Dear Neighbor,

Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including some updates and news from your state government.

Michigan’s Tampon Tax Repeal Takes Effect

The bills repealing Michigan’s tampon tax (House Bill 5267 and Senate Bill 153) went into effect last week. This means that menstrual hygiene products are now exempt from the 6% state sales and use taxes. These products are necessities that are often inaccessible for low-income individuals. According to the non-profit Helping Women Period, 1 in 4 menstruators in Michigan cannot afford enough sanitary products every month. This repeal will help lower the costs of these products across our state. I proudly voted for these bills, and I am glad to see them signed into law.

Lansing State Journal Features Op-Ed on Juvenile Court Fines

On Sunday, the Lansing State Journal ran an editorial I wrote calling for the elimination of juvenile justice fees in Michigan. Last year, my colleagues and I introduced bipartisan bills that would prohibit juvenile courts from charging and collecting fines and fees from young offenders or their families. Fines and fees for youth are rarely collected, but the debt can follow the young person and their parents for years. The fines and fees ruin credit, and they disproportionately harm youth and families of color. It’s time for our state to take this crucial step to improve our juvenile justice system.

You can read the op-ed here.

Whitmer Presents Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Proposal

Today, Gov. Whitmer presented her proposed budget for the 2023 fiscal year. Some details include:

  • “Hero pay” bonuses for frontline workers, including grocery store employees, bus drivers, direct care workers, state employees, behavioral health care workers, nursing home staff, law enforcement officers, firefighters, first responders and corrections employees.
  • An $18.4 billion investment in the School Aid Fund, with an additional $1 billion spent on classrooms and a 5% increase in per-pupil funding.
  • $1.7 billion for teacher retention programs, with a $2,000 bonus for every full-time school employee. This budget also includes funding to create the “Michigan Future Educator Fellowship” to lower the costs of higher education for new teachers, administrators and mental health professionals.
  • Expanding the Great Start Readiness Program to $456.4 million, a $38 million increase from last year.
  • An additional $500 million to the state economic development fund to attract more investment in manufacturing.

New UIA Benefit Waiver Eligibility Announced

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced additional categories of Michigan workers who mistakenly received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. A waiver means that the worker will not have to repay their benefits. Five new scenarios have been approved for waiver eligibility:

  • An individual responded “no” to being able and available for work and the state issued payment for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation without adjudicating the eligibility issue.
  • An individual was eligible for payment and the state issued payment at a higher rate Weekly Benefit Amount under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.
  • The individual responded “no” to being unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to the approved coronavirus-related reasons, and the state paid Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. When asked to self-certify, the individual did not respond or confirmed that none of the approved coronavirus-related reasons applied and the state issued payment, resulting in overpayment for the week.
  • The individual submitted required proof of earnings used to calculate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Weekly Benefit Amount and the state incorrectly processed the calculation resulting in a higher weekly benefit amount under the PUA program.
  • The individual submitted proof of self-employment earnings to establish eligibility for Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation Program and the state incorrectly processed the information, resulting in overpayment.

UIA is currently determining how these categories will apply. Claimants who qualify for a waiver under the new eligibility will be notified through MiWAM and receive a letter from the UIA. More information is available here.

FAFSA Deadline Approaches on March 1

The free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for current high school seniors is due by March 1. This form determines eligibility for state and federal financial aid, including grants, scholarships and student loans. Find more information and fill out the application at

The local nonprofit Capital Area College Access Network offers help completing the FAFSA. Call (517) 203-5011 or email Applicants are also encouraged to seek help from their school counselors or college advisers.

Get Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests, N95 Masks

Testing is a good way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for those with symptoms and those who have been exposed to the virus. There are a few options for getting a free at-home test:

  • Meijer announced that it will offer free at-home PCR tests at its locations with pharmacies. To register for a test, visit, 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.
  • Every household in the U.S. is eligible to order up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government at Tests will be sent through the U.S. Postal Service and will ship seven to 12 days after an order is placed.
  • Health insurance companies are offering reimbursements for up to eight at-home tests per month. Find more information here.

The federal government recently sent 400 million N95 masks to retail pharmacies and community health centers across the country. In Michigan, Costco, CVS, Meijer, Rite Aid, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart and Sam’s Club are offering up to three free N95 masks per person. Find more information about this program here.


Kara Hope

State Representative