I am honored that you have entrusted me to represent our community for a third term in the Michigan House of Representatives. As we face multiple crises, we need a government that will enable people to work together and take on big challenges for the common good. We have a lot to do, not just to address the current crises, but to address the longstanding neglect and injustices that make our society so vulnerable.
Please let me know what your priorities are for the coming legislative term by phone (517) 373-2577 or email YousefRabhi@house.mi.gov, or by attending one of my virtual coffee hours. My office also provides assistance to constituents who encounter difficulties with state agencies. If you have an unresolved problem with your unemployment insurance, please fill out this form on my website so that we can inquire on your behalf.
I look forward to working with you to make 2021 the beginning of a brighter future.
Representative, 53rd District (Ann Arbor)
Yousef and You Discussion Schedule:
I host regular Yousef and You forums for constituents to get updates and discuss legislative issues. These will take place on Zoom until further notice. Typically, discussions are 10 a.m. on the 4th Saturday of the month and 6 p.m. on the 2nd Monday of the month. I hope many of you will be able to join me!
EVEN IF YOU HAVE REGISTERED FOR DISCUSSIONS LAST YEAR, YOU WILL NEED TO SIGN UP AGAIN. There are separate links below to register for Saturday and Monday discussions; you can pick either or both. The next two discussions will be Saturday, January 23 at 10 a.m. and Monday, February 8 at 6 p.m.
Click here to register:
Priorities for a New Legislative Session
The last year has highlighted how interdependent we all are. We are confronting acute crises—pandemic disease and its accompanying economic hardship. But we are also facing the consequences of long-festering problems that have broken open into new wounds—racial injustice, climate change, economic inequality, and the erosion of democratic institutions. The scale of the challenges we face can only be met by mobilizing together, and that is what government is for.
In the new legislative session, we must act urgently to respond to the public health crisis, expand vaccinations, provide resources to enable safe schooling, and provide economic relief to workers and businesses. We should also ban guns from the Capitol grounds and legislative offices. It is not compatible with democracy to conduct the people’s business under the guns of militants.
In addition to those immediate needs, we need legislation to address the structural problems that have exacerbated the current crises. Universal health coverage, not dependent on employment, is even more necessary than ever in the context of a pandemic and widespread unemployment. I plan to re-introduce my MiCare plan to provide health insurance to everyone in the state and save money overall. This will help address the shameful inequities that have caused Black and brown Michiganders to suffer and die from Covid at much higher rates.
Communities of color also bear a disproportionate burden of pollution and the effects of climate change. I will re-introduce legislation to hold polluters financially responsible. I will introduce new restrictions on PFAS “forever chemicals,” which have been shown to suppress immune response and contribute to severe Covid infection. I will re-introduce a measure to require utilities to generate all their electricity from renewables, bills to ensure fair compensation for consumers who produce their own alternative energy, and introduce new bills to help transition to clean energy in buildings and transportation.
There is potential for bipartisan cooperation in the new session, in part because the need to act on many of these issues has become obvious. We should build on the success of the last legislative session in criminal justice reform, by discussing and passing the bail reform bill package. Universal broadband accessibility, newly urgent in a time of social distancing, has bipartisan appeal. I also expect to see increased support for measures to improve voting processes, such as signature mismatch remedies, more explicit rules for challengers, and allowing clerks to begin processing ballots sooner.
Lame Duck Roundup
The Michigan Legislature rushed to pass a number of major bills before the end of the Lame Duck session last year. Among those I was particularly glad to see pass were: the Water Shutoff Protection Act, multiple bills to reduce juvenile and pretrial detention, bills to expand access to professional licensing for people with criminal records, and restoration of Food Stamps (SNAP) eligibility for people with drug convictions on their records. These changes will help make our state more equitable and prosperous. The governor vetoed several other Lame Duck items I strongly opposed: a 28-day limit on health orders by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, a repeal of the 1945 emergency powers law, an expansion of civil asset forfeiture, broad immunity for health care workers and facilities, and a tax break for Meijer to equip automated logistics facilities.
The Legislature also passed a bill to divert $220 million from the General Fund to restore Michigan’s ordinary Unemployment Insurance maximum to 26 weeks. The governor vetoed this because it would have shifted the burden from employers, who fund the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, to the public as a whole. Interest-free loans are available from the federal government to supplement the Unemployment Insurance Trust fund if needed. Workers who apply for unemployment insurance after Jan. 1 will have a maximum of 20 weeks of benefits. I hope that one of the first pieces of legislation we take up this session will be to extend UIA benefits to 26 weeks again, with a funding mechanism that will share the responsibility fairly.
