<![CDATA[Rep. Sarah Robertss' Site Feed]]> http://018.housedems.com <![CDATA[Lawmakers Demand Hearing on Women’s Health Rider Repeal Bills]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/lawmakers-demand-hearing-on-women-s-health-rider-repeal-bills <p>LANSING — Senate Democratic Leader <strong>Gretchen Whitmer</strong> (D-East Lansing) and State Rep. <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) delivered letters to Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Insurance Committee Chair Rep. Pete Lund to request hearings on Senate Bill 1010 and House Bill 5697, their legislation to repeal the discriminatory and dangerous women’s health care rider law passed in December 2013. Whitmer and Roberts introduced their legislation last month, but have received no indication that the Republican majorities in either body plan to take up the legislation.</p> <p>“When this appalling ‘rape insurance’ law was passed, Republican legislators not only circumvented Michigan voters but the legislative process as well, passing the legislation without a single committee hearing or any opportunity for public testimony,” Whitmer said. “We are only asking our colleagues that ignored the innumerable men and women, business owners, legal experts, doctors and nurses who opposed this law when it passed to listen to them now on its repeal.”</p> <p>SB 1010 and HB 5697 repeal the controversial law that forces women to buy additional health insurance coverage for necessary medical care during various complications during a pregnancy or an abortion even in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s health is in jeopardy. While it requires women to buy the added insurance, however, few insurance companies – just seven of 42 health insurance companies in Michigan – are even selling it. And the companies that do sell the rider are only making it available as an add-on to an existing employer-offered health plan. It’s not available to any woman who pays for insurance herself, or who shops for it on the state’s health care exchange.</p> <p>“There are many things wrong with the women’s health rider law, from the way it unfairly punishes women who planned their pregnancy and are facing miscarriages due to fetal abnormalities to the lack of medical expertise sought when the language of the law was written to the way it was rammed through the Legislature with no testimony from those who will be directly – and adversely – affected by it,” Roberts said. “These letters are simply asking for a fair review of the law. If Republicans and Right to Life of Michigan are as proud of this law as they claim, then they should be willing to hear from those it harms and defend it.”</p> <p>Republicans passed the law prohibiting insurance companies from offering comprehensive health insurance after Right to Life of Michigan gathered signatures for a citizen’s initiative. Legislators had a choice to adopt the measure or put it to the vote of the people. Despite the public outcry, Republicans caved to special interest pressure and passed it into law without a single committee hearing, thereby allowing 3 percent of the state’s population who signed the petition to dictate health care for Michigan women and their families.</p> <p>The Republican-led Legislature has been at recess for more than four weeks since these bills have been introduced. HB 5697 has been assigned to the House Committee on Insurance, chaired by Lund. SB 1010 has not been assigned to a Senate committee yet, but Whitmer sent a letter to Richardville asking for prompt action on assigning the bill to a committee and holding a hearing on the legislation.</p> <![CDATA[Reps. Roberts, Yanez Call on Republicans To Come Back to Lansing to Approve Roads Plan]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/reps-roberts-yanez-call-on-republicans-to-come-back-to-lansing-to-approve-roads-plan <p>LANSING - Macomb County Democratic state representatives <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) and <strong>Henry Yanez</strong> (D-Sterling Heights) today said that they are ready to go back to Lansing to do the job Michiganders elected them to do: stay at work until a plan to fix the roads is agreed on, passed and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.</p> <p>&#8220;Leaving town for the summer without a plan to fix our roads shows a lack of leadership from legislative Republicans who control the governor&#8217;s office, the House and the Senate,&#8221; said Roberts. &#8220;My Democratic colleagues and I did not vote to adjourn for the summer. We are ready to drive back to Lansing and work until we pass a plan and Michiganders know that they can look forward to better roads so they can safely drive to jobs and appointments, and businesses can safely transport their products.&#8221;</p> <p>Senate and House Republicans adjourned session for the summer last Thursday night after Senate Republicans failed to agree on any kind of a road funding plan. House Democrats voted against adjournment, but House Republicans won that vote and adjourned session. By failing to pass a plan, Republicans also let die a plan to make overweight commercial trucks pay their fair share to keep our roads safe and in good repair.</p> <p>&#8220;Without a roads plan, Michigan residents could face another winter and summer driving on substandard roads, and that is unacceptable,&#8221; said Yanez. &#8220;I am ready to drive back to Lansing every day and work with my Republican colleagues as long as it takes to approve a plan to fix our roads. There&#8217;s work to be done and I&#8217;m ready to do it.