Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including some updates and news from your state government.
House Passes $185 Million to Support Businesses
Last Thursday, the House passed a $185 million business supplemental. House Bill 5524 appropriates federal coronavirus relief funds to go toward grants for businesses that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible businesses include gyms, movie theaters, convention bureaus and entertainment venues.
Specifically, the bill includes:
- $53 million for fitness businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $6.5 million for live music and entertainment venues hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Individual grants would support payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or normal business costs capped at $10,000.
- $18 million for movie theaters hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic to pay rent, payroll, mortgage utilities or normal costs. Grants would equal $15,000 per screen.
- $30 million for convention and visitors bureaus to promote tourism.
- $25 million to provide grants to eligible community development financial institutions.
- $8.9 million to offset license and certification fees.
HB 5524 passed the House 96-6. I voted “yes” on this bill, which now moves on to the Senate.
Promote the Vote 2022 Ballot Initiative Announced
This week, a coalition of pro-voter organizations announced that they are launching a ballot initiative called Promote the Vote 2022. If approved, this ballot initiative would amend the Michigan Constitution to allow for nine days of early voting, require the state to fund postage for absentee ballots, create an absentee ballot tracking system and require one ballot drop box for every 15,000 voters in a municipality.
This ballot initiative would also enshrine several measures in our state Constitution that the Secure MI Vote ballot initiative is trying to eliminate. A few of the Promote the Vote constitutional amendment provisions would allow the following:
- Letting voters sign an affidavit to prove their identity.
- Requiring that post-election audits be performed by state and county elections officials.
- Giving the voters the option of automatically receiving an absentee ballot for every election.
Free COVID-19 PCR Testing Available at Meijer
Testing is a good way for those with symptoms and those who have been exposed to the COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the virus. There are a few options for obtaining a free at-home test. Meijer announced this week that it will offer free at-home PCR tests at their locations with pharmacies. To register for a test, visit ineedacovid19test.com, complete an online screening and select a Meijer location. After registering, you will receive a voucher that can be used to pick up the test.
Earlier this month, the federal government announced that every household in the U.S. is eligible to order up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests from COVIDtests.gov. Tests will be sent through the U.S. Postal Service and will ship seven to 12 days after an order is placed. In addition to the tests from the federal government, health insurance companies are offering reimbursements for up to eight at-home tests per month. Find more information here.
Black History Month Begins
Yesterday marked the start of Black History Month. This is a time to celebrate the enormous contributions and achievements of Black Americans throughout history. Black voices, perspectives and experiences are essential parts of American history.