Dear Friends,

Hello, and welcome to my September newsletter!

This edition contains an overview of legislative activity in May, including:

  • What we are doing about water contamination
  • Common-sense licensing for Mental Health Care
  • C.A.R.E.S. Hotline Update
  • Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guides

The summer was filled with community events and meetings with Allegan County residents. I’ve been able to take your concerns directly to Lansing, and I am excited to continue to do so.

I’m committed to maintaining an open line of communication and encourage all residents to contact our office and share your thoughts and concerns so that I can best represent you.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions or concerns, or if I can assist you in any way.

Sincerely,

I will hold my next set of office hours on Monday, September 27 No appointment is necessary. Residents who are unable to meet during my scheduled office hours may contact my Lansing office at (855)-737-0080 or by e-mailing me at marywhiteford@house.mi.gov. Please stop by and say hello!

Combating Water Contamination: Protecting health, safety and natural resources

Many people have reached out about health concerns in the Otsego Area. Earlier this year, I attended public hearings including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Dioxins were recently found in water testing of private wells in the Otsego area. The DEQ is continuing testing in the area, and the City of Otsego is re-testing for dioxins after originally testing in April. Bottled water is being provided to those using wells found to have contaminated water.

Residents with questions can call an Allegan County Health Department hotline at 269-686-4546 daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. More information on dioxins can be found by contacting the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-648-6942 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; or at https://www.epa.gov/dioxin.

Other areas in the state have found heightened levels of Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a group of chemicals widely used throughout the United States since the 1950s. They can be found in products such as firefighting foams, food packaging and cleaning products. We now know the chemicals easily transfer through soil into groundwater.

As chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Environmental Quality, I have worked with the legislature to take proactive measures to identify and address chemical contamination in Michigan.

We took action to secure $60 million to help local families affected by PFAS contamination and allow the state to respond quickly and effectively to future reports of contamination.

Some highlights include:

  • Funding to conduct a statewide study of PFAS levels in public water supplies. The $1.7 million survey is the first of its kind in the nation. In addition to public water systems, 461 schools that operate their own wells will be considered priority testing sites under the program. Roughly 75 percent of the state’s drinking water comes from public systems. The goal is to complete this statewide study by the end of 2018.
  • Funding for up to 18 experts dedicated to providing testing, monitoring and technical assistance at sites across Michigan where PFAS have been found in groundwater. This will help ensure the state can respond quickly to reports of PFAS contamination, provide the testing needed to confirm and address contamination.
  • About $1.5 million dedicated to improving the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s water testing laboratory, which was not equipped to test for PFAS. Upgrading the state’s lab will give Michigan families timely, reliable results.

Common Sense Mental Health Licensing

Sometimes, individuals require acute ongoing mental health care. Their case is not severe enough to require hospitalization, and they require more long-term care than a hospital can provide. These people deserve quality, licensed care that meets their specific needs. This week, I introduced HB 6326, which creates a licensing framework for facilities providing long term mental health care. HB 6326 has been referred to the House Committee on Health Policy for consideration.

C.A.R.E.S. Hotline Update

I recently testified in front of the House Health Policy Committee on House Bill 6202, which creates a crisis hotline to connect individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to a local provider.  This will point those who have no place left to turn in the right direction and allow them to get the help or services they need. House Bill 6202 remains before the House Committee on Health Policy for consideration.

Record-high back-to-school funding

It’s back-to-school season, and local students are headed to class with $14.8 billion in record-high financial support from the state.

Michigan’s commitment to education goes well beyond the basic foundation allowance. The state also allocated $100 million statewide for the Marshall Plan for Talent, designed to expand and improve skilled trade career opportunities for students.

More money goes to early literacy and special education programs this year, following up last year’s significant increase in funding for students who are considered at risk either financially or academically.

School safety remains important with $25 million set aside statewide for grants to improve building security, plus additional resources to expand the OK2SAY school safety tip reporting system.

It is among my top priorities to ensure we provide our kids with the tools necessary for a successful future and a safe learning environment. Under this year’s funding plan, our hometown schools will have more resources available, ensuring they are prepared for college or a career.

Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide

The annual Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide highlights fascinating sights to see, intriguing places to go and fun fall activities for visitors and residents alike. This is a great resource for planning family trips and getaways with friends.

If you’d like a free copy of the travel guide, please reach out to my office or log on to Michigan.org/travel-guide to download a digital copy.

Visiting Lansing?

My priority is always you! If you plan to visit Lansing for a conference or meeting, please contact my office in advance so I can make every effort to meet with you while you are in town.

Celebrating a Special Occasion?

My office is happy to offer legislative tributes in honor of a number of noteworthy events such as retirement, anniversaries of businesses in our community, awards and public recognitions.

STATE GOVERNMENT RESOURCES

 

State Government Links

The Official State, County and City Government Website Locator: www.statelocalgov.net/state-mi.cfm

Michigan Senate website: www.senate.michigan.gov

Michigan House of Representatives website: www.house.michigan.gov

Michigan Legislative Website: www.legislature.mi.gov

Unemployment Issues: If you are having issues connecting with the state unemployment office or receiving your unemployment benefits, please feel free to contact me by calling 517-373-0836. You may also find additional helpful information at the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency website: http://www.michigan.gov/uia/0,1607,7-118-26831—,00.html