I hope you and your family are enjoying fall and all the fun, seasonal activities that this time of year offers. While you’re out and about enjoying some cider and doughnuts, please keep doing everything you can to stay safe so we can work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. Combined with flu season that’s rapidly approaching, it’s extremely important to take all precautions not just for ourselves, but for our loved ones and our community too.
Included in this e-news is a segment about getting your safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, as well as updates on legislation that recently passed the Michigan Senate aimed at restricting your freedom to vote, the reinstatement of prevailing wage for state construction projects, legislation I’ve introduced on paid parental leave, grants available for small business owners that can help protect employees, and more.
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.
LEGISLATION RESTRICTING YOUR FREEDOM TO VOTE PASSES THE MICHIGAN SENATE
Last week, my colleagues across the aisle continued to give legitimacy to the illegitimate Big Lie about our elections by passing Senate Bills 303 and 304, which would make it more difficult for people to vote — especially seniors, people with low incomes, and the disabled. This legislation would disenfranchise many people, including people like my husband, who had a stroke two years ago. He doesn’t drive and his signature has changed. Under these bills, thousands of older adults, just like my husband, could have their essential freedom to vote ripped away. It is unacceptable.
Further, these bills perpetuate a notion that anything is wrong with our elections currently, yet we know the 2020 election was not only the most secure in history, it also brought with it overwhelming turnout. I will always defend your freedom to vote as guaranteed by the Constitution, so I voted no on these bills.
See what else I had to say about them on the Senate floor:
Speaking of elections, with three weeks remaining until elections in many jurisdictions across the state, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson reminds voters that they have options to safely and securely cast their ballot.
To find out if your community is holding an election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, visit Michigan.gov/Vote. Eligible citizens can register to vote online for one more week. Within two weeks of the election, they will have to register in person at their local clerk’s office, where they can also request, fill out, and return an absentee ballot all in the same trip.
Already registered voters can vote from home by requesting to have an absentee ballot mailed to them. They can make the request in person at their local clerk’s office or online at Michigan.gov/Vote. If voters choose to go to their local clerk’s office, they can fill out their ballot and return it in the same visit.
Voters can also cast their ballots in person at their polling place on Election Day. Polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Michigan Voter Information Center at Michigan.gov/Vote provides important information for voters ahead of Election Day, including a sample ballot, information about how to use voting equipment and how to contact your local clerk.
GOV. WHITMER REINSTATES PREVAILING WAGE FOR STATE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
People who work for companies seeking state contracts for construction projects will be required to pay their workers a fair and livable wage, known as the prevailing wage, thanks to decisive action taken by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
I fully support the governor reinstating this rule to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect, and our state constructions projects are of the highest quality. It’s simple: When people can pay their bills and be assured of solid health benefits, they are happier, and happy workers make quality products. This also levels the playing field for contractors on state projects.
I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues to keep advancing policies that pay people a fair, respectable, livable wage!
ADVOCATING FOR PAID PARENTAL LEAVE
I recently introduced legislation requiring four weeks of paid parental leave — for a mother or father —for any person working for a business with 50 or more employees, so that individual can care for their newborn or newly adopted child.
The legislation is part of a larger bill package, known as the Workforce Package, introduced by the Progressive Women’s Caucus. It seeks to help working parents, and especially women who were forced back into the home at disproportionate rates due to the pandemic. It also works to address inequities in the workplace that have existed for decades.
If you missed our press conference, you can watch it on our Facebook page!
$250,000 AVAILABLE IN GRANTS TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES PROTECT WORKERS
Michigan small businesses with 250 employees or less can apply for a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) matching grant up to $5,000 to make improvements to their workplace safety and health, with Oct. 6 marking the first day that applications were accepted.
The grants are available through the Workplace Improvement to Safety and Health (MIWISH) grant program and are designed to enable employers to purchase safety and health-related equipment. They will also give them the ability to offer related training that will provide a safer and healthier work environment, reducing the risk of injury and illness to workers in Michigan.
For more information about the MIWISH grant program and how to apply, visit Michigan.gov/MIOSHAgrants or contact MIOSHA’s Consultation Education and Training grant administrator at 269-275-7155.
COVID VACCINE UPDATE
Remember that you can get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine at a variety of places throughout our district, free of charge. The vaccines have proven to be one of the most effective tools to combat COVID-19 and its variants, combined with safe social distancing and masking up.
People as young as 12 can get the vaccine, and are being encouraged to do so. Pfizer is also applying to have its use applicable to children between ages 5 and 11 after the same rigorous trials and research that had been applied to previous segments.
For the most up-to-date information on COVID in Oakland County and how to stay safe, please visit our county website. For more information from the state, including a hotline to call to find a vaccine near you, visit the state’s COVID-19 vaccine resources page.
WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM HELPS LOW-INCOME MICHIGANDERS REDUCE HEATING BILLS
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is raising awareness of a program that reduces household energy costs by an average of $283 per year — benefitting approximately 1,300 low-income families in Michigan.
Through the U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program (administered at the state level by MDHHS), trained weatherization professionals, or energy auditors, create a comprehensive energy analysis of the home. This analysis is used to determine the most cost-effective measures to install — such as insulation, blower-door-guided air sealing of key leakage junctures, and installations such as lighting and water saving measures — and to create a customized work order for the home. Trained contractors and crew members then install the identified energy-efficient and health and safety measures.
Health and safety issues such as elevated levels of carbon monoxide, moisture problems, mold, ventilation needs, and heating systems safety and efficiency are also addressed. There is growing evidence that the program provides benefits beyond energy savings. Improved indoor air quality and appropriate ventilation strategies lead to healthier living conditions in weatherized homes. These healthier living conditions often lead to improved health outcomes such as reduced asthma triggers and fewer doctor visits.
Eligibility is based on household income and if the home’s current condition is weatherization ready. Anyone interested in applying for the Weatherization Assistance Program can contact their local provider.
TREASURY: GET READY. GET SET. FAFSA!
According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, the very first step for students and families to take when applying for scholarships and other forms of financial assistance is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is needed when applying for grants, scholarships and other forms of financial assistance, and the U.S. Department of Education began accepting FAFSA submissions on Friday, Oct. 1.
Academic Year 2022-23 FAFSA submissions received at the federal processor on or before March 1, 2022, are given priority consideration for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship and Michigan Tuition Grant. Students who wait to complete their FAFSA after the March 1 deadline may not receive all the financial aid they could have been entitled to receive.
Prior to completing the FAFSA online, the student and at least one parent or guardian must obtain a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) at www.fafsa.gov. This ID serves as a legal signature and confirms an applicant’s identity when accessing financial aid information through certain U.S. Department of Education websites.
Administered by Treasury, MI Student Aid is Michigan’s go-to resource for finding the financial resources needed to pay for college. For more information, contact MI Student Aid at email@example.com 1-888-447-2687 or @mistudentaid on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
UPCOMING EVENT: VIRTUAL COMMUNITY CONVERSATION ON FRIDAY, OCT. 29
At noon on Friday, Oct. 29, I’ll be hosting a Virtual Community Conversation on Facebook with Rep. Brenda Carter to answer your questions about what’s happening in and around the legislature, as well as in our district.
Come prepared with questions and stay tuned for a link! Follow me on Facebook for more information.
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