Federal Unemployment Benefits Extension
The recent federal relief legislation extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance through March 14 and allows people to claim up to 50 weeks of PUA benefits. PUA provides benefits for those not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance, such as contractors and self-employed workers. PEUA extends traditional unemployment benefits. The federal legislation also adds $300 a week to regular Unemployment Insurance. Michigan has already begun sending out this supplement to about 365,000 people.
There will be some new documentation and ID requirements for claiming PUA. That, combined with the delay in passing and signing the federal legislation, means that PUA and PEUA recipients will see a delay in their benefits. Michigan UIA also continues to work through a backlog of cases that need a manager to verify them, but unfortunately, there are some folks who still haven’t been paid for months. The organized fraud attacks against the system last year have made verification slower. For the most up to date information, please visit the Michigan UIA website.
If you are having a problem getting your UIA or PUA/PEUA benefits, please fill out this form on my website so my staff can inquire on your behalf.
COVID Vaccinations in our Community
Essential workers and seniors 65 and older are now eligible to receive vaccinations to prevent COVID-19. However, supplies and administration capacity remain limited. Some first-dose vaccinations in our county have been postponed recently because anticipated vaccine doses did not arrive. We must speed up the pace of vaccination on a massive scale to save lives, reopen schools, and help the economy. I am hopeful that the Michigan Legislature will allocate newly available federal funds to vaccine rollout as an urgent priority so that everyone who wants a vaccination can be protected.
Please do not call the Health Department to ask about vaccinations; this diverts resources from critical work. Here’s how eligible people can receive their shots:
If you are an essential worker in certain categories (health care, home health aides, school employees over age 50, childcare, critical infrastructure, corrections, first responders, etc): Your employer may organize vaccination. If not, fill out this appointment request form with the Washtenaw County Health Department. If you get an appointment registration link, do not share it; this will avoid system disruptions.
If you are an employer of essential workers wishing to set up vaccination for workers, fill out this form with the Washtenaw County Health Department.
If you are age 65 or older, you may be vaccinated through the major health system you already use for care or through the county health department.
If you do not have a regular physician affiliated with UMHS, IHA, or St. Joe’s, fill out this form to request an appointment through the Washtenaw County Health Department. If you get an appointment registration link, do not share it; this will avoid system disruptions.
Established patients at University of Michigan Health System should make sure their contact details are updated in the patient portal; you will be contacted by email or a message on the portal (phone for those without internet) when you are eligible to set up an appointment based on your medical records. For more info, click here. UMHS is currently scheduling vaccination appointments for some patients over 65.
Established patients at St. Joe’s, click here for info.
Established patients at IHA , click here for info.
If you are a resident in a long-term care facility, the facility should be making arrangements to vaccinate you through one of the pharmacies contracted by the federal government (currently CVS and Walgreens). If you are the medical decision maker for a resident of a long-term care facility, you may need to provide a consent form on their behalf.
The two vaccines currently available both require two shots spaced several weeks apart for full protection. You will be given a return appointment and a vaccine registration card when you receive your first dose. For updated information for Washtenaw County, please do not call the health department. Instead, visit their vaccination website. Updated information on vaccine availability for residents of all counties in Michigan can be found here.
Relief Grant Deadlines and Application Process
EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE GRANTS
- What:The State of Michigan has allocated $45 million to provide support to employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Grant Amount:Eligible recipients meeting all criteria and providing a complete and accurate application will be awarded assistance up to $1,650. The award is taxable, but it will NOT count against your unemployment as income.
- Eligible Industries (employees working in the following industries qualify): Restaurants, hotels, motels, bed & breakfast, resorts, bars, food trucks, bowling alleys, theaters, nightclubs, golf courses, banquet halls, caterers, casinos, cafeterias, and other impacted industries.
- Applications:Applications opened on January 15, 2021 at 9:00 am and will be available until January 25, 2021 at 5:00 pm. Click here to learn more and apply.
MICHIGAN STAGES SURVIVAL GRANT PROGRAM
- What:The State of Michigan has allocated $3.5 million to create the Michigan Stages Survival Grant Program to provide grants to entertainment venues affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Grant Amount:The maximum grant request is $40,000. There is no match requirement. The Michigan Independent Venue and promoter Association (MIVPA) will have the discretion to recommend final grant award for applications.
- Eligible Expenses:Awarded grant funds are to be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or costs related to reopening a business.
- Applications:Grant applications will open on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 9:00 am EST and close on Thursday, January 28 at 12:00 pm (noon). Click here to learn more and apply.