Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to my latest e-newsletter!
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.
In This Issue:
- Upcoming Coffee Hours
- In the District
- General Update
- Legislative Update
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:
- 10 a.m., Friday, May 13, MorningLory in Dimondale
- 10 a.m., Friday, May 20, virtual on Facebook
- 10:30 a.m., Friday, May 27, Delta Township Library
In the District
Crime Victims Vigil
I participated in a vigil to honor and remember victims of violent crime. I was honored to present Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd and Randy Gilbert, a survivor of serial killer Don Miller, signed and framed copies of House Bills 4562 and 4563. These bills allow parole boards the option to conduct the subsequent review of prisoners every five years, instead of annually, after a denial of parole if the majority of the parole board finds the prisoner’s history indicates there is a present risk to public safety. I’m proud that we’ve shown up in the Legislature for people like Randy and protected them from unnecessarily reliving the trauma that comes with being a survivor of violent crime. It is a priority of mine to protect our public from violent crimes.
April Small Business of the Month Winner
Congratulations to Flour Child Bakery, our April Small Business of the Month!
As quoted by their nominator, “Small businesses are the backbone of our local economies, and due to Flour Child Bakery Owner Bethany’s tireless work, entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to excellence, she has made this place a staple in the Grand Ledge community.”
Congratulations again on this recognition and thank you for your efforts in House District 71!
Each month, I’ll be showcasing a small business in District 71 in this newsletter and on social media. 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.
April Teacher of the Month Winner
I’d like to congratulate our April teacher of the month winner, Shelby Parks! Ms. Parks is a first-grade teacher at Winans Elementary. As quoted by Paige Dickerson, mother of one of Ms. Parks students,
Ms. Parks is an exceptional teacher. She goes above and beyond not only for her classroom but for her school as well. She made the transition back into the classroom go smoothly. She stays in constant communication with the parents and attaches all flyers and important information on emails to make sure parents are aware of what is going on at school. She sends positive notes home with students when they are doing well in class. She volunteered to be the only teacher on the school float for homecoming week and dressed up head to toe as Cruella. She volunteered to participate in the polar plunge to help the school raise money and encourage students to read. She volunteers as the girls on the run coach for the school, dedicating her Tuesday and Thursdays after school for an hour and a half. My child loves to go to school because Ms. Parks makes her classroom such a welcoming environment. My child has grown tremendously this last year, all thanks to Ms. Parks. She’s more than just a teacher to these kids.
If there’s a teacher that you’d like to celebrate for May’s Teacher of the Month, you can nominate them here. I look forward to reading your submissions and to celebrating another outstanding teacher next month!
Additional Food Assistance
Governor Whitmer announced that all Michigan families who are eligible for food assistance benefits will continue to receive at least an additional $95 monthly payment in April to help lower the cost of groceries and ensure Michiganders can keep more of their hard-earned money. The additional assistance will help approximately 1.31 million Michiganders in more than 700,000 households.
Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by going online to www.michigan.gov/MIBridges or calling a consumer service representative toll-free at (888) 678-8914. They can ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.
Auto Refund Checks
Nearly a third of eligible Michiganders have already received their $400 auto refund checks from the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) catastrophic fund surplus. According to data gathered by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), more than $906 million of the total $3 billion in surplus funds has been returned to Michigan drivers. Auto insurers have until May 9 to deliver the remaining $2.1 billion via checks or deposits to eligible drivers.
To be eligible for a refund, Michiganders must have had a car, motorcycle or RV that was insured to drive legally on Michigan roads as of 11:59 p.m. Oct. 31, 2021. The refunds are $400 per vehicle or $80 per historic vehicle and must be sent in the form of a paper check or an ACH deposit no later than May 9. You do not need to do anything to receive your refund but you may wish to verify your address or banking information with your insurance company to prevent delays.
Eligible drivers who do not receive their refunds by the deadline should contact their auto insurer or agent. For questions or concerns that cannot be resolved directly by an auto insurer, contact DIFS by calling Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (833) ASK-DIFS (833) 275-3437 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available at Michigan.gov/MCCArefund.
UIA 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 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.
However, 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, a claimant 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.
The House Agriculture Committee Votes Out My Bill!
I’m very pleased to share that my efforts to enact good public policy continue to succeed. The House Agriculture Committee passed my bill, House Bill 5893, to amend the Weights and Measure Act of 1964. It would add updates recommended by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and bring our standards up to date. My bill would protect consumers by ensuring that products contain accurate labeling.
A number of bills to combat the opioid crisis passed the House last week. House Bill 5968 would set up the “Michigan Opioid Healing and Recovery Fund” within the Michigan Department of Treasury to support those struggling with addiction. HB 5969 would create the “Opioid Advisory Commission” to help us develop a strategy to deal with the threats opioids pose to public health. HB 5970 would create the opioid liability litigation act, limiting the state and political subdivisions from commencing or maintaining a cause action against entities that are part of the “distributor” and “Janssen” settlements.
I was proud to support these bills. Opioids pose a major threat to public health. We must address this crisis.
Making Marijuana Laws Consistent
House Bill 5512 would amend the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act so that if any part of the act is inconsistent with the Drug Treatment Court, Mental Health Court, Juvenile Mental Health Court, or Veterans’ Treatment Court provisions in the Revised Judicature Act (RJA), the treatment court provisions apply.
This bill will help ensure that those ordered by the court to seek help for drug abuse receive the treatment they need.
Fiscal Year 2023 Budgets
We had a busy week in the House passing the proposed fiscal 2023 budgets. While I was happy with many provisions in these budgets, I was particularly disappointed that we couldn’t come together to pass tax cuts for seniors and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. It was also disappointing that we couldn’t secure support for the Office of Rural Development and investments in Michigan’s agricultural supply chain to lower grocery costs for Michigan families and promote rural economies.
As negotiations continue between House and Senate leaders and the governor, I will continue to do all I can to reach across the aisle to fight for a budget that works for all Michiganders.