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. 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.
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
In this issue:
- Upcoming Coffee Hours
- Legislative Update
- Welcome Our New Intern
- A Visit from Waverly Robotics
- General Updates
Upcoming Coffee Hours
Please join me for my Weekly Wrap-up with Witwer each Friday at 11 a.m. You will find the event on my coffee hour event page on Facebook at that time, and no code is needed to join. Please also like and follow my page to stay connected with updates from the Capitol. I look forward to resuming in-person coffee hours soon.
Parole Deferral Waiver
Earlier this month, the House overwhelmingly passed a package of House Bills I sponsored, 4562 and 4563, to allow the Michigan Parole Board permission to defer parole consideration for dangerous inmates for five years for prisoners who pose a public safety risk based on a history of certain behaviors. This package – that was unanimously voted out of the House Judiciary Committee – was a direct response and requested by our county prosecutor and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) as they are concerned that a serial killer arrested in our district has served 40 years and is currently up for parole. I’m glad my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House recognize this package gives survivors and their families time to live their lives more freely without being forced to relive their trauma every year. I look forward to working with the Senate to get this package to Gov. Whitmer’s desk.
Enacting the Cobbler Bill
Currently, dry cleaners can donate unclaimed items while shoe repair businesses are forced to hold onto unclaimed shoes for years for fear of being sued in small claims court if they were to discard them. This bill was a direct as from a small business in our district and is why I recently introduced House Bill 4994, which would allow shoe repair businesses to donate unclaimed shoes to a state-licensed charitable organization after six months.
I voted for the following bills since my last newsletter:
House Bills 4224 and 4225: Provide temporary sales and use tax exemptions, respectively, for personal protective equipment and supplies (PPE) for use in business activity by an employer who adopts and maintains COVID-19 safety protocol plans.
SB 155: Allows a pharmacist to dispense up to a 30-day emergency supply of insulin to an individual, under certain circumstances.
SB 156: Requires insurers to cover insulin refills if an individual’s health insurance plan already covers prescription insulin.
SB 440: Exempts certain PET scanners for a certificate of need regulations to help provide an alternative method to treat cancer and other diseases.
Welcome Our New Intern
Please join us in welcoming our new summer intern, Therese Reinhold. She is currently an incoming junior at Michigan State University majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Relations and Business. Therese is also part of Michigan State’s pre-law fraternity Kappa Alpha Pi where she is actively engaged in current state and federal issues.
A Visit from Waverly Robotics
I was honored to host the Waverly Robotics Team from Waverly High School at the Capitol this month. It is always great to see the students in our community follow their passions, and I am a strong supporter of extracurricular activities that help enrich the minds of our students.
New Federal Programs to Expand Internet Access for Michiganders
We know that many families here in Michigan still do not have access to reliable, high-speed internet. This makes learning and working in the 21st century increasingly difficult. As we have all had to rely on virtual tools to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to bridge the digital divide and equip Michiganders with the tools they need to succeed. These exciting federal programs will be instrumental in expanding access to crucial broadband services.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
This is a program that will provide a discount of up to $50 per month off a qualifying household’s internet bill (and up to $75 per month for households on tribal lands). In addition, some internet service providers are also providing discounts on the purchase of internet-capable devices, like laptop computers.
More than 1 million Americans enrolled in this program during its first week. Some of the most common ways that families qualify are:
- They participate in SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit.
- They experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 and had a total household income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
- They received a federal Pell Grant in the current award year.
- They were approved for benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program.
- They meet the eligibility criteria for their internet service provider’s pre-existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Visit here to learn more and enroll; call 833-511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week, or sign up directly with your internet service provider.
Broadband Infrastructure Grants Available through NTIA
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has released the rules for the Broadband Infrastructure Grant program created under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This program will provide a total of $288 million in grants to public-private partnerships established to expand broadband service.
Emergency Connectivity Fund Grants Soon to Be Available through FCC
The Federal Communications Commission has released a Report and Order providing details about the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan. The plan will provide $7.1 billion in grants to support schools and libraries in providing connectivity to students, school staff and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and high-speed internet service sufficient for remote learning.
Unemployment Work Search Requirement
Unemployment insurance claimants are traditionally required to actively seek work and report their activities to the agency during certification for any week they receive benefits. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this requirement has been waived since March 2020. The Unemployment Insurance Agency will again require claimants to actively seek work by reporting one “work search activity” per week.
The state Legislature expanded what qualifies as work search activity through legislation last year. Work search activities include applying for jobs online, participating in virtual job fairs or employment workshops or searching job listings at sites like Monster.com, LinkedIn or MITalent.org.
If you need or know someone who needs help with their unemployment please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517.373.0853 with the following info:
- Full Name
- Phone Number
- Case Number
- Summary of Issue
MDHHS Latest Updates
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a revised version of its previous epidemic order. This new order is now in effect.
The following is included in the new order:
- Outdoor gathering capacity restrictions are eliminated.
- Indoor gatherings can be held at 50% capacity.
- Restaurants and bars can be open at 50% capacity.
The following continues to be required:
- Fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks indoors. Those who are not vaccinated or who have been vaccinated less than two weeks ago are still required to wear masks inside.
- Masks are no longer required outdoors.
- Fully vaccinated student-athletes are no longer required to be routinely tested for COVID-19. Non-vaccinated athletes ages 13-19 are still required to participate in a weekly COVID-19 testing program.
- Masks will no longer be required during any sports practice or for non-contact sports. Masks are still recommended for non-vaccinated student-athletes during contact sports games.
This order is effective through July 1. More information can be found at michigan.gov/coronavirus. On July 1 all broad epidemic orders will be lifted.
Listening to My Community
As we head into the summer with warmer weather and higher vaccination rates in our state, I have been traveling across the district to meet face-to-face and hear directly from the people in our community. A group of great volunteers and I are out knocking on doors to listen to your concerns and talk about ways we can build a better Michigan for all of us. If you have an issue you would like me to know about, please contact my office.
Ways to Engage
If our district staff or I can ever be of assistance to you, please reach out to us. My door is always open, and don’t forget that we work for you! The best way for me to continue to represent your interests and elevate your voice is to stay connected.
Please don’t hesitate to call me at (517) 373-0853, send me an email at email@example.com or stop by my office. We are located in room 1090 of the Anderson House Office Building, 124 N. Capitol Ave. in Lansing.
You are also more than welcome to attend a house session. House sessions are open to the public and are normally held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and Thursdays at noon. If you’re not able to attend, you can always stream it live at house.mi.gov/htv.asp. For a complete schedule of House sessions, visit house.mi.gov.