Capitol and Community Updates
It’s hard to believe that there are only about two weeks left in 2017. Legislative session has wrapped up for 2017 and will reconvene on Jan. 10, 2018.
Also included below are my upcoming coffee (and draft!) hours and both fun and helpful resources for you and your family.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office and me with any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions at (517) 373-0828 or email@example.com.
I have one more coffee hour scheduled this year and a few events already in the works for next year. In addition to our normal coffee hours, we’ll be doing some “Drafts with Donna” at breweries around the 52nd House District! Please mark your calendars:
Scio Township Coffee Hour
Monday, Dec. 18
Coffee House Creamery
3780 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor
“Drafts with Donna”
Thursday, Jan. 18
420 N. Main St. Suite 100, Chelsea
Saline Coffee Hour
Monday, Jan. 29
Saline Senior Center
7190 N. Maple Road
Promises Made, Promises Kept: Protecting Earned Retirement Benefits for Police and Firefighters
As I discussed in my last e-newsletter a few weeks ago, bill packages were introduced in both the House and Senate that claimed to address the issues local governments have been facing with growing, and often underfunded, pension and health care costs. In July, the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force released a set of recommendations reached by consensus that would provide certain tools and guidelines for local governments to use to improve their own financial situations.
Unfortunately, the legislation as introduced went much farther than those recommendations by creating a state board that would have broad power to oversee the retirement and health care funds of local governments. If municipalities were determined by the state to be in a financial emergency, the governor would be required to appoint a financial management team to function as the emergency manager of the local governments. This team would have had the authority to sell community assets. Giving up local authority would have had serious implications for our communities and municipal employees, including our police and firefighters. The potential for slashes by the state board to the pensions and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) our public safety employees have worked decades, and put their lives on the line for, was unacceptable to me.
But in a late-night session last week, I was proud to stand with police and firefighters as we succeeded in changing the legislation to protect their health care and earned retirement benefits. Rather than strong-arm local governments with emergency manager teams that could cut earned benefits for our police and fire, my caucus and I worked to make the legislation reflect the original, consensus task force recommendations. These will help ensure that retirees are supported and our local governments are financially stable and able to deliver the services needed for healthy communities. We made sure that promises made are promises kept.
End of 2017 Legislative Session
Wednesday was the last day of legislative session for this year. We took up a large number of bills, including a supplemental spending bill to address the environmental cleanup of polyfluoroalkyl substances, such as perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOS and PFOA), used in heat-resisting containers and firefighting foam that have leached into some water supplies elsewhere in the state.
Other legislation passed this week included bill packages to help address the opioid epidemic by requiring doctors to check the automated prescription system for patient histories before offering new prescriptions, among other measures, and a bill package to help correct some of the mistakes made by the Unemployment Insurance Agency when they incorrectly accused and assessed fines against thousands of Michigan families for fraud. These bills are a first great step to correct these errors, but more needs to be done to make these families, who have suffered undue financial and emotional stress because of these mistakes made by the state, whole. The House Democrats introduced a bill package earlier this year to do this, and I look forward to pushing further for its passage in 2018.
What To Do In HD 52
Trying to clean your home a bit before guests arrive for the holidays? Don’t forget to recycle appropriate waste and unwanted items. Scio Township offers recycling services every third Saturday of the month at the Township Hall (827 N. Zeeb Road) from 8 a.m. until noon, so don’t forget to drop off your recyclables on Dec. 16!
That Thursday Thing: Cookie Decorating
Teens in grades 6-12 can drop in the Chelsea District Library McKune Room on Thursday, Dec. 21, from 7 to 8 p.m. for cookie decorating! “That Thursday Thing” is a program just for teenagers on the first and third Thursdays of each month, so be sure to check back on the library’s website for more activities next year.
Getting Health Care Coverage
As mentioned in the last few e-newsletters, open enrollment for the federal health care exchange began Nov. 1. Unlike previous years, open enrollment this year will end on Dec. 15 – that’s today! If you get your insurance through the marketplace, or will be uncovered by your current insurance for any reason next year, don’t forget to visit healthcare.gov to shop around and enroll today.
To get help enrolling, visit healthcarecounts.org. Their website has a whole list of agencies right here in Washtenaw County that can help you navigate Medicaid, Medicare, the federal exchange, MIChild, and insurance offered through your employer to find out what might be best for you and your family. You can also call to make an appointment to talk: (734) 544-3030.
Staying Safe from Hepatitis A
A number of counties in southeast Michigan have had increased incidences of hepatitis A, including Washtenaw. Good handwashing can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A, as can vaccination. I was vaccinated a week ago and am glad to have the peace of mind. If you have health insurance, you can reach out to your pharmacy or health care provider for the vaccine, but if not, you may be able to get it through Washtenaw County Public Health. For more information call (734) 544-6700 or visit: http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/public_health/news/2017-news-items/hepatitis-a-outbreak-in-southeast-michigan
As always, I hope you have found this information helpful.