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
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 . 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:
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 entire property, specifically revising the 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 U.S. 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.
Federal Unemployment Programs End Sept. 4
A number of federal unemployment programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) are ending on Sept. 4. Even if you have unused weeks remaining on a PUA or PEUC claim, weeks after Sept. 4 will not be paid.
These programs were set to end on March 14, 2021, but were extended by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
Weeks prior to Sept. 4 that are pending review, protest, non-monetary issues, etc., can still be paid once those issues are resolved. These programs ending will not affect claimants on a regular state unemployment claim.
For more information on these federal unemployment programs, please visit Michigan.gov/uia.
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 no longer qualify. Under federal law, 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.
Rental assistance is available to help renters and landlords
If you’re a renter having trouble paying your rent, utilities or other housing costs, or if you’re a landlord trying to stay afloat with tenants in this situation, help may be available. State and local programs are distributing billions of dollars in rental assistance to help renters stay housed during the pandemic.
Visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Rental Assistance Finder to find out what this means for you and what you can do. The CFPB’s site also includes resources to help renters and landlords understand other resources to help navigate various financial hardships related to the pandemic.
Black Business Month
August is National Black Business Month, and we recognize the Black-owned businesses across Michigan. This month traces its history back to 2004 when Frederick E. Jordan, an engineering entrepreneur, teamed up with John William Templeton, president and executive editor of scholarly publishing company eAccess Corp., to start the yearly event. Be sure to support Black-owned businesses here in the 35th House District!