Dear Neighbors, 

I hope you are having a great start to the spring season and enjoying what the warmer weather brings to our state.  

This week, the sun’s rays shine light on government transparency during Sunshine Week, March 10-16. Find out more about what the Michigan Senate is doing in honor of Sunshine Week 2024 below. 

As always, I hope this newsletter informs you of all the exciting things happening in the Legislature and District 2.  

Please do not hesitate to call my office at (517) 373-0990 or reply to this email if you have any questions, concerns, or need assistance. 

Working for you,

Sylvia Santana
State Senator
District 2

Featured in This Newsletter 

  • In Recent News 
  • Legislative Updates 
  • Resources 

In Recent News 


March 12 is Equal Pay Day in Michigan! 

Michigan Senate Democrats passed Senate Resolution 101, designating March 12 as Equal Pay Day in Michigan — a day that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Over a working lifetime, wage disparity costs the average American woman and her family, impacting retirement savings programs, Social Security benefits and pensions.  

It’s important to recognize that this day marks Equal Pay Day for all women, however, pay discrimination impacts women across ethnic backgrounds and racial groups —with significant disparities seen for Black, Native American, Latina, and Asian American and Pacific Islander women.  

According to the American Association of University Women, these are the “equal pay” dates for 2024: 

  • Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day – April 3; 
  • LGBTQIA+ Equal Pay Awareness Day – June 13; 
  • Black Women’s Equal Pay Day – July 9; 
  • Moms’ Equal Pay Day – August 7; 
  • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) Women’s Equal Pay Day – August 28; 
  • Latina Equal Pay Day – October 3; and 
  • Native Women’s Equal Pay Day – November 21. 

In recent years, wage disparities for women have been further increased by significant shocks to the economy, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Senate Democrats are committed to strengthening the security of families, easing future retirement costs and bolstering the economy. 


Residents Can File for Disaster Unemployment Assistance Benefits 

In August 2023, residents in Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, and Wayne counties were impacted by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding. If you were affected, you may be eligible to receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) if you meet the qualifications.  

Residents whose employment or self-employment was interrupted by the disaster have until March 27, 2024, to file for jobless benefits. For more information, click here.  


March is Reading Month

Throughout March, we celebrate the joy of reading! Schools, libraries and communities come together to promote literacy and encourage everyone to pick up a book. From reading challenges to author visits, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of books. So, grab a book, find a cozy spot, and let your imagination soar this March! 


March is Women’s History Month

This month, we celebrate the contributions of women across various industries and throughout history. The women of the Michigan Senate Democratic Majority serve as trailblazers — asserting themselves and their voices, occupying more prominent positions, and making a greater impact than ever before.

Their ability to shatter glass ceilings and hold the door open for other women is unparallelled. Take this month to acknowledge the women in your life — and continue to be a champion for gender equity. To learn more about the impact of women in the Michigan Legislature, click here.  


Gov. Whitmer Announces $72.5 Million in Blight Elimination Funds  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced recipients of $72.5 million in grants from the State Land Bank Authority (SLBA) to support projects that convert underutilized land into affordable housing opportunities and build safer, more prosperous communities through the final rounds of the Blight Elimination Program.  

Nearly $6.5 million is aimed at stabilizing structures for future reuse, which includes housing, and $7.6 million is being directed toward the rehabilitation of mostly residential structures.  

To view a list of awardees, please click here


EGLE Announces MI Recycling Grant Applications to Help Michigan Communities 

As of February 12, 2024, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Recycling Unit is offering grants enabled by the Renew Michigan Fund for recycling infrastructure projects. The grant period is set to end on May 17, 2024.  

The following types of entities are eligible to apply:  

  • Nonprofit organizations; 
  • Tribal governments; 
  • School districts, universities/colleges;  
  • Local health departments; 
  • Regional planning agencies; 
  • Cities, villages, townships, charter townships, counties;  
  • Municipal solid waste authorities; and 
  • Resource recovery authorities. 

Michigan Senate Democrats prioritize supporting equitable, inclusive climate change priorities and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. In fiscal year 2024, EGLE will provide matching grants to increase access to recycling services and grow the statewide recycling rate. 


Legislative Updates 


Uplifting Women Veterans with Legislation to Establish Special Registration Plate 

Each and every day — and especially during Women’s History Month — it is vital for us to honor all the women in the state of Michigan, including the brave servicewomen who have put their life on the line to defend our national security. That is why I introduced Senate Bill 788, which would authorize a special registration plate for women veterans in the state of Michigan, helping to raise recognition of their contributions to our nation.   

