The right to vote is fundamental to our nation and our democracy. In the light of extreme efforts to disenfranchise voters and minimize the voices of historically marginalized communities via partisan gerrymandering, we must protect the right to vote and ensure that access to the ballot box is free and accessible to all Americans.
I fully support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would require states with a history of voter discrimination receive clearance from the Department of Justice before enacting any law that effect voting rights. This would prevent partisan gerrymandering and stop laws that disproportionately suppress Black and brown voters. I also support the Freedom to Vote Act which would modernize voter registration, expand early voting nationwide, provide protections for mail-in votes, and make Election Day a national holiday, among other things.
I have had the privilege of creating job opportunities when I ran my small businesses and I hope to bring that spirit to Detroit. In 1990, I bought a three- person laboratory. By 2008, the business had grown under my leadership to 450 highly- paid employees, including 65 PhD chemists. My accomplishments were honored when I was named the Ernst and Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1999 and again in 2007. As my business grew, I developed a passion for fostering entrepreneurship and small business ownership using micro-loans, business education, and business incubators — tools that have the power to revive communities that are neglected, underfunded, and struggling. In Congress, I will use my experience to spur economic growth and innovation, and improve Detroit’s small businesses.
I believe that protecting workers rights is critical. Everyone should be treated fairly and a livable wage should be treated as a human right. I will fight to raise the minimum wage, protect the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain, invest in infrastructure and sustainable energy to both protect the environment and create good paying jobs, fight for equal pay for equal work, and much more.
By supporting Michigan’s small businesses, together we can help grow our economy and create more jobs around the state. I know firsthand the large impact small businesses have on our economy, and how they help to decrease unemployment in our communities. We need representation in Congress that will fight to bring investment into our small businesses and provide economic opportunity for everyone in our district.
In an effort to support Michigan’s small business owners and our workforce I have introduced the following bills:
House Bill number 5124: would codify the meaning of “essential workers”.
Throughout Covid-19 we have redefined the meaning of “essential workers”, so the positions that were classified as essential during the pandemic would be officially classified as essential under state law.
House Bill 4776: would give small businesses tax credits for having to purchase and provide personal protection equipment to fight against COVID-19. This helps fight the virus,keeps us all safer, and helps Michigan small businesses make ends meet.
COVID-19 had a significant impact on everyone in this state, especially our small business owners and workers. Over the past two years small business owners had to quickly adapt to new health regulations while making difficult decisions on staffing and business operations. These adaptations created additional stress and hardships on our small businesses. This bill will provide some financial relief to those who sacrificed to keep us all safe, while still providing services and resources to us all.
House Bill number 5121: protecting the retirement of firefighters and law enforcement.
Presently, if a firefighter or law enforcement official is injured while on duty and retires, they are able to seek employment and still receive pension benefits from the disability retirement pension. But, if their new job pays more than $30,000, their pension benefits are cut. My bill would remove this cap and allow for retired officers and firefighters to receive their full pensions – because we should not strip guaranteed retirement away from people who earned those benefits over a lifetime of hard work.
Our healthcare system has continuously been too focused on corporate profits instead of patient care and has lost the patient care and accessibility necessary to effectively deliver necessary care. This must change. It is time to bring the focus of healthcare back on the patient instead of the profits of the corporation.
There is no reason why, in the richest country in the world, anyone has to choose between going to the doctor and economic security. I strongly believe in creating a robust, single payer healthcare system. In the meantime, there are concrete steps we can take right now to help make healthcare more affordable and provide some immediate relief. Those steps include allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, putting a cap on insulin and other life saving drugs, ending surprise billing, and allowing anyone to buy into Medicare.
As a State Representative, In an effort to provide quality healthcare to my constituents and move Michigan closer to providing everyone in our state access to quality healthcare I have introduced the following resolution and bills:
House Resolution 84: asks the United States Congress to add bottled water to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
Presently, access to safe and clean drinking water remains a concern for many communities across Michigan. Lead and other substances contaminate our drinking water and women, infants, and children are vulnerable to the negative impacts of contaminated water. Parents who have children with dairy allergies often need water to prepare their baby’s formula. Ensuring that families who depend on the WIC program have access to clean water is critical to equitable healthcare.
House Bill 4776: would give tax credits to small businesses for providing personal protection equipment to fight against COVID-19 and keep us all safe.
House resolution 46: recognizes March as Brain Injury Awareness Month.
