FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 29, 2021
Contact: [email protected]
2021 Accomplishments Countdown: High-Speed Internet
Governor Whitmer counts down to 2022 by highlighting administration’s progress on 10 kitchen-table issues that makes a difference in people’s lives
LANSING, Mich. – The Whitmer-Gilchrist administration is counting down the last 10 days of 2021 by celebrating Michigan’s progress on 10 fundamental kitchen-table issues. Today we celebrate progress Michigan has made on expanding high-speed internet.
“High-speed internet is critical to education, employment, and daily household functions,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I am proud of the actions we have taken at the state level to expand high-speed internet to over 18,000 homes and businesses and win hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants for rural broadband, telehealth, and remote learning. We will continue working to ensure every family, community, and small business has a reliable, affordable connection that meets their needs and helps them participate in our economy.”
“Access to affordable high-speed internet is a necessity in our professional, personal and social lives,” said Susan Corbin, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity director. “We are making significant investments and are committed to removing barriers in high-speed internet availability, affordability and adoption for disproportionately impacted communities of color, those in rural areas, and low-income households. These investments will increase opportunities to get connected so we can boost online learning, healthcare and economic opportunity for all Michiganders.”
Getting Things Done
Governor Whitmer believes every family and business in Michigan deserves access to a reliable, affordable high-speed internet connection that meets their needs. She wants to close Michigan’s digital divide by expanding broadband, driving down costs, and boosting digital literacy. High-speed internet enables communities to develop and attract jobs and businesses. It expands economic opportunity for families, enhances educational experiences for students, and allows for remote access to key healthcare services. To ensure Michigan takes advantage of every opportunity for progress, the Governor launched the Connecting Michigan Task Force and the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office to coordinate the state’s efforts. Together, these programs have leveraged millions in state and federal funds to give families and businesses access to high-speed internet.
“For the past decade, the community leaders in northern Michigan have known that the lack of high-speed broadband has been the number one deterrent to economic development, therefore making the expansion of high-speed broadband their number one priority,” said Tom Stephenson, Broadband Solutions Manager, Connected Nation. “In my opinion, 2021 was a good year for broadband in northern Michigan with several service providers and the rural electric co-ops building out fiber optic networks capable of bringing gigabit speeds to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in rural areas where high-speed broadband did not exist. Based on the data and meetings I have participated in; I see that pace increasing to around 100,000 homes and businesses in 2022 and will continue for the next two to three years with the lack of material and trained labor being the restricting factor. As these networks are being built out, I see for the first time our rural community leaders now able to focus on other key issues such as affordable housing, childcare, and transportation.”
“As a Rural resident for over 40 years, I have tried to keep up with communication through personal computers, tablets, and smartphones,” Pauline Bedwell, Richmond Twp. Planning Commission. “However, my area has watched the advances in internet connectivity pass us by, only to make use of high-speed internet at our jobs, schools, and libraries. Connecting to high-speed internet in our homes will be a long-awaited game changer. My rural neighbors and I are really excited about the upcoming opportunities a fast, reliable internet connection provides. Finally, we will have a connection that will allow us to work from home, attend online school, participate in telehealth services, facetime family and friends, and stream our favorite shows. I applaud the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration’s sustained efforts to connect rural areas of the Upper Peninsula.”
“The nation is on the cusp of taking great strides to close our digital divide,” said Eric Frederick, executive director of Connected Nation Michigan. “Michigan will have the opportunity to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in federal resources to ensure every Michigander has an affordable high-speed internet connection, a device to connect to it, and the knowledge of how to leverage that technology to improve their quality of life. The idea of an office within state government dedicated to this issue has been around for quite some time. When dedicated staff, capacity, and proper resources are in place, the Michigan Office of High-Speed Internet will be able to efficiently, effectively, and transparently administer new federal investments to create a more digitally equitable Michigan.”
Oakland County Shows Resolve through Challenges of 2021
Pontiac, Michigan – Resilience, lifting up our neighbors, and emergency response and recovery were the hallmarks of 2021 for Oakland County and its residents.
