Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Read on for legislative updates and things to do this month, along with other community information.
I have recently co-sponsored HB 6332, which would require the school board of a traditional public school or the board of directors of a charter school to hold regular public meetings at least once a month. The school board meeting must be held on a date, time, and at a location that is “convenient for parents, teachers, and pupils.” One way we can strengthen our education system is with parental and community involvement. By requiring monthly school board meetings that are convenient and accessible, parents and community members can be better informed about what is occurring in the school district.
Summer Reading Contest Winners Announced!
Thank you to all the students who participated in my summer reading contest! I am happy to announce the winners of the contest are Jacob and Sarah Olszewski of Clio — congratulations! The winners will be awarded a gift card, paid for with my personal funds — not with taxpayer dollars.
I could not be more pleased with the level of participation and the number of books that were read for this summer’s contest. It is encouraging to see so many young people taking time to immerse themselves in other worlds and keep their minds active during their summer vacations. Thank you to the school districts and libraries that helped with distributing entry forms, and to the participants and their parents. Although the contest is over, I hope parents will continue reading to young ones at home, and encourage a love of reading in their children.
State Emergency Relief: Home Heating Assistance
Temporary heat and utility assistance may be available for eligible low-income families and individuals when heating or electric service has been or will be shut off. Payments may include the amount needed to restore or continue the service for at least 30 days. Assistance may also be available to provide payment for necessary charges to deliver a 30-day supply of a deliverable fuel.
To qualify for State Emergency Relief, you must meet a number of requirements. Apply online using MI Bridges. In general, eligibility is based on the number of individuals in your household, your monthly income and your countable cash assets over $50. Some assets such as homestead, one vehicle, personal and household goods are excluded.
The application can be found by clicking here.
For assistance applying, please contact DHHS at (855) 275-6424 or feel free to call our office at (517) 373-7557. Please know this is our last e-newsletter before the application deadline.
Time is Running Out to Apply for Home Heating Credit
The Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) wants to remind qualified homeowners or renters that they must apply by Sept. 30 to receive the state’s Home Heating Credit. The Home Heating Credit helps Michigan residents who are low-income; deaf, disabled or blind; senior citizens; or disabled veterans to pay their energy bills. Applicants do not need to file a Michigan tax return to get the Home Heating Credit.
The Home Heating Credit form (MI-1040CR-7) may be obtained from the Department of Treasury’s website – michigan.gov/taxes – or by calling (517) 636-4486. This Home Heating Credit checklist will help to determine if an applicant qualifies for funding.
Besides the Home Heating Credit, eligible Michiganders may also qualify for home heating assistance through the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP), which offers funding to help pay heating bills and guide recipients toward energy self-sufficiency.
Flint’s Mobile Food Pantry
Flint families may get nutritious food that can limit the effects of lead exposure during mobile food pantry hours set for September at locations throughout Flint.
The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announce the upcoming schedule for mobile food pantry stops to distribute foods rich in calcium, vitamin C and iron. Produce expected to be available to families in September includes squash, cabbage, sweet corn, onions, carrots, green beans, potatoes, bell peppers and eggplant. More than $300 million has been provided to help the residents of Flint, including funding for this initiative. Food distribution sites remain open while supplies last. Upcoming dates:
- Thursday, Sept. 27, at 10 a.m. – Greater Holy Temple, 6702 N. Dort Highway
Flint residents can also pick up free, nutritious food at three Flint Help Center locations:
- Bethel United Methodist Church, 1309 N. Ballenger Highway, open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays;
- Asbury United Methodist Church, 1653 Davison Road, open Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Greater Holy Temple, 6702 N. Dort Highway, open Thursdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
This schedule is subject to change, and information about additional food distribution dates will be announced as they are scheduled. For more information or to find out about any changes in the schedule, visit the Food Bank website at www.FBEM.org and find the updated schedule on the Mobile Pantry Distribution page, or call (810) 239-4441.
Genesee County Parks & Recreation Smoke Detector Battery Giveaway
It is time to think about replacing the 9-volt batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Keep Genesee County Beautiful recently received a shipment of 9-volt batteries from Keep America Beautiful and Duracell and are making these available free to area residents.
It’s so easy to replace your batteries! All you have to do is visit one of the following distribution locations, fill out a very, very short form so Genesee County can track and report on the number of people who are helped, and you’ll receive a 10 pack of 9-volt batteries!
Batteries can be picked up at the following locations:
Keep Genesee County Beautiful
502 Church St. in Flint
Neighborhood Engagement Hub
3216 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Flint
Berston Field House
3300 Saginaw St. in Flint
Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village
4119 Saginaw St. in Flint
Flint Development Center
4121 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Flint
For more information, call (810) 209-6012.
Michigan Education Trust to Close Current Enrollment Period at End of September
The Michigan Education Trust (MET) is reminding families saving for their children’s education that its current enrollment period will end on Sept. 30. The 529 prepaid tuition program, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury, will reopen for contract purchases in December. MET closes enrollment for a period each year in order to review pricing. During that time, it does not sell new contracts.
