Welcome to our July e-newsletter!
Included in this edition are some important legislative updates, unemployment assistance updates and other resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1792 or email at FeliciaBrabec@house.mi.gov for questions about these or any other state-level issues.
State Representative, 55th House District
Upcoming Coffee Hour
Please join me for our monthly Virtual Coffee Hour. This is an opportunity to chat, ask me questions and share how I can best represent you in Lansing. I will be hosting my Coffee Hour this Saturday, July 31, from 10-11 a.m. on Zoom and Facebook Live. You can join using the Zoom link, or you can like my Facebook page and tune in for the livestream. I hope to see you there!
Passing K-12 Budget
My colleagues and I in the Legislature passed a bipartisan $17 billion budget for Michigan’s K-12 schools that invests in our state’s children and closes the school funding gap. This budget allocates equitable per-pupil funding, expands the Great Start Readiness preschool program and makes a $250 million investment in additional mental health services. It goes without saying that funding for mental health is long overdue and much needed, and I was extremely pleased with this inclusion. The K-12 budget includes a historic amount of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the CARES Act II to help Michigan students thrive in their academic careers, and it was recently signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. There is still a long way to go in spending all of the federal relief dollars allocated for Michigan, but I was pleased to vote in favor of the K-12 budget so Michigan schools can prepare for the return of students in the Fall.
Testifying on HOPE Legislation
Earlier this month, the Senate Health Policy & Human Services Committee held a hearing on my bill that would allow the transplant of HIV+ organs to HIV+ individuals. Currently, Michigan law permits the donation of HIV+ organs but prohibits their transplant to HIV+ individuals. This means these life-saving organs must be sent out of state, rather than saving patients here in Michigan. My bill would align state law with the federal HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, under which 223 successful organ transplants have already taken place. Ensuring that all Michiganders have access to quality health care is one of my priorities, and passing this legislation would mean saving the lives of many Michiganders. We are looking forward to this legislation being voted out of committee and advancing to the Senate floor!
Flooding in Washtenaw
Gov. Whitmer recently added Washtenaw County to the state of emergency order declared on June 26 due to the severe weather that took place all over Michigan. This means that state resources will be made available to Washtenaw County to offset the immense flooding we saw in the last few weeks.
Additionally, President Joe Biden issued a presidential declaration of disaster for Washtenaw County. This declaration makes federal funds available to residents who were impacted by the flood, including money from FEMA. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
I have continuously advocated for Washtenaw County to be included in the state of emergency declaration, and I am relieved that our district will now be receiving the help it needs from the state and federal government. Washtenaw County residents can report flooding and drainage concerns by:
Those who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. seven days a week.
My team and I are continuing our work to link residents to critical services and resources as soon as possible, so please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if we can be of service to you!
Important Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Information
Following recent U.S Department of Labor guidance, the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has changed the qualifications necessary to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The UIA is now reevaluating claimants’ eligibility based upon a new list of approved reasons. There are four reasons that no longer qualify, and claimants who selected one of those reasons during certification will need to reestablish their eligibility for PUA. The following reasons may no longer be used:
- Your work hours were reduced as a direct result of COVID-19.
- You are seeking part-time employment and are affected by COVID-19.
- You have insufficient work history to qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are affected by COVID-19.
- You are unemployed or working less than regular hours as a result of COVID-19 and were denied benefits on another claim.
If you received the letter “Notice of Expanded Eligibility Reasons for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)” and have been paid PUA benefits, you must submit a new reason (self-attestation) for unemployment within 20 days in order to continue your eligibility for those benefits. To resubmit your self-attestation, log into your MiWAM account and click on the “Requalify for PUA” link under the “Alerts” tab. When providing your self-attestation, you may select more than one COVID-19 related reason. Select as many reasons as apply to your situation, and do not select reasons that do not directly apply to you.
Once your updated self-attestation of eligibility is received and processed, it will be evaluated, and a determination will be issued to notify you of your eligibility. If you are eligible for benefits, you will be paid. If it is found that you are not eligible, you can file an appeal of the determination.
If it is determined that you do not qualify for PUA and you owe restitution for benefits improperly paid to you, UIA will also evaluate the overpayment to determine if the overpayment should be waived so that you do not have to pay the restitution. If you owe restitution and are granted a waiver, UIA will issue a separate determination notifying you of both. The UIA will waive any improper payments due to these changed eligibility requirements so long as they find no issues of fraud or misrepresentation on the filer’s behalf.
Child Tax Credit
President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan increased the amount of the 2021 Child Tax Credit to $300 per month per child under the age of 6 and $250 for each child ages 6 to 17. If you filed your 2020 taxes this year or filed your 2019 taxes last year, or used the IRS “Non-Filer Portal” to get a stimulus check, the IRS will automatically send you a monthly payment by direct deposit or check. If you didn’t file taxes in the last two years, you must fill out the form at www.ChildTaxCredit.gov to receive the credit.
Senior Project Fresh
The Washtenaw County Health Department recently announced the launch of Senior Project Fresh! This program provides low-income seniors with $20 in coupons to spend on locally grown fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets in Washtenaw County now until Oct. 31. Participants MUST:
- Be 60+ years of age.
- Or 55+ years of age AND a member of a federally-recognized tribe or urban Native American group.
- Live in Washtenaw County.
- Have a total monthly household income less than $1,986 (single person) or $2,686 (two-person household).
- Call (734) 492-0499 or email email@example.com to sign up.
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can ever be of any assistance.
Felicia A. Brabec
House District 55