January Discussion Schedule, Legislative Update, Supplemental Budget Bills
I am glad to write to you once more as your representative in Lansing. In order to represent you and your priorities, I rely on feedback from constituents. You can get in touch with me by phone at (517) 373-2577, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on my website, rabhi.housedems.com. I will keep you updated on developments in Lansing with this monthly e-newsletter. If you would like to unsubscribe, please email me at email@example.com.
I look forward to working together to move Michigan forward.
I hold two “Yousef and You” forums each month where anyone in our district can come to get an update on legislative issues, ask questions, and participate in open discussion. I hope many of you will be able to join me there.
The next Yousef and You forums will be:
Monday, Jan. 13
Argus Farm Stop, 1200 Packard St. in Ann Arbor (downstairs)
Saturday, Jan. 25
Community Room, RoosRoast Coffee, 1155 Rosewood St. in Ann Arbor
Supplemental Budget Bills
Gov. Whitmer signed two supplemental budget bills restoring funding for departments and agencies, as well as the school aid fund. These bills include close to $600 million in crucial funding for rural schools, autism programming and IT upgrades. Also included is funding for the 2020 census as well as the implementation of the Citizen Independent Redistricting Commission. I voted yes on this bipartisan supplemental budget to ensure state programs have the resources they need to run efficiently and effectively.
I am disappointed, however, that we are still without a long-term funding plan for our crumbling roads and infrastructure. It is important to continue conversations about how we can generate the revenue we need to fix our roads for the long haul. I introduced House Bill 4781 which would ensure that corporations and flow-through entities – which depend on quality public infrastructure – chip in to maintain our roadways.
My bill is part of a four-bill package that includes House Bill 4779, which creates a vehicle miles traveled tax of 6 cents per mile driven in Michigan on heavy commercial trucks, House Bill 4780, which implements a bridge toll program for the heaviest trucks, and House Bill 4782, which ensures revenue goes to the roads and bridges that get the most use. I will continue to support these bills and I look forward to working with my House colleagues on a long-term road funding plan that Michigan can be proud of.
Water Protection Package
This month I introduced legislation to ensure the protection of Michigan’s groundwater. This three-bill package sponsored by myself, Rep. Laurie Pohutsky and Rep. Rachel Hood affirms that all the waters of the state are held inalienably in the public trust, bans the diversion of bottled water outside the Great Lakes watershed and explicitly authorizes the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to protect water in its jurisdiction.
My bill clarifies that the waters of the state, including groundwater, are held in the public trust. This means they belong to the people of the state collectively and must be protected from pollution, impairment and destruction. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy would be required to review current water rules to ensure that they are sufficiently protective of the public interest.
Rep. Pohutsky’s bill would expand the DNR’s authority to manage water in areas under its control. The department’s current authority is exercised largely indirectly through conservation of waterfowl and fisheries.
Rep. Hood’s bill would ban shipping bottled water out of the Great Lakes watershed. The Great Lakes Compact already prohibits most water diversions because water sent outside the watershed is forever lost to our region. However, a loophole allows unlimited amounts of water to be removed when packaged in small containers. This bill would remove the small-container exemption that allows corporations like Nestlé to take water from non-municipal sources and sell it in bottles outside the Great Lakes Basin.
Text Option Now Available for Statewide Sexual Assault Hotline
The statewide sexual assault hotline provides counseling and can help connect people to the services they need. Gov. Whitmer recently announced that the hotline is expanding its services to include a texting option.
People can now text (866) 238-1454 for immediate and confidential help, no matter when they were assaulted.