Welcome to my e-newsletter! I’m honored and humbled to serve as our community’s voice at the Capitol in Lansing. 2020 was a year unlike any other. As we continue into the new year and new term, rest assured that the challenges families in our community and state are facing are at the top of my legislative priorities.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-0152 or email at AmosONeal@house.mi.gov if we can help.
State Representative, 95th House District
In this issue:
- Peer to Peer Car Rental Reform
- Sanford Dam
- Late Tax Filers Support
- Federal Programs for Expanded Internet Access
Peer to Peer Car Rental Reform Package
Innovation is taking place throughout the car rental industry. Technology advancements are paving the way to tomorrow’s autonomous vehicle future. Peer to peer car rental companies should be held to the same standards for tax parity, airport regulation, and consumer protection. My legislation, House Bill 4916, along with HBs 4915 and 4917, would help bring these new platforms into compliance to better protect consumers that utilize these new and convenient car rental apps.
Sanford Dam Support Package
The flooding and devastation in Midland and Gladwin counties that resulted from aging or neglected dams should be a wake up call to other areas of the state with the potential for similar problems. That is why I was eager to find a solution to restore the four lakes in this community while also addressing the need for safety improvements to dams in other areas of our state. House Bills 4903–4907, including my bill HB 4905, is a bipartisan package designed to address these challenges.
These bills will create the Michigan Dam Repair & Improvement Fund to provide grants for the repairs identified by the Four Lakes Task Force. It can also be used to fund grants to repair other dams throughout the state. They will also create three additional funds: the Dam Risk Revolving Fund, Dam Safety Emergency Fund, and the Emergency dam Safety Grant Program.
Late Tax Filers Support
The Department of Treasury has offered help for individuals who have missed the individual income tax filing deadline on May 17. There are options for those who cannot pay in full. The goal is to help limit interest charges and late payment penalties from accumulating. You can request a penalty waiver, make monthly payments, or file an Offer in Compromise application. If you have any questions about these options, please visit Treasury eServices, or contact our office.
Federal Programs for Expanded Internet Access
We know that many families here in Michigan still do not have access to reliable, high-speed internet. This makes learning and working in the 21st century increasingly difficult. We have all had to rely on virtual tools to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. It is more important than ever to bridge the digital divide and equip Michiganders with the tools they need to succeed. These exciting federal programs will be instrumental in expanding access to crucial broadband services.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
This program will provide a discount of up to $50 per month off a qualifying household’s internet bill (and up to $75 per month for households on tribal lands). In addition, some internet service providers are also providing discounts on the purchase of internet-capable devices, like laptop computers.
More than one million Americans enrolled in this program during its first week. Some of the most common ways that families qualify are:
- They participate in SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit,
- They experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and had a total household income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers,
- They received a federal Pell Grant in the current award year,
- They were approved for benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program,
- They meet the eligibility criteria for their internet service provider’s pre-existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Visit www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org to learn more and enroll; call (833) 511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week, or sign up directly with your internet service provider.
A complete list of the internet service providers in our state offering the Emergency Broadband Benefit program can be found here. Providers can sign up at any time to become an EBB provider.
Broadband Infrastructure Grants Available through NTIA
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has released the rules for the Broadband Infrastructure Grant program that was created under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This program will provide a total of $288 million in grants to public-private partnerships established to expand broadband service.
Emergency Connectivity Fund Grants Soon to Be Available through FCC
The Federal Communications Commission has released a Report and Order providing details about the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan, which will provide $7.1 billion in grants that can support schools and libraries in providing connectivity to students, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and high-speed internet service sufficient for remote learning.