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Legislation Introduced to Repeal Controversial Abortion Law]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/legislation-introduced-to-repeal-controversial-abortion-law <p>LANSING - State Representative <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) and State Sen. <strong>Gretchen Whitmer</strong> (D-East Lansing) introduced bills today that would repeal a controversial law that forces women to buy additional health insurance coverage for necessary medical care during a miscarriage or abortion even in cases of rape and when the woman&#8217;s health is in jeopardy. The law restricting women&#8217;s access to vital health care was passed by Republicans in the Michigan Legislature in December 2013 and took effect in March. House Bill 5697 and Senate Bill 1010 would repeal that law.</p> <p>&#8220;This regressive law hurts women when they are most vulnerable and puts unreasonable barriers between them and the health care they need,&#8221; Roberts said. &#8220;A woman experiencing a miscarriage should have the peace of mind of knowing that she will receive safe and necessary medical care. This law instead injects politics into an already difficult situation, while potentially forcing a family to incur thousands of dollars of debt for care that had been traditionally covered by insurance. Prohibiting insurance companies and employers from doing what&#8217;s best for the women they serve and care for is wrong and must be stopped immediately.&#8221;</p> <p>Republicans passed the law prohibiting insurance companies from offering comprehensive health insurance after Right to Life of Michigan, a special interest group, gathered signatures for a citizen&#8217;s initiative. Legislators had a choice to adopt the measure or put it to the vote of the people. Despite the public outcry, Republicans caved to special interest pressure passing it into law, thereby allowing three percent of the state&#8217;s population who signed the petition to dictate health care for Michigan women and their families.</p> <p>&#8220;Rather than upholding democratic principles, Republican legislators sold out the people of Michigan to one of their key special interest groups and let 3 percent of the population dictate the health care needs of 100 percent of Michigan women,&#8221; Whitmer said. &#8220;It&#8217;s downright insulting to expect Michigan women to anticipate and financially plan for rape, incest or a miscarriage. This law should never have been enacted in the first place, and wouldn&#8217;t have if it had gone to the voters of Michigan, but the time to repeal it is now.&#8221;</p> <p>Gov. Rick Snyder and former Gov. John Engler vetoed identical legislation as being too extreme and wrong for Michigan. Governor Snyder even cited the law&#8217;s lack of exception for rape or incest. Additionally, doctors warn the law is poorly worded and therefore may prevent women from getting necessary care for a miscarriage unless they have the foresight to purchase the additional insurance rider.</p> <p>&#8220;The law requires women to buy an extra insurance rider to get comprehensive health coverage, but it doesn&#8217;t mandate that insurance companies make these policies available,&#8221; Roberts said. &#8220;Of the 42 health insurers in Michigan, only seven offer this rider. In addition, women who buy insurance on their own are not able to get it because it&#8217;s only available through employer health plans.&#8221;</p> <p>Whitmer and Roberts called the new law cruel and unnecessary, and said they would fight to restore women&#8217;s full access to health care.</p> <p>&#8220;We can&#8217;t sit idly by as women see their rights and their ability to get critical care stripped away from them,&#8221; Whitmer said. &#8220;Rep. Roberts and I heard the outcry from women around the state when this law passed in December and every day since, and we vowed then that we would work tirelessly to repeal it. I urge women and their families across the state to demand this law be undone, and that women&#8217;s right to health care be honored.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Rep. Roberts Wins Approval of Resolutions Asking for Federal Money for Rape Kit Testing]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/rep-roberts-wins-approval-of-resolutions-asking-for-federal-money-for-rape-kit-testing <p>LANSING - State Representative <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) said today that she is pleased that her House colleagues support her efforts to encourage the U.S. Congress to approve President Barack Obama&#8217;s plan to spend $35 million to help communities process rape kits. Rep. Roberts&#8217; House Concurrent Resolution 32 and House Resolution 382 were adopted by a unanimous vote today in the House Criminal Justice Committee, and then adopted by the full House of Representatives.</p> <p>&#8220;I am pleased that my colleagues are joining me to call on Congress to approve this funding so that victims of sexual assault can have a chance to see their attacker arrested, charged and convicted,&#8221; said Rep. Roberts. &#8220;??Communities facing a backlog, of untested rape kits need help with the cost of that testing. This is funding that will make a significant difference in the lives of victims and will help make our communities safer when attackers are taken off the streets.