There’s no question that the past few weeks have been difficult for all of us, especially for those who have lost family, friends and loved ones in the fight against COVID-19. But each of us has a vital role to play in stopping the spread of this virus and protecting the lives of our neighbors — staying home as much as possible.
I hope you can join me for my upcoming Virtual Coffee Hour! As your representative in Lansing, the best way for me to advocate for the policies that mean the most to you is for us to stay in contact. While we can’t currently meet in-person, I would still like to hear from you and talk about the issues facing our community.
When: Monday, May 11 from 10 to 11 a.m.
Dial-In Number: (978) 990-5315 (Access Code: 738116)
Stay Home, Stay Safe Update
Although these past few weeks have been difficult, the Stay Home, Stay Safe order has helped our state flatten the curve and turn the tide on this pandemic. Our work isn’t over yet, which is why Gov. Whitmer recently announced that she is extending the Stay Home, Stay Safe order until May 15 — with some important changes. You’ll find more information below.
Allowing Low-Risk Activities
Gov. Whitmer’s order allows low-risk in-person activities to resume, including:
- Lawn care, pest control, landscaping operations, and working at nurseries and garden stores with enhanced social distancing rules;
- Processing and fulfilling remote orders for delivery or curbside pick-up;
- Performing bicycle maintenance and repair;
- Maintenance and groundskeepers to maintain the safety and sanitation of places of outdoor recreation;
- Moving or storage operations with enhanced social distancing rules; and
- Outdoor recreation, including boating and golfing.
Enhanced Social Distancing for Low-Risk Activities
We still need to do our best to keep those engaged in these low-risk activities safe, that’s why the order requires these activities to:
- Prohibit gatherings of any size in which people cannot maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from each other;
- Prohibit workers from occupying the same vehicle at the same time;
- Limit in-person contact with clients as fully as possible;
- Provide personal protective equipment like gloves, goggles, face shields and masks as appropriate; and
- Adopt protocols to limit the sharing of tools and equipment as much as possible and ensure frequent and thorough cleaning of these tools, equipment and frequently touched surfaces.
Access to Elective Procedures
All hospitals, freestanding surgical outpatient facilities, dental facilities and state-operated outpatient facilities may perform elective procedures that are necessary to preserve the health and safety of a patient, determined by their licensed medical provider.
Staying Safe in Public
To keep Michiganders safe and prevent another spike of COVID-19 as we begin the transition back into public spaces, Gov. Whitmer’s order requires:
- Any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering, to wear one – including homemade masks, scarfs, or bandanas – when in any enclosed public space.
- All businesses or operations whose workers perform in-person work to provide, at minimum, non-medical grade face coverings to their employees.
- Supplies of N95 masks and surgical masks to be reserved as much as possible for health care professionals, first responders and other critical workers who interact with the public.
Expanding Unemployment Benefits
COVID-19 represents one of the greatest challenges Michigan has faced in our recent history, leaving thousands of Michigan workers displaced or out of work. We are doing everything we can to ensure that every Michigander can stay on their feet as we fight the spread of this virus. If you or anyone you know has been affected by this crisis, below you will find some helpful information about the assistance now available.
Michigan is temporarily expanding unemployment benefit eligibility to those affected by COVID-19. Benefits will be extended to:
- Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, like child care due to school closures or caring for a loved one who is ill;
- Workers who are sick, quarantined or immunocompromised, and do not have access to paid leave time or are laid off; and
- First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined.
Benefits will also be extended from 20 to 39 weeks, the application eligibility period would be increased from 14 to 28 days, and the normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.
For more information or to apply for unemployment benefits, visit Michigan.gov/UIA or call (866) 500-0017.
Benefits Extended to Self-Employed, Low-Wage, and Other Workers Affected by COVID-19
Self-employed workers, gig workers, low-wage workers, and 1099-independent contractors are now eligible for Michigan’s unemployment programs. All eligible workers will now be provided a set amount of $600 on top of the state benefit for up to 39 weeks.
Benefits Increased for All Unemployed Workers
The federal CARES Act also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by a set amount of $600 a week for up to four months. This applies to workers already in the unemployment system and eligible employees about to apply. These workers do not need to reapply and those about to apply do not need to take additional steps and should file as usual.
New Unemployment Filing Schedule
The number of Michigan workers displaced by this pandemic has resulted in significantly increased online and phone traffic to Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). While UIA mobilizes its entire team to respond to claims and hires hundreds of additional staff to assist, they encourage workers to follow a new filing schedule to streamline the process.
Online Filing Schedule — Michigan.gov/UIA.
Workers are encouraged to go online during off-peak times between 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
- Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to file claims on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.
- Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
- Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
Call Center Filing Schedule — (866) 500-0017
- Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Fridays between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether a worker receives benefits or their benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19. The eligibility window to apply has also been increased from 14 to 28 days from the date of their work stoppage.
UIA appreciates the patience Michigan residents have shown with the unemployment system over the last few weeks and is committed to ensuring every eligible worker who needs to apply for unemployment benefits receives them.
Tax Filing Deadline Extended
Last month, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-26, which pushes all April 2020 state and city income tax filing deadlines in Michigan to July 2020 as a part of continued efforts to help Michiganders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
State of Michigan and city of Detroit income tax returns and payments that were due on April 15 are now due before midnight on July 15. Other state of Michigan cities with income taxes due on April 15 will now be due on July 15, while cities with income taxes due on April 30 will now be due on July 31.
The new filing and payment deadlines come after the Internal Revenue Service changed its deadline to July 15 to provide tax assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the benefit and convenience of taxpayers, both the beginning and end of the state of Michigan and city of Detroit income tax filing season are the same as the IRS.
State and city of Detroit individual income tax returns can be filed online or mailed through the U.S. Postal Service. Tax returns received after the July 15 deadline may face penalties and interest.
Secretary of State Offices Closed
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, all Secretary of State (SOS) offices are temporarily closed until further notice. Many transactions can be completed without a branch visit by going online at Michigan.gov/ExpressSOS, although processing may be delayed. All transactions that cannot ordinarily be completed online will be temporarily suspended. Late fees will be waived during this period.
Transactions cannot be completed by mail during the temporary SOS office closure. Please do not attempt to complete your transaction by mail during this period. Your transaction will not be processed while our offices are closed and may be delayed once offices are reopened. Transactions mailed before the closure will be processed when mail operations resume.
Under Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-47, driver’s licenses, state identification cards, and vehicle registrations which expired on or after February 1, 2020, and before May 31, 2020 are temporarily extended through June 30, 2020. Drivers are encouraged to still attempt to renew their credentials online at Michigan.gov/ExpressSOS during this time.
Michigan State Police have been notified of SOS’s limited operations and asked that they inform local law enforcement statewide and exercise discretion when interaction with someone with an expired credential. Additionally, under Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-47, law enforcement officials are not permitted to arrest any person or impound any vehicles as a result of a vehicle registration, driver’s license, or chauffer’s license that expired on or after February 1, 2020.
Getting an accurate count of every Michigander is vital to making sure our state gets its fair share of federal funding and Congressional representation. It helps everyone from policymakers to researchers to businesses make decisions based on the best information about the people of our state. The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will also rely on the Census data to complete a fair redistricting process.
This is the first time you can fill out the Census online. Every household should have received a letter in the mail with instructions for how to do the Census online or by phone, and it may also include a paper form you can mail in instead. One person per home should answer questions about everyone who lives there. The more households that complete the Census, the fewer visits Census workers will have to make to fill in the gaps.
State Representative, 6th House District