Welcome to my May Legislative Update. I hope everyone had a great first month of summer weather and got some quality family time in. It seems like the time flew by! It’s been a busy month both at home and in Lansing and I’m excited to share new updates with you.
Updates you will find in this edition of my newsletter are:
- Auto No-Fault Reform, Signed
- Mandatory Reporting Gets a Hearing
- Medically Frail Legislation Signed Into Law
- Combating the Opioid Epidemic
- Road Funding Grants Awarded
- Budget Progress
- Office Hours
- Around the District
Auto No-Fault Reform, Signed
As we all know, Michigan currently has the highest car insurance costs in the nation. Rep. Griffin has heard from many of you about the burden this poses on you and your families, which is why she recently voted to support real reforms to our broken no-fault system.
On May 24, the Michigan House, Senate, and Governor came to a long awaited agreement on auto no-fault reform. The agreement came after negotiations over adjustments to initial ground breaking legislation that had started moving forward in the Legislature two weeks before.
After over 14 weeks of public hearings and meetings with all stakeholders and parties this year alone, we were able to put together a comprehensive plan that addresses every issue. Throughout this process, we’ve found that Michigan’s high costs are largely due to a number of primary factors, such as mandated unlimited Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, price gouging, fraud, and lawsuit abuse.
Notable changes to the bipartisan plan that had previously passed in the Michigan House include, specifically listing the non-driving factors that insurance companies will be prohibited from using when determining rates, such as sex, education level, marital status, postal zone, credit score, etc, and extending the mandatory rate rollback from 5 years to 8 years. While the plan itself will lower rates through the changes being made, the mandatory rate rollback will allow time for the changes to take full effect.
The Governor also requested that the lowest Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage option of $50,000 be limited to Medicaid recipients only. Other drivers could, however, still use their qualifying form of health insurance to opt out of PIP costs entirely.
This plan includes a number of other PIP options from which to choose, while still offering unlimited lifetime benefits as an option for those who wish to purchase them. This allows drivers the choice to purchase a plan that best fits their needs and their budgets. It is important to note the reform plan allows those currently using unlimited lifetime coverage to keep it.
Transparency and auditing of the MCCA is still a key feature of the plan along with fee schedules for medical providers to stop the overbilling of accident victims. After negotiations with the Governor, the fee schedule will now be correlated with the Medicare schedule rather than Workers Compensation.
Rep. Griffin is proud to have voted for this historic plan that delivers significant savings for Michigan drivers on their car insurance bills. All Michigan drivers will save money on the PIP portion of their policies, and some could save hundreds of dollars more a year depending on which of the coverage options they choose.
The House adopted the changes from the negotiated agreement into Senate Bill (SB) 1, sponsored by Senator Aric Nesbitt, and overwhelmingly approved this plan by a vote of 94-15. The Michigan Senate approved the plan later that same day by a vote of 34-4. The legislation was then sent to the Governor and was signed earlier this morning!
Mandatory Reporting Gets a Hearing
As you’ll recall, a bipartisan group of state Legislators reintroduced a package of bills that seeks to better protect minors from abuse. Some of these bills include improvements in areas such as informed consent for sensitive services, sexual misconduct education for students, campus sexual assault resource officers, modernizes and clarifies the crime of sexual misconduct under the guise of medical treatment, and more.
Rep. Griffin’s bill would expand the list of mandatory reporters to include physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and athletic trainers. These would be added to the list of professions required to make an immediate report if they have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or child neglect. After the initial report, they would be required to submit an official written report within 72 hours.
The legislation, House Bill (HB) 4376, received a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on May 14. Pictured below is Rep. Griffin along with Rep. Kristy Pagan, who has a companion bill to ensure people who work in the required professions are properly trained to understand the duties and responsibilities of being a mandatory reporter.
As a legislator, Rep. Griffin understands the importance of sponsoring sound legislation that protects her constituents. More importantly, as an educator and a parent of two children, she understands how imperative it is to protect the children in our community. Expanding the list of mandatory reporters will fulfill both objectives and Rep. Griffin is proud to be a part of the larger bipartisan package aimed at curbing and preventing sexual assault and violence against children in Michigan. Rep. Griffin is hopeful that the package as a whole will be signed into law this term and help to prevent these crimes in the future.