The county activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) seven times in the past year, the most in recent memory. Amid these challenges, the county continued to move forward on strategic goals such as developing a skilled and educated workforce through the Oakland80 initiative, reforming criminal justice, improving access to health care, and leveraging the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to address acute pandemic needs and invest in the future.
“Our residents, communities, businesses and schools have been through so much this past year, but their resolve has been a beacon of hope for everyone,” County Executive Dave Coulter said. “Oakland County will continue to support our communities through these challenges while moving ahead with our strategic goals to build a welcoming, safe, and healthy community.”
In addition to committing hundreds of personnel and other resources to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oakland County also supported community responses to:
- The Oxford High School tragedy (Nov. 30)
- The 14 Mile Road water main break (Oct. 31)
- Orion Township flooding (Oct. 8)
- Tornado in White Lake Township (July 24)
- Severe weather in Farmington, Farmington Hills, and Southfield (July 7),
- Flooding in Southeast Michigan (June 26).
The EOC coordinates resources and communications at the request of the impacted communities and incident commanders.
Oakland County first responders, communities, businesses, schools, and residents have rallied around Oxford High School students, staff, and families following the Nov. 30 shooting. Victim Tate Myre’s football jersey number 42 has come to symbolize hope including the total score of the Detroit Lions victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Oakland County will always remember those who lost their lives – Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, and Justin Shilling – along with the seven other victims who were hospitalized and all who survived the terror that day.
Oakland County is committed to helping the greater Oxford community address long-term mental health needs and ensuring all schools, communities, and residents have the resources they need in the aftermath of this tragedy. In the past month, the Board of Commissioners approved:
- $1.5 million for a partnership between the Oakland County Health Division and the Oakland Community Health Network to ensure all students find the mental health services they need.
- Commissioners also reserved $5 million for other response and recovery needs in Oxford, including appropriating $600,000 for the Prosecutor’s Office.
The water main break on 14 Mile Road, initially impacting more than 200,000 homes and thousands of businesses, highlighted what can be accomplished through regional cooperation. The EOC became the epicenter for coordination and communication among the Great Lakes Water Authority, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Oakland County Health Division, and the communities of West Bloomfield, Farmington Hills, Novi, Commerce Township, and Walled Lake. What first was an emergency repair became a broader evaluation of water main infrastructure along 14 Mile Road which has resulted in a project to add 50 years of service life to the water main.
Four severe weather events underscored how climate change is affecting local weather patterns, the great need for infrastructure improvements in Southeast Michigan, and how various levels of government from local to state to federal are ready to assist each other.
Amid all these emergencies, the pandemic required the most of Oakland County’s resources every week of 2021:
- More than 880,000 Oakland County residents have responded to the call to get the COVID-19 vaccine, 300,000 of whom have had additional or booster doses.
- That amounts to more than 1.9 million total doses administered within Oakland County by more than 600 providers.
- Oakland County Health Division has given more than 200,000 of those doses at about 1,060 events at 183 locations throughout the county.
- There are 313,000 eligible Oakland County residents ages 5 years old and up who remain unvaccinated.
While managing pandemic response, Oakland County Health Division won national accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board. The Health Division’s robust relationships with community partners, commitment to improvement and growth as an organization, and skill in promoting the value of public health committed to receiving this coveted recognition.
In April, County Executive Coulter assembled business and community leaders to guide Oakland County’s recovery from the pandemic leveraging the county’s $244 million of ARPA funds. By July, Oakland County had allocated more than $27 million to address urgent needs, such as expanding mental health services to county residents, supporting small businesses, helping residents get back to work, and assisting those experiencing crisis housing needs related to the pandemic, including eviction,foreclosure, and rent and utility bills, among other issues. By the fall, nearly $10 million had been awarded to 42 non-profits in the county to strengthen their mental health services.
Criminal justice reform, better access to health care, and creating a more skilled and educated workforce in Oakland County remained at the forefront in 2021.
