I am excited to invite you to my upcoming coffee hour on Friday, March 26, from 12 to 1 p.m. These events provide a forum for you to ask questions, share your thoughts and concerns and receive updates on my work at the Capitol.
To sign up for this event, click here.
I hope you can join me!
Michigan is leading the pack in vaccine eligibility. On April 5, all residents 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a huge step toward economic and community stability as we begin to enter a post-pandemic world. While vaccines are soon to become available, social distancing and wearing masks are still extremely important to stop the virus from spreading.
If you’re eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, go to Kalamazoo County Health Department’s website to learn more or check out other vaccination sites. If you need help navigating the vaccine scheduling process, call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1).
Learn more here: www.Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine
Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund
Last week, the Michigan House voted in favor of a grant proposal recommendation by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. These funds will support 30 outdoor recreation projects across the state, including $58,000 to acquire 36 acres to develop the Fruitbelt Trail in Oshtemo Township.
This project will provide community members an exciting, new opportunity to get outdoors, connect, and enjoy all the beauty Michigan has to offer.
HB 4331: Expanding Michigan’s “Bottle Bill” Law
This month, I introduced my first bill, House Bill 4331. It would expand Michigan’s “Bottle Bill” Law. Michigan was one of the first states to incentivize the recycling of bottles and cans, and our system has worked well for the past forty years. However, as the prevalence of single-use beverage containers increases, we must update the law to handle the additional waste.
HB 4331 would create a universal bottle return system and make eligible all single-use beverage containers (excluding dairy products) for in-store returns. This means you can make the most of your trip to the grocery store by bringing along your plastic water bottles and craft beer cans regardless of where they were purchased.
HB 4437: Credit Restoration
I am pleased to have introduced House Bill 4437 as part of the Hardworking Michiganders Recovery Plan to address our state unemployment insurance system’s shortcomings. My bill requires state agencies to help individuals restore their credit when their private information is compromised due to a security breach in a database system operated or maintained by a state agency.
Other legislation in this bill package would:
● Increase due process requirements of the UIA to require in-person or telephone appeals hearings, ensuring those falsely accused of fraud have the opportunity to be heard.
● Require all correspondence from the UIA to be in “plain language,” defined in the bill as the reading level you could expect of a 4th
● Lower wage garnishment from 50% to 20% for an individual required to repay benefits they were mistakenly paid.
● Allow for unemployment benefits to be deducted from adjusted gross income, easing the tax liability for individuals on unemployment.
● Increase the hardship waiver to 200% of the federal poverty level, excluding $20,000 in cash assets from the calculation.
● Extend the statute of limitations to six years on claims brought by individuals improperly accused of fraud between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2016.
● Ensure the UIA reimbursed all individuals erroneously accused of fraud by the faulty MIDAS computer system.
● Require the UIA to have an audit done on their computer system’s algorithms and logic formulas.
HB 4583: Pay Equity
On March 24, the Progressive Women’s Caucus introduced a bill package to remedy pay inequity in Michigan in honor of Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day showcases the length of time it takes for working women to catch up to what our white male counterparts made at the end of 2020. Meaning, white working women had to work 83 additional days into 2021. Equal Pay Days for mothers, Black, Latina, and Indigenous women occur even further into the year.
We must stand up for ALL working Michiganders and demand equal pay for equal work.
As part of this bill package, I have sponsored legislation that would require a company with five or more employees to post a written job description for positions, including skills required and pay scale. It is my hope these policy changes will address the need for greater transparency surrounding pay scales and wage information between employees and employers.
Additional legislation in this bill package includes:
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns you may have.
State Representative, 61st House District