I hope your summer is off to a great start! While the Legislature is currently on summer recess, I want you to know that my team and I are continuing to work for you each and every day. We have already visited close to 2,000 households as part of our door-to-door outreach efforts. We will continue to visit our city’s many vibrant neighborhoods throughout the summer, and we would love to have you join us for a few hours. My staff is also hard at work in the office and in the district, helping residents navigate their state benefits, working on budget priorities and long-term policy projects, responding to emails and phone calls, and participating in community events.
Included in this edition of my e-newsletter are some important legislative updates, a report on the status of the budget and a few resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-0826 or email at SarahAnthony@house.mi.gov for questions or comments about any other state-level issue.
State Representative, 68th House District
Michigan Reopened June 22
Gov. Whitmer fully reopened both indoor and outdoor settings in Michigan on June 22, increasing capacity to 100% and no longer requiring face masks to be worn indoors. Individual businesses will still be allowed to require masks. Originally, the state of Michigan was supposed to fully reopen July 1, but with more than 9 million vaccines administered and COVID-19 cases plummeting, that timeline was accelerated. Furthermore, according to Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, more than 4.9 million eligible adults in the state have received at least one COVID-19 dose, accounting for about 60% of the population.
For Ingham County vaccine information, please visit the Ingham County Health Department website here, or if you know someone unable to access the website or internet, please have them call (517) 887-4517 for help. For information on vaccines in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.
If you are vaccinated or scheduled to receive your COVID-19 vaccine, you can sign up to participate in the Michigan vaccine lottery, also known as MI Shot To Win. To enter for your chance to win, including scholarship drawings for vaccinated Michiganders ages 12 to 17, you can go to mishottowin.com or call the Michigan COVID-19 hotline at (888) 535-6136 and press one to enter. Those between the ages of 12 and 17 must be registered by a parent. A $2 million drawing is coming up on Aug. 3, so make sure to register soon!
So far this year, I have had two bills signed into law. House Bill 4055, now Public Act 40 of 2021, would make the college scholarship process easier for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This change allows the Michigan Department of Treasury to use a student’s scholastic achievement—instead of a minimum SAT score—when determining eligibility for the MI Competitive Scholarship. The Competitive Scholarship is one of the most important tools to help bridge the financial gap for low-income and nontraditional students seeking a college degree or credential. Many high school students were unable to take the SAT or ACT last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, between 2020 and 2021, there were about 10,000 fewer high school students with the SAT score needed to qualify for state scholarships. I am excited and proud to make a difference for these students as they pursue their educational journeys.
The other bill, House Bill 4377, was part of a bipartisan, bicameral package to establish occupational and professional licensing reciprocity for veterans and active-duty military members as well as their spouses and other family members. Despite all they have put on the line for us, 70 percent of veterans report significant difficulty finding a job and transitioning into civilian life. Due to the transitive nature of the military lifestyle, service members and their spouses are required to move an average of once every three years. This law will ensure veterans and their spouses are not burdened by unnecessary red tape and can hit the ground running when they move to Michigan.
In addition to these two public acts, my team and I also worked hard to advance House Bill 4255 to provide sales and use tax exemptions for PPE and sanitation supplies, helping to support businesses that sacrificed profits to keep their employees and customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed in both the House and the Senate.
One of the biggest frustrations I have heard from residents lately is the rampant illegal use of fireworks in Lansing neighborhoods. I want to make sure you know about a package of legislation I reintroduced this year to repeal the Fireworks Safety Act of 2011—the law that allowed anyone to buy, sell or use fireworks in Michigan. My legislation would establish safer guidelines and minimize the amount of firework-related injuries, damages and disturbances. If you would like to lend your support to my legislation and overall efforts to restrict amateur fireworks usage in our community, please let my office know. As a reminder, Lansing ordinance only allows fireworks to be launched on the following dates:
Many of you have also reached out to voice your outrage and frustration over recently introduced legislation to establish additional voter identification requirements, and I want you to know I share your concerns. I remain staunchly opposed to any legislation that would infringe upon your right to vote. I voted NO on Senate Bills 303 and 304 and House Bill 5007—bills that would change the election process here in Michigan. Senate Bill 303 would prevent voters from being able to sign an affidavit if they forget their ID when voting. An affidavit is a legal document that would allow you to legally verify your identity without having your ID present. If signed into law, these bills would require voters to instead be issued a provisional ballot that would then be processed by the Secretary of State. Senate Bill 304 would change the election law so that those provisional ballots would need to be verified by a state ID within the six days after the election. House Bill 5007 would waive the $10 fee to renew or edit a state ID, but it does nothing to ease the existing barriers regarding the cost and accessibility of transportation and required documentation to receive an ID or guarantee someone could obtain an ID through the Secretary of State’s office within the required six-day time frame.
I voted no on all three bills because they add unnecessary barriers to the voting process. Similar voter identification plans have been found to violate the federal Voting Rights Act, due process and equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution. Michigan already has voter ID requirements that are proven to work; statewide audits of the 2020 election in Michigan found there was no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud. As your representative, I will always fight to protect your fundamental right to vote and work to ensure everyone has the opportunity to perform that right.
While I no longer serve on the House Appropriations Committee, I have continued to stay actively involved in the budget process to ensure your priorities receive funding.
The Legislature passed a $17.8 billion K-12 school aid budget on June 30, which has since been presented to the governor for her signature. While I am pleased to see such a historic level of funding for our schools, I am disappointed the Legislature was not able to pass the entire budget before July 1. Negotiations on our general omnibus budget are still ongoing. You can read the summary of the entire school aid budget from the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency here, but in the meantime, I have provided some line items that stood out to me below.
Gov. Whitmer also recently signed a bill appropriating $4.4 billion in federal coronavirus spending. The budget deal included:
Community Resources and Opportunities
UIA Offices Open to Appointments
Unemployment Insurance Agency Offices Open to Appointments Beginning June 30
The Unemployment Insurance Agency will be offering in-person unemployment insurance services by appointment only at 12 local unemployment offices beginning June 30, including the branch in Lansing located at 5217 Perry Robinson Circle.
You can schedule a 15-minute appointment by visiting Michigan.gov/uia and clicking on Schedule an Appointment. Each appointment slot is 15 minutes and may be scheduled up to a week in advance. Appointments are available from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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 in person daily. 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:
New Federal Programs to Expand Internet Access for Michiganders
We know that many families here in Lansing still do not have access to reliable, high-speed internet. This makes learning and working in the 21st century increasingly difficult. As 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.
Families may qualify if they meet some of the following criteria:
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.
Many of you are already familiar with the outstanding employment services provided by Capital Area Michigan Works! (CAMW). CAMW is a network of resources for employers and career seekers. They partner with businesses to develop recruiting and retention strategies and with job seekers to enhance education and career opportunities. Looking for employment? Check out this list of ‘Hot Jobs’ in our area, provided by CAMW.