Dear Neighbor:

I wanted to share some important information on efforts to address COVID-19 and update you on other state government news.

Resolution for Ban Child Marriage Day

I introduced a resolution last week that would would recognize March 18, 2021, as Ban Child Marriage Day in Michigan. Currently, Michigan law allows 16- and 17-year-old children to marry with permission from a parent or guardian. Children younger than 16 can marry with both parental and judicial approval. It is past time to end this outdated, harmful practice to protect children in our state. To watch a brief PSA video with me and my colleague, state Rep. Sarah Anthony, click here.

State Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility 

Beginning April 5, everyone 16 and older in Michigan will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, Michigan residents who are age 50 and older are able to receive the vaccine. Caregiver family members of individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities and guardians who care for children with special health care needs are also eligible. More information on the COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan can be found at

Over 800 Thousand Children Will Receive Food Assistance

Over 800,000 Michigan children will receive food assistance this month through Pandemic-EBT benefits. These benefits are retroactive to September 2020 and will continue through June. K-12 students are eligible if they qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and in-person learning is not fully available at their school. For students attending virtual classes, families will receive an estimated $127.53 per month per child. Families with students doing a hybrid of in-person and online school will receive $77.06 for each child. More information about Pandemic-EBT benefits can be found here.

Employee Assistance Grants Mailed to Over 55 Thousand Michiganders

Employee Assistance Grant Program payments of $793 have been sent out to more than 55,900 Michigan workers who were laid off as a result of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order. Employees who qualified included those in the restaurant, bar, hotel and entertainment industries, among others. More information about these grants can be found here.

Tax Filing Deadline Extended to May 17

The deadline for state and federal income tax returns has been pushed back to May 17, 2021. All fines, penalties and interest will be waived during this time. An extension of city income tax deadlines would require legislative action. A bill that would grant this extension for municipalities is expected to be introduced in the Legislature this week.


MDHHS Issues Updated Epidemic Order

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a revised version of its previous epidemic order. As restrictions are relaxed for bars, restaurants and retail shops, it’s important to continue following safety precautions. Remember to wear a mask, practice social distancing and stay home if you feel ill.

The following is required under the revised epidemic order:

  • Outdoor stadiums can be open at 20% capacity.
  • Athletes ages 13-19 must participate in a weekly COVID-19 testing program to participate in practices or competitions.
  • Masks are not required at residential gatherings if everyone in attendance has been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks.

The following continues to be required:

  • Restaurants and bars can be open at 50% capacity (with a maximum capacity of 100), and they can be open until 11 p.m.
  • Retail shops can be open at 50% capacity.
  • Gyms can be open at 30% capacity.
    • Gym users must wear masks, and exercise equipment must be placed six feet apart.
  • Indoor residential gatherings are limited to 15 people from no more than three households, and outdoor residential gatherings are limited to 50 people.
  • Casinos can open at 30% capacity.

This order is effective through April 19. More information can be found at


President Biden Signs American Rescue Plan

President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law on March 11. This comprehensive COVID-19 relief plan provides funding for vaccinations, helps with basic needs, and will help our communities and businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some highlights include:

  • Direct payments of $1,400 to individuals making up to $75,000 a year;
  • $350 billion in aid to state and local governments;
  • $14 billion for vaccine distribution;
  • $130 billion to K-12 schools for safe reopening;
  • $21 billion in emergency rental assistance;
  • $300 billion in weekly jobless benefits through September;
  • An expanded child tax credit of $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 per child under 6;
  • $50 billion for small businesses, including $7 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program; and
  • $28 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. (More information about this program can be found below.)

More information about the American Rescue Plan can be found here.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund to Offer Grants

As part of the American Rescue Plan, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will offer $28 billion in grants to restaurants, bars and similar businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible businesses can receive a tax-free grant equal to the amount of its pandemic-related revenue loss, which is calculated by subtracting its 2020 gross receipts from its 2019 gross receipts. Grants of up to $10 million will be available, with a limit of $5 million per location. Businesses do not qualify if they have more than 20 locations. The funds must be spent on payroll, rent, utilities, food and beverage inventory, and other expenses needed for operations. Some funds have been set aside for smaller businesses, veterans and business owners from underserved communities.

The Small Business Association is setting up an online portal that businesses can use to apply. Applications are expected to open in April. In the meantime, the National Restaurant Association has compiled helpful information that can be found here.

While legislative offices remain closed to the public, my team and I are still providing responsive service as we work from home. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (517) 373-0587 or by email at if we can help.


Kara Hope

State Representative