Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Included in this edition are some important legislative and COVID-19 updates, along with a few resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1788 or email at KyraBolden@house.mi.gov for questions about this or any other state-level issue.
State Representative, 35th House District
Help us inform our neighbors about community resources and what is happening in Lansing. Every week until August, we will be knocking on doors to meet the community where they are. To sign up to knock or make calls, follow the link.
On behalf of the 35th House District of Michigan, I want to thank you for attending the virtual COVID-19 Town Hall: “Saving Our Democracy.” We were able to spread the word about our elections and redistricting. To view a recording of the town hall please click here and enter the passcode: KC+6z=76.
House Bills 5177 & 5178 offer tax relief for home accessibility improvements
July 26 marked the 31st anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I re-introduced legislation to provide an income tax credit to those who purchase a new residence or retrofit an existing residence to meet accessibility standards needed for those with physical limitations.
Under the bill, accessibility is defined as a resident with a physician-approved physical limitation of the ability to enter, exit and use a property without assistance. The residence would also need to include:
- At least one zero-step entrance.
- At least one full or half bathroom on the main floor.
- All doorways on the main floor must have a minimum of 32 inches of clear passage space.
According to HomeAdvisor.com, the national average for remodeling a home for someone with a disability is $4,641, with a high-end cost of $20,000. Currently, there are few financial resources available to offset the costs of remodeling or buying a home that would accommodate someone with a physical disability or with physical limitations.
The bills will help protect seniors and those with physical disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable in our communities. There is a growing and vibrant population of seniors in our district, many on a fixed income, and they have been asking for reasonable financial relief. This legislation is really important to them.
House Bill 5224: Marriage Equality Legislation
On July 1, 39 legislators, along with myself, introduced a comprehensive legislative package to repeal Michigan’s unconstitutional bans on same-sex marriage and ensure that references to spouses are inclusive throughout the state’s legal code.
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. However, the unenforceable remnants of discriminatory marriage laws are still on the books. In addition to Michigan’s multiple explicit bans on same-sex marriage, gender-specific references to married people permeate state law — for example, referring to joint tax returns filed by “a husband and wife” or stating that “a husband” cannot be called to testify against “his wife” without her consent.
HB 5224 would amend discriminatory references regarding the right to manage and contract entireties property, specifically revising gender-specific language. The changes were recommended by the Michigan Law Revision Commission to bring Michigan into compliance with the U.S. Constitution following the US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges six years ago.
COVID-19 Updates & Resources
COVID-19 Vaccine Help
If you know someone who doesn’t have access to the internet and they’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine or need help with vaccine translation services, call 2-1-1 and press ‘5’ for free, confidential assistance.
Unemployment Insurance Agency Offices Open to Appointments
The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is offering in-person unemployment insurance services by appointment only at 12 local unemployment offices.
As of June 23, Michiganders can go online to start scheduling appointments. Each appointment slot is 15 minutes and may be scheduled up to a week in advance. Appointments are available from 8:15 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Customers must schedule an appointment online to be seen by a UIA representative. Walk-in appointments will not be accepted. To schedule an in-person appointment, visit Michigan.gov/uia and click on Schedule an Appointment.
Although the agency anticipates appointments to fill up quickly, appointment slots do become available each day as cancellations occur. The agency expects to serve about 900 customers per day in person. Appointments are not transferable to other customers.
The agency will still maintain some COVID-19 safety protocols, such as requesting that customers wear a mask before entry. Customers should bring their driver’s license or photo ID and any other documents pertinent to their claim. Individuals who are late for their appointment may have to reschedule.
In addition to scheduling an in-person appointment, Customers may contact UIA by:
- Calling the UIA Customer Service telephone line at (866) 500-0017, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The line currently handles up to 25,000 callers a day.
- Chat with an agent through the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. From the MiWAM home page, click on I want to Chat with an Agent. The agency handles about 5,000 chats per day.
- Schedule a phone appointment Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m.-4:25 p.m. Each appointment is 20 minutes. The UIA currently handles about 1,000 phone appointments per day. Schedule an appointment online at Michigan.gov/uia. Click on Schedule an Appointment.
Local UIA office locations to be open for appointment only:
Benton Harbor, 401 8th St.
Detroit, 3024 W. Grand Blvd., Suite L-385.
Gaylord, 931 Otsego Ave.
Grand Rapids, 3391-A Plainfield Ave., NE.
Kalamazoo, 1600 South Burdick St.
Lansing, 5217 Perry Robinson Circle.
Marquette, 1498 Odovero Drive, Ste. 2.
Muskegon, 2700 Baker St.
Saginaw, 515 N. Washington Ave.
Sault Ste. Marie, 1118 East Easterday Ave.
Sterling Heights, 43015 Hayes Road.
Traverse City, 1209 S. Garfield Ave., Ste. C.
July Business and Frontline Worker of the Month
I am proud to announce that DENSO International America, Inc. was named the July Business of the Month and Sarah Brown-Derbah, from Haley Funeral Directors, was named the July Frontline Worker of the Month! Congratulations to our winners, and thank you for all that you have done for our community.
Help us recognize both a front-line worker and a local business. Please send your nominations to me here: Suggest a Tribute.
Parks and Recreation Month
Since 1985, America has celebrated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month. “July is Park and Recreation Month” provides an opportunity to raise awareness in our community about the value of parks, recreation and leisure services in Michigan. For more information please visit www.mparks.org/page/July.
People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed healthcare disparities for people of color. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have renewed the focus on minority health improvements that address systemic racism, discrimination, and social, economic and environmental determinants. As part of this ongoing effort, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed July 2021 as People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month.