Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including some updates on the state’s efforts to address COVID-19 as well as other news from your state government.
Upcoming Event: Virtual Coffee Hour with Special Guest Rep. Brixie
Please join me for a coffee hour this Friday, Feb. 12, from 11 a.m. to 12 noon. Also joining us for this virtual event as a special guest will be state Rep. Julie Brixie, my fellow Capital Region legislator. You can join us on Zoom here using the information below:
Meeting ID: 831 8794 3642
You can also join us by phone by dialing (301) 715-8592 and entering the Zoom Meeting ID above or you can find the event on my Facebook page. We will give a legislative update and answer any questions you may have. I look forward to speaking with you all soon.
COVID-19 Relief Bills Pass the House
Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives voted on three bills to distribute federal COVID-19 relief funds. Unfortunately, the bills passed last week in the Michigan House fail to use all the federal resources to which Michigan residents are entitled. This money has already been designated for Michigan via legislation signed late last year by President Trump.
- Federal Supplemental (HB 4019): A Fiscal Year 2021 supplemental appropriations bill authorizing federal funding for COVID-19 response activities. The bill authorizes $868.5 million of federal funds recently made available from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act (CRRSA) for COVID-related needs, including testing and vaccinations, rent and utility assistance, and supplemental food assistance benefits.
- Business Relief Supplemental (HB 4047): A $565.5 million supplemental appropriations bill that would deposit $150 million from the General Fund into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and provide $365.5 million in General Fund dollars for assistance grants to “afflicted businesses” to offset property taxes, unemployment taxes, liquor license fees and local health department fee obligations.
- School Aid Supplemental (HB 4048): A school aid supplemental appropriations bill proposing to spend approximately $1.8 billion of the new federal dollars that were sent to Michigan, along with $363 million available School Aid Fund dollars. The School Aid Fund dollars would only be available to districts who return to in-person instruction five days a week for the remainder of the academic year by Feb. 15, excluding only previously scheduled days when school is not in session.
The School Aid Supplemental was tie-barred to House Bill 4049, meaning that both bills would either pass or fail together. That bill would prevent the MI Department of Health and Human Services from closing schools to in-person learning or prohibiting sporting events.
My House Democratic colleagues and I attempted to bring our COVID Relief Funding Plan (House Bill 4039) up for a vote, but these efforts were shot down by the majority party. I am proud to have co-sponsored HB 4039, which would provide the full $5 billion in available federal funding for vaccine distribution, education and the economy. Some of the highlights of our plan included:
- $90 million for vaccine distribution;
- $575 million to expand COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and lab capacity;
- $2 billion for food assistance;
- $661 million for rental and utility assistance;
- $2 billion for public schools;
- $270 million for small business relief; and
- It would permanently extend unemployment assistance from 20 to 26 weeks.
House Democrats also attempted to make amendments to House Bills 4019, 4047 and 4048 in order to utilize the full federal funding mentioned above. Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues rejected these efforts and left more than $1 billion in Michigan taxpayer dollars on the table in Washington, D.C., instead of bringing them back home.
Bill Would Remove Cap On County Rewards
I introduced a bill last week that would remove the cap on the maximum amount a county can offer as a reward for the arrest and conviction of any person who has committed a crime in the county or who has escaped from any penal institution in the county. Currently, under PA 175 of 1927, the maximum amount a county can offer is capped at $2,000. Higher reward amounts could lead to a higher quality and quantity of tips, which would produce more arrests and convictions. It is past time that we give counties a better tool to encourage reluctant witnesses to come forward.
Contact Sports Can Resume Under Revised Epidemic Order
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a revised version of the previous epidemic order. Starting Feb. 8, contact sports were allowed to resume with face masks required during practices and competition. This order is effective through March 29. More information can be found at michigan.gov/coronavirus.
While legislative offices remain closed to the public, my team and I are still providing responsive service as we work remotely. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (517) 373-0587 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can help.