Welcome to our February e-newsletter!
Included in this edition are some important legislative updates, community events and 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 next 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 virtually this Saturday, Feb. 26, from 9-10 a.m. It will be streamed via Zoom and my Facebook page. We hope to see you there!
Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget Recommendation
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently introduced her executive budget recommendation for fiscal year 2023. I was excited to see Gov. Whitmer put forth a budget that includes tax relief for seniors and families and makes vital investments in the economy, education, infrastructure, public safety and public health.
The executive recommendation includes rolling back the tax on retirement income, including pensions, 401(k) accounts and IRAs. Estimates show rolling back these taxes would save half a million households $1,000 a year.
Another important piece of the budget is the attention toward improving access to mental health care. I was particularly excited to see Gov. Whitmer’s plans to make strategic investments in the mental health workforce. These investments will be crucial in retaining and recruiting mental health care providers in Michigan.
Lastly, I’m glad to see a budget recommendation making transformational investments in public education. The governor’s budget proposal prioritizes substantial financial investments in student learning, mental health support, and more than $2 billion to retain teachers and staff and attract new people to the profession.
Look for more budget updates in my e-newsletters. Click here for more information about the budget proposal.
Putting Workers First Bill Package
When workers succeed, Michigan succeeds. I was proud to support the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus in introducing the Putting Workers First bill package, which continues the strong Democratic tradition of standing up for the interests of working people. This is a 34-bill package that aims to restore organizing, collective bargaining and workers’ rights. The legislation I introduced in this package would prohibit health care facilities from using taxpayer money to deter unionization.
Continued Push for Safe Storage Bills
At the beginning of the month, my colleagues held a press conference to continue pushing for safe storage of guns to become law. As many of you may remember, I joined my colleagues in introducing this legislation back in June.
House Bills 5066 and 5069 and Senate Bills 550 and 553 would require firearms to be properly secured by their owners to prevent accidental injury or death when they have minors in the home. The remaining bills, SBs 551 and 552 and HBs 5067 and 5068, would exempt sales and use tax for the purchase of safes, lock boxes, or trigger and barrel locks for firearms for home storage.
Research has shown that states with safe storage laws on the books experienced a significant reduction in firearm fatalities among children. This is a common-sense measure that has the potential to save countless lives from unintentional shootings. My colleagues and I have renewed our efforts to push for changes to our state’s firearm laws and will continue to urge the legislature to give these bills a hearing.
New Grant Program to Bolster Relief for Michigan Businesses Impacted By COVID-19
The Michigan Department of Treasury is administering a $409 million business grant relief program designed to help certain Michigan businesses that have experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Under the Afflicted Business Relief Grant Program, eligible businesses in operation before Oct. 1, 2019, may receive a percentage of their loss in total state sales through a grant. Eligible businesses that began operating between Oct. 1, 2019, and June 1, 2020, may receive a grant equal to 25% of certain specified costs.
Depending upon the number of businesses that apply, the grants may be prorated to ensure that all eligible businesses can receive funding.
The application will become available here at 8 a.m. EST on Tuesday, March 1.
Eligible businesses applying for a grant will be required to include tax and other financial information and documentation to support their claims.
Businesses must submit a completed online application to the state Treasury Department no later than 11:59 p.m. EST Thursday, March 31. Grant awardees will be notified in the spring and grant awards will be distributed by July 1.
Businesses interested in applying are encouraged to attend one of the informational webinars hosted by the state Treasury Department. The next webinar will take place Monday, March 7, at 1-2 p.m. EST.
Details for signing up for a webinar can be found on the grant program’s website.
In the last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it is no longer recommending universal masking in school settings as the state moves to a recovery phase of the pandemic.
In a statement, the agency said there are three phases to the coronavirus pandemic the state could be experiencing at any one time:
DHHS had not required masks in schools this school year but recommended universal masking in those settings, and others. Several counties had required masks in schools through local orders, most have either expired or are set to this month.
The agency said given the decreases in cases and hospitalizations and increased access to vaccines, testing and treatment, the state is entering a post-surge, recovery phase of the cycle.
Universal masking is still recommended in high-risk congregate settings, including long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, jails and health care facilities. All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, should also wear a mask during isolation and quarantine periods to stop further community spread of COVID-19, the agency said.
I am continuing to do my part by wearing my mask when out in public or in crowded places. It has been a long two years, and I know we are tired. As life continues to shift more toward a “normal” pre-COVID world, let’s continue to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
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.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Our office is always here to answer any questions, concerns, or listen to any thoughts you have on any particular issue. The best way to reach us is by email at FeliciaBrabec@house.mi.gov. Our team is working hard to respond to every email and voicemail left with our office in a timely manner. We appreciate your patience as we experience increased communications!
We also hope you will join us for upcoming coffee hours so that we can meet and I can hear what is on your mind.