Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! As always, I will be most effective in my job when acting on your direct input, so I encourage you to reach out to me and my staff with any questions, comments or concerns that you may have regarding our community or the state and with any policy ideas you might have.
Please sign up for up-to-date news from the Capitol by going to www.repwitwer.com. And as always, please do not hesitate to reach out by phone at (517) 373-0853, or send an email to AngelaWitwer@house.gov.
State Representative, 71st House District
Shyft Group Announces Expansion, Hundreds of New Jobs in Charlotte
Recently, Shyft Group Inc., formerly Spartan Motors, announced an expansion project that will result in hundreds of new jobs at their Charlotte campus, and increased economic activity for the city and surrounding areas. I had been working in collaboration with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Shyft for months to work out the plans.
Especially in the current economic climate, it is so important that we do everything possible to provide opportunities for the people in our communities. This is an enormous investment in the city and hardworking families of Charlotte, and I am proud to have played a role in helping make this a reality. Shyft is an exciting, quickly growing company, and I know the partnership between them and our community will prove beneficial for everyone involved. With this expansion the company looks to help the commercial fleet and vehicle manufacturer meet expected increased demand in 2021.
Virtual Coffee Hours
Although COVID-19 will keep us from meeting in-person, I want to do all I can to ensure you are able to communicate with me and let me hear your ideas and feedback.
I will be holding virtual coffee hours on Facebook Live each Friday at 11 a.m. and this Friday at 1 p.m. You will find the link on my coffee hour event page on Facebook at that time, and no code is needed to join.
I hope to see you there!
Last week, I was appointed Democratic Vice Chair of the House Health Committee. Especially now, as we near the one-year mark of this pandemic, health policy and the decisions that come out of this committee are of the utmost importance to our communities and families across our state.
Everyone deserves equitable access to the health care and medications they need, and I will do everything within my power to ensure the legislation we take up here represents the people’s best interest. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve in this leadership role, and on a committee dealing with issues I have always had a passion for solving. I will also be serving on the House Regulatory Reform Committee and Agriculture Committee.
Food Security Council sends Recommendations to Gov. Whitmer
Gov. Whitmer’s Food Security Council, to which I was appointed, recently issued its recommendations to the governor on how to best address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council, created in August, is made up of community leaders, department heads and legislators from across the state, and was tasked with analyzing the nature, scope and causes of food insecurity in Michigan, then submitting recommendations to the governor on how to best curb this widespread issue.
It is something that often goes unseen in our communities, but food insecurity always has and continues to affect Michiganders from all over the state. Especially right now, when so many people are—through no fault of their own—struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic, it was necessary to take immediate, thorough action in looking at how we can best offer assistance. No one should ever have to go hungry, and I am just glad to have been a part of this group working on a cause that I feel so passionately about.
The council, which is within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), is making recommendations in the three areas of:
- Addressing food needs faced by Michigan residents. Included are recommendations to require the state to swiftly pursue existing federal food program services and seek flexibility; develop approaches for food distribution such as home delivery; and provide incentives for additional retailers to accept online payment from people who receive food assistance benefits.
- Collaborating with partners and improving the infrastructure for food and nutrition programs. Included are recommendations to continue partnerships with food banks, State Emergency Operations Center personnel, the Michigan National Guard and other organizations responsible for food and nutrition programs and services; develop a process for communities to create local emergency response plans with their county emergency managers; and develop data-sharing and technology procedures to identify food needs for clients and track the total food distribution across agencies.
- Ensuring an adequate food supply in Michigan. While ample food has existed in the supply chain during the pandemic, recommendations include developing a communications strategy to address “panic buying;” prioritizing food workers along the supply chain for personal protective equipment and workplace safety materials; and creating a statewide program that engages restaurants and their workers to distribute prepared meals to vulnerable populations.
If you are running into issues with your unemployment or need any assistance, please reach out to my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 373-0853 and we will submit a ticket for you to a UIA specialist and help get your problem resolved. Please provide the following when you reach out:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Case number, if possible
- Summary of issue
Honoring UAW Local 602 President Bill Reed
This week I was able to present a tribute and share my deep appreciation for the hard work, dedication and professionalism of Bill Reed, recently retired UAW Local 602 president. As the people of UAW Local 602 recognize the loyalty and devotion to public service of this conscientious individual, I add my sentiments of gratitude for a job well done.
