Rep. Lasinski’s Capitol and Community Updates 3-24-17

Friday, March 24, 2017

Hello Friend,

Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! As always, please continue reading for more information about what I’ve been doing in Lansing, my next coffee hours and other community events. Of course, please feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or ideas about legislation. You can contact me and my staff at (517) 373-0828, by email at DonnaLasinski@house.mi.gov or by visiting my website at RepLasinski.com.

Coffee Hour

Please join me for my next coffee hour to discuss what’s happening in Lansing and in Washtenaw County:

Wednesday, March 29

6-7 p.m.

Village Room, Village of Manchester Municipal Building (Village Offices)

912 City Road, Manchester

Don’t worry if you can’t make it — this email list will keep you up-to-date on future coffee hours. And of course, always feel free to call or email my office to ask questions or voice an opinion.

What to do in HD 52

Chelsea Winter Market

Although spring is upon us, many of us are still looking forward to the bounty of produce and other agricultural products that summer and fall offer us. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the Chelsea Winter Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Washington Street Education Center in Chelsea. The market offers veggies, fruit, meat, honey, baked goods and other artisan products.

Legislative Update

FOIA and Government Transparency

Last week, my first bill, House Bill 4156, passed unanimously in the Michigan House of Representatives. HB 4156 is part of a bipartisan legislative package that, if passed, will extend Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to apply to the governor’s office and create a similar Legislative Open Records Act to apply to the state Legislature.

I am proud that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle joined together to pass legislation that shines a light on the inner workings of their state government. Together, these bills represent a significant step toward holding our state’s elected officials accountable to the people we serve.

My bill in the package, HB 4156, specifies how to separate exempt from non-exempt material in requested documents, and requires that non-exempt material be made available for review. It also directs the attorney general to counsel and advise a public body on the administration of the Legislative Open Records Act to the state Legislature.

I am hopeful that this package will receive a hearing in the Michigan Senate and ultimately be signed into law. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both chambers in a more transparent manner in the future.

CrowdHydrology

Wednesday was World Water Day, a day to advocate for safe, clean, accessible water. That’s why I chose Wednesday to introduce House Bill 4402 to establish CrowdHydrology citizen science in Michigan. This program would engage the public in water-surface monitoring using stream staff gauges in the state’s watersheds. HB 4402 will help encourage the installation of staff gauges, which are often costly and difficult to obtain a permit for, by allowing them to be placed in Michigan’s watersheds without a permit.

CrowdHydrology is an interactive program that partners with the U.S. Geological Survey to allow for the collection of hydrology-related data around the country. Staff gauges are placed in inland lakes, streams and creeks, as well as in high-traffic parks or along hiking trails. Each gauge instructs passersby to send the current water height via text message to a number listed on the gauge.

By encouraging Michigan residents to be citizen scientists, we not only become more aware of our own ecosystem, but we increase our understanding of the nature that surrounds us. By bringing CrowdHydrology to Michigan we can help preserve it for future generations.

Watch my video about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pks7SEf_J2U.*

Helpful Resources

As a reminder during tax season, you may qualify for tax credits and other assistance with your tax filing. Free tax preparation services are available statewide by dialing 2-1-1. 

You may also find more general information on filing your state taxes in the 2017 Michigan Taxpayer Guide. I encourage you to contact my office for a physical copy or access the electronic version by visiting http://www.legislature.mi.gov/Publications/TaxpayerGuide-2017.pdf.

I hope you’ve found this information useful. Once again, please feel free to contact my office if we can be of any assistance.