Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including some updates and news from your state government.
MI House Allocates Federal COVID-19 Funding
A $2.2 billion supplemental appropriations bill passed the House last week. Most of this funding is federal COVID-19 relief. Some highlights of the bill include:
- Nearly $1.5 billion to support a 15% increase in monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits through Sept. 30, 2021.
- $378.3 million for grants to renters at or below 80% of area median income.
- $65.2 million to pay vendors for emergency and disaster response and mitigation services.
- $322.1 million for local governments to provide assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits; aid industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality; provide premium pay for essential workers; and to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or high-speed internet.
The House is expected to take up more budget bills soon. It is unclear whether the Legislature will meet its self-imposed budget deadline of July 1. However, the Senate appropriations chair has introduced a bill that would eliminate the July 1 deadline for this year. Senate Bill 537 passed the Senate on Thursday, and it now awaits a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee.
MI House Votes to End $300 Federal Unemployment Benefits
Last week, the House voted to eliminate the extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits that Michigan residents on unemployment have been receiving. This was an amendment to House Bill 4434 — a bill that was originally intended to ensure the Unemployment Insurance Agency uses “plain language” in their correspondence to individuals receiving benefits. I co-sponsored the original version of HB 4434. However, I removed my name because of this amendment, which significantly changed the spirit and effect of the bill. And I voted no on the amended bill. Prematurely ending the $300 in additional federal unemployment benefits — which are set to expire in September — will only hurt those who are already struggling.
Nearly All MI COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted
Michigan has rolled back the majority of its COVID-19 restrictions. Beginning Tuesday, June 22, masks are generally no longer required. And there are no longer restrictions on gathering sizes or capacity in a restaurant, store or other venue. Some specific restrictions will remain in place for vulnerable populations in corrections, long-term care and agriculture. More information can be found at Michigan.gov/coronavirus. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees workplace conditions, has also lifted many of its restrictions for workplaces other than health care settings.
Gov. Plans to Expand Great Start Readiness Program
Gov. Whitmer has announced a $405 million plan to expand the Michigan Great Start Readiness Program to all eligible 4-year-olds. The Great Start Readiness Program provides full- or part-day services to children from families at or below 250% of the federal poverty line (approximately $66,250 for a family of four). Currently, only 66% of eligible children are being served by a state or federal preschool program. This plan requires approval from the Legislature. I fully support the governor’s commitment to early childhood education, and I will support funding the Great Start Readiness Program if it comes up for a vote on the House floor.
Bipartisan Child Care Package Will Help Working Parents, Support Providers
Gov. Whitmer and a bipartisan group of legislators recently announced a plan that would offer additional flexibility for child care providers while making child care more accessible. Specifically, legislation to implement the plan would:
- Let child care providers operate in multi-use buildings like strip malls;
- Raise the ratio of workers to children from six-to-one to seven-to-one for in-home providers;
- Allow providers to put certain health and safety records online for parents to view;
- Create a contract model to increase access to infant and toddler child care in “child care deserts”; and
- Create statewide child care networks to provide business support for child care providers.
These bills were introduced following the governor’s announcement that she wants $1.4 billion in Michigan’s federal relief spent to expand child care assistance and support child care workers.
Secretary of State Adds 350,000 Appointments
The Secretary of State has added 350,000 appointments that will be available through the end of September. Although the Secretary of State is open by appointment only, greeters are on hand at each branch office to help people schedule appointments. Appointments can also be scheduled online or by calling (888) SOS-MICH. A priority appointment system has been put into place for drivers who need a handicapped parking placard. Many transactions can be completed by mail, online or at self-service stations. Learn more at Michigan.gov/SOS.
Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (517) 373-0587 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can help.