Happy Black History Month! This year’s celebration of Black History is especially momentous, as the nation witnessed the first African American and South Asian woman be sworn in as the Vice President of the United States of America. Jan. 20, 2021, was a day to be proud, not just because of the accomplishments of V.P. Kamala Harris, but proud of the fact that Black women everywhere have a living example of what they can achieve.
I have recently had the honor of being appointed to serve on the House Committee on Appropriations, the Appropriations subcommittees on School Aid and Health and Human Services, as well as serving as the Democratic Vice Chair of the Appropriations subcommittee on Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. I’m excited to work to ensure the vital programs our communities depend on receive the funding they need, as well as lead our efforts to fully fund protections for our environment and modernize Michigan’s energy production.
I am also proud to have joined the Detroit Caucus, Michigan Black Legislative Caucus, the APA Caucus and the Poverty and Homelessness Caucus.
I would like to take this moment to thank you for allowing me to serve you in the 3rd House District and act as your voice in Lansing. My team and I remain committed to helping constituents with their questions and issues, keeping residents up to date on new developments related to the pandemic, and providing useful resources.
As your representative, I am most effective at my job when acting on your input. I encourage you to reach out to me and my staff with any questions, comments or concerns you may have about issues in the district or legislation that will impact our state. You can contact me at (517) 373-0144, by email or through my website. Thank you for your commitment to the community we both call home; I look forward to hearing from you!
State Representative, 3rd House District
In This Edition:
Upcoming Coffee Hours
I hope you can join me for one of my upcoming coffee hours! They will take place on the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. I look forward to having an informal conversation with you about the issues facing families in our community.
When: Monday, March 1 @ 7 p.m.
Where: Dial in at (312) 626-6799 (Meeting ID: 927 6486 4753)
COVID-19 Relief Funding
Last week, Michigan House Democrats unveiled a plan that would provide $5 billion in federal funding for vaccine distribution, education, and the economy. Some of the highlights include:
House Republicans proposed a plan that only included a quarter of this funding, leaving billions of dollars on the table. I offered an amendment that would have increased funding for vital programs that provide relief for Michigan businesses. Unfortunately, this amendment was not adopted.
People in Detroit are hurting, yet we have $5 billion in federal funding just sitting in limbo. It isn’t right. I stand with you and will continue to demand the funding necessary to ensure our friends and neighbors don’t go hungry and can stay in their homes, our children and teachers have the resources they need to succeed, and small businesses have the necessary support to survive.
I am also strongly advocating that this plan includes necessary funding for vaccine distribution. Many people are understandably concerned about our economy, but rebuilding our economy without addressing the root cause of the problem is simply foolish. This is the light at the end of the tunnel, so now is not the time to withhold resources from a program that could help end this nightmare. Every day that this pandemic continues leads to more deaths. On top of the more than 15 thousand Michiganders, families are grieving the loss of a loved one, our small businesses, families and schools are suffering. The best way to help them is by defeating COVID and ending this crisis, and that starts with an aggressive vaccination plan.
Human Trafficking Legislation
I am proud to have recently introduced legislation as part of a package that would seek to address the human trafficking crisis in Michigan. My bill, House Bill 4107, would specifically protect victims of human trafficking from being charged with a crime themselves by changing references of “prostitution” in Michigan law to “commercial sex act.” While this may seem like a small change, it will close a loophole that may have prevented victims from seeking help from authorities for fear of being treated as criminals.
As a form of modern-day slavery, human trafficking is a serious and insidious crime happening even right here in Michigan. January serves as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and it’s important we all have the necessary information to spot and put an end to these heinous actions. Here are some red flags that human trafficking victims or survivors often exhibit, as shared by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office:
It is extremely important to note that human trafficking situations can be dangerous to you if you attempt to intervene. If you or someone you know suspect human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888. Together, we can put an end to human trafficking once and for all.
Meet the Team
Rebecca Fadel, Legislative Aide / Policy Services
Having graduated from Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley School of Law, Rebecca is passionate about the law and how it is placed into effect with a focus on potential inequities or negative effects on varying populations. Rebecca began working in the Legislature in 2015 as an intern and has had the opportunity to serve in many Detroit offices. With a wide range of professional experiences, including everything from housing to retail, she brings vast knowledge and understanding to the office.
LaTanya Garrett, Legislative Aide / Constituent Services
LaTanya recently finished serving her third term as a State Representative for Michigan’s 7th House District prior to accepting a position on Thanedar’s staff. She is a graduate of Henry Ford High School, Life Support Training Institute, Wayne County Community College and an alumna of Davenport University. Prior to her time as an elected official, LaTanya was a community activist and worked on several political campaigns.
Updated COVID-19 Health Orders
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently released its updated epidemic order. The order allows for indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements; concessions at casinos, movie theaters and stadiums; personal services requiring mask removal; and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. The order will last three weeks, until Sunday, Feb. 21.
Restaurants and bars are allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.
Indoor residential and non-residential gatherings are limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with, consistent with guidance already released by the department. Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to mask up and mask right, using guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them. For more information on how to do so, click here.
Please be sure to regularly check Michigan.gov/coronavirus and CDC.gov/coronavirus for the latest information. If you have additional questions about what the state is doing to mitigate the spread of the virus you can call Michigan’s COVID-19 Hotline at (888) 535-6136 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email COVID19@michigan.gov and your questions will be answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Tax Return Info
The Michigan Department of Treasury recently announced that it will begin processing individual income tax returns on Friday, Feb. 12.
The Feb. 12 processing date is the same as the Internal Revenue Service. For the benefit and convenience of taxpayers, both the beginning and end of the individual income tax filing season are the same as the IRS.
Individuals can file their state income tax returns online, with a tax professional or by mailing in paper forms and documentation. All state income tax returns and payment of any taxes owed must be received by April 15, 2021.
Tax software companies are beginning to accept tax returns now and will transmit submitted returns to the IRS and state Treasury Department starting Feb. 12.
All employers were required to mail previous year wage statements – W-2s and 1099s – to their employees by Jan. 31. End-of-the-year pay stubs should not be used when filing a state income tax return because they are typically not an accurate reflection of all income received.
Taxpayers who rush to file without all the necessary paperwork will need to file an amended return later. State income tax returns filed without the required paperwork will be placed on hold for future processing and review.
Scholarship Opportunity for Black and Latinx Students
The CVS Health Foundation recently announced the establishment of a five-year, $5 million scholarship program in collaboration with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Scholarships will be awarded to Black and Latinx students pursuing careers in health care.
Black and Latinx students attending an accredited four-year college or university in the United States with an interest in pursuing a career in the health care sector are eligible to apply for the need-based scholarship. The scholarships will support students in their junior and senior years as they complete their studies.
UNCF will accept applications from Feb. 1 through April 1. For more information and to apply, please visit the UNCF website for more information and to apply.