Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to my first e-newsletter of 2022! I look forward to serving you in the year ahead. I am most effective in my job when acting on your direct input. I encourage you to reach out to me and my staff with any questions, comments, or concerns that you may have regarding our community or state and with any policy ideas.
Please do not hesitate to reach out by phone at (517) 373-0853 or send an email to AngelaWitwer@house.gov.
State Representative, 71st House District
In This Issue:
Upcoming Coffee Hours
Please join me for one of my virtual or in-person Weekly Wrap-ups with Witwer. You can find the event on my Facebook page. Please also like and follow my page to stay connected with updates from the Capitol. I look forward to seeing you at a coffee hour soon!
Upcoming Coffee Hours:
In the District
December Small Business of the Month Winner: Charlotte Plaza Floral
I’d like to congratulate December’s small business of the month, Charlotte Plaza Floral! It’s a small, family-owned florist in downtown Charlotte. A big part of what makes our community so great is small, family-owned businesses like Charlotte Plaza Floral. I’m always happy to celebrate businesses like theirs!
If you own a business or know of a business that you think should be recognized for its outstanding service to the community and its customers, please fill out the form here. I look forward to reading your submissions and showcasing a new small business in our community next month!
December Teacher of the Month Winner: Christina Trotochaud
Delivering Meals on Christmas Eve
On Christmas every year, my dad would buy presents for other families, bring people without families to our home for dinner, pack our entire family up in the woody wagon to go up north with my grandparents, and work with my mom to make sure we all felt special.
With COVID-19 here (again), my family wasn’t able to be together, but I decided to take up my dad’s teachings and deliver meals and homemade cards from students to members of St. Gerard Catholic Church. It sure makes you remember all your blessings to share love with others.
Dining with the Knights of Columbus
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining the Knights of Columbus for their 16th Annual Wild Game Dinner. I was able to hear more about all that the Knights of Columbus do for our community and my husband enjoyed some of Michigan’s great wild game!
Paying Tribute to Local Businesses
I had the honor of attending and paying tribute to Cugino’s Italian Restaurant in Grand Ledge on their 20th anniversary this week. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our community. I am not here only to fight to ensure they have every opportunity to thrive; I also love to celebrate their success!
Governor Establishes the Office of Rural Development
Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive based on a bill I introduced establishing the Office of Rural Development within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).
The Office of Rural Development will collaborate with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other stakeholders on rural economic development, facilitate rural affordable housing development, address the ramifications of population and demographic trends, and facilitate the expansion of high-speed internet connections in rural communities. Additionally, the office will be a crucial part of MDARD’s workforce initiative to encourage job seekers and new talent to investigate food and agricultural-related careers.
I applaud the governor for recognizing that the needs of rural, suburban, and urban communities are not always the same. I’m glad to see that our communities will receive the resources they deserve.
Open Seat on the Advisory Council of the Tri-County Office on Aging
The Tri-County Office on Aging (TCOA), the local Area Agency on Aging for Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties, has a vacancy on the Advisory Council for a representative from Eaton County.
The TCOA Advisory Council is a group of older adults (residents age 60 and up) and service provider agency representatives who meet monthly to provide the community’s perspective on TCOA’s goals, activities and related services. Individual representatives are appointed by their local units of government (the cities of Lansing and East Lansing and the Board of Commissioners for each county) for three-year terms.
The Advisory Council meets the second Thursday of every month at 1 p.m., usually for 60-90 minutes. Prior to COVID-19, the meetings were held at the TCOA office at 5303 S. Cedar St., Building 1 in Lansing (north end of the Ingham County Human Services complex). The Council has shifted to online meetings with telephone access for the immediate future.
Interested individuals may apply for a seat on the Council by visiting https://www.eatoncounty.org/858/Appointed-Boards and completing a Citizen Involvement Application or by contacting the County Clerk’s office at (517) 543-2426. For more information about TCOA or the Council, please contact TCOA Community Relations Director Tammy Lemmer at (517) 887-1382 or visit https://www.tcoa.org/about/.
The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law in mid-November. It promises to deliver billions of dollars for Michigan to repair our roads, deliver broadband to rural areas and create good-paying jobs.
Gov. Whitmer has asked state departments to begin planning on how to spend this money, but the Legislature has a role to play, too. That’s why we want to hear from you!
Is there a local road that needs to be repaired? A bridge that is due for replacement? Do you have issues with your drinking water or a lake or stream nearby? Is internet access slow where you live and holds people back from excelling at school or work?
Now’s your chance to tell us! Please click this link to fill out the survey with as much detail as possible. We’ll collect responses from across the state and partner with state and local officials, along with industry experts, to turn your input into action and rebuild Michigan.
Addressing UIA Concerns
The Unemployment Insurance Agency has launched two new topical web pages that provide helpful information for the public about PUA overpayment situations and what the agency does to fight fraud.
PUA Overpayments and Restitution provides steps to follow after receiving an overpayment letter from UIA. Some claimants who have received federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) have been notified they may have to pay restitution. The page offers a handy question and answer infographic to guide claimants, as well as resources such as how to file a protest and how to engage an advocate to help with a case.
What is Fraud explains fraud and identity theft and what residents and businesses can do to spot fraud and report it. UI fraud drives up unemployment taxes for businesses, affects people with legitimate unemployment benefit claims, and puts a strain on the state’s unemployment trust fund. The new web page details the tools and resources UIA uses to target fraud, a scorecard on current prosecutions of those suspected of fraud and information about the newly established Unemployment Insurance Fraud Response Team.
Taking Care of Students
Gov. Whitmer announced that schools are recruiting and in the process of hiring school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors and school nurses. To date, 210 school districts have applied for grant funding to hire 562 staff members, including 60 school psychologists, 226 school social workers, 146 school counselors and 130 school nurses.
The application is still open, and all districts are eligible to apply. Districts can review frequently asked questions and submit their application by visiting Michigan.gov/MDE. Districts must hire staff by March 1 to qualify.
Addressing the Teacher Shortage
Gov. Whitmer signed House Bill 4294 to address the substitute teacher shortage, keep schools open and ensure students continue to learn in person. HB 4294 would temporarily allow trusted staff members, such as secretaries, paraprofessionals and others, to work as substitute teachers until the end of the current school year.
Bills on Second Reading