Michigan congressmen outline goals for fall
As the state legislature reconvened after their summer holiday, many congressmen expressed eagerness to implement new legislation. In the coming term, state senators and representatives plan to address Flint and the opioid epidemic as well as other issues like medical marijuana and auto insurance reform.
State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Ottawa
Amber McCann, state Sen. Meekhof’s press secretary, said the Michigan Senate will be focusing on several local priorities from the senator’s district.
According to MLive, Michigan has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country, prompting 72 percent of Michiganders to want to reform the state’s no-fault auto insurance policy.
“We will also continue to discuss possible no-fault auto insurance reform,” McCann said.
Additionally, the majority leader is interested in starting a signature-gathering effort to repeal existing wage laws.
State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint
Flint still does not have clean water, landing a solution to the water crisis at the top of state Sen. Ananich’s agenda. In addition to local solutions, Ananich said he is intent on preventing similar water crises from happening around the state. He said despite Michigan having such large amount of fresh water, many communities have had issues with housing over the price of water, which he said is inacceptable.
“We need to protect all of our waterways, not just the Great Lakes,” Ananich said. “We shouldn’t have any more crises –– it happened to me personally and I have no other motivation than making sure it doesn’t happen to other people.”
For those who have had to endure the crisis, Ananich is hoping to establish a need-based scholarship by the end of the year. The scholarship, named the Flint Promise, would make Flint the 11th city in Michigan designated a “promise zone,” or a city offering free tuition to those in need.
Ananich also said with so much insecurity in Washington, the state is looking to provide policy solutions for issues not federally addressed, such as price gouging in pharmaceutical companies.
State House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt
State House Speaker Tom Leonard wrote in an email interview he has three top priorities for the fall, with mental health reform topping the list.
“This is a problem that does not have easy answers, but it is something we must address. I created a special task force this summer to travel around the state and talk to people who have been affected and learn what we can do to make a difference,” Leonard wrote.
Leonard also wants to support skilled trade schools, giving high school students more education options and adding more skilled labor to the economy.
“We created new options for high school students this spring, and we are working on new reforms to help prepare future students for the modern economy,” he said.
Like Meekhof, Leonard expressed interest in auto insurance reform, citing the same high rates.
“Michigan families currently pay the highest rates in the country for auto insurance, and it is not close. We have to do whatever we can to lower rates for Michigan drivers," he said.
State Rep. Peter Lucido, D-Macomb
State Rep. Lucido has introduced the most bills this term compared to the rest of the Michigan representatives. Hoping to find solutions for auto insurance like many other congressmen, Lucido mentioned the need to efficiently create reform. He said that 22 percent of Michigan drivers currently do not have insurance, creating a sluggish Secretary of State.
“We will know when you got insurance, how long it was purchased for, and so it goes right from the company to the secretary of state,” Lucido said. “As soon as police officers pull you over, they will know whether or not you have insurance.”
In addition to predictions that 2018 will see legislation on medical marijuana, Lucido said alleviating the opioid epidemic requires continued education for doctors and patients, and that correction reform is needed.
“We currently spend $2 million on corrections –– that’s too much,” he said.