In brief

Secretary Benson names Melissa Smiley as chief of staff

LANSING — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has named Melissa Smiley as the new chief of staff for the Michigan Department of State.

Smiley, who will begin Jan. 6, 2020, brings strategic leadership experience gained in a career that spans government, academia and philanthropy. She is currently the vice president of strategy and operations at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and previously served as the deputy chief of staff for City of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

“Melissa’s experience as a strategic advisor, paired with her commitment to collaboration and transparency, will make her an exceptionally strong chief of staff,” said Benson. “I look forward to working with her to advance our many ongoing and upcoming policy and service initiatives.”

Smiley holds a doctorate and two master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. She has lived in Michigan for 16 years.

Smiley succeeds Hilarie Chambers, who served as the department’s chief of staff until August, when she was appointed Oakland County chief deputy county executive. — G.G.

Johnson highlights legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs

LANSING — Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, Nov. 18, highlighted her legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs in Michigan during an AARP Michigan rally in Detroit.

Joining Johnson at the rally were AARP Michigan State Director Paula D. Cunningham; U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow; U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee and Rashida Tlaib; and state Reps. Hank Vaupel, Kevin Hertel and John Chirkun.

Senate Bill 525 would allow Michigan to establish a Canadian drug importation program for the express purpose of reducing the cost of prescription drugs for Michigan consumers. The bill would require the state to work with the federal government to implement the program and maintain drug safety protections. —­G. G.