WORKING TOWARD A HEALTHIER MICHIGAN

 Living in a “healthy” society means more than just providing access to health care. It means thinking about the social, mental, physical, and economic needs of the people in our communities. To be a competitive and growth-minded state, first, we need a healthy population.


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HEALTH CARE

Increasing access to health care is a no-brainer in so many ways. When people have access to preventive care, it can help them avoid more serious illnesses that take a toll on families and drive expenses up for everyone. Right now, high medical costs keep even people with insurance away from the doctor unless it’s absolutely necessary; hospital visits and major procedures are even worse.

Also, living in a society means caring about the well-being of others around us. No one should go bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills. No one should have to choose between going to the doctor or keeping a roof over their family’s heads.This is not how we create healthy, functional families.

Finally, we all use health care at some point in our lives, so let’s stop pretending it’s a luxury that only some of us need or deserve. If we put our heads together, we can find a way to decrease costs, increase access, and ensure the quality we all expect from our care.


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

It’s worth repeating: We only have one environment. If we want our families to have fresh air to breathe, safe water to drink, and clean lakes to play in, we need to make sustainable practices a priority.

Right now, polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are responsible for widespread water pollution across our state—some of the worst contamination in the country. PFAS are present in many commercial and industrial products, including firefighting foam and certain non-stick coatings, paints, stains, and cleaners. When used improperly or uncontained, they can pose risks like growth and developmental disorders in children, cancer, immune system disorders, and fertility or reproductive problems. Even worse, our leaders have known since 2012 that Michigan has a serious PFAS problem but we still haven’t seen a comprehensive solution.

The PFAS battle in Michigan is yet another symptom of our failure to take environmental threats seriously. Whether it’s PFAS and lead in our water, or air and land pollution, a contaminated environment hurts our ability to grow and prosper as a state. We need our state and local governments to hold polluters accountable, enact enforceable limits on harmful substances, and help incentivize the development of products that are safer for our families, our workers, and our environment.

Finally, we need to remember that all of our kids will inherit the environment we create today, so let’s leave a positive legacy for the future.

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GUN VIOLENCE

Statistics say our communities are safer than ever. But, there are threats today that are different from when some of us were kids. The most obvious one? Gun violence. And we need to start talking about it.

Violence is tough because there’s never one single cause, which means we can’t expect a single solution. I’m part of a number of anti-violence groups, including the Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. I’ve brought programs to local schools to increase respect and compassion and decrease the types of mindsets and behaviors that lead to violence. And I’ve proudly started conversations within my local community about violence prevention.

However, we need to be realistic about a few things: More guns in more hands with little oversight equals more gun violence, period. No matter the hype, “gun control” will never mean taking everyone’s guns. And finally, ignoring this problem won’t make it go away. We have kindergarteners sitting through active shooter drills in school because we can no longer tell them truthfully, “it will never happen to you.” Our kids deserve real solutions, and we’re the adults in the room who have to come up with them.

The good news is, a lot of us, gun owners included, support common-sense measures that have the potential to make us all safer: Weapons restrictions for people with a history of domestic violence or child or animal abuse; “Red Flag” laws that allow firearms to be temporarily removed from someone if their family or friends are concerned about their mental state; and comprehensive background checks that are effective and consistently enforced, whether you’re buying a gun at a retailer or at a gun show.

It’s time to stop treating “gun safety” like a taboo subject and start talking about what it really looks like in action. No matter your stance on this issue, I’m here to bring us together and find a compromise that works for all of us.