As we track confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, we emphasize how important it is for all of us to continue taking the appropriate precautions to keep everyone safe and to slow the spread of this disease. While my colleagues and I have been working very hard to ensure the health and safety of our constituents, we are still striving to address the legislative issues that matter most to our constituents. Coronavirus may be dominating the conversation, but we would also like to take some time to talk about some of the other issues happening in state government.
For a complete list of strategies from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to minimize your risk of exposure and to keep you and your loved ones healthy, click here. For the latest information as the situation continues to develop, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
Statewide Coronavirus Hotline — (888) 535-6136
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched a statewide hotline to respond to your health-related questions about COVID-19. The hotline is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public health and other experts will answer your questions and direct you to the resources available in your local communities and in other state government departments.
Expanding Access to Telemedicine
Michigan residents receiving Medicaid benefits can now take advantage of telemedicine health services from their home. In addition, most major health insurers have announced that they will cover and encourage the use of virtual care, while waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing. Call your health care provider for more information.
Expanding Unemployment Benefits
Beginning Monday, March 16 until Tuesday, April 14, 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 26 weeks, the eligibility period would be increased from 14 to 28 days, and the normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.
K-12 School Closures
Beginning Monday, March 16, until Sunday, April 5, all K-12 school buildings, public, private, and boarding, are closed. Childcare facilities will remain open during this time, whether they are attached to schools or free standing.
Combating Price Gouging
Effective Monday, March 16, until Monday, April 13, Michigan is cracking down on businesses and individuals that engage in price gouging on consumer food items, emergency supplies, and other goods and materials. Residents are urged to report any price gouging or other violations of the Consumer Protection Act online by clicking here or by calling (877) 765-8388.
Although the Michigan House of Representatives has recently issued new policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Capitol, my staff and I are still available to assist you! Never hesitate to reach out to me at SherylKennedy@house.mi.gov or by phone at (517) 373-7557. Since most staff is required to work remotely at this time, you may need to leave a message, but we will respond to you as quickly as possible.
For a printable fact sheet of this information, please click here.
Over the last year and a half, my colleagues and I have worked tirelessly and passionately to implement legislation that would make secondary education more affordable. I am thrilled to announce that our hard work has paid off! Legislation outlining the MI Reconnect Grant Program has recently passed the House and Senate. This program supports economic-growth and workforce development by providing a tuition-free pathway for Michigan adults that are 25 years or older. As a lifelong educator, it has always been my belief that everyone has a right to pursue a world-class education, and this program would increase that possibility.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census to determine the number of people living in the United States. By law, individual census information cannot be shared with any agency, and cybersecurity measures have been implemented to keep your information safe and private. The census will ask for things such as name, gender, age, birthday, race and more. However, you will not be asked about citizenship or immigration status. Each household will fill out one form and everyone living at that address will be counted.
You may fill out the census form via phone, mail, or internet with the Census ID that is mailed to your address. It is important that the census be done in order for communities to create jobs, provide housing, fund education, prepare for emergencies, and build schools, roads, hospitals, and libraries. The census data is used to determine how many seats your state gets in Congress, as well as drawing both legislative districts and school districts.
On March 20, census invitations will be mailed to all households. Throughout April and July reminders will be mailed if no response has been received. The self-response deadline is in July. On December 31, the Census Bureau delivers its data to the President, and in March of 2021 the states will receive the official count. Please keep these dates in mind as we prepare for and respond to the 2020 Census!
$1.1 Million in Funding for Richfield Landfill:
After years of hard work done by myself, my predecessor former State Rep. Pam Faris, State Senator Jim Ananich, and Supervisors Madore and Elkins, I am proud to announce we have secured $1.1 million in funding from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to construct safeguards around the Richfield Landfill to prevent contamination from leaching into our groundwater. These repairs will help to prevent further leaks, keeping our groundwater safe and ensuring the health and well-being of our local families.
Bills Introduced to Protect Mobile Home Residents Across Michigan:
My colleagues and I introduced a comprehensive package of bills to improve consumer protections for residents in Michigan’s mobile home communities, a group that is too often overlooked and taken advantage of under current law. Among other vital issues, this 8-bill bill package would allow for increased resident representation on the Mobile Home Commission, prevent unfair and sudden surges in lot rent, and increase transparency and legal recourse for residents who currently have few options in large part because of the way the law is currently written.
No individual can comprehend a mobile home resident’s unique circumstances better than the resident themselves, which is why they should have an active role in making decisions that affect their futures. My bill provides them with the opportunity to be heard, and this package empowers them by increasing the standards of consumer protection. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the advancement of this legislation.
Celebrating March is Reading Month
I was very excited to have the opportunity to read with various schools in our community in celebration of March is Reading Month at the beginning of the month. This month provides both educators and parents with an opportunity to highlight the importance of reading to our children. It’s undeniable that a child’s reading skills are important to their success in school, work, and life in general. I encourage all parents to help ensure your child’s success by reading to them starting at a very early age. While I was saddened to see some of my trips cancelled in light of recent events, the increased time at home provides an excellent opportunity for children to read and improve their literacy skills.
Celebrating Women’s History Month:
As you all may know, March is Women’s History Month! Prior to the establishment of Women’s History Month in 1987, women’s contributions to history, culture, and society have often been overlooked. March is a time to celebrate and recognize the specific achievements women have made. From Susan B. Anthony and Abigail Adams, to Rosa Parks and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the timeline of American history is flooded with great achievements by even greater women.
Each of these women fought for their place in history, and we take the month of March to commemorate them. While we take this month to observe the courage and ferocity of these women, we also use this month to adopt these attributes to fight for the issues modern day women face. Whether it be sexual harassment in the workplace, equal pay, or reproductive rights, women still struggle every day with issues that need to be addressed. This month is a time to gather the inspiration to move forward on Women’s issues!
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can be of any assistance.
State Rep. Sheryl Y. Kennedy, Ph.D.
48th House District