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| 4 min read | by Doug Marrin | dmarrin@thesuntimesnews.com |

I recently had the chance to sit down for a cup ‘o joe at Joe and Rosie’s in Dexter to chat with State Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-52nd) about car insurance, roads, rural broadband, and de-stressing, among other things. Here’s what she had to say:

Q: What’s new with auto insurance?

“We passed a bill just before Memorial Day that is radically going to change our auto insurance system in Michigan. We no longer have a true no-fault system. People will choose their benefit cap. The choices are $50,000, $250,000, $500,000, or unlimited coverage.”

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“Under the no-fault system, no matter what happened in an accident both parties were covered. No-fault was mandatory and what everyone in Michigan had.”

“Under the new insurance reform, for example, if a person chooses a $50,000 policy and gets in an accident, only the insured, the insured’s spouse, and a relative of either domiciled in the same household are covered by that policy. Each individual would receive up to $50,000 under this example. ANF no longer covers all of a vehicles passengers. So, any individual who is not outlined above would not be covered under that auto policy. These same limitations apply to unlimited ANF policies, and any in between.”

State Rep. Donna Laskinski (D-52nd)

“You could still be open to litigation if the other person chose a lower benefit. So again, a radically different system no longer a true no-fault system, but it should result in lower rates.”

Q: Any idea how much lower?

“The bill that was passed mandated savings on the personal injury protection line. It did not mandate savings across the entire bill. What I can say is based on those levels, if you had unlimited before, and now you choose a $250,000 policy, you will have approximately a 20% rate reduction on that line for choosing the lower benefit. Just on that line. I cannot speak to what will happen to your whole bill. Now If you choose to supplement that line with an underinsured motorist or with additional personal property protection or other things you may not see a reduction in your entire bill.”

“We’re going to see how that plays out in the future in terms of impact on litigation, impact on our Medicaid system and if people are driven into medical bankruptcy because none of us think we’re going to be the one who gets in the accidents. People may choose a lower policy level thinking they’re good drivers, and they’re not going to get in an accident. We’re back into a system now where fault or partial fault will play into how benefits are distributed.”

“As we go forward will expect to see rate cuts next summer. So the law was passed and a year was given to the insurance companies to adjust their rates. So those the new rates will come out next summer, the new options will come out next summer.”

Q: It was just announced this morning that fixing the roads talk in Lansing has been set aside for budget talks. Whatever happened to ‘Fix the damn roads’”?

“We’re looking at tackling the budget within the confines of the current revenue, which means we will not be investing in roads in a meaningful way that moves us from poor roads to good roads. It’s imperative that we have roads and bridges that allow us to travel safely. That’s imperative in the State of Michigan. The degradation that we’ve seen in our road system is nearly unparalleled in the nation.”

“As of right now road funding is coming out of the general fund, and expenses from the general fund are coming out of the school aid fund. There’s this massive shell game that’s going on that results in schools being underfunded.”

“Across the nation, Michigan has invested the least in our K-12 education. The decline in funding is unparalleled. It simply can’t continue. We can’t keep robbing Peter to pay Paul. We’ll see where negotiations go from here.”

Q: What are you hearing from the communities as you travel around?

“Broadband Internet access still continues to be the top priority. The vibrancy of our small downtown communities, the local business owners, and economic growth is absolutely fantastic. But as you get just two or three miles out of our downtowns, we have folks who have no access to the internet. That continues to be a huge hurdle, both in terms of our students being able to complete their homework, our seniors being able to connect to their medical providers, our small businesses, and a chance for a start-up to work from home and not leave their small towns for larger urban areas. That is just critical.”

“Affordable housing, I worry that the words ‘affordable housing’ has become a proxy for coded language around ‘low-income housing.’ That is absolutely not what affordable housing is. Affordable housing means the people who live in the community can continue to live in that community, that people who grew up in a community can buy their first home in that community and stay connected to their school and family and friends and local businesses. Affordable Housing means that we have a diversity of housing stock for people – starting out young families, young people who have just graduated and maybe don’t want to live with mom and dad, for seniors to age in the community that they’ve lived in for years and years.”

“I’m excited we’re going to have a town hall in October around transportation and what the future transportation looks like. We want kids to have the ability to attend community colleges and able to get to the jobs they want. There is a shift in our younger people about their view on car ownership and how important that is to them. We have in our community folks who can’t drive for one reason or another. How can we make sure everybody stays a productive member of society? Transportation in our micro-urban and rural areas is another big topic.”

Q: What do you do to destress and have fun?

“My husband, family and I are blessed to have a small family cottage on Bruin Lake. I represent the 52nd House District, so I’m able to have both my home and my little piece of heaven in the 52nd district. Bruin Lake is connected to Half Moon Lake and the chain of lakes. My favorite thing is water and that’s how I rejuvenate. I love paddleboarding. I paddleboard every weekend that I can. I have access to the Potawatomi Trail right next to us so there’s hiking too.”

“I love my Saturday morning farmers’ market walks. The new Chelsea Farmers’ Market in Palmer Commons is just a gem. At the Dexter Farmers’ Market, there was a young artist, 14 years old, selling her artwork. I bought three wood carvings of birds that are now hanging in my office in Lansing along with a painting of a rural scene from the Chelsea Farmer’s Market. I love being able to bring local artists from the 52nd district up to Lansing.”

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Rep. Lasinski is serving her second term in the House of Representatives. She represents Michigan’s 52nd House District, which encompasses northern and western Washtenaw County, including Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Saline and Whitmore Lake.

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