Attorney General Nessel Visits Pontiac to Update Seniors
(Mary Dupuis, Aug. 31, 2022)
Pontiac, MI – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently visited the Bowen Senior Center in Pontiac to update the community and it’s Golden Opportunity Club on what she has accomplished thus far during her 3.5 years in office.
The meeting took place on Aug. 16 and Nessel’s presentation was preceded by a talk with Michigan Congresswoman Haley Stevens. Stevens used her time at the front of the room to take questions and concerns from the community about what they wanted to see tackled in Washington D.C.
Much of the conversation was focused around inflation and the rising costs of food and medication, pension concerns and infrastructure and mass transit, before urging seniors to get out and vote in November.
Attorney General Nessel began her portion of the morning by recounting her work of helping to save the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In June 2021 Nessel celebrated when the work of herself and 20 other attorneys general led to a victory for the ACA in the United States Supreme Court in the case of California v. Texas, known as the ACA Repeal Lawsuit.
In Feb. 2022 Nessel and a coalition of 18 other attorneys general also filed an amicus brief in Kelley v. Becerra to defend key provisions of the ACA, guaranteeing access to preventive care for the community.
Nessel also touched on her desire to allow paid sick leave for up to 72 hours and to raise the minimum wage to $15 or more.
She also discussed her office representing the state in the ‘Right to Read’ ruling in 2020. In that case, a federal appeals court ruled that Detroit students could sue the state for a quality education. Nessel supported the suit which argued that public school students have a constitutional right to a basic level of education – including the right to literacy.
Nessel said she continues to lead the legal team that has worked to resolve civil lawsuits on behalf of residents in the City of Flint after the water crisis there harmed residents by providing unsafe water. Nessel’s legal team reached a preliminary agreement with the plaintiffs in Aug. 2020 followed by months of negotiations for a resolution for relief.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted preliminary approval to the settlement in Jan. 2021 and formal approval in Nov. 2021. The $626.25 million settlement is now in the process of being implemented, the largest in history in the state of Michigan.
Nessel also recounted her time as part of a group that went after top pharmaceutical companies to fight the opioid epidemic.
In March 2022 Purdue Pharma reached a nationwide settlement over its role in the opioid crisis. The pharmaceutical companies combined agreed to give out $26 billion, with Michigan receiving nearly $800 million to help with prevention and treatment of addiction. Nessel said there are plans for the money to go towards drug rehabilitation centers and prevention programming.
The Attorney General has also worked to create new legislation to have criminal convictions for nonviolent crimes expunged. She said she plans to launch a pilot program on Oct. 1 in Wayne, Genesee and Marquette that functions as a criminal justice diversion program.
The program will act as a job port for those who commit nonviolent crimes. Instead of going to prison the person will be set up for job framing, be given a job in a union and hopefully be set for a career. If the person can hold the job for a year, their case will be dismissed.
Nessel voiced her support of the Hate Crimes Unit and said she is the first Attorney General anywhere to prosecute domestic terrorism. She is also involved with the Conviction Integrity Unit to exonerate people from crimes they did not commit.
Nessel then discussed her creation of the Elder Abuse Task Force to combat elder abuse, neglect and the economic exploitation of seniors. She noted that she launched the Michigan Identity Theft Support system in 2021 to act as a new consumer protection initiative to provide identity theft victims with the resources they may need to recover from the situation.
She concluded her time by echoing Stevens, encouraging the community to vote. She said democracy was like a muscle and that the community must “use it or lose it.”