Dear Friends,

Hello and welcome to the September edition of my e-newsletter!

This letter serves as an update on my work as your State Representative including new legislation and important updates from the Capitol. In this edition of my e-newsletter you will find:

  • Budget update
  • Roads town hall
  • Monthly office hours
  • CARES Hotline
  • Transitional psychiatric care
  • Discharge planning for the imprisoned and mentally ill

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.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about state government, or pending legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at (517) 373-0836 or by email marywhiteford@house.mi.gov. You are my priority and it is an honor to serve you.

Sincerely,

Mary Whiteford
State Representative
80th District

Monthly office hours
I will hold my next set of office hours on Monday, October 21. 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!

 

Budget Update
In June, the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate passed their version of the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Over the summer months we have been hard at work taking input from members and constituents and exploring many possibilities for a final budget that invests your tax dollars wisely. Last week the House and Senate approved the School- Aid budget with increases in per-pupil funding by $120-$240 for every student. This week the House and Senate approved the remaining department budgets, including the Department of Health and Human Services Budget which I chair. This budget prioritizes the needs of children in our community by ensuring that behavioral health practitioners are reimbursed adequately for the care they give and ensuring that every child in the state foster-care system receives treatment for trauma.

 

Roads Town Hall and Auto-Insurance Update
On August 19, Representatives Bradley Slagh and Jack O’Malley joined me for a Roads Town Hall and Auto-Insurance Update. Rep. O’Malley provided an update on current road funding discussions, including his committee hearings, a brief summary on the history of road funding in Michigan and thoughts on potential options to improve the quality of our infrastructure around the state. It was a valuable session, with excellent questions and suggestions from many constituents.

Rep. O’Malley’s road funding hearings have led to a comprehensive proposal to decrease barriers to managing roads in Michigan. These bill proposals and a sort description are listed below.

B 4963 (O’Malley) – Local Option Fuel Tax

Allows counties to levy a local option fuel tax by a vote of the people. The tax collected will be distributed by population and actual road miles to other local road agencies within the county boundaries.

HB 4964 (Sneller) – Local Option Registration Tax

Allows counties to levy a local option registration fee by a vote of the people. The fees collected will be distributed by population and actual road miles to other local road agencies within the county boundaries.

HB 4965 (Wakeman) – Asset Management Spending – Counties

Provide more flexibility to county road agencies so they are no longer constrained to “75% on primary roads” and “25% on local roads.” Counties wouldn’t be constrained by these limits; instead, they would simply need to have and follow an approved asset management plan.

HB 4966 (Schroeder) – Asset Management Spending – Cities and Villages

Provide more flexibility to municipal road agencies so they are no longer constrained to “75% on primary roads” and “25% on local roads.” Cities and Villages wouldn’t be constrained by these limits; instead, they would simply need to have and follow an approved asset management plan.

HB 4967 (Mueller) – Prequalification Reform

Change MDOT prequalification limitations by eliminating prequalification for sub-contractors hired for landscaping, seeding, sodding, or stone work for projects under $10 million and for projects above $10 million all contractors need to be prequalified

HB 4968 (Markkanen) – Update Snow Maintenance Formula

Revise the distribution for snow removal based on the immediately preceding 14 calendar years, instead of “before 1987.”

HB 4969 (Yancey) – Construction Work time reform

Prohibits MDOT and the local road agencies from contractually restricting road-building times and requires that all road projects be put out for bid no later than the last fiscal quarter of the fiscal year prior to work beginning on a project. Further, the bill does provide an exemption from the bid requirement in emergency situations. Lastly, the bill allows local governments to consider “responsive and responsible best value bidder” as well as “low bid” when selecting contracts.

HB 4970 (Bellino) – Alternative Delivery Methods

Creation of a Michigan Alternative Project Delivery Act which provides a regulatory structure for new delivery methods.

HB 4971 (Alexander) – Asset Management Road Right-Sizing

Requires the Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) to evaluate roads throughout the state for “right-sizing” and work with the state and local road agencies to ensure our infrastructure is not overbuilt.

HB 4972 (Leutheuser) – Reform Registration

Move away from an ad-valorem system and impose a $40 base fee with an additional tiered MPG fee (MPG Fees – 0-10 -$30 ($70 total); 11-20 – $40 ($80 total); 21-30 – $75 ($105 total); 31-40 – $120 ($160 total); 40+ – $200 ($240 total); Full Electric – $250 ($290 total))

All MPG Fees indexed to inflation every 5 years.

HB 4973 (Glenn) – Local Bridge Collaboration

Allow for the transfer and/or collaborative sharing of local bridge design, construction, and/or operations with MDOT.

Senate Road Policy Bills

Senate Bill 515 amends Public Act 51 Barrett

  • Description: Requires MDOT to develop a road construction inflation index to measure changes in cost within the highway construction industry annually.

Senate Bill 516 amends Public Act 51 Barrett

  • Description: Would extend the requirement for local asset management reports to be for 6 years, not the current 3 years, and codify state reporting requirements, such as the 5 year plan and the long-range plan.

Senate Bill 517 amends Public Act 51 Bizon

  • Description: Require MDOT to study tolling Michigan bridges on roadways.

Senate Bill 518 amends Public Act 51 MacDonald

  • Description: Direct federal funds to MDOT so that non-federal funds can be directed to local agencies, making them “whole”. Request 3357’19 directs the non-federal money.

Senate Bill 519 amends Public Act 51 Runestad

  • Description: Direct non-federal funds to local agencies, making them “whole”. Request Number 3618’19 to direct all federal funds to MDOT

Senate Bill 520 amends Public Act 51 – SB Outman

  • Description: Amends the specifics of state and local warranty programs by raising the dollar amount of which projects need to be warrantied, also revokes a company’s prequalification if they have outstanding warranty work that needs to be done and they aren’t making progress toward addressing it in certain situations.

Senate Bill 521 amends Public Act 51 Victory

  • Description: Require local units of government, when adding new roads to their system or planned developments are adding new infrastructure, that the plans include how the maintenance of the infrastructure is to be paid for.

Senate Bill 522 amends Public Act 51 Zorn

  • Description: Establish a Local Road Agency Advocate which is appointed by the Transportation Asset Management Council. This individual (and any support staff)’s primary function would be to advocate for local road agencies in the permitting process with MDOT, DEGLE, DNR, and any other state agency. The Advocate can also assist local agencies with developing plans to comply with federal permit requirements.

Senate Bill 523 amends Vehicle Code McBroom

  • Description: Require individuals applying for a farm or logging registration plate to supply an EIN in order to qualify for the plate.

Senate Bill 524 amends Public Act 51 LaSata

  • Description: Would require MDOT to post signs on roadway rehabilitation and reconstruction projects with identifying information about the project.

 

Developing a Mental Health Hotline
On September 12, the Senate Health Policy Committee approved my plan for a statewide mental health hotline. House Bill 4051 creates a telephone referral hotline system available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that will connect individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to a local provider. The hotline will be able to screen and refer individuals who need mental health services, substance use disorder treatment and rehabilitation services to the appropriate level of care so that those people get the help they need. This could help prevent issues from escalating into a crisis, or prevent those in crisis from hurting themselves or others. I have learned that approximately 50% of people who are addicted to drugs are self-medicating their mental illness. The earlier that we help people, the less likely they will turn to drugs and alcohol to feel better.

It is important to look for innovative ways to bring people the help they need in the 21st century. I will continue to work on this important hotline to ensure access to critical mental health care is available for all of Michigan’s residents. House Bill 4051 now awaits consideration by the full Michigan Senate.

 

Transitional Psychiatric Licensing
On September 12, I testified before the House Health Policy Committee about my plan to license transitional psychiatric treatment centers. Currently these centers are licensed as  adult foster-care homes. This is inaccurate, and does not provide the right standard of care for these centers.

Getting the right care at the right time is so important for individuals who need mental health care. Hospitalization is not always appropriate for psychiatric support, yet some people aren’t quite ready to go back home in their communities.

House Bill 4052 creates a regulatory structure for care for those who do not require hospitalization, but still need help to transition back into their community. This fills an important gap in our mental health care system.

HB 4052 awaits a vote by the House Health Policy committee.

 

A Plan for Parolee Success
Did you know that 20% of the state’s general fund (dollars that are not restricted to a specific purpose) is spent on the state corrections system? Even more startling, while the prison population is at a 20 year low, expenses continue to rise. Some more facts about the prison population:

  1. About 20% of Michigan’s prison population is enrolled in a mental health program through the Michigan Department of Corrections.
  2. According to the Pew Center, many people with mental or substance use disorders when released from prison, continue to lack access to necessary services and, too often, become enmeshed in a cycle of costly justice system involvement.
  3. According to a study by the Mathematica Policy institute, reducing barriers to Medicaid enrollment is likely to increase access to health services and reduce subsequent admissions to prisons, hospitals, or other institutions

That’s why I introduced HB 4700. This legislation directs the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) to create a mental health discharge plan for each prisoner who is receiving mental health services or mental health prescription medication before he or she is released on parole.

This discharge plan includes:

  • an appointment after release with a mental health professional who can provide mental health prescription medication
  • an assessment of whether the prisoner is eligible upon release for enrollment in Medicaid or Medicare,
  • A plan of people and actions that will support the prisoner as he or she transitions out of prison.

By creating a pathway for a successful transition out of prison, we can reduce the likelihood of reoffending, and reduce the need for costly medical treatment within the prison system.

 

Constituent Connections

Echo Point Shooting Range reopened after Labor Day Weekend with new renovations. I was honored to be a part of the ribbon cutting ceremony!

I visit every township meeting in the 80th district every year. Thank you to the Clyde Township trustees for serving your community!

Senator Nesbitt and I had a beautiful opportunity to give backpacks with school supplies to students at Pullman Elementary. Every child deserves a chance at success – and having the tools to learn is part of that!

My grandkids and I had a great time meeting the Schmidts and their horses at the Allegan County Horse Leaders Open 4-H Show.

Veteran’s Treatment Court is an incredible opportunity. Congratulations to our newest graduates, Andrew and Dennis!

Allegan Fire Department serves up a tasty breakfast! Thank you for protecting our community!

I was glad for the opportunity to attend the Folds of Honor fundraiser for children of fallen soldiers. Thank you to Lieutenant Robert Wallace, the featured speaker and father of 6, for your service to our nation.

I was proud to help bring together more than 250 students at US 131 Motorsports Park. These students got to attend STEM Day, meet Michigan native and jet racecar driver, Elaine Larsen, and learn from her team of drivers, engineers and artists. Thank you!

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