Year In Review

Dayna Polehanki

This year in the Michigan Senate I have been working hard to make life better for residents of the Seventh Senate District and the state of Michigan.

I’ve been working to support our seniors and prevent elder abuse, revamp Michigan’s third grade reading law, ensure that school board members are best prepared for their important roles and responsibilities, protect hardworking families from payroll fraud, and guarantee that Michigan
has the cleanest water in the country. I was also proud to stand with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in support of the recently signed “Raise the Age” laws, which will treat children in our criminal justice system appropriately based on their age.

Thank you to everyone who has emailed, called and attended events in our district. I appreciate your engagement and interest in the issues that matter to you and look forward to continuing to work together in 2020 to put Michigan families, students and seniors first.

Proudly serving you,

Dayna Polehanki
State Senator
7th District

Toll-free: (855) 347-8007 Lansing: (517) 373-7350

68 – Community Events & Meetings Attended
10 – Sponsored
210 – Co-sponsored

To see the most up-to-date list of in-district events in the new year, visit my website at


Retaining Third Graders Isn’t Innovative, It’s Regressive
After nearly 20 years in the classroom, I came to Lansing to improve education and education funding in a different way. It’s been my goal to show my colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate how the laws they write affect our teachers and our students.

To that end, one of my top priorities has been fixing Michigan’s broken third grade reading law, which I recently outlined in an opinion piece for The Detroit News. For those unaware, prior to my tenure in the Legislature, Michigan passed a law mandating that a student who didn’t meet grade- level expectations on a standardized test could be held back, with few exceptions.

In the law’s current form, as many as 5,000 Michigan students could be retained in the third grade based on their performance on a standardized test they take this upcoming spring. Retaining kids based solely on a test score isn’t innovation — it’s regression.

In response, I’ve introduced legislation to revamp Michigan’s third grade reading law. Senate Bill 633 would eliminate mandatory grade retention based on a student’s test score while maintaining the parts of the law that help students succeed, such as:

Education for School Boards

School board members have an enormous impact on children’s lives. They set policy, hire and evaluate superintendents, and manage the finances of our school districts. That’s why it’s important that elected or appointed school board members are prepared for the daily duties of their position and correctly follow Michigan laws.

My bill, Senate Bill 540, seeks to require school board members to complete five basic training courses within two years of being elected or appointed to the board. Topics covered would include conflicts of interest, labor relations, education law, finance, and board governance — allowing school board members to be well-versed in their job when they’re setting educational policies.

The courses would be approved by the Michigan Department of Education, and they could be taken in-person or online. Total coursework would take under 20 hours to complete. School districts whose board members take these courses would be reimbursed for the cost of them.

Our children need to be in the best position to succeed in school and in the job market. Ensuring school board members are prepared for the position is part of that process.

Supporting OUR SENIORS

Senior Summit
I was thrilled to host our first Senior Summit with Attorney General Dana Nessel and Rep. Kevin Coleman (D-Westland), along with representatives from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Senior Alliance, AARP Michigan and Madonna University.

Our Senior Summit allowed me to meet with so many people from the community and discuss issues affecting seniors, such as how to protect them from identity theft, ensure legal rights, report elder abuse, connect seniors to resources, avoid scams and more.

Overall, the event was a success, and I’m glad I was able to host and share the stage with others who are actively working to make life easier for the pillars of our communities.

Protecting Against Payroll Fraud
Payroll fraud is a very serious issue for working families, so I’ve joined Attorney General Dana Nessel and my colleagues in the House and Senate to do something about it. This illegal practice often involves employers who fail to pay workers the full wages and benefits they are entitled to, usually by misclassifying workers, paying less than legally mandated minimums, failing to pay for all hours worked, stealing tips or not paying overtime premiums.

It was a great experience to join Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) and Attorney General Nessel for a Payroll Fraud Town Hall to discuss the issue and bills the Legislature has introduced to strengthen whistleblower protections, increase penalties for payroll theft, and require companies who cheat workers to pay back-wages and benefits retroactively.

Specifically, I introduced Senate Bill 487 to provide anonymity for workers who file a minimum wage complaint against their employer.
I will continue to fight to make sure workers receive the wages they earn. If you, or someone you know, suspects you’ve been a victim of payroll or tax fraud, call the attorney general’s hotline at 833-221-1099, or email We’re here to help!

Ensuring Clean Water
Michigan families and communities should be able to trust that the water flowing from their taps is safe. That is why I signed on to legislation that sets the strongest PFAS standards in the nation, makes sure we can use the best science available to protect our communities from corporate polluters, and establishes clean water as a human right. It’s also why I’ve teamed up with my colleagues to co-sponsor legislation to get Michigan moving in the right direction:

Senate Bill 14: Establishes maximum contaminant levels for PFAS (a chemical that has been found in our lakes and streams due to pollutants from certain plastics or firefighting foam).

Senate Bill 116: Requires cleanup to residential and safe drinking water standards unless technically infeasible.

Senate Bill 300: Creates a Lead Task Force and provide testing for levels of lead in drinking water supplies.

Raising The Age
After six years of hard work, the state Legislature finally passed bills that would “Raise the Age” of convicted individuals in Michigan prosecuted as adults from 17 to 18.

Up until now, Michigan was one of only four states that treated 17-year- olds as adults in the criminal justice system. However, research has consistently shown that this approach does not make communities any safer and can do more harm to the individual during, and after, their incarceration.

Bills in the package that I was proud to support — and that are now law — are designed to provide access to age-appropriate rehabilitation and to ensure juveniles are not incarcerated or transported with adults, and that the rules followed are consistent with federal laws.

I’m proud my colleagues in the House and Senate, along with our Governor, have supported this legislation. I hope it will allow youth who have traveled a troubled path to find redemption in adulthood.

Reporting Elder Abuse
If you suspect elder or vulnerable adult abuse, please report it. The attorney general’s office has created a hotline and a website for Michigan residents to send in anonymous tips to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Adult Protective Services Division.

SEE IT DOCUMENT IT REPORT IT Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Adult Protective Services Division
(800) 24-ABUSE (800-242-2873) |

Preventing Elder Abuse
More than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse – both physical and mental – as well as neglect and exploitation. The symptoms and treatment of elder abuse are complex and demand a concerted effort to tackle this often unrecognized, and unreported, social problem.

As an elected official, this also includes enacting legislation to stop elder abuse.

I’m proud to support a bipartisan bill package, including Senate Bills 109 and 110, that would protect elderly and vulnerable adults from physical and financial abuse. These bills would increase penalties for assaulting elderly people; make it a crime to use or obtain an elderly person’s money or property through fraud or coercion; and make it a felony to restrain an elderly person through violence, fraud or deceit.

More news:

Senator Polehanki on DeVos rejection of test waiver request Senator Polehanki: ‘Students Need Instruction, Not More Tests’ State Senator Dayna Polehanki| Legislative Update Newsletter

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