Now that summer has finally arrived, I want to look back at some of the achievements I am most proud of from the first six months of my term. We have made significant progress on a number of issues that are a priority for families, seniors and workers throughout mid-Michigan.
AUTO NO-FAULT REFORMS
I can’t even begin to describe how proud I was to play a role in passing a solution to fix Michigan’s broken auto no-fault insurance system. Reforming auto insurance is something that eluded the Legislature for more than 30 years, but we were able to come up with a bipartisan plan to lower rates for drivers all across the state. The new law will give drivers choices on personal injury protection coverage, will combat fraudulent claims and will take steps to rein in medical costs.
Driving around the area, I have seen the damage this spring’s record-level rain has done to fields in our community. The weather has absolutely devastated local farmers, and many of them will be facing financial trouble as this crop season continues. I recently voted “yes” on House Bill 4234, which helps private lenders provide low-interest loans to qualified farmers at no financial risk to the state. The bill provides $15 million to help private lenders run the loan program and keep interest rates low for farmers. It’s a boost many struggling farmers will need to get by until brighter days return. I am proud to support farmers in these difficult times.
Increasing the transparency and accountability of state government has been a huge focus for me. One of the first bills I introduced was part of a bipartisan plan to subject the governor and lieutenant governor to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and hold state representatives and senators to the same high standard by creating the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA). These bills passed the House in March, and remain under consideration in the Senate.
Another bill I sponsored, House Bill 4643, would expose potential conflicts of interest by requiring candidates for and officeholders in the legislative, executive and judicial branches to fill out a financial disclosure form. These measures will bring more accountability to our elected state officials and help restore the public’s faith in government.
In total, I have introduced six bills and initiated a new law in my first six months in office:
n House Bill 4004 is part of a bipartisan plan to ban child marriage in Michigan. Our archaic child marriage laws currently allow just one parent to sign a child away, opening up the potential for young people to be abused and exploited. Our plan would prohibit judges from issuing a marriage certificate for anyone under the age of 18.
n House Bill 4145 is part of our plan to “Raise the Age” and improve the way 17-year-olds are treated in Michigan’s criminal justice system. Michigan is one of just four states to automatically prosecute all 17-year-olds as adults – even those who commit the most minor offenses. Eliminating this outdated practice will help rehabilitate young offenders and reduce the likelihood of them breaking the law again in the future.
n House Bill 4255 is part of a plan to combat elder abuse and establish increased protections for Michigan’s senior population. The eight-bill bipartisan plan will add legal protections for adults age 65 and older and establish increased criminal penalties for individuals who financially or physically abuse vulnerable and elder adults.
n House Bill 4296 (now Public Act 40 of 2019) helped preserve Michigan’s electronic court document filing system. The MiFile system allows documents to be filed electronically with courts across the state through one central portal. Since its implementation in 2016, the system has improved service to the public, increased access to courts and reduced costs for litigants.
I am honored to continue serving as your voice in Lansing, and always encourage residents to contact me with any questions or concerns they might have. Please feel free to reach out to my office at (517) 373-1778 or email email@example.com.
— State Rep. Graham Filler of DeWitt is serving his first term in the Michigan House representing residents of Gratiot and Clinton counties. A former assistant attorney general, he now serves as chair of the House Judiciary Committee.