Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including some updates on the state’s efforts to address COVID-19 and its effects on housing, employment, and more.
Back to School Decisions Currently Being Announced
Local school districts are currently deciding how to return to school this fall — whether they will return in person or use a remote-learning model. The governor’s “Return to School” Roadmap currently permits in-person learning for all areas of Michigan with recommendations for protecting public health. However, the roadmap also allows local districts to make their own decisions regarding whether to return in person or use remote-learning. Schools districts must announce their decisions and their safety plan by August 17. You can find more information about the reopening plans for schools in the 67th House District here.
Michigan Strong Education Plan Introduced
My colleagues and I recently introduced education legislation that will give students, parents, and teachers the resources they need during the coming school year. The “Michigan Strong” plan prioritizes both student success and the safety of students and educators during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This includes:
- Requiring equitable technology and internet access and teacher support;
- Helping every school create a school-based health clinic on site;
- Making sure educators and staff continue to be paid and receive benefits when a state of emergency closes schools; and
- Establishing a fund to reimburse educators for the costs they have incurred to facilitate distance learning.
I sponsored House Bill 5960, which would amend the School Improvement Plan to require that it include targeted, individual professional development plans developed with teachers to ensure that their professional development is useful. You can read the entire Michigan Strong Plan here.
Legislation Aims to Reduce Use of Illegal and Amateur Fireworks
Rep. Sarah Anthony and I recently introduced a package of bills (House Bills 5964, 5965, 5966, 5967, 5968) that would repeal the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act of 2011. Residents from Lansing and communities across the state have spoken out against the nuisance and dangers resulting from the 2011 legislation, which removed many restrictions on amateur use of fireworks. This package would also create safety guidelines to reduce property damage and the number of firework-related injuries. You can read more about this bill package here.
Bill Package Would Affirm Marriage Equality in Michigan
Marriage equality has been the law of the land in the U.S. since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 2015. However, several state statutes still use outdated, gendered language when referring to marriage. That language would be updated by a 54-bill package that was introduced last week in the Michigan House. As part of the package, I sponsored two bills that would update the language in the Estate Tax Act and the Real Estate Transfer Tax Act. You can read more about this bill package here.
Funding Approved for Schools, Local Governments for Current Fiscal Year
Last week, the governor signed bills that will make up for anticipated gaps in education, local government, and public health funding. This bipartisan budget agreement affects the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2020. The agreement addresses the $2.2 billion revenue shortage by shifting state funding, reducing spending, and utilizing federal CARES money.
Under the budget deal, Michigan will save $483 million through hiring and discretionary spending freezes, layoffs, and using other savings. Some highlights of the agreement include the following allocations of federal CARES funds:
- $512 million to K-12 schools;
- $200 million to universities and community colleges;
- $150 million to local governments;
- $53 million to provide hazard pay for teachers who work during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- $475 million for public safety costs.
This federal funding will help offset the cuts that were made, including a $256 million cut in state aid to schools and a $97 million cut to local governments. Michigan still needs the U.S. Senate to act quickly to ensure our state’s essential programs and services remain available in the next fiscal year and the years ahead.
Eviction Diversion Program Helps Tenants Who Fall Behind in Rent
The Eviction Diversion Program was created to help tenants who fall behind in their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also helping landlords recoup missing payments. This program went into effect after the state moratorium on evictions expired on July 16. If you fall behind in your rent and are concerned about eviction, contact your local Housing Assessment and Resource Agency, Holy Cross Services, at (517) 484-4414, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To find out more information about this program, visit michigan.gov/edp.
Indoor Gatherings Limited to Ten People or Fewer, Indoor Service in Bars Prohibited
Last week, Gov. Whitmer signed two executive orders that will limit indoor gatherings to ten people or fewer and prohibit indoor service in bars. These new restrictions affect the entire state, including Region 6 and 8 of the MI Safe Start Plan. These changes are in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases and recent “super-spreading” incidents, where someone carrying the virus has attended a large event and infects a high number of attendees.
Here is a summary of some other recent executive orders that have been issued in the past month.
While legislative offices remain closed to the public, my team is still providing responsive service as they work from home. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (517) 373-0587 or by email at email@example.com if we can help.
67th House District