Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Included in this edition are some important legislative and COVID-19 updates, along with a few resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1788 or email at KyraBolden@house.mi.gov for questions about this or any other state-level issue.
State Representative, 35th House Districts
Tax Season Virtual Town Hall Recording
I want to thank you for attending our Tax Season Virtual Town Hall. We were able to spread the word on how to best prepare for Tax Day. Please keep an eye out in future newsletters for the link to the recording.
Clean-Up Clean Slate Bill Package Introduction
Last session, the Michigan Legislature passed a comprehensive reworking of Michigan’s expungement laws, broadening access and providing relief to hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, affording them opportunities for better employment and dignity. As with any major initiative, there are ideas for corrections and improvements that have surfaced since the passage of these bills.
Last week, I joined several colleagues to introduce a bipartisan bill package aimed at strengthening and building on the successes of that expungement work. The following is a summary of those bills:
Reforming Felony Firearm Charge
On March 10, I joined my colleague, Rep. Luke Meerman, in introducing House Bills 5908 and 5909. This bipartisan package would reform the mandatory two-year consecutive sentences for a first conviction on a felony firearm charge.
The bipartisan legislation would provide a more in-depth definition for “use” of a firearm during the commission of a felony. “Use,” being defined as pulling a firearm’s trigger, brandishing a weapon or pointing a weapon at another person. Under the proposed changes, the offense would still be punishable by a two-year mandatory consecutive sentence. Those who commit a separate felony while simply possessing a firearm will be eligible to be sentenced to an additional two years for their first offense.
Incentivizing Economic Growth in DDAs
I am very pleased to share that HB 5062 was passed through the Senate unanimously and signed by Gov. Whitmer! This bill makes some minor changes to the Michigan Liquor Control Code to clarify the definition of “redevelopment” to incentivize economic growth in our downtown development districts.
COVID-19 Updates & Resources
COVID-19 Vaccine Help
If you know someone who doesn’t have access to the internet and they need the vaccine or need help with vaccine translation services, call 2-1-1 and press ‘5’ for free, confidential assistance.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines specifically in Oakland County, visit the county’s website. The website also has resources for testing and FAQ about COVID-19.
Interview with WLNS 6 News
I had the opportunity to speak with WLNS 6 about my bipartisan bill package aimed at tackling the state’s felony firearm law. You can read the interview here.
Executive Coulter Unveils 5-year Roadmap to Keep Oakland County All Ways, Moving Forward
Last week, Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter revealed his roadmap for Oakland County’s future during his State of the County speech Tuesday night at the M1 Concourse Event Center in Pontiac. The five-year strategic framework commits Oakland County to “All ways, moving forward” by making a real and measurable impact in three primary areas: a strong economy, healthy and safe communities, and opportunities for residents to live their best lives.
City of Southfield Awarded MI Clean Water Grant
Earlier this month, the city of Southfield was awarded $1.1 million as part of a statewide effort focused on helping communities around the state upgrade drinking water and wastewater systems. The grants, distributed by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, will provide funding to drinking water systems for projects that remove or reduce PFAS or other contaminants, consolidate systems or connect private residential wells to a local municipal system.
Business Forward Program Boosts Availability of Small Business Services in Oakland County
County Executive Dave Coulter announced at a news conference in Southfield that Oakland County has launched an innovative program that will help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow and thrive. Business Forward will engage the county’s more than 36,000 small businesses with expertise and resources in the communities where they are located.
Unemployment Insurance Overpayment – Hardship Waivers
Receiving unemployment benefits can sometimes lead to a determination of an overpayment, which must be paid back to the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA).
A claimant can protest the UIA’s overpayment determination and appeal an overpayment redetermination. If a claimant chooses not to protest or appeal, they can seek a financial hardship waiver based on an individual’s financial inability to repay benefits they’ve received.
How to Apply:
The timing to apply for a waiver is important. If a claimant does not wish to protest or appeal, he or she can apply for the hardship waiver after the overpayment is established. If a claimant intends to protest or appeal, the hardship waiver application should not be submitted until after the protest or appeal is resolved. UIA will not process a waiver application if an overpayment protest or appeal is pending.
To apply for a hardship waiver, claimants must complete and submit Form 1795 “Request to Waive Repayment of Benefit Overpayment Balance – Statement of Financial Condition”. This can be done through their MiWAM account.
Hardship waivers are decided on a case-by-case basis, unlike waivers from the U.S. Department of Labor. USDOL can authorize states to apply blanket waivers to certain groups of UIA claimants who received federal program benefits implemented in response to the Pandemic. Use of blanket waivers is not permitted on non-federal program overpayments.
Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month. It is an annual celebration and recognition of women and our role in U.S. history. This is a time to reflect and honor the contributions made by women in history and contemporary society today. Visit womenshistorymonth.gov to learn more.
National Reading Month
March is National Reading Month! In which, we encourage everyone, especially our school children to read a book (or several books!). Every week of this month, I will be joining several elementary classrooms in our district to read to the students.