&#8221;</p> <p>The closing of a police crime lab in Detroit left more than 10,000 rape kits untested. With the assistance of state and federal funding, the city is addressing that backlog, but there are still thousands of kits to test. Testing the kits often leads to impressive results. Among the first 1,200 kits tested, there were 455 matches in the DNA database, including matches linking to crimes committed in 22 other states and the District of Columbia. The prosecutor&#8217;s office identified 127 potential serial rapists and obtained 14 convictions of rapists who are tied to rapes reported in 12 other states and the District of Columbia.</p> <p>&#8220;Communities do the best they can, but unfortunately, budgets are tight, and that means services can suffer. That is why it is so important for Congress to act on the president&#8217;s proposal that would help communities here in Michigan, as well as in other states, with the cost of rape kit processing,&#8221; said Rep. Roberts. &#8220;??I hope that Congress will listen to us and approve this funding so that victims can have some justice.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Reps. Knezek, Roberts Introduce Military Voter Protection Package]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/reps-knezek-roberts-introduce-military-voter-protection-package <p>LANSING – State Representatives <strong>David Knezek</strong> (D-Dearborn Heights) and <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) introduced House Bills 5633-5635 today, a three-bill package that would increase and protect opportunities for members of the military to participate in local, state and federal elections. Provisions of the package would allow service members to register to vote via electronic means, submit absentee ballots electronically when stationed overseas, and would require ballots that are postmarked by the close of the polls on Election Day and received before the certification of election results to be counted toward the final election totals.</p> <p>&#8220;Currently, our service members overseas must go through a tedious and timely process in order to fulfill their most basic civic duty. I personally experienced this when I was serving in Iraq and tried to vote,&#8221; said Knezek. &#8220;My ballot never arrived, and I wasn’t able to participate in the election. Sadly, more than 100,000 members of the military can say the same from that year.&#8221;</p> <p>By allowing overseas voters to submit their ballots electronically, House Bill 5635 would make Michigan the 23rd state to allow for an absentee ballot to be returned electronically. For those who choose to mail their ballot to the local clerk, House Bill 5634 amends Michigan Election Law to require that if the ballot is postmarked before the polls close on Election Day, it will be counted and tabulated for the final results of the election.</p> <p>House Bill 5633, sponsored by Roberts, creates a process for individuals to submit their voter registration electronically on the Secretary of State’s website. “My bill will allow residents and our military members who can’t register in their home communities to take the first step in their right to vote,&#8221; Roberts said. &#8220;They are defending our country, and we should make sure they are able to participate in their government by ensuring that our voting laws fit their circumstances.”</p> <p>&#8220;According to a study completed by Pew Research, military personnel who are stationed overseas and hope to participate in an election in Michigan, must go through a process that takes no less than 57 days. That would mean that a service member has to request their ballot in August if they want to participate in the November election,&#8221; Knezek said. &#8220;In a state like New Mexico, where electronic submissions are accepted, the process takes no more than eight days. Michigan can do better, and we know there’s a model out there that works.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Online voter registration will allow our active-duty Michigan military members stationed out-of-state and overseas easy access to register and ensure their right to vote,&#8221; Roberts said. &#8220;Michigan needs to catch up to our technological world. All citizens deserve a quick and easy voter registration system that is compatible with a modern lifestyle while meeting the highest standards of accuracy, cost-effectiveness and efficiency.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;All too often, our service members are disenfranchised by the process to do something as basic as voting for the commander-in-chief,&#8221; Knezek said. &#8220;This legislative package was designed to empower our men and women in the military to have a voice in their local, state, and federal elections back home &#8212; to exercise the very rights that they are fighting to protect each and every day.&#8221;</p> <p>David Knezek serves as co-chair of the House Democrats’ Veterans’ Services Task Force and has introduced numerous pieces of legislation in an effort to make Michigan a more veteran-friendly state. Some of these proposals include granting veterans in-state tuition rates at our public universities and community colleges; protecting veterans who use psychiatric service dogs as a method of treating PTSD and TBI; and allowing businesses in Michigan to adopt preferential hiring policies for veterans.