Fall agenda will lower costs, grow economy, create jobs, and make a real difference in people’s lives
LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered the ‘What’s Next Address,’ a speech laying out top legislative priorities for the fall and beyond. The policies proposed will lower costs, grow the economy, and make a real difference in people’s lives. From a 100% clean energy standard and paid family and medical leave for workers to lower health care and prescription drug costs for families, this ambitious, achievable agenda will help Michigan lead and build the future.
“After a productive year, let’s stay focused on getting things done,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today, I shared priorities for ‘what’s next’—the health of our people, planet, economy, and democracy. These are several policies we must pursue to lower costs, make a real difference in people’s lives, and build a brighter future for Michiganders. Together, let’s enact paid leave and establish a 100% clean energy standard, lower health care and prescription drug costs, protect reproductive freedom and our democracy. This is an ambitious and achievable agenda. Let’s do what we do best—roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
“Alongside our legislative partners and Michiganders across our state, we have made it possible for more people to make it in Michigan,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “We have lowered costs for working families and retirees, delivered free breakfast and lunch to all 1.4 million public school students, supported educators, protected fundamental freedoms, fostered public safety, and unleashed economic development tools to revitalize communities and grow opportunity. Now, we look forward to building on that progress, striving to serve and support the success of every Michigander and build thriving communities. Governor Whitmer and I will continue to work hard and stand tall for Michigan.”
“Our Majority for the People has already made enormous strides, and we are excited to keep that same energy and focus heading into the fall,” said Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks. “We are looking forward to another productive, people-focused legislative season fueled by the support of folks across the state. The momentum is on our side to make Michigan a leader, not a follower, in areas from health care to climate to election administration and beyond. Together, in partnership with Governor Whitmer, we’re going to get the job done, and get it done right!”
“House Democrats are focused on putting people first,” said Speaker Joe Tate. “We know Michiganders want us to help lower their costs, put money back in their pockets, make their health and well-being a priority, and be champions for policy changes that make everyday life a little easier. We have already repealed the retirement tax, protected access to reproductive healthcare, passed commonsense gun violence prevention measures and let workers know they have our support—and we’re not slowing down.”
Protecting Reproductive Health: In November, Michiganders voted to protect abortion rights in the state constitution. In April, the Governor signed legislation repealing the 1931 abortion ban. However, there are still many bad laws that put politically motivated, medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion.
- What’s next: Pass the Reproductive Health Act and roll back these harmful restrictions. Protect the freedom to make your own decisions without interference from politicians.
Lowering the Cost of Health Care: In 2017, Republicans and Democrats came together to establish Healthy Michigan thanks to the Affordable Care Act. It expanded care to over 1 million people, lowered costs, and improved health outcomes.
- What’s next: Codify the commonsense, cost-saving measures of the Affordable Care Act including: protections for pre-existing conditions, permitting children to remain on their parent’s insurance until 26, banning annual or lifetime caps on care, and requiring insurance plans to cover essential services like ambulance services, birth control, mental health treatment, and preventative care.
“The ACA is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation I have seen passed in my lifetime,” said Senator Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores). “While ongoing threats to the protections provided continue in federal court, I am grateful to play a part in ensuring Michigan residents will never have to worry about their ability to access affordable health coverage. I look forward to getting these bills across the governor’s desk this fall.”
“Ensuring safe, affordable, and equitable access to healthcare, is at the very least, the state can on behalf of our residents,” said Representative Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth). “Essential benefits are necessary for every Michigan resident, and I look forward to working with the Governor to ensure these critical protections are enshrined in the Michigan law.”
Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs: In 2020, Governor Whitmer established a bipartisan Prescription Drugs Task Force to drive down costs. Since then, she signed legislation implementing some of their recommendations to lower costs by increasing transparency and accountability.
- What’s next: Establish an independent, nonpartisan Prescription Drug Affordability Board made up of leaders in economics, health care, supply chain, and academics. The board would use data and evidence-backed research to tackle the cost of prescription drugs. They will hold bad actors across the supply chain accountable for irrationally skyrocketing prices while also encouraging R&D to help find new treatments and cures.
Enacting a 100% Clean Energy Standard: To protect our air and water for future generations while creating jobs, lowering costs, and enhancing reliability, we need to expand domestic energy production.
- What’s next: Enact a 100% clean energy standard for Michigan so future generations have clean air to breathe and safe water to drink. Drive down costs for consumers, reduce our reliance on foreign energy and create good-paying manufacturing jobs along the way.
