I hope the start of spring is treating you well! March has been a busy month for my office. It is Reading Month, so I have been reading at elementary schools in House District 6. My team and I are also busy helping with free tax preparation with the Accounting Aid Society every week. We also have been going door to door to inform residents facing tax foreclosure about resources available to them so they can make arrangements before the deadline. On top of that, we have been reintroducing legislation and monitoring legislation that I am concerned about. In this e-newsletter, you’ll find a calendar of upcoming events in the next few months, as well as information about legislation I recently introduced.
Calendar of Events
Riverside Park Community Meeting: Wednesday, April 5, 5:30 p.m. at St. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church, 1000 St. Anne St. in Detroit. My special guest will be City Councilmember Raquel Castaneda-Lopez. Learn about the environmental aspects of converting Riverside Park to another use and the Department of Natural Resources’ land conversion process.
This is in advance of the City of Detroit’s community meeting on April 20, 5:30 p.m. at Patton Recreation Center.
Coffee Hour: , from at the Ecorse Public Library, 4184 W. Jefferson Ave., in Detroit. Join us to share your ideas, concerns and questions, and hear updates from my office.
Housing Summit: here — for updated information as the date gets closer. Learn about topics like affordable housing, gentrification, tenants' rights and foreclosure prevention. Note that this date was changed from the originally planned date of ., with special guest Councilmember Mary Sheffield. Location to be determined — check my website calendar — click
Become a Citizen Day: , from at 1927 Rosa Parks Blvd. in Detroit. Guests include Councilmember Raquel Castañeda-López, and other community organizations. This is your opportunity to get assistance applying for U.S. citizenship.
Coffee Hour: , from at Red Hook Café, 8025 Agnes St. in Detroit. Join us to share your ideas, concerns and questions, and hear updates from my office.
Last Wednesday, March 22 was World Water Day! I reintroduced several bills related to water rates and affordability, which I’ve listed below. My colleagues also reintroduced a number of other bills related to water quality and billing. Click here to go to my website for more information.
House Bill 4393: Shut-off protections — Institutes water shut-off protections for seniors, families with minor children, and those who are disabled, and provides for clearer notices and a process for potential shutoffs. Creates a low-income water assistance fund similar to the vulnerable household warmth fund. This is a revised bill based on HB 5122 from last term and is intended to mirror the statute Michigan has for utility shut-off protections.
House Bill 4394: Affordability — Addresses the water rate structure that unduly burdens low income residents by amending the social welfare act to create a residential water affordability program within DHHS in order to ensure that water bills are based on household income.
House Bill 4388/4390 (Chang/Garrett): Decriminalization — Decriminalizes the act of re-connecting water service (because of a shut-off due to inability to pay) from a five year felony to a civil infraction for a first or second offense and a misdemeanor for the third offense.
Concern about AK Steel MEDC Agreement
On March 16, I joined a group of bipartisan state representatives to speak out against MEDC negotiations concerning brownfield tax credits for AK Steel’s Dearborn Works steel plant. By going around the legislature, the company may avoid answering questions about environmental protections for surrounding neighborhoods. Last session, a pair of bills in the House and Senate would have allowed AK Steel to claim MEGA tax credits that were awarded to the previous operator of the facility, but those bills did not receive a vote on the House floor. The MEDC is now considering awarding both MEGA and brownfield credits without legislative approval.
Michigan residents and the residents of House District 6 deserve transparency and a public process in which they can engage, ask questions, and share concerns, especially when it comes to giving away their taxpayer dollars to a corporation that is one of the known polluters in the area. It is deeply troubling to me that MEDC is developing an agreement with AK Steel to transfer millions of Severstal’s old tax credit dollars through a closed door process after the AK Steel bills died in the Legislature last year. Even more maddening is the fact that District 6 residents, who breathe in air pollution every single day, do not know if this tax break comes with the environmental equipment upgrades or accountability that we demanded be included in legislation last session. My residents, and all Michiganders, deserve better than this. Go to my website for more information.
State Representative Stephanie Chang