June 11, 2021

Hello Neighbors, 

The coming weeks will bring a flurry of legislative activity as we near the final stages of budget negotiations, and I will hopefully soon have more to share with you on that. 

In this issue, I’ve included a short legislative update and other helpful information, as well as some fun ideas for getting outside and enjoying what West Michigan has to offer. 

For the latest updates, I’d encourage you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Warm regards,

Winnie Brinks
State Senator
29th District

In This Issue 

  • Legislative Update 
  • Free Fishing Weekend is Here Again! 
  • Help is Available for Homeowners Impacted by COVID 
  • New Certification Schedule to Help Report Work Search Activity 
  • Reminder: Avoid Foam on Michigan’s Lakes and Rivers 
  • Virtual Coffee Hour TODAY 

Legislative Update 

Resolution Recognizing Women Veterans 

Women are the fastest-growing subset of the veteran population, serving in every branch of the military and have multiple occupational specialties and roles. Women have been serving in the military since the creation of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901, but they have not always been considered qualified for veteran status for the purpose of receiving benefits from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DVMA). 

It wasn’t until the late 1970s and early 1980s that many of the contributions made by women in World War II were formally recognized through laws granting them veteran status, thus opening the doors for women to take advantage of programs, opportunities, and benefits from the federal and state governments, the DVMA, and other veteran service organizations. 

This week, the Senate unanimously adopted my Senate Resolution 63 to recognize June 12, 2021, as Women Veterans Recognition Day in the State of Michigan. 

BAMF Health: Exciting Innovations in Health Care 

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an incredible strain on almost every aspect of our lives here in Michigan. Like many bills we’ve considered this year, my bill, Senate Bill 440, was crafted with an intent to soften the impact the pandemic has had on our state and those who choose to live and do business here. 

Bold Advanced Medical Future (BAMF) Health, a medical technology company operating in radioactive drugs and therapy like that which is used in the treatment of cancer, has planned to bring advanced radiopharmacy technology to Grand Rapids, as well as a molecular imaging clinic and theranostic clinic. 

In Michigan, certain health facilities must receive something called a Certificate of Need from the state in order to set up shop. Unfortunately, the pandemic has set the commission in charge of providing such certificates well behind, and as a result, BAMF’s ability to purchase necessary medical equipment for its facility is facing substantial delays as well. 

As such, I’ve introduced SB 440 to allow for a pilot program to run concurrently with the Certificate of Need process that has already begun for BAMF so they can better stay on track with their planned opening — and jobs that would come with it — in February 2022. As part of that deal, the company will still have to gain Certificate of Need approval once the new standards are adopted, which is likely to happen at the end of this year. 

I’m pleased to report that SB 440 passed the Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday, and will be headed to the governor for her signature soon. 

Free Fishing Weekend is Here Again! 

Two days twice a year, families and friends can enjoy one of Michigan’s premier outdoor activities, Michigan Fishing, for FREE

That’s right: All fishing license fees will be waived for two days, and a Recreation Passport will NOT be required for entry into state parks or boating access sites during Free Fishing Weekend. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes waters for all species of fish permitted under current fishing regulations. 

Free Fishing Weekend will take place on June 12-13, 2021, and is held in conjunction with “Three Free” weekend, where residents and nonresidents can grab a fishing pole, ride the off-road trails and visit state parks and boating access sites — all free of charge. During Free ORV Weekend, Michigan residents and visitors legally can ride without buying an ORV license or trail permit. All other ORV rules and laws still apply. 

For more information about Free ORV Weekends, visit Michigan.gov/ORVInfo. You can enjoy the outdoors and fish with your family, friends or make it a solo trip! 

My First Fish! Or My Big Fish! Certificates 

Celebrate the catching of a child’s first fish or a big fish with these printable certificates: 

Help is Available for Homeowners Impacted by COVID
June is National Homeownership Month, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority are reminding Michiganders of support available to homeowners who have been financially impacted by COVID-19.   

