Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy New Year, and welcome to my latest e-newsletter! It continues to be a privilege to represent Livonia, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in Lansing. I encourage you to stay up to date on what’s going on in Lansing and continue to let me know about the issues that matter to you.
I know the past few years have been difficult for everyone, both personally and as a state. The responsibility I have been entrusted with has always been at the front of my mind, and it is my sincere hope that 2022 will be a better year for all of us.
As we finish up our first week of 2022, I want to provide a few reminders. While the Legislature will not be in session until next week, my staff are still able to assist you. If you have questions, concerns or would like to share your thoughts on an issue, we want to hear from you! You can reach my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (517) 373-3920. You can also find me on Facebook.
Starting in February, Livonia CodeRed will be the exclusive emergency alerts system used by the city of Livonia and its public safety personnel to deliver time-sensitive messages to residents regarding severe weather, missing persons and more. CodeRed is a web-based critical communication solution that enables local public safety personnel to notify residents and businesses by telephone, text message, email and social media of time-sensitive information, emergencies or urgent notifications. The system can reach hundreds of thousands of individuals in minutes to ensure information is quickly shared.
To sign up for this new emergency alerts system, choose one of the following options:
- Sign up for Livonia CodeRed online here and create a managed account.
- Via a mobile phone by texting LIVONIAALERTS to 99411 and visiting the provided link that comes in a response message.
- Via phone at (866) 939-0911, ext. 2
If you have further questions, I strongly encourage you to visit Livonia CodeRed’s FAQ page here. Or you can contact the city of Livonia at (734) 466-2200.
Staying Warm this Winter
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, the Michigan Public Service Commission, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and other state agencies are working to save people money and help keep their heat on this winter. If you are worried about paying for home heating, there are shutoff protections, financial assistance and other resources available this season.
Need help? Here are ways to get help staying warm:
- Qualifying utility customers may be eligible for financial assistance through the State Emergency Relief (SER) program or the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP). To learn more, go to www.michigan.gov/mibridges or call your local MDHHS office. If you need help applying, call 211 and ask for a local MEAP grantee.
- The Winter Protection Plan protects both seniors and low-income customers of MPSC-regulated natural gas and electric companies. Customers may find relief from electric or natural gas service shutoff and high utility payments during the home heating season, Nov. 1 to March 31. To apply for this or other shut-off protection plans, contact your utility company. In addition to the Winter Protection Plan, there are medical emergency, critical care and active-duty military family shut-off protections.
- Households eligible for the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program can receive utility assistance for tenant-supplied electricity, home heating (any type of fuel), water, sewer and trash (if billed along with another utility). For full program details, go to www.michigan.gov/cera.
- Apply for a Home Heating Credit. Visit the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website to see if you qualify. Even though this funding is distributed by the Department of Treasury, you do not need to pay taxes or wait for a tax return to receive this credit, so apply now if you are eligible. For more information, visit Michigan Public Service Commission Home Heating Credit.
- Households can also take steps to use energy more efficiently through the winterization of their homes. Local Community Action Agencies may help with weatherization if specific low-income guidelines are met. Visit the MDHHS Weatherization Operators website to find a Weatherization Operator in your county.
- Taking actions including regularly changing furnace filters, installing a programmable thermostat, sealing air leaks around windows and doors can help reduce energy use and save you money. The MPSC offers the brochure “Energy Saver-Tips on Saving Money and Energy in Your Home.” For a free copy, call the MPSC at (800) 292-9555. This brochure and others on important utility issues are also available on the MPSC’s website, www.michigan.gov/mpsc. In addition, a variety of energy resources and information is available at www.michigan.gov/bewinterwise.
For more information, check out the MPSC’s tip sheet on home energy assistance and shutoff protections.
Additionally, it is extremely important that you remain vigilant for utility scams and report unfair prices. The Department of Attorney General provides consumer protection resources through Attorney General Nessel’s Utility Imposter Scams Consumer Alert.
Utility companies may offer you the option to pay over the phone but will never demand immediate payment by phone. They will also never engage in the following:
- Solicit personal information in the name of signing you up for a government program that claims to reduce energy bills.
- Make unannounced visits to collect a bill or threaten shutoff. Utilities will never threaten to disrupt or disconnect service either in person, over the phone or by email. All late payment notices are mailed via USPS and provide the steps to restore the account to good standing.
- Show up at your home unannounced to inspect or repair equipment, investigate a leak or do a free audit for energy efficiency. Consumers are notified in advance of a home visit.
- Request personal or financial information, such as your social security number, utility account number or payment information. Instead, customers are asked to validate account information such as billing zip code, home address or the phone number associated with the account.
- Claim you are entitled to a refund or rebate and ask for bank account or credit card information to make the alleged refund.
- Use aggressive tactics to get into your home. Utility companies require employees to always wear a company identification badge that will be produced upon request.
I hope you can join me for one of my upcoming in-person and virtual coffee hours! I look forward to having an informal conversation with you about the issues families face in our community. The in-person coffee hour will be held at Coffee + Cream here in Livonia, and for virtual coffee hours, you can join the livestream on my Facebook page.
Virtual: Monday, Jan. 17, from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
In-person: Sunday, Feb. 6, from 2-3 p.m.
Never hesitate to reach out to me or my staff if you have any questions or concerns!
19th House District