Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! It continues to be a privilege to represent Livonia, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in Lansing. I encourage you to stay up to date on what’s going on in Lansing and continue to let me know about the issues that matter to you.
If there is anything I can do to help you and your family, please do not hesitate to call my office at (517) 373-3920, or email me at LauriePohutsky@house.mi.gov. You can also catch me on Facebook.
Budget Update: School Aid Line Item Veto Override
House Bill 4411 provided funding for the school aid budget for the fiscal year ending in 2022. I supported the bill when it came before the House originally because it is a truly historic investment in our students. However, within this bill was a line item that provided $155 million for an unnamed literacy program administered through Grand Valley State University. Gov. Whitmer vetoed that line item within the budget and sent it back to the Legislature. The Speaker brought the line item before the floor for a veto-override vote, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass. I voted against this override because this program was nothing more than a method to funnel money to the DeVos family through vouchers. This funding would be better used to hire more literacy coaches for students, not to line the pockets of the DeVoses.
For an in-depth look at what my colleagues and I have been voting on in Session these past few weeks, click here.
It is crucial to have the voices of our community heard in Lansing. As the Legislature continues our in-district work period, my staff and I have hit the ground running on our door-to-door legislative check-ins. So far, I have had great conversations about the importance of investing in education, repairing our economy and expanding access to quality, affordable health care. My team and I will be out in the district throughout the summer, and we look forward to meeting you!
Small Business of the Month
I had the honor of presenting Julius Barber Shop with a tribute as not only the July Small Business of the Month but also to celebrate their 75th anniversary. This Livonia institution gives back to the community so profoundly, and the celebration of their anniversary that they shared with our city demonstrated that.
Power Outage Update
Over the past few weeks, I have been in conversations with both DTE and the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) about the significant number of power outages we have been experiencing here in Livonia. I want to thank everyone who sent me their address and gave some context about how these outages have impacted them.
DTE told me that the outages are in fact due to falling tree limbs. I have asked that the affected area be moved up in the schedule of tree trimming. This was done to another area of Livonia a couple of years ago, and it helped dramatically. I will continue to follow-up on this with DTE.
I also spoke with the MPSC and they are working on their service requirements for DTE, specifically as it relates to rebates. Currently, if you meet the requirements you can receive a $25 rebate for lost food, and if you have more than 8 outages in a calendar year, you can receive another $25 rebate. The MPSC is working to implement a system where your rebate is based on the amount of time you went without power.
If you have experienced several power outages this year, I want to strongly encourage you to file a complaint with the MPSC using any of the options listed at this link. These complaints help both me and the MPSC work with DTE to do things like changing the rebate system and prioritize our community for tree trimming. If you have any difficulties, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.
Eligible Unemployment Claimants Granted Overpayment Waivers
The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has begun to notify claimants who are no longer eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits that overpayments will be waived.
In June, claimants were asked to requalify for PUA by providing the agency with the necessary information to remain eligible for the federal program. Four PUA COVID-19 eligibility reasons that were included at the beginning of the pandemic are no longer accepted by the U.S. Department of Labor. Under federal law, the UIA had to re-evaluate PUA eligibility for individuals who selected one of the non-qualifying reasons.
Of the roughly 690,000 claimants that were asked to requalify, about 241,000 responded to the UIA’s request. Waivers will be granted to the initial group of approximately 350,000 non-responses, many of whom may no longer be collecting benefits.
Claimants will be notified through their MiWAM account or via U.S. mail.
I hope you can join me for one of my upcoming in-person and virtual coffee hours! I look forward to having an informal conversation with you about the issues families face in our community. The in-person coffee hour will be held at Coffee + Cream here in Livonia, and for virtual coffee hours, you can join the livestream on my Facebook page here.
Virtual: Monday, Aug. 16, from 6-7:30 p.m.
In-person: Sunday, Sept. 5, from 2-3 p.m.
Never hesitate to reach out to me or my staff if you have any questions or concerns!
19th House District