During my time as a state representative, I have been able to form a great working relationship with Bill and I hope he enjoys his retirement. I look forward to continuing my relationship with UAW Local 602 and their new president, Mike Huerta.
MDHHS Epidemic Orders Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced recently that restaurants and bars can reopen for indoor dining on Feb. 1, but will be subject to a 25 percent capacity limit and 10 p.m. curfew. The updated order, scheduled to remain in place until Feb. 21, also allows concessions at casinos, movie theatres and stadiums. Also, beginning today, stadiums that seat more than 10,000 may allow up to 500 people, while those with under a capacity of 10,000 are limited to 20 percent capacity, or 250 people.
Michigan COVID Recovery Plan
The Michigan COVID Recovery Plan is an important step forward in our efforts to continue combating the spread of COVID-19, along with setting our communities and families up for success long after our fight with this pandemic and its impacts are over. Focusing on the three pillars of public health, jobs and economy, and education, continue reading below for more information on the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan.
Michigan is ready to ramp up vaccination distribution, which will help us get back to normal as quickly as possible. At the end of 2020, Congress appropriated $90 million in additional resources for vaccine distribution in Michigan through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
Gov. Whitmer’s plan will use this federal funding to bring Michigan closer to our goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day. This funding appropriated by Congress will help provide financial support to local health departments for vaccine administration costs, including staff augmentation, as well as provide necessary equipment and supplies. Michigan will also receive $575 million to expand COVID-19 testing, tracing and lab capacity across our state.
Jobs and Economy
Support for Small Businesses
As part of the governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan, $225 million will be provided for three new programs from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), including:
- The Michigan Mainstreet Initiative to help stabilize our state’s small business community by securing grants for restaurants and other place-based businesses to keep our Main Streets vibrant and our communities resilient.
- The Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative will help Michigan put small businesses with less than nine employees on the path to recovery by creating greater access to much needed support.
- And the Business Accelerator and Resiliency Initiative will provide grants to high-tech startups that can help our communities thrive.
Good Jobs for Michigan
Gov. Whitmer has called on my colleagues and I in the Legislature to pass Good Jobs for Michigan to help our state retain and grow our businesses and create jobs. The Program provides crucial tools to create jobs and foster a thriving economy; Pfizer was the first business to utilize it, and did so to build a sterile drug manufacturing plant and create 450 good-paying jobs in Portage. This same plant shipped the first doses of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine across the nation at the end of last year.
The Recovery Plan includes another call on my colleagues and I to put forth legislation that would permanently extend unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks in the state of Michigan. This action would bring our state in line with 40 other states and provide the hardest-hit Michigan workers with the financial security and peace of mind they need and deserve.
As of the 2019 fiscal year, one in eight Michigan residents received food assistance. Gov. Whitmer’s COVID Recovery Plan will provide greater support for families through food assistance so more Michiganders can afford to put food on the table for themselves and their families.
The federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide the state of Michigan with funding to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s plan will allocate this federal funding in order to help more Michiganders stay in their homes.
Office of Rural Development
The governor will create an Office of Rural Development that will be tasked with coordinating work across state government to address issues facing rural communities, including broadband, talent, infrastructure and more. Grants will also be included to provide infrastructure and capacity support in rural communities, and support for land-based industries.
Property Tax Assistance
Gov. Whitmer’s plan includes funding to waive penalties and interest for certain property owners who did not pay their summer 2020 property taxes on time as a result of economic hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MI COVID Recovery Plan will provide targeted employment and training services through the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) to connect unemployed and underemployed Michigan residents with training and resources necessary for gainful employment. The program will prioritize residents from underserved or economically distressed communities to provide them with the skills needed for entry into registered apprenticeships in the energy sector to help drive Michigan’s energy transition.
MI Reconnect & Futures for Frontliners: Wraparound Supports
The Recovery plan includes a pilot providing wrap-around supports for up to 400 single parents who participate in the Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners programs. Participants will receive on-campus childcare, intensive personalized advising, educational supports including tutoring, career counseling and assistance in transitioning to a 4-year school.
As part of the recent actions from the federal government, Michigan was allocated nearly $1.7 billion through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund). The governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan will allocate this federal funding, along with an additional $300 million in state dollars, to help schools meet the governor’s goal of providing every student with an in-person learning opportunity by March 1, and to help address the learning loss that has occurred due to the pandemic. These one-time, flexible dollars will be distributed through a formula that recognizes the additional costs associated with supporting students in poverty and students with special education needs.