Welcome to our April e-newsletter!
Included in this edition are some important COVID-19 and legislative updates, as well as other resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1792 or email at FeliciaBrabec@house.mi.gov for questions about these or any other state-level issues.
State Representative, 55th House District
Upcoming Coffee Hour
Please join me for our monthly Virtual Coffee Hour. This is an opportunity to chat, ask me questions and share how I can best represent you in Lansing. I will be hosting my coffee hour this Saturday, April 24 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. on Zoom and Facebook Live. You can join using the Zoom link, or you can ‘like’ my Facebook page and tune in for the livestream. I hope to see you there!
Banning Conversion Therapy
This week, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and I introduced legislation that would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with a minor. House Bill 4651 and Senate Bill 367 would ban any practice or treatments by licensed mental health professionals that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. I understand how harmful this practice is on the mental health of our children. Conversion therapy and the idea that one can be “cured” of their sexual orientation or gender identity has been overwhelmingly disavowed by experts and organizations in the medical and mental health community. Banning this adverse and outdated practice is a great first step Michigan can take toward affirming its LGBTQ youth.
Black Maternal Health Week
The week of April 11-17 was recognized as Black Maternal Health Week. The Michigan Senate adopted Senate Resolution 39 introduced by state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) to commemorate the week in our state.
Black women are up to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications and suffer from childbirth-related disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re also significantly more likely to suffer from infertility, have a cesarean section, receive no prenatal care and be denied medication to manage their pain.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Black maternal health is more important than ever. As a result of this health care crisis, pregnant Black women are reportedly enduring limited in-person prenatal care, limited support during labor, social isolation and increased economic anxiety.
Gov. Whitmer in her proclamation confirms that by addressing the root causes of disparities in Black maternal health outcomes through social justice, systems change and equipping mothers, families, health care providers and community members with resources and information, we can advance the health and well-being of Black women and families throughout the state.
Income Tax Extension
I was happy to vote ‘yes’ on legislation that would extend the state income tax deadline. For the benefit and convenience of taxpayers, both the beginning and end of tax filing season are the same as the dates set by the Internal Revenue Service. State individual income tax annual returns and payments are due before midnight on May 17, 2021. Taxpayers who are owed a refund are encouraged to file their state income tax returns so they can receive their refunds. More information about e-filing is available at www.michigan.gov/mifastfile.
Ramona tirelessly serves the residents of the 55th District. For years, she has been a constant in so many of our lives. No matter what is happening in her life, she shows up every day with encouragement, a smile, and kind wishes.
Ramona has watched our kids grow up. She not only carries out a daily essential function in our community, she does so with a genuine connection to many of us. I am grateful for Ramona’s unwavering commitment to the Postal Service and to our community. Ramona enriches our district each and every day!
Each month, I will be featuring an essential worker who is a resident of the 55th House District! Community members can nominate various individuals that they feel deserve the recognition and honor of being known as the “Essential Worker of the Month”. If you know someone that should be acknowledged for their service and sacrifice to the community, please fill out this form here.
Michigan has expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Michiganders ages 16 & up. This comes at a critical time as the state’s s case numbers continue to trend upward. The best way for us to beat this virus and get back to normalcy is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. The state is aiming to get 70% of Michiganders 16 and older vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity.
There are several ways you can sign up. If you need help to make an appointment, call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Hotline at 888-535-6136 and press 1.
- Schedule an appointment at Ford Field, which you can do by calling 313-230-0505. You can also check the Washtenaw County Health Department website or an area hospital to book your shot.
- Vaccination sites are available at some local pharmacies like Meijer and Rite Aid. You should check their websites or call in advance to check availability.
- If you don’t have access to the internet, you can call the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at (888) 535-6136 and press 1, Monday through Friday. On weekends, you can call 2-1-1.
MDHHS Extends Epidemic Order
MDHHS has extended its Gatherings and Mask epidemic order. The Order – which preserves the strongest public health order in the Midwest – is designed to balance day-to-day activities while controlling the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives. It includes expansion of mask requirements to children ages 2 to 4.
Although we have made progress, it is crucial that Michiganders continue to mask up and socially distance as we take steps to get back to normal.
Expanding the mask rule to children ages 2 through 4 requires a good faith effort to ensure that these children wear masks while in gatherings at childcare facilities or camps. It takes effect April 26, 2021. This addresses the increase in cases among younger Michiganders and follows recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The order will be in effect through May 24. An infographic that highlights order requirements can be found on Michigan’s COVID-19 website.
Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.
Apply for the Home Heating Credit Today!
Michiganders who need help with their energy bills can now apply for the Home Heating Credit.
Low-income, deaf, disabled or blind persons, disabled veterans and senior citizens may qualify for the Home Heating Credit. Applicants are not required to file a Michigan individual income tax return to receive the credit.
Individuals can apply for the Home Heating Credit electronically through the e-File system.
Forms and instructional materials are available on the internet at Michigan.gov/IncomeTax or by calling (517) 636-4486. Forms are also available at many libraries, Michigan post offices and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) offices across the state.
All applications for the credit must be received by September 30, 2021.
Additional information can be found on the Home Heating Credit website. For more information about resources available for heating assistance, go to Michigan.gov/HeatingAssistance.
Michigan Legal Help Website
Michigan Legal Help is a website for people who are handling their legal problems without a lawyer. It can help you learn about your legal problems and get ready for court. There are many Do-It-Yourself tools to help you create court forms. This website does not give legal advice, and it is not a substitute for having a lawyer.
If you need more help, search the website for a lawyer, community services, or a Self-Help Center nearby. The website does not cover all areas of law, but new topics are added all the time.
City of Ypsilanti: Free Recycling Drop-Off Every month, the City of Ypsilanti hosts a free recycling drop-off event for residents. They will accept clean glass, styrofoam and aseptic containers (e.g., milk cartons), as well as items typically accepted in curbside recycling. The next event will take place on Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at 14 W Forest Ave. in Ypsilanti. To learn more about the free recycling drop-off, click here.
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can ever be of any assistance.
Felicia A. Brabec
House District 55