It’s hard to believe my first year serving as your State Senator has come and gone. Yet each day, I wake up so grateful to represent you and our community of nearly 280,000 residents of the eight incredible cities of the 13th District. Since taking office in January, our team has worked hard to fight for the things that are important to you — protecting our water and environment, fighting to create equal opportunity for everyone, reimagining economic development, and driving our state forward through innovation, creativity, and collaboration.
Every letter, email, and call to our office has helped me to better represent you, and I hope you’ll continue to stay in touch as we enter the new year. Keep them coming!
One of my major promises to you as I campaigned for this office was that I would always be accessible and available, committing 100% of my time, energy, and efforts exclusively to this job as your state Senator. On that front, I’m proud with the bar we’ve set in our first year. Whether via this newsletter, our social media channels, direct communication with you via phone or email, meetings in-district or at my office in Lansing, or one of our many constituent events or town halls — we’ve worked hard to create space for you to connect with us wherever you are. And I’m thankful you’ve been so engaged. Our democracy works best when everyone participates, so thank you for being an integral part of the process.
To close out the year, we’ve put together this two-page infographic summarizing our Year in Review, as well as some “Best of” highlights from media coverage on our major initiatives. We’d love if you could share this out through your networks, and as always — thank you for trusting me to represent you in Lansing.
2019 Year in Review in the media:
Driving Michigan into the future with electric vehicle charging
In June, we introduced a package of bipartisan bills in both the Senate and the House that would position Michigan to become the first fully-networked state in the country for electric vehicle (EV) charging. Listen in to this great conversation between myself and Cynthia Canty on Michigan Radio about the bills, the future of the automotive industry, and my own (mis)adventures in EV charging around the state.
Standing up for LGBTQ youth and inspiring local change
In May, I wrote an op-ed speaking out against the widely-discredited and damaging practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” a practice which has led to increased anxiety, depression, and suicide among LGBTQ youth. Though our bills have met resistance in the state legislature, four municipalities – including Huntington Woods, East Lansing, Ferndale, and Berkley – have referenced our legislation when enacting local ordinances banning the dangerous practice. Recently, Oakland County passed a resolution supporting our legislation, led by social worker and Oakland County commissioner Helaine Zack.
Engaging women in the workforce from Troy to Marquette
While the legislature was out of session on summer recess, we were hard at work traveling from one end of the state to the other for a series of roundtable discussions with women in the workforce, including a social media campaign to hear from #MIWomenatWork. While Representative Sara Cambensy and I may represent very different districts on paper – the more rural Upper Peninsula vs. densely-populated Metro Detroit – we learned about the many similarities shared by women throughout many industries. We capped off the series with a live Facebook Town Hall.
Changing the conversation on corporate tax incentives
Around the country and across both ends of the political spectrum, the conversation around economic development and corporate tax incentives is changing, with states competing to offer large tax breaks to lure or keep companies within a state. But that approach has left many states with unkept promises and revenue shortfalls, as deals like Foxconn or Amazon HQ2 fall apart. In response, utilizing compelling research from economists and experts like Tim Bartik from the Upjohn Institute, I argued in an op-ed in Crain’s that it’s time for Michigan to rethink our approach to economic development and get smarter about incentives.
Breaking through divisive politics to address gun violence
Few issues are more politically divisive than those surrounding firearms and gun violence. But while the Michigan legislature has historically gridlocked on addressing gun violence, residents and voters are increasing their calls for action. Our office facilitated a roundtable discussion with panelists including a gun violence survivor, firearms instructor, deputy mayor, trauma care physician and more – moderated by Michigan Radio reporter Cheyna Roth. By removing the bill sponsors and legislators from the panel, and giving Roth the ability to run the panel as she saw fit, we were able to present a nuanced, respectful, and thoughtful conversation about a challenging issue, and took questions from both supporters and skeptics of the Extreme Risk Protection Order, or “red flag”, legislation. The full video is available to watch here.
Taking a stand with Oakland County legislators for equitable K-12 funding
In what was a contentious first year in divided government, particularly as it related to the budget, I was proud to stand alongside many of my colleagues from Oakland County to take a stand for equitable K-12 funding and voted “No” on the proposed K-12 budget. Overwhelmingly, I’ve heard from our community that you support the findings of the School Finance Research Collaborative, and want to see fair and equitable weighted funding to support our schools and future generations. Earlier in the year, we hosted a town hall on school funding featuring Dr. David Arsen, whose study revealed that Michigan is now worst-in-the-nation in education funding decline. I was proud to take a stand with my colleagues and will continue to push for a system that will support our kids, schools, and teachers, and set us up with the talent that we’ll need in the future to attract and retain economic opportunity for all residents.
As we look forward to 2020, I’m excited to move our EV charging bills through the committee hearing process, which we hope will take place early in the first few months. A new year brings plenty of new challenges and opportunities, and we will continue our focus on a legislative agenda which supports what makes Michigan and Oakland County so unique: our people, our beautiful state and environment, and our spirit of innovation.