Welcome to my bi-weekly Capitol & Community Update! I am continuously honored and thankful to be your state representative. Please know that as we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic and its effects on our community, my staff and I are here to serve you and help however we can.
Mark your calendars! Every other Friday at 6 p.m., be sure to jump on my Facebook page (@TullioLiberatiJr) and join me for a virtual office hour where I will be providing updates and answering your questions about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other issues facing our community. I hope to see you there!
When: July 22 at 6 p.m. at Champaign Park in Allen Park.
Last week, I introduced House Resolution 136, which declares July 2021 as Fragile X Awareness Month in Michigan. Fragile X is the most common inherited genetic disease that causes developmental disabilities, cognitive impairments and autism. Even though Fragile X has been studied and is easily identified by testing,it goes frequently undiagnosed until puberty. Early intervention and therapy are necessary to provide the most opportunity for people with Fragile X to develop a full range of skills and behaviors. My nephew and godson, Antonio, has Fragile X, and it is important to raise awareness about the need for increased research for early diagnosis and treatment.
As discussed in previous updates, I have two bills currently going through the legislative process:House Bill 4611, “the pigeon bill,” is a bill to give local authorities more power to enforce their ordinances on pigeon keeping, spurred in response to pigeon complaints within the district, and House Bill 4381, which would amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to add in an anonymity clause, protecting the identity of employees who file complaints about unfair treatment in their workplace.
My office is still working on a new bill, which would put more restrictions on the marketing and display of alternative nicotine products in stores. Unlike cigarettes and vapes, many alternative nicotine products can be put on display in stores and easily found and accessed, including in stores frequented by young people. Teen and young adult nicotine addiction is rising again in recent years, and these alternative nicotine products are being marketed towards these younger demographics. My bill would require such products to be kept behind counters or in locked boxes as a means of curbing the marketing of these products towards non-smokers and youth. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on this bill as well as it progresses through the legislative process.
State and Capital Update
Michigan’s case rates have continued to drop while our vaccination rates have been steadily increasing — currently at 61.8% of Michiganders 16 and up. As a result, on June 22, the governor’s office lifted capacity restrictions on public gatherings as well as mask mandates! Now, private businesses may opt at their own discretion to not require masks and social distancing as we begin a return to a post-pandemic normalcy.
Also, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced the creation of the MI Shot To Win Sweepstakes, a lottery-style raffle that gives vaccinated Michiganders a chance to win $5 million in cash and a combined total of nearly $500,000 in college scholarships. The sweepstakes are available to any Michigander vaccinated between December 1, 2020 and July 30, 2021, and you can sign up to enter at www.MiShotToWin.com.
Furthermore, Gov. Whitmer signed Senate Bills 155 and 156 to ensure access to emergency insulin supply at a cost affordable to all Michiganders. The governor also signed House Bills 4055 and 4056 to allow the Michigan Department of Treasury to use overall scholastic achievement to determine eligibility for competitive college scholarships instead of relying exclusively on the ACT and SAT. These bills acknowledge the challenges that many students have had in accessing standardized tests during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan WorkShare Program
Michigan’s Work Share program allows employers to restart their business and bring employees back from unemployment. Employers can bring employees back with reduced hours – while employees collect partial unemployment benefits to make up a portion of the lost wages. Click here for more information.
Michigan Reconnect Program
The Michigan Reconnect program ensures that Michiganders who are 25 or older and do not have a college degree will have an opportunity to earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate at their in-district community college. Click here for more information.
Home and Heating Credit
Anyone struggling with their energy bills can apply for the Home and Heating Credit through the Michigan Department of Treasury. All applications must be received before September 30, 2021. You can file for the credit online here.
Home Repairs with State Emergency Relief
State Emergency Relief assists with home repairs to correct unsafe conditions and restore essential services. Eligible home repairs may include repair or replacement of a non-functioning furnace, hot water heaters or septic systems. This program can be found through MI Bridges, and the link is included here.