First, criminal justice reform:
- Coulter appointed Pete Menna as the county’s first chief attorney for indigent defense who will oversee the criminal defense appointment system for individuals who have been accused of a crime and cannot afford a lawyer in Oakland County Circuit Court or 52nd District Court.
- The county executive also appointed Barbara Hankey as director of public services, a department that will play a key role in criminal justice reform and oversees Children’s Village, Community Corrections, the Medical Examiner’s Office, and more.
- Coulter supported Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald’s request to institute the Conviction Integrity Unit by adding it to his budget recommendation for fiscal years 2022-2024.
- Oakland County also paved the way to easier access to information about law enforcement interactions through a transparency dashboard that local law enforcement agencies can make available on their websites. Users can use the tool to see citation and arrest trends, including breakdowns by age, race, and gender.
- Oakland County Michigan Works! launched a program in April to help residents expunge criminal records and expand job opportunities.
Next, improved access to health care:
- Oakland County celebrated in May its partnership with Honor Community Health to co-locate in Health Division Offices in Pontiac and Southfield to offer affordable health care to residents regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.
- The clinics are part of Coulter’s Health360 initiative to close a major health care gap for 227,000 uninsured or underinsured residents. The clinics offer primary care, chronic illness management, women’s health, pediatric services, and dental services.
Finally, creating a more skilled and educated workforce:
- Coulter appointed Rana Al-Igoe to be the county’s first Oakland80 workforce development administrator. The goal of Oakland80 is for 80 percent of Oakland County residents to attain a post-secondary certification or degree by 2030.
- She will soon oversee a network of Oakland80 navigators who will help residents obtain the training and education they need to enhance their careers.
- Oakland County Michigan Works! offices are also offering childcare scholarships and other educational support for residents in the state’s Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs.
- Oakland County Michigan Works! continued to support Oakland80 with several programs which included a virtual Manufacturing Day which attracted 1,000 high school students from around the county to online tours of advanced manufacturers, Oakland NEXT – a summer young professionals program, and the Advantage: Apprenticeships program to encourage companies in a variety of industries to pursue registered apprenticeships.
A few other county highlights from 2021:
- Oakland County retained its AAA bond rating, the highest credit score.
Oakland County grew by more than 72,000 residents according to the 2020 Census.
University of Michigan economists forecasted that Oakland County will recover jobs from the pandemic slightly faster than the rest of Michigan.
Oakland County created Local Business Connect to bring support and resources from the Economic Development Department directly to businesses emerging from the pandemic.
Oakland County Neighborhood and Housing Development Division released the county’s Blueprint to End Homelessness in November.
Oakland County’s Equity Council achieved its inaugural year of developing its mission, vision, and values as well as action plan and goals for operationalizing equity, diversity, and inclusion in county government.
County Executive Coulter named Erin Quetell the county’s first environmental sustainability officer.
He also appointed Solon M. Phillips as the county’s first African American corporation counsel.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AG Nessel Joins Coalition Urging U.S. Senate to Strengthen Protections for Pregnant Individuals and Families
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Would Prevent Employers from Pushing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AG Nessel Prepares for New Year with Look Back on 2021
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is sharing year-end highlights and previews as 2021 ends.
“Every single day, the dedicated people working for the Department of Attorney General remain focused on the important cases we handle, the consumers we protect and the clients we represent,” Nessel said. “I am proud to serve alongside some of the hardest working people in state government. As 2022 approaches, it is my hope Michiganders can appreciate all that we’ve achieved this last year. My office will never stop fighting for the residents of this state.”
Many of the big takeaways from the year are recapped in a one-page memo now available on the Department’s website. The highlights and previews focus on consumer protection, law enforcement and notable civil litigation.
The memo notes Nessel has now saved ratepayers more than $1.8 billion since taking office. The most recent savings were announced Monday after MPSC ruled in a Consumers Energy rate case, which resulted in an 88% reduction from Consumers Energy’s original request.