</p> <p>Roberts serves as the Democratic vice chairwoman for the House Appropriations Military and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, where she has worked to increase funding for Veterans Service Officers, veteran tuition assistance and advocating for new veterans homes in Macomb and Wayne Counties. Roberts also recently secured a pilot study and plan of action for Michigan homeless vets and for increased training to support Michigan’s changing military.</p> <![CDATA[Roberts Adds Statewide Septic Code Study to DEQ Budget]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/roberts-adds-statewide-septic-code-study-to-deq-budget <p>LANSING - State Representative <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) won an amendment today to House Bill 5298, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) budget, requiring the department to conduct a study on establishing a statewide septic code. The amendment passed by a unanimous vote.</p> <p>&#8220;Michigan has more than 1.4 million septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems with more than 30 percent of families using septic systems rather than a municipal sewer system. Yet, we are the only state in the country without a statewide uniform sanitary septic code,&#8221; said Roberts. &#8220;With a wide variety of regulations and ordinances there is no real way for us to know how effective they are. This study will help us determine what we currently have and how a statewide septic code could bring improvements.&#8221;</p> <p>DEQ estimates that more than 10 percent of the state&#8217;s 1.5 million septic systems are failing. Michigan lacks any uniform standards for how these systems are designed, built, installed and maintained. Enacting a statewide code would ensure that systems are properly maintained after they are installed. DEQ officials have said in the past that proper maintenance is a problem, and that most counties don&#8217;t check to see that septic systems are working properly once they are installed.</p> <p>&#8220;We applaud Representative Roberts for her leadership on this critical issue,&#8221; said Nic Clark, director of Michigan Clean Water Action. &#8220;Nearly one-third of homes in the state rely on septic systems, and the current patchwork of regulations that exist now are not doing the job to protect Michigan&#8217;s waterways. In Kent County, for example, it is estimated that 1 million gallons of sewage leaks daily from septic systems. We are the only state in the country that hasn&#8217;t adopted a statewide sanitary code, and this study will lay the groundwork for finally addressing this long overdue need to clean up Michigan&#8217;s septic systems.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;The news shows and newspapers cover the horror stories about sewage problems, but ensuring that septic systems are working and well-maintained is not an impossible or prohibitively expensive task,&#8221; said Roberts. &#8220;I hope that by doing this study we can work with our local governments to create a statewide code that could be implemented at the local level. It&#8217;s in the state&#8217;s best interest to help communities with this through available grant and loan programs at the both the state and federal level. We market ourselves as &#8216;Pure Michigan,&#8217; which means that we have to continue being good stewards of our state and do what is best for our communities and our waterways. A statewide sanitary code could help us do just that.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Yanez, Roberts Decry Expansion of For-Profit Education in Michigan]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/yanez-roberts-decry-expansion-of-for-profit-education-in-michigan <p>LANSING - State Representatives <strong>Henry Yanez</strong> (D-Sterling Heights) and <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) expressed their outrage and dismay at the passage of House Bill 4369, which paves the way for more schools to be taken over and run by for-profit charter corporations. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.</p> <p>&#8220;This bill strips local control by allowing for-profit groups to come in and run our schools,&#8221; said Yanez. &#8220;Parents and community members deserve an accountable and transparent school board, yet this bill doesn&#8217;t give us that. This bill won&#8217;t help right schools or help students do better in their studies.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Our communities value their public schools and they don&#8217;t want their neighborhood schools given to for-profit corporations to run,&#8221; said Roberts. &#8220;The problems many schools face are the result of funding cuts approved by majority Republicans over the past three years. This bill doesn&#8217;t address that situation and so won&#8217;t improve student performance in our schools.&#8221;</p> <p>Legislative Republicans began this takeover model with the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), which has run 15 schools in Detroit with disastrous results. Now that State Superintendent Michael Flanagan has ended the state&#8217;s exclusive contract with the EAA, any number of entities can emerge under the State School Reform/Redesign District, operating as many as 50 schools. It&#8217;s unclear whether these entities will have a board that is accountable to the public or subject to the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act.</p> <p>HB 4369 prioritizes schools with students in grades K-8, putting the focus on where for-profit charter schools can make the most money. The bill is unclear on how a school is supposed to leave the reform district if performance improves, meaning a school could be faced with an indefinite takeover. Schools already in the reform district have seen subject proficiency decrease since their takeover.