Medically Frail Legislation Gets Signed into Law
Last week, Rep. Beth Griffin’s legislation to reduce the amount of public tax dollars spent on inefficient prison health care while continuing to protect public safety was signed into law by the Governor. Chronically ill and aging prisoners often have health care costs three times higher than the average inmate. It’s a growing concern in Michigan, where nearly one in four inmates is 50 or older with the average age continuing to rise. Health care already takes up 15 percent of the prison system’s budget, costing taxpayers roughly $300 million.
The new law permits some inmates with severe and chronic physical or mental disabilities to complete their sentences at a medical facility rather than inside a prison, if approved by a parole board. It does not allow early release of inmates. The goal is to qualify inmates transferred to health care facilities for Medicaid, which would translate to a net savings for taxpayers.
Only inmates classified by professionals as not posing a risk to public safety would be allowed to relocate. Prosecutors and victims could appeal decisions, and inmates convicted of first-degree murder, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree or any other crime resulting in a life sentence would automatically be ineligible for the program – meaning they stay behind bars.
An initial projection from the Department of Corrections estimates roughly 20 to 40 prisoners could potentially be eligible for the program. The number is likely to grow over time as the prison population ages. House Bills 4129-32, now Public Acts 13-16 of 2019, received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
Combating the Opioid Epidemic
This term, combating the opioid crisis in our state continues to be a priority for legislators. To address this issue, Rep. Griffin has introduced HB 4449, which would allow chiropractic services to be covered under no-fault insurance.
Currently, services within the chiropractic scope of practice are already covered by no-fault, but only when provided by someone other than a chiropractor. Rep. Griffin’s bill (HB 4449) seeks to allow those same services to be covered when provided by your chiropractor. Without this type of care, many accident victims turn to the convenient method of pain killers as prescribed by their doctor. Allowing more and better access to alternative, non-addictive care will help reduce opioid addiction and the costs associated with it within our no-fault and health care systems.
Earlier this year, Rep. Griffin also supported reforms to last term’s anti-opioid addiction package that reduced the negative impact on good actors who may need opioids for certain health conditions and addressed unintended road blocks that stemmed from the bonafide prescriber-patient relationship requirement. Rep. Griffin also recently voted to support legislation from Rep. Bronna Kahle that would limit minors’ exposure to addictive dextromethorphan (DXM), which is commonly found in cough medicine.
Road Funding Grants Awarded
The Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) was established by the Michigan Department of Transportation to provide funding for road renovation projects in cities and villages with populations of 10,000 or less. The TEDF staff select from the most competitive applications and look for projects that are not eligible for state or federal funding or paired with other infrastructure work or road agencies.
Earlier this month, the grants were awarded to the villages of Breedsville and Bloomingdale to provide matching funds to pay for about half of each village’s respective projects.
Bloomingdale will receive a grant of $154,000 to help reconstruct Miller Road from the South Village limits to E. Kalamazoo Street. Breedsville will use the $38,337 awarded to them to revamp E. Main Street from Pine Street to the Village limits.
These funds will help improve driving conditions and road safety in busy areas of Breedsville and Bloomingdale for residents and could greatly improve investment interest in both villages.
Rep. Griffin is excited to see more road funding going into our small towns and villages. Improvements in infrastructure enhance the economy and quality of living for those in areas that often get overlooked in road funding distribution.
To date, some House appropriations committees have passed their budgets while others are still in the works. School Aid and Transportation are two of the budgets currently underway. This is due in part to the money shifts proposed by the Governor. Namely, moving money from the existing gas tax and her newly proposed gas tax to education. The Governor also had new programs and funds proposed within the school aid budget that the Legislature has taken into consideration when creating its own budget proposals.
With regard to the Governor’s 45 cent gas tax proposal, the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader, along with members of both chambers, have said they do not support a gas tax of that size nor one at all. The House is actively working on alternative solutions to work in conjunction with the 2015 gas tax that we already have in place, which has not yet reached its full implementation.
The General Government budget recommendation makes cuts across the board for all state departments so as to encourage the reduction of waste within each agency and release that money for better use in other areas. It also encourages the use of settlement money that departments, such as the Attorney General’s office, has won and can put towards its budget without the need for additional taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, a fiscally responsible budget that properly serves the needs of our citizens is a top priority. It’s crucial we do not let unnecessary spending creep into our taxpayers’ and local governments’ pockets.
