Welcome to my first E-Newsletter! I’m honored and humbled to serve as our community’s voice at the Capitol in Lansing during such a pivotal moment in history. 2020 was a year unlike any other; as we continue into the new year and new term, rest assured the challenges families in our community and state are facing are at the top of my legislative priorities. I am eager to work to enact policies that will help us defeat COVID-19, rebuild our economy and deliver the necessary support for our public schools to provide a world-class education to every child.
I have recently had the honor of being appointed to serve on the House Committees on Energy and Health Policy. As a cancer survivor, I have a unique understanding of the challenges Michiganders face when navigating health care systems and will work to enact policies here in Lansing to ensure all Michiganders have access to quality health care, regardless of preexisting conditions. I’m excited to work to modernize Michigan’s energy policies as well, with a necessary focus on clean, renewable energy.
Included in this edition of my E-Newsletter is an introduction to my staff, as well as important information about revised public health orders and the Michigan COVID Recovery plan I hope will prove helpful. You can also visit my website at morse.housedems.com for many more resources – including access to numerous state publications and information about my recent efforts in Lansing. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1774 or email at ChristineMorse@house.mi.gov for questions about this or any other state-level issue.
Please regularly check Michigan.gov/coronavirus and CDC.gov/coronavirus for the latest information on Michigan’s COVID-19 response. If you have additional questions about what the state is doing to mitigate the spread of the virus you can call Michigan’s COVID-19 Hotline at (888) 535-6136 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email COVID19@michigan.gov and your questions will be answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
State Representative, 61st House District
Coffee with Christine
I hope you can join me for my upcoming coffee hour! I look forward to having an informal conversation with you about the issues facing families in our community.
When: Friday, Jan. 29, from noon to 1 p.m.
Those interested can register to receive the meeting link by clicking here. We will also stream this event on my Facebook page.
Meet My Staff
Abby Klomparens, Legislative Aide / Policy
Abby has joined the 61st House District Office as a Legislative Aide specializing in policy services. Abby is eager to serve a leader and legislator that espouses progressive values in Lansing. She looks forward to using her experience, and passion for West Michigan communities, to support Rep. Morse in her service to HD 61.
Acacia Costales, Legislative Aide
Acacia is happy to join the office of Rep. Morse in the capacity of Legislative Aide. She looks forward to assisting the constituents of HD 61 and providing support to Rep. Morse as she compassionately represents the people of Michigan.
Revised Public Health Orders
On Friday, Jan. 22, Gov. Whitmer announced revised public health orders, including the announcement that restaurants and bars may resume indoor dining on February 1, with some restrictions. Below, please find an outline of the specific updates.
Michigan COVID Recovery Plan
On Monday, Jan. 19, Gov. Whitmer announced the launch of the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan aimed at growing our state’s economy and helping to end the COVID-19 pandemic, including a strong focus on vaccine distribution, economic recovery, schools and more. This plan is precisely what the hardworking families of our state expect from their state leaders, and I look forward to seeing it implemented in order to further protect public health and jumpstart our economy as we progress through 2021.
Michigan is ready to ramp up vaccination distribution, which will help us get back to normal as quickly as possible. At the end of 2020, Congress appropriated $90 million in additional resources for vaccine distribution in Michigan through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
Gov. Whitmer’s plan will use this federal funding to bring Michigan closer to our goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day. This funding appropriated by Congress will help provide financial support to local health departments for vaccine administration costs, including staff augmentation, as well as provide necessary equipment and supplies. Michigan will also receive $575 million to expand COVID-19 testing, tracing and lab capacity across our state.
Jobs and Economy
Support for Small Businesses
As part of the governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan, $225 million will be provided for three new programs from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), including:
- The Michigan Mainstreet Initiative to help stabilize our state’s small business community by securing grants for restaurants and other place-based businesses to keep our Main Streets vibrant and our communities resilient.
- The Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative will help Michigan put small businesses with less than nine employees on the path to recovery by creating greater access to much needed support.
- And the Business Accelerator and Resiliency Initiative will provide grants to high-tech startups that can help our communities thrive.
Good Jobs for Michigan
Gov. Whitmer has called on my colleagues and I in the Legislature to pass Good Jobs for Michigan to help our state retain and grow our businesses and create jobs. The Program provides crucial tools to create jobs and foster a thriving economy; Pfizer was the first business to utilize it, and did so to build a sterile drug manufacturing plant and create 450 good-paying jobs in Portage. This same plant shipped the first doses of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine across the nation at the end of last year.
The Recovery Plan includes another call on my colleagues and I to put forth legislation that would permanently extend unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks in the state of Michigan. This action would bring our state in line with 40 other states and provide the hardest-hit Michigan workers with the financial security and peace of mind they need and deserve.
As of the 2019 fiscal year, one in eight Michigan residents received food assistance. Gov. Whitmer’s COVID Recovery Plan will provide greater support for families through food assistance so more Michiganders can afford to put food on the table for themselves and their families.
The federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide the state of Michigan with funding to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s plan will allocate this federal funding in order to help more Michiganders stay in their homes.
Office of Rural Development
The governor will create an Office of Rural Development that will be tasked with coordinating work across state government to address issues facing rural communities, including broadband, talent, infrastructure and more. Grants will also be included to provide infrastructure and capacity support in rural communities, and support for land-based industries.
Property Tax Assistance
Gov. Whitmer’s plan includes funding to waive penalties and interest for certain property owners who did not pay their summer 2020 property taxes on time as a result of economic hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MI COVID Recovery Plan will provide targeted employment and training services through the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) to connect unemployed and underemployed Michigan residents with training and resources necessary for gainful employment. The program will prioritize residents from underserved or economically distressed communities to provide them with the skills needed for entry into registered apprenticeships in the energy sector to help drive Michigan’s energy transition.
MI Reconnect & Futures for Frontliners: Wraparound Supports
The Recovery plan includes a pilot providing wrap-around supports for up to 400 single parents who participate in the Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners programs. Participants will receive on-campus childcare, intensive personalized advising, educational supports including tutoring, career counseling and assistance in transitioning to a 4-year school.
As part of the recent actions from the federal government, Michigan was allocated nearly $1.7 billion through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund). The governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan will allocate this federal funding, along with an additional $300 million in state dollars, to help schools meet the governor’s goal of providing every student with an in-person learning opportunity by March 1, and to help address the learning loss that has occurred due to the pandemic. These one-time, flexible dollars will be distributed through a formula that recognizes the additional costs associated with supporting students in poverty and students with special education needs.