The MIMortgage Relief Partnership, launched in 2020, is a cooperative agreement between the state of Michigan and more than 230 banks, credit unions, and mortgage servicers to provide mortgage relief to Michigan homeowners experiencing a COVID-19 related financial hardship. The deadline to request assistance from participating lenders has been extended to December 31, 2021. DIFS has also compiled a list of additional assistance programs to help impacted homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments.  

To find a housing counselor near you, visit Michigan.gov/HousingEducationLocator. Consumers who need assistance with insurance or financial services issues can contact DIFS Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 877-999-6442. 

New Certification Schedule to Help Report Work Search Activity 

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has reintroduced a call-in schedule to assist all claimants who certify their eligibility for benefits by phone. The call-in schedule, based on the last two digits of an individual’s Social Security Number (SSN), will help ease incoming call flow and prevent extended wait times while reporting work search activity by phone. 
Claimants who receive unemployment benefits are required to search for work and report at least one work search activity per week when they certify for benefits. Failure to report a work search activity will result in a loss of benefits for that week. 

All claimants who certify by phone will need to call using MARVIN (866-638-3993) according to the schedule. If unable to certify on their scheduled day and time, all claimants may certify on Thursday or Friday of their certification week, regardless of their SSN. Claimants who need to report their work search activity must complete the automated certification questions and remain on the line to connect with an agent to report their work search activity for each week. 

MARVIN is available from 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, but is no longer available on Saturdays. 

As of Monday, June 7, 2021, the schedule is: 

For faster processing, UIA recommends that claimants certify and report their work search online using the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM). MiWAM is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Claimants may sign up for a MiWAM account at Michigan.gov/UIA

A waiver of the work search requirement may be granted due to certain COVID-19 related reasons, though claimants must apply and be approved for the waiver before they certify for benefits for the biweekly certification period. Claimants will be notified at the time of the request whether a waiver of the requirement is granted. 

For more information on the work search requirement, visit Michigan.gov/UIA

Reminder: Avoid Foam on Michigan’s Lakes and Rivers 
As the summer months approach, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is issuing its annual recommendation that Michiganders avoid contact with foam they may see on Michigan lakes, rivers, and streams. 

The foam may have unknown chemicals or bacteria in them, so it is recommended to avoid contact. 

Foam can form on any waterbody, but foam on some may have high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS-containing foam tends to be bright white in color, is often lightweight, and may pile up like shaving cream on shorelines or blow onto beaches. If contact with foam is made, care should be taken to rinse or wash it off as soon as possible, particularly if PFAS contamination is suspected. The longer that foam remains on the skin, the greater the chance of accidentally swallowing it or the foam residue left behind. 

Naturally occurring foam without PFAS tends to pile up in bays, eddies, or at river barriers such as dams. Naturally occurring foam is typically off-white and/or brown in color and often has an earthy or fishy scent. 

More information on PFAS-containing foam can be found under the “PFAS Foam” section at Michigan.gov/PFASResponse. If you have questions about exposures to PFAS and/or foam, call the MDHHS Environmental Health hotline at 800-648-6942.

Virtual Coffee Hour TODAY 

I hope you can join me for a Virtual Coffee Hour today, Friday, June 11 from 9 to 10 a.m., on Zoom. This is a great opportunity to discuss important issues in our district from the comfort and safety of your own home. 

Please click here to register and feel free to include any questions you may have for me. I’ll do my best to address everyone’s question during the coffee hour, and we’ll send you the link to the meeting before the start of the event. 

I look forward to chatting with you and hope to see you online! 

Contact Us 

I have other questions. Are you and your office still available? 

To keep you and my staff healthy and safe, we are working remotely until further notice. Please call our office at (517) 373-1801 or send me an email at SenWBrinks@senate.michigan.gov, as you normally would, and we will do our best to avoid any interruption of service. 

I am still working diligently and engaging with folks in our community, but all in-person events have been canceled for the time being. You can follow me on Facebook or check my website at SenatorBrinks.com for more information on any future events. 

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