During these turbulent times, it is important that we reach out to our neighbors. We must do better, together.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of George Floyd. He was well respected by his community and he will be greatly missed by many. We must do better as a society to prevent such senseless loss of life and hold those accountable when they use excessive force.
I take great pride in the diversity of our communities here in Genesee County, and when marginalized individuals are victimized by excessive police actions, our entire community suffers. I believe the actions taken by the law enforcement officers involved with Mr. Floyd’s death were excessive, unnecessary and unacceptable, and should be prosecuted. I am proud to have been part of the Flint Charter Commission that re-established the office of Ombudsman in the City of Flint, and I am glad it is now operating.
We must find ways to prevent future needless, unjust deaths like that of Mr. Floyd. I don’t have all the answers on how, but it is our duty to work through what systemic change we can bring and take action. Nothing we do today will bring back the life of George Floyd, but we can take action to prevent future loss. To me, that will truly honor Mr. Floyd’s memory.
Updates on Michigan’s Stay At Home Order
On Friday, Gov. Whitmer announced that Regions 6 & 8 of Michigan, including the U.P. and northern lower Michigan, will move to Phase 5 of reopening under her MI Safe Start Plan beginning June 10.
Beginning Wednesday, June 10, salons, barber shops, movie theaters, and gyms may reopen as long as they adopt proper safety measures, practices and training, including:
- Implementing workplace infection-control practices;
- Training employees to properly use personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Informing workers on the steps they must take to notify their employers of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19; and
- Teaching workers how to report unsafe workplace conditions.
Under Phase 5, indoor social gatherings and organized events of up to 50 people will be allowed with social distancing and other precautions, as well as outdoor social gatherings of up to 250 people as long as attendees maintain 6 feet of distance from each other.
Outdoor performance and sports venues may reopen with up to 500 people with precautions, allowing some outdoor graduation ceremonies to take place.
Beginning Monday, June 15, personal care services like salons, barbershops, and massage and nail parlors can reopen with strict social distancing precautions throughout the rest of the state. At this time, the rest of the state will remain in Phase 4.
This executive order still allows for cities, villages, townships and other local entities to choose to take a more cautious course of re-engagement if they wish.
For more information on Gov. Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan, click here.
Unemployment Updates & House Bill 5826
Over 800 people have contacted me regarding problems with their unemployment. Due to current circumstances, the unemployment office is no longer able to provide us with a timeline or status updates regarding individual UIA claims, however we are doing our best to advocate for each case that has come through our office. My office does not have access to the unemployment system, however, we are able to file reports sharing your issue with the UIA office, similar to how MIWAM allows you to correspond via email.
While thousands of people are still waiting on their payments, I have introduced House Bill 5826. HB 5826 would appropriate $100,000,000 of CARES act dollars to provide “bridge loans” to individuals who have applied for unemployment assistance but have not been processed through the system.
The loans would be paid back automatically through benefits received after application processing and approval has been completed. If someone is deemed to not qualify for unemployment benefits, the unemployment department will work with the Treasury department to utilize their mechanisms to collect repayment.
I put forward an amendment that would have the same effect as HB 5826 to a supplemental appropriation on June 3rd during an appropriations committee meeting. However, it was voted down along party lines. Additionally, on May 27th, it was announced that due to large scale fraud attempts against state unemployment programs across the nation, the UIA has developed additional measures to protect certain claimants by requiring further identity verification and claim eligibility authentication.
This is another disappointing event for many who have and have yet to receive the unemployment benefits they have been counting on.
If you have received a “Stop Payment” notice on your account, detailed instructions have been emailed and mailed to you on how to submit additional identifying information in order to receive your benefits. There is no reason to take further action until you receive the instructions.
To help expedite the process of verifying your ID documents, UIA has created a new ID verification tool in MiWAM. If you have already submitted your documents by sending a message and uploading attachments, the UIA is asking that you re-submit using the new method for faster processing:
How to verify your identity using the new tool:
- Log into your MiWAM Account at michigan.gov/uia.
- Under “Alerts” on your dashboard click the “VERIFY YOUR IDENTITY HERE” link.
- Enter the Letter ID, found on Form UIA 6347, Request for Identity Verification.
- Upload ID verification documents.
- Once submitted, you will receive a confirmation of submission.
- You will receive a notice once your identification has been verified.
If you no longer have Form UIA 6347, you will need to follow the steps previously emailed to you to send us a message. Click on the “Send Unemployment a Message” link under the “I Want To” tab. There you can send a message and attach a copy of your identity verification documents.
The UIA currently has more than 350 agency employees dedicated to quickly authenticate legitimate accounts, with additional staff being added next week, bringing the total number of customer facing staff to more than 2,000. These staff are working around the clock to process claims and pay benefits.
If any further information is needed, UIA will contact you by phone from their customer service line, 866-500-0017. There is no need to contact UIA.
For more information, further directions and the most recent updates, visit:
We appreciate your patience during this trying time. This crisis has not been adequately handled by our administration and there is no excuse for the types of delays you are experiencing. If there are any daily needs you are unable to access due to the delay, I urge you to call 2-1-1 or reach out, and I’ll do my best to contact you with local resources.
A Living Wage is Essential
From grocery store clerks to food service employees, many workers have been fighting to receive a living wage for years and the pandemic has shown the importance of this work. As a proud former member of UFCW 951 and the SEIU, I’m proud to stand with Michigan’s working men and women and will work to ensure that their value and contribution during this unprecedented time is not soon forgotten. That’s why I introduced House Bill 5801 to raise the minimum wage for essential workers to $15 / hour.
I hope the information shared above has been useful to you. As always, please reach out if there is anything further I can do for you.