September 2, 2021
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, I urge you to get vaccinated, if you haven’t already done so.
Included in this newsletter is a reminder to get registered to vote considering September is “National Voter Registration” month, updates about Michigan’s upcoming expansion to health insurance access, a warning that federal COVID-19 benefits are coming to an end, information about how to stay safe against mosquitoes this year, and an article about Attorney General Nessel’s recent work to uphold anti-discriminatory laws in Virginia.
As always, if my office can be of assistance to you or your family, please call me at 517-373-2417 or email me at SenRBayer@senate.michigan.gov.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson celebrated the start of National Voter Registration Month on Sept. 1, encouraging eligible Michigan citizens to register to vote this month.
The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) established September as National Voter Registration Month in 2002 as a nonpartisan means of encouraging voter participation and increasing awareness about state requirements. Sept. 28th is National Voter Registration Day.
In Michigan, residents can register to vote in person up to 8 p.m. on Election Day at their city or township clerk’s office. Residents can also register online at Michigan.gov/Vote or by mail at least 15 days prior to an election. In the 14 days leading up to an election and on Election Day, voters must register in person to vote in the election.
To be eligible to register to vote you must be:
Residents must provide proof of eligibility and residency to register if they choose to register in the 14 days prior to an election, including Election Day. Documents submitted as proof of residency must include the voter’s name and current address.
Digital copies of documents are accepted. Such documents can include:
Local election officials as well as the Michigan Department of State are the most trusted sources for election information. Residents can find registration information, including the location of their clerk’s office and steps to complete registration, at the Michigan Voter Information Center at Michigan.gov/Vote. To report incorrect election information, please contact email@example.com.
A new $3.3 million federal grant has come to Michigan that will expand access to qualified Navigators who can help uninsured Michiganders sign up for health coverage.
Health Insurance Navigators offer free, local help to families and individuals so that they can gain access to health coverage options through the Marketplace or through government assistance programs such as Medicaid or the MIChild program. They can assist with enrollment applications and help consumers receive financial assistance, including the recent increased subsidies provided under the American Rescue Plan. With this additional grant funding, more Navigator organizations can provide health care access and assistance to more Michiganders, including those with limited English proficiency, residents of underserved rural areas, and communities of color.
As part of the nationwide 2021 CMS Navigator cooperative agreement, more than $80 million will be granted to 60 Navigator organizations across the country. The awardees include community and consumer-focused non-profits, faith-based organizations, hospitals, trade and professional associations, and tribes or tribal organizations. In Michigan, the following parent organizations are set to receive grants:
In total, $3,295,435 has been awarded in Michigan. A variety of subrecipients, representing many different Michigan groups and community relationships, are represented by the parent organizations listed above. Additional information about the groups that have been awarded is available.
Open enrollment will begin on Nov. 1st and Michiganders can obtain coverage by visiting the Health Insurance Marketplace or by calling 800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). Consumers will be able to choose from 175 health plans from 11 different insurers. As always, consumers are encouraged to carefully shop around to find the best plan for themselves, their families, and their budget. Additional information, including links to find free local help from Navigators, is available on the DIFS website or by calling DIFS 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442.
Michigan workers who have been receiving federal jobless benefits through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will see those programs expire Sept. 4, 2021. Benefit recipients are reminded that the State of Michigan has several programs and services to assist in their search for a job or other help.
Benefits approved by Congress through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) are set to expire on Sept. 4.
ARPA expanded on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act unemployment insurance programs that were implemented in April 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 15, 2020, over 2.4 million Michiganders have received more than $38 billion in unemployment benefits, which has helped contribute to the state’s economic recovery.
The Sept. 4 expiration date also applies for people who show a benefit balance on their claims. People who are waiting for an eligibility determination for any of the federal programs and receive it after Sept. 4, will be paid all funds for which they are eligible. These individuals should continue to certify through Sept. 4.
Benefit recipients should continue to monitor their MiWAM account and check for emails from UIA in case there is further correspondence about their case. Key information will be shared about deadlines to protest or make an appeal.
Claimants will receive a new debit card from U.S. Bank by Aug. 25, . This replaces the Bank of America card they’ve been using. After Aug. 25, any new money received will be posted to the U.S. Bank debit card. Claimants have until Nov. 1 to access the money that has been posted to their Bank of America card. Claimants should not discard their new U.S. Bank card when it arrives and should hold on to the old BoA card for at least a year in case they need to reference it later.
If claimants see signs of fraud while checking their MiWAM account, they should file a fraud or identity theft referral through their MiWAM account or contact the fraud hotline at 866-500-0017.
All protests and adjudications that have not been resolved by Sept. 4 will continue through the process despite the federal programs ending. Benefits will be paid to claimants who are determined to be eligible.
Those who receive federal pandemic unemployment assistance are urged to take part in job search, training and assistance programs that are available through various state agencies, including:
For more information about the end of federal benefits or state assistance for those who are unemployed, go to Michigan.gov/UIA.
Michigan residents are being reminded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the detection of the first Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)-positive mosquito pool of the year in Barry County in West Michigan just north of Kalamazoo.
The discovery in Barry County follows a report by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of an EEE-positive horse from Livingston County and underscores the need for both Michigan residents and horse owners to take precautions.
EEE has a 90% fatality rate in horses that become ill, and infection in both people and animals occurs through the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE is not spread from person-to-person.
Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, and body and joint aches. Illness can eventually develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death may also occur in some cases.
Residents can stay healthy by following steps to avoid mosquito bites:
For horses, EEE is a serious but preventable disease. Positive mosquito pools can help to identify areas of risk. Horse owners should work with their veterinarian to develop a plan to protect their animals.
To safeguard their horses, owners could take the following measures:
Additionally, West Nile virus activity in Michigan has increased in wildlife and mosquito populations. Health officials have identified 11 positive mosquito pools and 10 infected animals in the Lower Peninsula. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported to date; however, a case has been reported in a horse from Midland County.
Mosquito-borne illness will continue to be a risk in Michigan until late fall when nighttime temperatures consistently fall below freezing.
For more information about mosquito-borne diseases, visit Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.
This week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in filing a brief in support of the constitutionality of Virginia’s anti-discrimination law regarding yet another case in which an LGBTQ+ couple was refused services.
The filed brief supports Virginia’s defense of the law following the District Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit. A copy of the brief is available here.
According to Attorney General Nessel, turning away customers based on their sexual orientation is clear discrimination, and no one should ever be barred from accessing goods and services simply for whom they love. Allowing such discrimination would set a dangerous precedent.
According to the brief, many Americans — 189 million — now live in communities which expressly prohibit places of public accommodation from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Virginia’s public accommodations law, which has been in effect since July 2020, forbids sexual-orientation discrimination by businesses engaged in sales to the public, and forbids such businesses from posting a notice indicating their intention to refuse service on the basis of sexual orientation.
Joining Attorney General Nessel in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
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