While women have proudly served alongside men in our military since the Revolutionary War, they were unable to enlist until 1948, and it wasn’t until the late 1970s that they were formally granted veteran status and allowed to take advantage of the benefits they earned. This plate is a simple way to acknowledge our courageous women veterans and ensure their service is prominently recognized. 

As a member of the Senate Veterans and Emergency Services Committee, I am proud to introduce this bill during Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women who have played a vital role in shattering glass ceilings, advancing equity, and serving their communities. By acknowledging that “She is a Veteran,” we can all do our part to change the public perception of what veterans look like and ensure our servicewomen are valued and have access to the benefits they have earned. 


Michigan Senate Democrats Pass Legislation to Tackle Predatory Payday Loan Practices 

This week, the Senate Democrats passed a bipartisan bill to cap interest rates on payday loans in Michigan at 36%. Currently, there are no restrictions on these interest rates and these lenders have been charging residents up to 370% on payday loans. In Michigan, a concerning 70% of payday borrowers fall into a cycle of debt, immediately taking out new loans after repaying their previous ones. Moreover, a substantial 75% of payday lenders’ profits stem from borrowers caught in a cycle of at least 10 loans per year.  

The predatory practices of payday lenders lead the people who use payday lenders to face a higher risk of bankruptcy than those in similar financial situations who do not borrow from such institutions. Studies also show that payday lending stores are more likely to operate in Black and Latino communities, which can contribute to long-term economic disparities. Senate Bill 632 addresses these issues and disparities by proposing a cap on interest rates for payday loans in Michigan. 

During discussion of the legislation in the Senate Committee on Finance, Insurance, and Consumer Protection, testimony showed how financially and emotionally devastating predatory payday loan practices are to Michiganders. These lenders tend to target and adversely impact those in rural areas and marginalized communities. More than 100 organizations from around the state also indicated their support for the bill. 

The bill will now move to the House for further consideration. If the bill passes in the House and the governor signs the legislation into law, Michigan will join 20 other states and the District of Columbia in implementing similar measures.   


Senate Passes Bipartisan Government Transparency Bills Out of Committee 

From March 10 to 16, we observe Sunshine Week, a bipartisan effort dedicated to promoting the importance of public records and transparency in government. This year, during Sunshine Week 2024, the Michigan Senate is taking significant steps by advancing two bipartisan bills from the Senate Oversight Committee.  

These bills, Senate Bills 669 and 670, would bring both the Michigan Legislature and the governor’s office under the Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In other words, these measures would require compliance with the state’s existing FOIA regulations. 


Senate Passes Legislation to Protect Voters, Prevent Use of Firearms for Intimidation During Election Process  

Last week, Michigan Senate Democrats passed House Bills 4127 and 4128, legislation that will ban open carry of firearms within 100 feet of polling places and ballot drop boxes during elections.  

The goal is to prevent any form of voter intimidation against those participating in the democratic process or election officials. This aligns Michigan with several other states such as Florida, Texas and Mississippi. These bills will be returned to the House for consideration. 




Small Businesses Impacted by Lack of Snow to Apply for Federal Funding 

As Michigan continues to face record-high winter temperatures, small businesses impacted by the lack of snow this winter are urged to apply for federal funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Amid the warmest winter on record, with days in February and March topping 60 degrees, federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available because of ongoing federal drought declarations affecting 42 Michigan counties.   

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans are designed to help businesses through disaster situations that have impacted their economic well-being. Loans are up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. Businesses pay no interest on the loan for the first year and a maximum rate of 4% for the rest of the loan period. Businesses must apply by the application deadline for their county.   

Submit applications and find additional disaster assistance information at Call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech-related disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services. Applicants may also contact the Michigan Small Business Development Center at 1-833-522-0025 or email   


Tax Help and Resources 

It’s tax season! Remember that the deadline to file state and federal taxes is April 15. If you have questions about filing your taxes or want to check your refund status, view account information and more, click here

Michigan families began receiving Working Families Tax Credit supplemental checks earlier this month. If you are a qualified recipient and believe there was an issue with getting your check, the Michigan Tax Help Center may be able to provide additional help. 


Call Michigan 2-1-1 

Michigan 2-1-1 is a toll-free service that provides residents with information. Specialists trained to assist community members will connect you with the proper resources. From utility payment assistance to household needs, 2-1-1 is a great tool for you and your loved ones to use.  

Though based in Lansing, MI, Michigan 2-1-1 supports about seven regions in the state of Michigan. You can text, email or call for help. For more information, click here.