</p> <p>&#8220;This bill is a failure because it doesn&#8217;t outline a mechanism for schools to exit the reform district once a school has improved,&#8221; said Yanez. &#8220;We can&#8217;t just give our schools to a for-profit group to run forever with no way of ever giving them back to the community. House Democrats have two bills that offer real solutions and involve educators, parents and community members working together to fix our schools. That&#8217;s the plan that deserves to be approved today.&#8221;</p> <p>Two Democratic-sponsored bills, HBs 5268 and 5269, came out of the House Democrats&#8217; School Reform Task Force last year. This legislation would create an audit program for schools before they fail and determine the true cost of education so that money can be spent wisely. After sitting in the House Education Committee for more than a month without action, both bills were discharged to the floor, but the full House has yet to consider them.</p> <p>&#8220;This failed plan is not built on evidence or data that shows it will work. In fact, the current EAA is failing students,&#8221; said Roberts. &#8220;Michigan students deserve better and this legislation doesn&#8217;t get at the core issues of why schools are in the bottom 5%. That&#8217;s shameful, and that&#8217;s why I voted no.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[House Dems: Women’s Health Rider Law a Step Backward for Michigan]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-women-s-health-rider-law-a-step-backward-for-michigan <p>LANSING – An extremely controversial law that mandates women – and only women – buy extra health insurance in order to have full health care coverage takes effect today, setting back women throughout Michigan and hampering Michigan’s comeback efforts. The law, based on a Michigan Right to Life citizen’s initiative, demands that women buy extra insurance to cover medical procedures that would preserve a woman’s health during a miscarriage or end a pregnancy that is the result of a rape or incest. The law not only places a burden on women, but also on small businesses that want to offer employees full health care coverage by increasing their costs. At the same time, it discourages talented workers from locating or remaining in Michigan.</p> <p>“This law unfairly punishes women simply for being women,” said Rep. <strong>Marcia Hovey-Wright</strong> (D-Muskegon), chairwoman of the Women’s Democratic Caucus. “Women deserve the same access to full health care as men receive, but only women are told they must buy extra insurance to get it. This law is an attack on women’s health and their economic security, and it is an embarrassment to the state of Michigan.”</p> <p>The law was passed by the state Legislature in December, after Republicans caved in to pressure from Michigan Right to Life. Had Republicans not capitulated to special interest demands to pass the law, the proposal would have been put to a vote of the people in the November election. Instead of giving all voters in Michigan the ability to decide, the controversial law was instead decided by Republican legislators and the 3 percent of Michigan’s population who signed the Right to Life petition. According to polling, the majority of Michiganders asked disapproved of the law, which was so extreme it was previously vetoed by two Republican governors – John Engler and Rick Snyder – and goes so far as to punish women who need a medical procedure to preserve their health when a wanted pregnancy ends in a miscarriage.</p> <p>“Women’s health is a critical issue, not a political football to be tossed around by special interest groups and politicians. Now, there will be no peace of mind for women who become pregnant by rape or incest and are further victimized by this new law that will require them to pay out-of-pocket if they decide they don’t want to continue a pregnancy that resulted from such a violent act,” Rep. <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) said. “And, unfortunately, many women who are prone to high-risk pregnancies will have no peace of mind knowing that their desire to have a baby may have to be balanced against incurring tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills if their insurance company does not provide a rider or they did not purchase a rider prior to their pregnancy.”</p> <p>With the law now in effect, small businesses that want to offer full health care coverage are also paying the price. Making the health care riders available to employees adds to the health care costs of a small business and women. Additionally, not every health care insurer in Michigan offers these women’s health riders. This puts companies that offer full health care coverage as a recruiting tool at a disadvantage when talented workers compare job opportunities in Michigan to those in other states, and can force uncomfortable conversations between employers and employees.</p> <p>“A law that disrespects women and discourages skilled and talented workers from calling Michigan home is wrong for our state. At a time when we should be doing everything we can to return opportunity and economic growth to Michigan, we are being held back by this punitive and archaic law that oppresses women and hurts small businesses,” Rep. <strong>Pam Faris</strong> (D-Clio) said. “When the Republicans imposed this law on the people of Michigan, they did so at the expense of women and our state economy.”