
Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program ………………………………………….(800) 803-7174
Vulnerable Adult Helpline …………………………………………………………………………..(800) 996-6228
Wayne County Health Department ……………………………………………………………….(734) 727-7100
WIC (Women, Infants and Children) ……………………………………………………………..(800) CALL-WIC
HOUSING
MSHDA, Detroit Offi ce ……………………………………………………………………………….(313) 456-3540
LEGAL SERVICES
Elder Law of Michigan, Inc. ………………………………………………………………………..(866) 400-9164
Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc. ………………………………………………………(313) 967-5555
Michigan Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division ………………………………………………………………….(877) 765-8388
Hate Crimes Unit …………………………………………………………………………………..(313) 456-0180
Payroll Fraud Division …………………………………………………………………………….(833) 221-1099
Michigan Legal Services ……………………………………………………………………………(313) 964-4130
Neighborhood Legal Services Michigan ………………………………………………………..(313) 964-1975
SENIOR CITIZENS RESOURCES
Southeast Michigan Community Alliance ………………………………………………………(734) 229-3500
The Senior Alliance …………………………………………………………………………………..(800) 815-1112
OTHER ASSISTANCE
Michigan Student Aid ………………………………………………………………………………..(888) 447-2687
Michigan Taxpayer Advocate ………………………………………………………………………(517) 636-4759
Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency ………………………………………………….(866) 500-0017
Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency ………………………………………………………………..(800) 642-4838
Pure Michigan Talent Connect …………………………………………………………………….(888) 522-0103
Social Security Administration …………………………………………………………………….(800) 772-1213
United Way of Southeastern Michigan ………………………………………………………….(313) 226-9200
Volunteers of America ……………………………………………………………………………….(248) 945-0101
Wayne County Friend of the Court ………………………………………………………………(877) 543-2660
Wayne County Veterans Affairs ……………………………………………………………………(313) 224-5045


Legislative Highlights

Last term, we had three bills get signed into law, and look forward to that possibility this year as well as we move some of our bills through the committee process.

Unemployment Assistance
Senate Bill 175
We were underprepared to handle the complicated issues that accompanied the COVID-19 virus. This cannot happen again. For this reason, I introduced Senate Bill 175 in February. This bill revises the state’s policy on unemployment assistance to allow for eased restrictions on claiming one’s benefits in the case of a formally declared emergency. In the case of such an emergency, it is unfair to create obstacles to benefits that will not only help people survive the emergency, but that will also keep the economy stimulated. We learned this past year that there are circumstances that make it unsafe for people to meet Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) requirements such as active job hunting. With this legislation, it is my intention to ensure no Michigander is left behind, when at their most vulnerable, without the resources needed to survive.

Investing in Our Communities

Senate Bill 189
Investing in our communities is long overdue, especially within disadvantaged areas that are home to some of our most marginalized community members. Senate Bill 189 establishes enterprise zones to be used in the awarding of business contracts by state agencies. This means that, all other things being equal and in accordance with federal statute, the state shall award the business contract to a business from a geographically disadvantaged zone (and it is my intention that this will especially uplift businesses owned by women and minorities). By guaranteeing that a portion of the state’s contracts are awarded equitably, we are investing in the communities that have never stopped investing in us.

School Administrator Effectiveness Evaluations
Senate Bill 200
Our educators and students alike have managed the previously unimaginable, aiming to not allow the COVID-19 pandemic to disrupt learning too much. But, of course, it has been a struggle. Addressing the unprecedented challenges faced by the education system over the past year, I introduced Senate Bill 200 in March. This legislation proposes to suspend the annual school administrator effectiveness evaluations, for the 2020-21 school year. These evaluations were ineffective and cruel prior to the onset of the pandemic, and now are doubly so.

Multiple studies have shown that standardized testing is an inaccurate measure of student performance and that retaining students in a completed grade based on testing performance does little to improve their scores. Certainly, these standardized tests are even worse measures of the performance of students who dealt with the difficult transition to online learning. It is clearly unfair, then, to let these measures dictate the status of an educator’s employment.

As a former teacher myself, I want to ensure that our teachers are not only securely employed but appreciated, celebrated, and not negatively impacted by subjective evaluations that bear no resemblance to reality.

Equal Pay
Senate Bill 324
Senate Bill 324 is an important step toward ensuring equal pay for equal work and closing the gender wage gap. In 2021, there is simply no excuse for the 22 cents that are missing from the average woman’s paycheck, who isn’t a union member, when compared with that of her male counterpart. The disparity is even worse when race is
considered.

This bill creates a mechanism for workers to investigate the wage practices of their employer for the purposes of identifying wage discrimination. It would require employers to provide the wage information, upon request, of similarly situated employees, without including any personal or identifying information. The sex and seniority of one’s fellow employees, however, shall be included. Though wage discrimination based on sex is, formally, not allowed, it is a practice that runs rampant throughout our state and this affects us all.

Wage discrimination creates millions of dollars of loss in economic mobility for women and reduces economic gains that could be poured back into our communities. I hope to see the day when equal work is rewarded with equal pay and this bill is an important step toward that goal.

Ending No-Knock Warrants
Senate Bill 479
Senate Bill 479 is a part of a 12-bill, bipartisan package of legislation that aims to put an end to no-knock warrants. There is little justification for such a practice. I believe that residents have a right to privacy in their own homes and that, should a warrant be issued for someone, they should not be subjected to the trauma of an armed team
entering without warning. We’ve seen the trauma that is inflicted from the misuse and abuse of no-knock warrants with the tragic murders of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones in Detroit and of Breonna Taylor. Police officers should protect and serve our communities. Ending the practice of no-knock warrants is a crucial step in repairing the relationship between police officers and the communities that they serve.

High-Speed Internet Access
Senate Bills 518 and 520
As technology has become more of a necessity for work, school, health care, recreation, and more, it has become more apparent that access to it is a critical equity issue. Several colleagues and I have introduced a package of bills to improve access to high-speed internet. I am happy to be the sponsor of Senate Bills 518 and 520.

The first designates a fund specifically for school districts to help students gain access to Wi-Fi, even in a remote setting. In a world where virtual learning may be among the best options for our students, it is necessary that there are no financial obstacles to receiving an education. Today, access to the internet is access to education and access
to education is an issue of equity.

The second bill addresses issues of digital literacy and cyber safety. Everyone should have free access to informational resources regarding digital literacy and cyber safety. These bills are an important step toward getting internet access to all who want it and to helping our residents adapt to the changing technological environment — both being necessary for keeping Michiganders competitive in the modern workforce.



TRACKING BILLS 101

Before something becomes a law, it must be written down as a bill. Every two years, or one legislative session, there are thousands of bills introduced — hundreds of which will be signed into law by the governor.

Visit the Michigan Legislature website at legislature.mi.gov for all the latest information about the status of bills. A free service of the Legislative Service Bureau in cooperation with the Michigan Legislative Council, the Michigan House of Representatives, the Michigan Senate, and the Library of Michigan, this website features a robust search
function for legislation introduced and passed.

Whether it’s by number, sponsor, committee or content, you can find detailed bill information on the MILEG website, along with session calendars, journals, House and Senate audio and video feeds, the most recent bill activity and daily introductions of bills, as well as what bills have been passed and enrolled.

If there’s a certain bill that you’d like to track, you can register on the site for free, create your own “watch” list of legislation and request an email notification be sent to you when a bill status changes.



More news:

Sen. Geiss on Senate Passage of FY22 Budget Keep Kids in School: Democratic Lawmakers Propose Expulsion Prevention Legislation Democratic Legislators to Host Press Conference on Expulsion Prevention Bills

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