I will never stop fighting for equal justice. There are few entities larger than our criminal justice system that perpetuate systemic oppression. I will continue to fight for critically-needed reforms and advocate for those who feel the everlasting effects of oppression at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve justice.
There are things we can do at the federal level today to focus on empathy, compassion, rehabilitation, and equal justice. That includes ending the war on drugs, treating addiction as a health concern, legalizing marijuana and expunging the records of nonviolent drug offenders, ending for profit incentives in our justice system like private prisons and police quotas, and so much more.
In the Michigan House, I have introduced a series of bills in an effort to begin to reform our criminal justice system, including:
House Joint Resolution H: proposes an amendment to the state Constitution that would remove the current ban on Affirmative Action policies. Presently, legislators and other entities in Michigan are prohibited from creating programs or laws that would focus on supporting and uplifting certain communities that have been historically oppressed. I am leading the fight to change these laws, because we have to stand up for marginalized communities.
House Bill 5120: would increase the number of hours required for mental health first aid training and self-care techniques for law enforcement. This bill will better train police officers to de-escalate situations, instead of using deadly force, and provide them training on how to handle people suffering from mental health crises. Additionally, this will teach police officers how to recognize and manage their own mental health issues. Equipping officers with proper, up-to-date training along with providing them with tools on how to best manage their own mental health needs will result in safer interactions between community members and police officers, putting a stronger focus on community policing.
House Bill 5123: would require mental health first aid training and self-care techniques to correction officers. The bill is meant to make sure our officers recognize when an inmate is coping with a mental health disorder and how best to interact with that individual. Too many in our community have been arrested, but even someone behind bars deserves to be treated safely and with human dignity. This bill helps provide safer interactions for corrections officers and inmates.
Treating mental illness and reducing the stigma that surrounds it is very personal to me. In 1996, when my sons were just four and eight years old, they lost their mother to mental illness. I struggled as a single, grieving father and husband. I experienced firsthand the suffering and hardship a family endures when a loved one suffers and succumbs to mental illness.
There is so much more we can do to help our veterans, children, and all of those who suffer from mental illness, beginning with expanding access to critical care, and promoting an understanding of mental illness to remove the stigma that is often attached to it.
It’s time to stop whispering about mental health and start shouting our support, and expanding our resources.
In an effort to remove the stigma behind mental health disorders and increase access to services and resources I have introduced the following bills:
House Bill 4929: is part of the Behavioral Health Reform package that aims to improve access to quality services for behavioral health.
The package allows for effective, uniformed service, and greater public accountability on providers as a single entity. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services would be solely responsible for the system proposed in this package. Allowing for easier and more direct access and less “red tape” to cut through to obtain services.
House Bill 5120: would increase required mental health first aid training and self-care technique training for law enforcement.
This bill is intended to equip our officers with the best methods to de-escalate a situation involving someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Additionally, this will teach police officers how to recognize their own mental health crises and provide them tools on how to best manage them. Equipping officers with proper, up-to-date training along with providing them with tools on how to best manage their own mental health needs will result in safer interactions between community members and police officers, putting a stronger focus on community policing.
House Bill 5122: would require a school district, intermediate school district, or public-school academy to employ or contract at least 1 school psychologist and 1 school social worker.
Presently, many school districts in our state, specifically districts with a higher at-risk student population, lack access to counseling services for students. Ensuring our students have access to mental health professionals during school hours would improve their learning environment and will encourage them utilize various resources while developing healthy behavioral health habits.
House Bill 5123: would require mental health first aid training and self-care techniques to correction officers.
The bill is meant to make sure our officers recognize when an inmate is coping with a mental health disorder and how best to interact with that individual. Our correctional system is an environment filled with tensions and stress. Self-care techniques will help to equip corrections officers to fight against that stress to prevent it from affecting the way they treat those who are incarcerated. This will allow for safer and more effective interactions.
My belief that we must urgently improve our children’s educational opportunities comes from a very personal place. I know the power education has to lift people out of poverty because it was how I was able to escape poverty.
We must establish need-based funding for our schools and our children so that each child, regardless of ZIP code, has the chance to realize their fullest potential.
Educational programs must start during early childhood. When education begins earlier, we know that outcomes improve. Even before kindergarten, young children have a tremendous capacity to absorb knowledge. We must develop pre-school programs to nurture their abilities. One of my priorities is to provide affordable childcare and pre-school education to every child.
