Between a global pandemic and a national political divide that seems worse than ever before, I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year like none other.
I truly believe that the best way to get through these difficult times so we can all move on brighter days ahead is to work together – Democrats and Republicans; Legislature and governor; local, state and federal leaders.
Recently, I felt a glimmer of hope that our state was headed in a positive direction when my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle and I worked together with the governor to approve several measures to help guide our state through the remainder of the pandemic.
The need for collaboration became apparent to everyone when the Michigan Supreme Court struck down the governor’s COVID-19 executive orders as unconstitutional. We had to act quickly to protect the people of our state who are struggling. So, in the early morning hours of Oct. 14, after a long legislative session, we all came together to help people forced out of work by COVID-19, protect our loved ones isolated in nursing homes, and improve our state’s COVID-19 response plan by listening to the needs of the people it is meant to help and protect.
I personally sponsored two of the measures. The first would provide flexibility to allow licensed health care workers such as physician assistants, registered nurses and pharmacists to continue testing people for COVID-19. The second protects workers by making sure they will not be punished for missing work or following health protocols related to COVID-19. Both bills received unanimous support from legislators on both sides of the aisle.
I’m proud of the way we came together to improve our state’s COVID-19 response. Ever since I became your representative in the Michigan House, my goal has always been to put aside partisan politics and do what’s best for people in our community and across the state. That’s why I am constantly looking for ways to bring leaders together for the common good.
We’ve achieved quite a bit over the past two years by working together:
- Criminal justice reform: The Legislature approved, and the governor signed, our “Raise the Age” plan, which ended the practice of automatically trying all 17-year-olds as adults in court. We also made sweeping changes to civil asset forfeiture laws, ensuring that law enforcement agencies cannot keep personal property from citizens who have not been charged with any crime. This month, the governor signed new laws that will expand the criteria for expungements related to traffic offenses, marijuana violations that are now legal and other minor crimes. The bills will give thousands of Michigan residents a clean slate and a better opportunity to find jobs to support themselves and their families.
- Combatting elder abuse: The House has approved a bipartisan plan I helped sponsor to combat elder abuse and establish increased protections for Michigan’s senior population. The plan will add legal protections for adults age 65 and older and increase criminal penalties for individuals who financially or physically abuse elder adults. These additional protections and increased criminal penalties will ensure people think twice before targeting or taking advantage of our seniors.
- Auto insurance: After previous Legislatures had failed for decades to provide meaningful car insurance reforms, my colleagues and I got the job done in 2019 – with changes that began to take effect this summer. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association lowered the fees it assesses on each vehicle, and many drivers are seeing lower rates as they renew their policies.
- Protecting funding for schools and public services: Considering how COVID-19 has devastated our economy, Michigan’s state budget has held up well. Our budget for the new fiscal year increases overall support for schools and protects funding for local communities and services most important to Michigan families.
As you can see, we can accomplish a lot of good by working together. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to practice bipartisanship and collaboration in our future decisions about our state’s COVID-19 response.
State Rep. Graham Filler today issued the following statement after Gov. Whitmer signed legislation he spearheaded to protect businesses, universities, non-profit organizations and other Michigan job providers from becoming the target of frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19:
“It’s critically important that we all work together to move our state forward safely as this pandemic continues to linger,” said Filler, of DeWitt. “Keeping people healthy remains my priority. It’s also vital to make sure the unemployment checks out-of-work Michiganders are relying on to feed their families don’t come to a sudden, screeching halt.”