“If we’re serious about making Michigan the place to raise a family, we need to be deliberate in our goals to reduce energy costs, improve energy reliability, and make our energy systems sustainable,” said Senator Sue Shink (D-Northfield Twp.). “Our goal is a 100% clean energy standard that will make our homes more comfortable, our grid more sustainable, and utilities more reliable. Many of my colleagues and I are serious about doing this work, I’m glad to know Governor Whitmer is too. We’re all pulling in the same direction to get this done for our State and everyone who calls it home.”
“I have the honor of representing the hometown of former Gov. Bill Milliken, who was beloved and respected as a champion for our clean air, land and water,” said Representative Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City). His courageous example is a roadmap for the climate action needed in this moment. I believe we have a responsibility to stand up as he did, for Michiganders’ access to a clean environment, clean and reliable energy sources, and a livable planet in the face of the climate crisis.”
Improving Energy Efficiency: Utility bills are a monthly expense that make a real dent in family budgets. We need to find ways to lower costs so people have more money in their pockets.
- What’s next: Improve energy efficiency and waste reduction programs to drive down costs for families and small businesses. Help Michiganders upgrade their homes or businesses to save the money while protecting their access to reliable power.
Empowering the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC): To produce more clean, domestic energy so we can lower costs and create jobs, we need stronger tools to build more, faster.
- What’s next: Bolster the MPSC by authorizing them to permit utility-scale clean energy projects the same way they can currently do so for other sources of energy. Also authorize them to consider climate and equity in their regulatory decisions so we can prioritize the health and well-being of our communities as we expand energy production.
“Michigan can continue accelerating the resurgence of manufacturing by streamlining the permitting process to build state-of-the-art production facilities,” said Representative Phil Skaggs (D-East Grand Rapids). By cutting bureaucratic red tape, we will spur investments in the energy, automotive, technology, healthcare and housing sectors. We have a unique opportunity to reshore industrial production right here in Michigan. Permitting reform means more investment and move investment means more and better jobs.”
Establishing Paid Family and Medical Leave: Too many Michiganders cannot be there for their families without sacrificing a paycheck. No one should have to choose between their health, their newborn, or a sick relative and paying the bills and putting food on the table.
- What’s next: Enact paid leave so people have breathing room to get better when they’re sick, bond with their newborn, or care for an aging or ill family member. Helps small businesses compete for talent with larger companies who can offer paid leave.
“We all know someone who at some point in their career will need to take a significant amount of time to care for themselves, their newborn baby, or their loved ones in later stages of life. Paid family leave is a necessity that will ensure Michiganders can be with their family at a time of need and guarantee their spot at work will be there when they go back,” said Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor). “I look forward to working with the governor, who has been a champion for parents, as well as colleagues who share my passion of doing better for residents. Every Michigander should have access to paid family leave, plain and simple. It’s time to get to work and catch up with the rest of the world.”
Streamlining Permitting: America is living through a through a manufacturing boom the likes of which we have not seen since the 1960s. Construction spending by domestic manufacturers more than doubled over the past year. In Michigan, our economic development tools and record infrastructure investments have helped us build battery plants, bridges, semiconductor facilities, roads, and so much more.
- What’s next: Streamline and improve our permitting process to build advanced manufacturing facilities at the speed and scale we need to so we can compete with other states and nations to bring jobs and businesses back home to Michigan.
- What’s next: Shore up election security. Ensure that the will of the people cannot be tossed out or overturned, and make sure politicians cannot stay in office despite getting voted out.
“We must protect our elections from any conspiracy theorist or false elector who would ever threaten to overturn them,” said Representative Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing). “Voters and poll workers alike deserve to participate in our democratic process without threat, harassment or intimidation. We must continue to strengthen our voting protections, in order to ensure that insurrectionists and those that support them never rob the people of their voice.”
2023: A Historic, Productive Year
- Unemployment rate at lowest level in 23 years.
- Repealed the retirement tax, putting an average of $1,000 back in the pockets of 500,000 households.
- Quintupled the Working Families Tax Credit, delivering an average combined refund of $3,150 to 700,000 working families, directly benefitting half the kids in Michigan.
- Record investments in housing and community revitalization projects.
- Forged powerful economic development strategy and tools to land billions in investment creating thousands of good-paying jobs that you can support a family on.
- Free school meals for all 1.4 million public school students.
- Free pre-K for 5,600 more kids, taking important steps towards Pre-K for All.
- Lowered the age for Michigan Reconnect from 25 to 21, expanding tuition-free higher education or skills training to 350,000 people.
- Repealed the 1931 abortion ban.
- Enacted commonsense gun violence prevention laws: background checks, safe storage, extreme risk protection orders.
- Expanded the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination.