In this Edition
SECRETARY OF STATE UPDATES
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently announced that Secretary of State branches will hold special appointments and extended hours to renew driver licenses which expired between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2020. These extended hours are designed exclusively for those with expired licenses and will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Appointments can be made online hereor by phone at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).
Senate Bill 195: Creates a Family Advisory Board as a part of the Michigan Department of Corrections. This advisory board will oversee family reunification programs and initiatives throughout MDOC; as well as enhancing communication between families. This bill passed 37-0.
Senate Bill 826: Allows for Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists to be classified as mental health professionals. This expanded definition will expand access to mental health resources that can often seem to be scarce or inaccessible. This bill passed 37-0.
House Bill 5482: Creates the “Save our Students” Act, which requires a suicide hotline phone number to be printed on student I.D. cards issued by schools from grades 6-12 across the state of Michigan. The bill passed 37-0.
House Bill Package 4980-4985 & 5120: Allows certain non-violent convictions to be expunged from an individual’s public record, allowing those who have served their time a fair chance to become active members of our communities: to get a job or start a new career, be able to rent or buy property, etc. without the restrictions that often accompany a criminal record — often for that person’s lifetime.
Criminal justice reform is long overdue, and this is a step in the right direction. Expungement is already an option for many in Michigan, but only about 6.5% of those eligible participate in the program for a variety of reasons. By implementing automatic expungement criteria, estimates show that at least 160,000 Michiganders individuals will be able to benefit from this system. Instead of creating programs and laws that are unforgivingly punitive and often have devastating effects on an individual’s family, shifting the focus to rehabilitation and redemption allows for a smoother transition back into society, and increases the likelihood that no further offenses will be committed by individuals who have already paid their debt to society. I voted in support of this bill package. It passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support.
Senate Bill 117: Allows certain actively-serving overseas military members and their spouses to return ballots to their local clerks electronically. An estimated 5,000 ballots are sent to Michiganders serving overseas, and more than a quarter are not returned on time. Use of the electronic voting practices would make voting more accessible to servicemembers and their spouses serving overseas, ensuring all of our men and women who have volunteered to serve our country serving overseas are able to vote. Passed 31-6.
Bringing back Michigan’s blue plate to celebrate our car culture, help fix the roads
Last week I introduced Senate Bill 1146 which would allow the Michigan Secretary of State to bring back two legacy license plates previously issued to Michigan drivers, the black plate with white type issued beginning in 1979, and the blue plate with white type issued beginning in 1983. Not only do these plates represent a nostalgic throwback to our state’s unparalleled car culture, they can provide much-needed new revenue to help fix our roads without raising taxes. Each optional legacy plate would cost drivers $100, plus Secretary of State administrative costs estimated between $5-10, with those funds dedicated to the Michigan Transportation Fund. Similar efforts in California have provided millions in additional revenue annually.
CENSUS 2020 UPDATE
Last week, a federal judge ruled that the original Census data collection deadline of Oct. 30th must be upheld, overruling a Trump Administration change that would have cut one month off of the collection time period.
Every 10 years following the U.S. Census, district lines for all political offices must be redrawn in states across the country to accurately reflect their population. In Michigan, a randomly selected commission of residents will be responsible for drawing U.S. Congressional and Michigan House and Senate district lines.
Voters amended the state Constitution in November 2018 to give Michigan residents — not legislators or special interest groups — the responsibility to redraw district lines, called “redistricting.” This commission will be composed of 13 randomly selected Michigan registered voters: four affiliated with the Democratic Party, four affiliated with the Republican Party, and five who do not affiliate with either major political party.
By returning your completed Census form, you are helping Michigan to be represented in Congress and determining how much funding we get for Head Start, health care, schools, roads, and our local communities.
Visit My2020Census.gov to complete your questionnaire. Your login information is a 12-digit number located on the packet sent to you earlier this year. If you do not have a number or cannot locate those materials, the website also has a link to redirect you. If you want to complete your Census form via phone, call 1-844-330-2020.
MI SAFE START UPDATE: MORE BUSINESSES OPENING SOON!
Movie theaters, other indoor theaters, performance venues, ice rinks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks, and more will be allowed to reopen on Oct. 9th.
Michigan currently ranks near the top nationwide in terms of economic recovery due to our measured approach to safely reopening and ability to keep COVID-19 spread and fatalities largely steady. Let’s not let up! Stay safe, mask up, practice social distancing and frequent hand washing so we can stay the course.
IN THE NEWS
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
Constituents often ask me what my schedule consists of outside of session and committee. To keep you in the loop, here’s just a few things that’s been on my schedule the last week:
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