She also noted that families who opt to wait and buy MET prepaid tuition in December will still qualify for a deduction on their 2018 Michigan tax returns. While enrollment is closed, holders of MET Pay-As-You-Go contracts can continue to add money to their accounts at current prices. The Pay-As-You-Go option allows purchasers to buy prepaid tuition in credit hour increments rather than on a semester basis, which requires a greater upfront contribution. After making the initial minimum purchase of at least a credit hour, Pay-As-You-Go contract holders can purchase additional prepaid tuition with contributions of as little as $25.
More information about MET is available at SETwithMET.com or (800) MET-4-KID.
It's Time for Flu Vaccinations
Michigan residents are being urged by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to get flu vaccines to protect themselves from potentially life-threatening influenza amidst the first confirmed cases in the state.
An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent getting the flu and its complications. The flu is a contagious respiratory virus that often causes fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and fatigue. People already infected with the flu can spread the virus to others even before they feel sick. Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine every year. It is especially important that children, adults ages 65 years and older, persons with chronic health conditions, and pregnant women get vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccination for pregnant women protects both the mother and the unborn child.
For more information about vaccinations in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/immunize and www.michigan.gov/flu. To find a vaccine near you, visit http://vaccine.healthmap.org/.
Grants Available for Scrap Tire Cleanups, Market Development, Law Enforcement Activities
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is reminding potential grantees that the department is still accepting applications for grants that promote and support the cleanup and reuse of scrap tires in Michigan.
The Market Development Grants are available to fund up to 50 percent of total eligible costs for projects that demonstrate new or increased uses of scrap tires in manufactured products. The MDEQ will prioritize proposals based on the amount of scrap tire material being used in developing the project or product, demonstration of a new use of scrap tire material and demonstration of a viable market for a proposed product.
The Scrap Tire Law Enforcement Grants are available to the law enforcement community for the purchase, installation and implementation of surveillance equipment used to reduce or eliminate instances of illegal dumping of scrap tires.
The MDEQ will accept Cleanup Grant Applications with all supporting documentation received on or before Friday, September 28. Market Development and Law Enforcement Grant Applications will be accepted with all supporting documentation on or before Friday, October 19.
To receive an application package for a grant, visit www.michigan.gov/scraptires, and select the appropriate link under “Grants,” or contact Kirsten Clemens at (517) 614-7431.
Lifeline Awareness Week
Telecommunications provide a vital link for low-income Michiganders to access emergency help, jobs, family, and healthcare, so the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is marking Lifeline Awareness Week by urging participation in the discounted voice and broadband service. Dozens of carriers throughout Michigan offer lifeline and help make telephone or broadband service more affordable for qualified customers.
Under the Lifeline program, those under age 65 get a minimum discount of $9.25 per month on telephone service, while those 65 or older get a minimum discount of $12.35 per month. Check with your local service provider for exact amounts.
To qualify, a Michigan customer must have an income that is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level or participate in one of these programs:
- Food Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- State Emergency Relief (SER) and Home Heating Credit (HHC) components of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- The National School Lunch Program
Veterans may qualify for Lifeline if they receive any of the benefits listed above or through the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefits Program.
For more information about Lifeline, contact the MPSC at (800) 292-9555 or visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc.
Scammers Can Fake Caller ID Info
Your phone rings. You recognize the number, but when you pick up, it’s someone else. What’s the deal?
Scammers are using fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking they are someone local, someone you trust – like a government agency or police department, or a company you do business with – like your bank or cable provider. The practice is called caller ID spoofing, and scammers don’t care whose phone number they use. One scammer recently used the phone number of an FTC employee.
Don’t rely on caller ID to verify who’s calling. It can be nearly impossible to tell whether the caller ID information is real. Here are a few tips for handling these calls:
If you get a strange call from the government, hang up. If you want to check it out, visit the official (.gov) website for contact information. Government employees won’t call out of the blue to demand money or account information.
Don’t give out — or confirm — your personal or financial information to someone who calls.
Don’t wire money or send money using a reloadable card. In fact, never pay someone who calls out of the blue, even if the name or number on the caller ID looks legit.
Feeling pressured to act immediately? Hang up. That’s a sure sign of a scam.
Want more tips for avoiding scams? Check out 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud.
If you’ve received a call from a scammer, with or without fake caller ID information, report it to the FTC and the FCC.
National Weather Preparedness Month
National Preparedness Month (NPM), recognized each September, provides an opportunity to remind us that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year. This NPM will focus on planning, with an overarching theme: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.
Take time to learn lifesaving skills − such as CPR and first aid, check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornados. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas. There are important, low cost steps you can take before a disaster strikes. Visit http://www.Ready.gov to learn more!
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can be of any assistance.
State Representative Pam Faris
48th House District
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