Capitol and Community Updates

Friday, December 1, 2017

Hello Friend,

I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving. I certainly was glad to get time with family before this busy week back in Lansing.

With just two weeks left of scheduled legislative session for 2017, we expect a lot of activity. If you haven’t already liked my Facebook page, check it out for more updates on what the Legislature is doing at https://www.facebook.com/replasinski.*

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office and me with any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions at (517) 373-0828 or donnalasinski@house.mi.gov.

Coffee Hours

Thanks to everyone who came to my Whitmore Lake coffee hour last night! If you weren’t able to make it, I have one more coffee hour scheduled this year. Please stay tuned for a schedule of events for 2018.

Scio Township Coffee Hour

Monday, December 18

8-9 a.m.

Coffee House Creamery

3780 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor

Legislative Update

Protecting Earned Retirement Benefits for Police and Firefighters

In July of this year, the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force released a set of recommendations for Gov. Rick Snyder on addressing the growing pension and health care costs our local governments are facing. The goals of the task force were to help ensure that retirees are supported and our local governments are financially stable and able to deliver the services needed for healthy communities. It recommended certain tools and guidelines for local governments to use to improve their own financial situations.

Yesterday, bill packages were introduced in both the House and Senate that claim to address these funding issues; however, they go much further than the recommendations that were arrived at by consensus of the task force. Under the bills, a state board would have broad power to oversee the retirement and health care funds of local governments, and if municipalities were determined by the state to be in a financial emergency, the governor would be required to appoint a financial management team which would function as the emergency manager of the local governments and have broad power to make changes to fund their systems.

Giving such local authority up has serious implications for our 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, is of grave concern to me.

As I continue to study this legislation, I will be focusing on protecting those who have protected us: our police and firefighters. While it is important to ensure that our local governments are financially healthy, stripping local control and allowing the state to slash pensions and health care for our local heroes is not the way to do that. I look forward to pushing for the commonsense reforms recommended by the task force. Of course, if you have any additional thoughts or questions on this legislation, please call or email me.

What To Do In HD 52

Manchester: Christmas in the Village

Manchester’s Annual “Christmas in the Village” celebration takes place tonight (12/1) and tomorrow (12/2). Today at 6:30 p.m., there will be a parade downtown and a chance to meet Santa afterward at the Wurster Park, as well as caroling karaoke at 8 p.m. Tomorrow at 9 a.m., the activities commence again and include craft shows, horse drawn carriage rides, story time with Mrs. Claus and much more.

Dexter Winter Marketplace

The cold weather doesn’t mean an end to getting quality food and goods from farmers and local artisans at community farmers markets. Check out the Dexter Winter Marketplace every other Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for goods baked from scratch, fresh produce, eggs, crafts, cheese, meats and more.

Helpful Resources

Getting Health Care Coverage

As mentioned in the last two 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 leaves only two weeks to get covered! 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 before it’s too late.

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.

Financial Stability

The holidays can be a tough reminder of, and contributor to, tight finances in homes. If you or someone you know could use some assistance navigating your finances, you may wish to reach out to United Way of Washtenaw County, which offers free one-on-one financial coaching, tax filing help, budgeting tips and more. Learn more about the services they have to offer by calling 2-1-1.

As always, I hope you have found this information helpful.

Sincerely,

Donna

* The Michigan House of Representatives is responsible only for content submitted with House resources and in accordance with the law and House policy. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.