State senator and representative give an update on Lansing

State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and State Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck).


By Charles Sercombe
In the not-too-distant future, a number of households in Hamtramck and Detroit could see a big break in their water bills.
That’s the latest news from State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) whose district includes Hamtramck.
At a “Coffee Hour” presentation, held at the Hamtramck Public Library on June 14, Chang was joined by State Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) to provide the small gathering an update on what’s happening in the state legislature this term.
“We’ve been working on it a lot,” Chang said, of the legislature’s attempt to reduce water bills for low-income households. “We are really focused on water.”
So, just how would this be financed?
Chang said that, just like energy savings offered to low-income households, there would be a slight surcharge on all monthly bills – about $2.
That would allow the state to afford to offer a break on bills for those less fortunate.
Chang said that those who would qualify for financial assistance must have an income no greater than 200 percent above the federal poverty level.
For example, Chang said, a family of four with a household income of $60,000 would qualify.
The water affordability bills would also help out with water line repairs, and also make water shutoffs harder for cities to do, and also provide money to settle past unpaid water bills.
Besides that, Chang, who is running for re-election this year in the newly redrawn District 3, said work is being done to strengthen voter rights in the state – a move that has become a key issue since the Supreme Court gutted national voting rights protection.
Next up in this short 40-minute presentation was Hamtramck’s own Aiyash, who dropped out of his re-election bid.
He said he is continuing to seek financial aid for Hamtramck to repair its aging infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines as well as streets in need of repaving.
Last year, Aiyash said, he was instrumental in earmarking $17 million for Hamtramck infrastructure repairs – of which not all has yet come down the pipeline.
Answering a question from a person in the audience about energy costs, Aiyash noted that DTE is Hamtramck’s sole energy provider for electricity and heat and cooling.
Spoiler: He’s not a fan of the energy giant, calling it a monopoly with a stranglehold on state legislators, hinting that some of those legislators have been “bought and sold” by DTE lobbyists.
“DTE is the bane of my existence,” Aiyash said.
In a certain way, the system is rigged against the consumer, he said. And that’s done by the aid of a state law that says DTE must be allowed to make a profit, and when it needs to raise rates, which it is seeking to do now, the process calls for making that request to the Michigan Public Service Commission – a three-person panel.
As many seasoned DTE customers know, DTE usually gets what it wants.
Aiyash said that one way to combat this is for residents to voice their objections to the commission, which is something most consumers do not do.
(You see “Coffee Hour” with Chang and Aiyash on the Hamtramck Public Library website, click on “Hamtramck Public TV.”)
Posted July 3, 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *