State Senator Rebekah Warren leads Wheelhouse Talks discussion

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - State senator Rebekah Warren of Michigans 18th district speaks at Loosemore Auditorium on Grand Valleys Pew Campus Jan. 22, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – State senator Rebekah Warren of Michigan’s 18th district speaks at Loosemore Auditorium on Grand Valley’s Pew Campus Jan. 22, 2016.

Meghan McBrady

Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies presented the first set of the 2016 Wheelhouse Talks with State Senator Rebekah Warren (D–Ann Arbor) on Jan. 22.

Speaking at the Charles W. Loosemore Auditorium in the DeVos Center, Warren spoke about establishing different laws and regulations that would help make Michigan a forward-thinking and inclusive place to live.

Born in Ann Arbor and a University of Michigan alumna, the state senator represents the citizens of Ann Arbor in the 18th district. Her work in the Michigan legislature has allowed her to be active in fields that she is passionate about for the last 10 years. Warren has worked on projects like sponsoring the Prevention First package, which increases access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services and representing Michigan on the Great Lakes Commission.

Scott St. Louis, a senior at GVSU who introduced Warren, said that her leadership abilities allow her to be active in speaking about common ground issues among Michigan’s citizens.

“Noted for being one of the more liberal members of the Senate, Warren is unusual in her keen ability to reach across the aisle to champion bipartisan legislation on issues of human rights and the environment,” St. Louis said.

Emphasizing being relentless while presenting or fighting for any laws and regulations, Warren discussed her role in advancing healthcare parity laws, which required health insurance providers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

“A lot of folks in this state are struggling with mental illness and disorders and they are not getting the care or support they need,” she said. “I think that too often they are still not being talked about and there are then increasing challenges for children who have autism spectrum disorders.

“We have families come to me saying that they are mortgaging their house because when you are worried about your child’s ability to be successful and live as independent of a lifestyle as they can ever live, parents will do anything.”

With the Michigan state committee approving the legislation of a mandated insurance coverage plan for autism, which was passed in 2012, Warren emphasized that by making the issue personal she was able to work harder with her team and create something that would ultimately benefit Michigan.

In regard to other issues that she wishes to combat – such as campus sexual assault and the pay gap between women and men – Warren said that she will keep working to create a plan, no matter the issue, to better inform and empower the public.

“I will keep working and I will keep trying to be civil and I am going to keep treating people the way that I want to be treated. If that means that people will call me a leader now, if that means I have the opportunity to work on issues that I have never expected to be able to, then I will call that success,” she said.

For more information about upcoming events and talks at the Hauenstein Center, visit