I am appalled when I learn about dismal conditions in some Detroit schools: forty or more students packed in a classroom; rain water on gym floors; teachers paying for supplies from their own pockets; no art or music classes; no science or chemistry labs; teachers and students afraid for their safety; and kids wearing winter jackets in the classroom for lack of adequate heating. This is completely unacceptable and has to stop. We must fix our failing school infrastructure, hire the support staff our teachers need, and pay teachers far better to foster opportunities in our communities.
I am committed to increasing the staff of guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists in Detroit area schools. These professionals help to identify students’ needs and provide essential services to help them succeed. In 2018, the Detroit Free Press reported, “In Michigan, on average, one counselor is assigned to as many as 732 students. That’s the third-highest counselor-to-student ratio in the country.”
And Michigan is one of only 15 states without class size laws. Neither our students nor our teachers will succeed in an overcrowded classroom. We have a lot of work to do, and our children deserve no less from us.
Michigan has faced Environmental injustice for decades and little has been done about it. From pollution of our water and air to the poisoning of our soil, communities of color are bearing a dual and disproportionate burden of environmental injustice. We have a moral, ethical, and legislative obligation to fix these problems now and I will advocate to reduce the environmental injustices that plague our state in both urban and rural areas.”
In an effort to work towards Environmental Justice I have introduced the following bill:
House Bill 5003: would require industrial or commercial entities that discharge liquid waste into any water other than through a public sanitary sewer to have waste treatment or control facilities.
And my bill would ensure that waste treatment facilities are supervised by people who are certified by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. We have to protect our air, land, and water with properly qualified people at these facilities.
Also, in our Fiscal Year 2022 budget, I was able to bring $5 million dollars to Southeast Michigan to provide air quality monitors in Detroit. The air we breathe and the water we drink matter – and Detroit should not be a dumping ground for big corporations.
Government should work for the people it represents, not just wealthy corporations and special interests. We need to restore people’s trust in our government and it’s crucial that we root out any semblance of corruption in Congress. We need to ensure our government is focused on improving the day to day lives of everyday Americans, not the privileged few.
I pledge never to take a dime of corporate PAC money, and will fight tirelessly to fight the corporate control of Congress. I support efforts to ban Congress people from trading stocks. No one in Congress should be able to use information received as part of their office to enrich themselves. I also support other solutions like a ban on Congress people becoming lobbyists after they leave office, overturning Citizens United, getting money out of politics, and more.
These past few years have put a spotlight on the historical injustices that have plagued the Black community for centuries. Justice and equity for the Black community is long overdue. Having been under siege for generations, systemic oppressions span into every aspect of daily living. We must enact reforms and equitable measures with the same urgency with which we enact laws to protect our citizens from terrorism. It is time to bring ‘community’ back to policing.
There are concrete steps that we can do at the federal level to fight police brutality and protect our communities. I support ending “qualified immunity” for police officers and public officials, which is essentially a get out of jail free card for many police officers, setting a new federal standard of force that focuses on de-escalation and nonlethal methods, eliminating the militarization of local police forces, and more. This is not an exhaustive list and I will work with experts, and the Black community to find solutions that truly protect the community.
In an effort to bring justice to those who have experienced police brutality and prevent future police brutality, I have introduced a legislative package:
‘Justice For All’ Bill Package: This package of bills aims to hold officers accountable for their mistakes or for an excessive use of force. The package would require proper training for our officers to ensure they treat everyone equally, recognize mental health crises, and to ensure they recognize and reject any implicit prejudices. The purpose of our police is to keep us safe and serve the community, the ‘Justice For All’ package would bring us much closer to making this a reality.
To this day LGBTQX+ members of our community face discrimination, oppression, and isolation from our society. I believe that we must work towards LGBTQX+ inclusion. It is time that we treat the LGBTQX+ community equally under laws including the right to marry and adopt. In Congress I’ll work to pass the Equality Act, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, and work to ensure federal funding does not support any kind of discrimination basion on gender identity and expression or sexual orientation.
In an effort to work towards equality for the LGBTQX+ community I have introduced a bill in the Marriage Equality Legislation package.
The 54 bills included in this package would amend discriminatory laws that oppress parents and spouses within the LGBTQX community and would repeal bans on same-sex marriage.
The changes were recommended by the Michigan Law Revision Commission to bring Michigan into compliance with the US Constitution following the US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v Hodges six years ago. It is time we stop stripping away individuals’ rights for being who they are. I believe that everyone deserves the right to marry whomever they love.