</p> <![CDATA[Governor's Budget Reflects House Dem Calls for Tax Relief, School Funding]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/governor-s-budget-reflects-house-dem-calls-for-tax-relief-school-funding <p>LANSING - State Representative <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) thanked Gov. Rick Snyder today for listening to House Democrats calls to put more money towards education and bringing tax relief to Michigan families. However, his budget still falls short of properly funding schools and lessening the burden of new tax hikes the governor supported during his first term.</p> <p>&#8220;Michigan families are now paying almost 32 percent more in taxes, while big corporations enjoy an 83 percent tax break,&#8221; said Roberts. &#8220;??Real tax relief for middle-class families are priorities that should be reflected in this budget and in the future budget, not one-time gimmicks to be used only during election years.&#8221;</p> <p>The governor&#8217;s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-15 recommends restoring $100 in per-student school funding. However, that increase would still leave Michigan schools far below per-pupil spending levels before Gov. Snyder took office. In 2011, the governor and Republican-led Legislature cut per-pupil funding - the portion of school funding that actually reaches classrooms - by $470. In subsequent years, per-pupil spending was increased only modestly, and it now remains an average of $440 below per-pupil funding in 2010. The governor&#8217;s proposal restores less than 25 percent of the money they&#8217;ve cut from our schools, still leaving schools at a massive deficit. The governor&#8217;s budget proposal continues to short-change Michigan&#8217;s children by extending school funding cuts that have amounted to $3 billion since he took office.</p> <p>&#8220;??Students are still getting short-changed because school funding cuts force them to go to school in overcrowded classrooms without enough books and resources to go around,&#8221; said Roberts. &#8220;??Our kids, who are the workers and leaders of the future, deserve better. We need to better fund our schools so kids can learn and be successful in their chosen careers.&#8221;</p> <p>The governor&#8217;s budget proposal also calls for restoring the Homestead Property Tax Credit to families earning between $50,000-$60,000 annually. Shortly after taking office in 2011, Snyder called for sweeping tax code changes that resulted in 400,000 Michigan families losing their Homestead Property Tax Credit. Rep. Roberts co-sponsored House Bill 4565, which would restore the tax credit to families earning up to $60,000, but the bill has languished in the House Committee on Tax Policy. On Jan. 22, House Democrats asked that the bill be discharged from committee and brought to the House floor for an up-or-down vote, but House Republicans blocked that request.</p> <p>&#8220;The governor&#8217;s Homestead Property Tax Credit proposal is a start on the tax relief families desperately need,&#8221; said Roberts. &#8220;??We could have already had this same proposal to the Senate if House Republicans would have allowed a vote on our tax bills last month. I hope they won&#8217;t stand in the way now, and will not only approve this plan but also support the other tax relief bills House Democrats have sponsored.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Roberts to Congress: Restore Emergency Unemployment Compensation Now]]> http://018.housedems.com/news/article/roberts-to-congress-restore-emergency-unemployment-compensation-now <p>LANSING - State Representative <strong>Sarah Roberts</strong> (D-St. Clair Shores) said today the U.S. Congress needs to act immediately to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (EUCP). This is a federal program providing additional unemployment benefits to individuals who have exhausted their regular benefits provided under the unemployment insurance system. Rep. Roberts is the sponsor of House Resolution 275, encouraging Congress to extend these benefits.</p> <p>&#8220;??Michigan has the third-highest unemployment rate of all states, and as many as 44,000 unemployed Michiganders lost their unemployment checks when Congress failed to act by the end of 2013,&#8221; said Rep. Roberts. &#8220;??With Michigan&#8217;s unemployment benefits limited to 20 weeks, and with Republicans refusing to even discuss an increase in the minimum wage, we need action at the federal level to allow unemployed workers to keep providing for their families while they search for work.&#8221;</p> <p>The EUCP provides at least 14 weeks of additional unemployment benefits in all states, but for states with a high rate of unemployment, like Michigan, the program provides up to 47 additional weeks. A law passed by Congress in 2012 amended this program allowing it to expire at the end of 2013.</p> <p>House Democrats are also fighting to raise the minimum wage. Rep. Roberts is a co-sponsor of House Bill 4386, which would raise the state minimum wage from an hourly rate of $7.40 to an hourly rate of $9.</p> <p>&#8220;??With Michigan&#8217;s unemployment rate at 8.4 percent, we can argue that we are in an emergency and that we need Congress to restore this federal program to help these struggling workers and their families,&#8221; said Rep. Roberts. &#8220;Restoring the emergency unemployment compensation will also help our state economy and the local businesses where these families shop for groceries and other necessities.&#8221;</p>