(A version of this column first appeared in The Daily Telegram.)
What have we learned from 2020 – a year like no other?
We learned we are better when working together, putting politics aside to face challenges and solve problems.
We learned that even in a year of unfathomable loss, there also is accomplishment. And, above all, we learned there is hope for a brighter future.
COVID-19 won’t defeat Lenawee County. Our families, friends and neighbors are too strong to let that happen. Our community has risen to every challenge – it’s clear as we look back on this past year and look ahead to a better 2021. Your courage, perseverance and care for each other inspire me as I continue to work as your representative in the Michigan House – promoting the Lenawee values of honesty, common sense and hard work.
As soon as the virus hit, my colleagues and I began fighting for you. The Legislature has appropriated more than $6 billion for COVID-19 response from all sources –state and federal – since this pandemic began.
We started with investments in March to ramp up testing and help hospitals and communities respond quickly to the virus. These investments continued throughout the year, including a recent measure that the governor accepted in part and rejected in part. Investments were approved to support small businesses, boost vaccine distribution efforts, and support direct care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight. But the governor inexplicably vetoed an appropriation that would have permitted a six-week extension of unemployment benefits that Michigan families desperately need.
The measure, as signed by the governor, does include additional support to boost virus testing efforts – with a special focus on nursing homes.
A third of the more than 12,000 Michiganders who have died from COVID-19 lived in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. That’s why I fought to change the governor’s reckless policies that were needlessly endangering lives.
A reform approved by the Legislature in mid-December will streamline the approval process for care centers where elderly COVID-19 patients who don’t require hospitalization can comfortably recover – without exposing healthy nursing home residents to the virus.
While I acknowledge Gov. Whitmer faced unprecedented and unexpected challenges, I have had disagreements with her during this pandemic. We have proven our state response is at its best when she’s listening to the people and working as a partner with the Legislature – not going her own way.
We are all in this together – each and every Michigander. That is why our mission must be to protect both lives and livelihoods, while we rebuild a healthy economy. We can and must resume our daily lives safely and sensibly.
COVID-19 rightfully dominated discussion at the state Capitol in 2020, but there were other important accomplishments that will make Michigan an even better place to live, work and raise a family for years to come.
Our effort to reform car insurance already is paying dividends for Michigan drivers. The per-vehicle assessment from the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association was $220 before the Legislature approved changes in 2019. In July 2021, the rate will have dropped all the way to $86 per vehicle. The lower MCCA fee comes on top of guaranteed rate reductions written into state law through the 2019 reforms.
2020 will also be remembered for criminal justice reform. Many low-level, non-violent crimes will be erased from the records of rehabilitated Michigan residents – giving them new opportunities to provide for their families. Many of these reforms are signed into law already, and other measures I sponsor – eliminating license suspensions for violations unrelated to dangerous driving, and reclassifying low-level traffic misdemeanors as civil infractions – await the governor’s signature.
I also continued important work to prevent human trafficking, support our most vulnerable, and add to record financial support for our schools.
It’s a privilege to be part of such a caring community and to be your voice at the state Capitol. When people lay their head on the pillow at the end of a long day, they want to know they are safe. They want to know they have financial security and opportunities to realize the good life freedom makes possible.
That will continue to be my mission in 2021.
State Rep. Bronna Kahle, chair of the House Health Policy Committee, has introduced bipartisan legislation that will develop creative solutions to allow more visitation options for residents and their families that can be conducted safely and sensibly.
State Rep. Bronna Kahle today helped the House approve a comprehensive COVID-19 recovery plan to get kids back in classrooms, help struggling families and job providers, and improve the state’s flawed vaccine distribution program.