A dedicated three-person expungement team will join the Department in early 2022 to bolster ongoing efforts, which includes supporting expungement fairs. The Department’s first-ever expungement fair was hosted in Flint in June. Nessel supported other events hosted in Muskegon, Kalamazoo
OTHER NOTABLE ACTIONS, CASES IN 2021
The registration process in two historic opioid settlements remains open. Late last week, the Jan. 2 deadline for eligible subdivisions was extended to Jan. 26. Direct payments are expected to begin as early as April 2022 and are dependent, in part, on participation.
In addition to securing an expected $800 million for Michigan in those settlements, Nessel’s priority on combatting the opioid epidemic also resulted in a settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Co. Michigan will receive more than $19.5 million from the settlement, which was announced in February as the first multistate opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to address the crisis. Litigation against Walgreens, which is filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, remains ongoing.
As the vaccine rollout took shape, the Department closely monitored for scams and alerted Michiganders when bad actors tried to capitalize on the pandemic.
Thanks to a $500,000 allocation in the FY’22 budget, the Department is in the beginning stages of designing the Address Confidentiality Program. It will allow certain crime victims to apply for and receive a designated address to be used in place of their actual address. By law, the Department has two years to fully implement the program.
In addition to overseeing that important program, Nessel affirmed support for victims’ privacy bills, which passed the House at the beginning of the month.
In November, Nessel joined Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist to unveil her Jobs Court proposal. The initiative was formulated to both reduce recidivism and address the current labor shortage.
The Department’s Public Integrity Unit opened roughly 50 cases in 2021. Some of the most notable include:
Election integrity has remained another priority for Nessel, including combatting conspiracy theories and misinformation meant to undermine our democracy. Sanctions were secured in two election-related lawsuits in 2021, one was known as “The Kraken” in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The other was filed and failed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
Lastly, Nessel’s unwavering commitment to protect a woman’s right to choose is evident through multistate actions, which include:
If you would like to receive news releases and updates from the Attorney General, you can register through the Department’s website by clicking the appropriate category and entering your email address.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 28, 2021
Contact: Capt Andrew Layton, [email protected].
Gov. Whitmer Celebrates Signing of National Defense Authorization Act, Putting Michigan’s Service Members and Veterans First
LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer celebrated yesterday’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 into law by President Joe Biden, which will directly support Michigan’s defense sector economy and support our state’s service members, veterans, and their families.
“Our country has long counted on Michigan to support our national defense, both through the dedicated service of the countless men and women serving in our armed forces and the innovative work being done through our well-established military and defense industries,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “The national defense bill signed into law by President Biden helps us put Michiganders first by providing for $144 million in military construction projects, increasing military pay and ensuring access to resources for transitioning service members, their families and the nearly 600,000 veterans that call Michigan home.”
Included in the bill’s provisions is nearly $144 million in investments for construction of new military facilities across Michigan: $28 million in upgrades at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County, $23 million to support infrastructure at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in Alpena County, $16 million in facility improvements at Camp Grayling Maneuver Readiness Center in Crawford County and $10 million in facility improvements at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base in Calhoun County. Camp Grayling will also receive $5.7 million through the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program which will allow for the construction of a natural gas energy generation facility. The bill also provides $12 million to construct an Army Reserve Center in Southfield and $49.09 million for a new Naval Operations Support Center in Battle Creek.
“The projects and initiatives included in this year’s NDAA are huge wins for our state. These investments will empower the next chapter of Michigan’s long and meaningful history as a center of innovation for our country’s national defense,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “I’d like to thank our entire congressional delegation and especially those members who serve on the House and Senate Armed Services committees for their work to secure these investments which will give the men and women of the Michigan National Guard the cutting-edge facilities they need to continue their incredible service to our communities, state and nation.”
Throughout the committee process in both the House and Senate, the Whitmer administration remained engaged and in close coordination with those members serving on the Armed Services committees to ensure Michigan’s needs were addressed. This coordinated effort through the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Governor’s federal affairs team resulted in the successful inclusion of these construction projects and verbiage to ensure Michigan remains at the forefront of innovation and the future war fight.