The General Government budget also restores funding for the Jobs for Michigan Graduates (JMG) program that the Governor eliminated in her recommendation. JMG focuses on school dropout prevention, dropout recovery, and school to career pathways. The program is very active in the Van Buren area and has a strong track record of results. Rep. Griffin is thrilled to see the program added back in under this subcommittee recommendation and hopes to see it included in the final budget.
At this time, it does not appear the budget will be signed by its usual time in June as has been done the last eight years. This is due in part to the extra time needed by the Governor to organize her new administration.
Thank you to everyone who came to Rep. Griffin’s May Office Hours announced earlier this month! June Office Hours are currently being planned and will be sent out once they are finalized.
As always, Rep. Griffin will continue to host monthly office hours throughout the 66th District in 2019. In an effort to be more accessible to people throughout the district, monthly office hours will occur at a variety of locations and times.
Times and locations will be updated via this newsletter and also on Rep. Griffin’s website (www.repgriffin.com), and on her official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RepBethGriffin). You can also contact the office directly via phone or email.
Being accessible to members of our community remains a top priority for Rep. Griffin. If you know of any events or meetings you would like her to attend throughout the year, please let us know.
May events in the 66th District
Helping to Provide Services for Seniors and Veterans
Earlier this month, Rep. Griffin along with State Senator Aric Nesbitt and State Rep. Brandt Iden hosted the Senior & Veterans Expo at the Antwerp Township Activity Center in Mattawan. Hundreds of people from Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties came out for free health checks, free breakfast and lunch, to learn more about services in the community, and to catch up with their elected officials and neighbors.
Save the date for next year’s Senior and Veterans Expo! It will once again be held at the Antwerp Township Activity Center on Monday, May 4th.
Mr. Dan Shutes Wins Our Outstanding Educator Award
As an educator, Rep. Griffin loves to recognize the excellent teachers in our community. Mr. Dan Shutes teaches 5th grade at Paw Paw Later Elementary and is known for his out-of-the-box and effective teaching styles.
This outstanding educator goes above and beyond to help his students succeed, and Rep. Griffin was honored to present Mr. Shutes with this award. Congratulations Mr. Shutes and have an awesome summer!
It was a Beautiful Day to Walk Around Hartford!
Earlier this month, Rep. Griffin went door to door in Hartford dropping off a legislative update. Rep. Griffin loves to get out and talk to neighbors about what is happening in Lansing and around the district, and it makes it even more enjoyable when it is 80 degrees and sunny!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak with Rep. Griffin. She looks forward to being back in Hartford soon.
Remembering Our Heroes Who Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice on Memorial Day
Rep. Griffin was honored to have attended and spoke at several parades and ceremonies this Memorial Day in remembrance of our fallen heroes. Thank you to the people of Mattawan, Paw Paw, Keeler, Hamilton, Decatur, and Lawrence for taking the time out of your day to honor those who sacrificed their lives for our country.
On Memorial Day, we are reminded that freedom is not free. To the soldiers and family members remembering a friend or loved one on Memorial Day, we are thinking of you today and always.
Other Great Events attended across the District…
• Decatur Veterans of Foreign Wars Breakfast
• Tour of Kalamazoo Gryphon Place and 2-1-1 Conflict and Crisis Center
• Van Buren County Superintendents Meeting
• Region VII Superintendents Legislative Breakfast
• The South Haven Sesquicentennial Picnic
• After Business “Ours” in South Haven
• Van Buren County Supervisors Meeting
Hosting Constituents in Lansing…
• Members of the Michigan Disability Network
• Self-Advocates of Michigan – Van Buren County Branch
• Dawn, Megan, and Lauren Burghardt from the Alzheimer’s Association
• John Dillworth – Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan
• Blossomtime Pageant Winners
• Pam Davan, Jason Howard, and Paul Schincariol with Michigan Beer and Wine Distributors
• Michigan Brain Injury Council and Association
• June Grabmeyer from Michigan Bicyclists
• Joe and Emily Perkins from Hemophiliacs of Michigan
• Southwest Michigan Works!
You can also get updates from Rep. Griffin’s Facebook page, which you can find at www.facebook.com/RepBethGriffin
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Michigan PFAS Action Response Team: https://www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse/
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Rep. Griffin’s Lansing Office
Physical Address: 124 N. Capitol Ave.
S-1085 House Office Building
Lansing, MI 48933
Mailing Address: S-1085 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
Phone: (517) 373-0839
Toll Free: (800) 577-6212
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