In addition to the military construction investments, the bill also includes support for Michigan’s defense and advanced technology sector to include: $5 million in funding to further research additive manufacturing as well as $7 million in funding for research into composite production practices. As Michigan is already home to extensive advanced vehicle system development, the bill also includes a provision that authorized the research and engineering of electric and alternative fuel vehicles. This funding will help ensure research and development for these vehicles is conducted in Michigan, helping to create good-paying jobs and keeping the state at the forefront of mobility.
Another critical component of the bill is language that prohibits the retirement of the A-10 Warthog fighter. The 107th Fighter Squadron, an A-10 Warthog squadron assigned to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, will continue its mission into the next fiscal year.
“The national defense bill is critical to maintaining our competitiveness on the global stage – particularly as other nations, like the Chinese government, look to expand their influence,” said Senator Gary Peters, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m pleased this bipartisan bill was signed into law – which not only helps solidify the Department of Defense’s commitment to Michigan – but provides a pay raise for servicemembers, helps address PFAS contamination and supports innovative military research and development that’s happening in Michigan.”
“The NDAA is key to protecting America’s freedoms and provides our military the resources it needs to keep us safe. The 2021 NDAA includes a much needed raise for our troops, pushes back against Chinese and Russian aggression and contains several of my amendments to ensure Selfridge Air National Guard Base remains active for years to come. I’m thrilled the President signed this legislation,” said Congresswoman Lisa McClain.
The NDAA also includes provisions to support service members, veterans and their families. The bill includes a 2.7 percent pay raise for both military service members and the civilian Department of Defense (DOD) workforce, a 3-year pilot program that enables TRI-CARE beneficiaries to receive their medications from an in-network, retail pharmacy rather than being required to obtain them from pharmacies at military bases or relying on the Postal Service and creates a basic needs allowance to help low-income military families put food on the table. Additional language was added to this year’s NDAA to support the DOD Transition Assistance Program. This new language will ensure that service members and their families are properly connected to local community groups, including veteran service organizations (VSOs), that can provide employment, healthcare and other transition services. An additional $42M in funding was also allocated for STARBASE, a DOD youth program that promotes STEM education. Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township was the first STARBASE program established in the U.S. This program provides K-12 students unique experiences in experiential learning and simulations and experiments in aviation and space-related fields. This program is also offered at the Battle Creek Air National Guard base.
“Our national defense should always be a bipartisan priority, and as a former Pentagon official, I firmly believe Congress has a solemn responsibility to pass a budget that values our men and women in uniform and ensures we can maintain our edge over competitors like China and Russia,” said Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. “I’m particularly pleased that my amendments to address supply chain vulnerabilities, PFAS contamination, and burn pit exposure among our veterans, have all been included. These three issues are examples of just how deeply Michigan is connected to our overall national security, and addressing them is critically important to our access to clean drinking water, our veterans’ safety, and our domestic manufacturing.”
The annual bill, which totals $768.2 billion, authorizes an additional $9.9 billion for defense needs outside the bill’s traditional jurisdiction, bringing the overall price tag to $777 billion. Additional components of the bill include $476 million to address PFAS contamination to include environmental remediation and restoration, the creation of a PFAS Task Force, the establishment of a mandatory report to be delivered to Congress outlining efforts to remediate PFAS exposure at 50 sites across the country, including the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Michigan, and mandates public disclosure of PFAS water contamination test results.
“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee I’m proud of the work done to support our Michigan National Guard in the FY22 NDAA,” said Congressman Jack Bergman. “Making critical investments in Michigan equities and including language supporting the Operation: Northern Strike exercise right here in the First District were top priorities. I’m grateful we were able to return the NDAA to a bipartisan endeavor and drive big wins for Michigan’s First District.”
For more information on the NDAA, please visit: Text – H.R.4350 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
About Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
The Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) synchronizes strategic, legislative and fiscal initiatives to build and sustain military readiness, care and advocacy for veterans and cultivate purposeful partnerships. Branch operations include Michigan Veteran Homes, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, State Operations, Army National Guard and Air National Guard which stand in support of our mission to serve every member. For more information, please visit: https://www.michigan.