District 18 News & Updates

State Senator Jeff Irwin

Dear Neighbor, 

I want to make sure you’re informed about what has been going on in our state government and update you on what I’ve been working on.  

In this e-news, you can find information about: 

  • Legislative Update 
  • Upcoming Happy Hour with Jeff 
  • August Primary 
  • Cooling Sites in Washtenaw County 
  • Mortgage, Rental and Utility Assistance 
  • COVID-19 Resources 
    • COVID-19 Vaccine Information 
    • COVID-19 Testing 
  • Energy Bill Assistance and Shutoff Protection 

As always, you can reach my office at (517) 373-2406 or by replying to this email.   

Sincerely, 

State Senator Jeff Irwin

Jeff Irwin
State Senator
18th District 


LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 

State Budget Has Been Passed! 

Again, we’ve passed a bipartisan budget. Our governor and legislature worked together, and we were able to make major investments in our state and education system. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’m very proud of the work we did on this budget. Here are some of the highlights: 

Student Scholarships 

I’m incredibly proud that we secured $250 million to establish a new Postsecondary Scholarship Fund. Also, the Michigan Competitive Scholarship will rise from $1,000 to $1,500, and the Michigan Tuition grant will increase from $2,800 to $3,000.  

This new scholarship, and the increases to the other programs will ensure young, talented, and hardworking people across Michigan can afford a college education without being saddled with massive debt. Since my time in the House, I’ve been fighting for more need-based financial aid and in this budget, we were able to make it happen. 

K-12 Education Funding 

We’ve again made a huge $610 million increase to the base per-pupil funding! This will raise that funding from $8,700 to $9,150, a 5.2% increase that equates to $450 per student. This is the highest state per-pupil funding in Michigan history. 

Teacher Recruitment and Retention
 

Two things that contribute to our teacher shortage are: 1) the schooling required to become a teacher is expensive, and 2) student teachers aren’t paid. With this year’s budget, the Governor and Legislature came together to ensure we’re hiring and recruiting the best educators for every classroom. The budget funds $10,000 in tuition for 2,500 future educators every year and offers a $9,600 semester stipend for student teachers. 

Special Education 

Our state has underfunded special education students for decades. The education budget includes $246 million to increase support for the nearly 50,000 special education students in Michigan. This funding will better position schools to set vulnerable kids up for success. 

Our allocations for special education are still short of where they need to be, but this is one area where we continue to make progress on closing this gap. 

Childcare 

The availability of quality, affordable childcare is essential for families to survive and our economy to thrive. I’m incredibly proud that we’re putting an additional $41.7 million into pre-K education programs: $34 million to open an additional 1,300 full-day slots in the Great Start Readiness Program, which provides free preschool for eligible 4-year-olds, and, $7.1 million for early identification and intervention services for younger children through the Early On Program. 

This increase is in addition to the expanded eligibility for childcare assistance to help pay for care and the additional help for providers and workers in day care centers. 

University Funding Increase 

When we work together great things happen. Our higher education budget includes a 5% increase to operation funding for all public universities and community colleges (and public universities will also receive a minimum of $4,500 in funding for each enrolled student, which helps schools that receive less funding per student). This is the largest increase I’ve seen in a decade in the Legislature, and the largest increase our state has seen in almost 20 years. 

With U of M, EMU and WCC here in Washtenaw County, these increases will not only make college more affordable, but they will also bring more jobs to the county as these great institutions continue to grow. 

Supportive Housing 

Michigan is putting $6 million toward a new permanent supportive housing pilot. This will provide people access to living space and access to critical social services that they rely on. When people are stably housed, we see less people in crisis in our emergency rooms, jails, and community mental health services — reducing the strain on these services. This approach improves lives and saves money in the long run.  

Supportive housing models are helping people across the county, and this infusion of dollars will help house people in Michigan and provide the wraparound services that keep them stable. Programs across the world are demonstrating the deep connections between health and social determinants of health, and I’m excited about how this new budget line item can help people. 

Medically Assisted Treatment 

Medically assisted treatment for opioid and other substance abuse works. Since April, when I offered my amendment to increase our state’s funding for advanced treatment, I have been fighting so that people can get access to these services. 

Working with our Governor, and my legislative colleagues, I’m grateful that we were able to increase reimbursement rates for medically assisted substance abuse treatment. The opioid epidemic — and substance abuse, more broadly — affects all of us, and expanding this critical treatment will allow more people to get the help they need. 

Prison Phone Calls 

For 12 years, inmates have been isolated, paying outrageous per-minute charges to make and receive phone calls. This year that ends, because we’re putting $14.8 million toward making sure phone services in correctional facilities are affordable. They deserve to be connected to their loved ones and to be able to talk with their families, friends, and groups who provide educational, emotional, and spiritual support. This was one of my priorities for this year’s budget, and I’m very proud to have worked across the aisle to get this funding.  

EMU MPSERS 

Another exciting element of this year’s budget for universities is that the state is paying off some long-term pension debt. As a result, EMU will save millions of dollars in debt and interest! Our state budget is putting $581 million into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System to pay more than half of these obligations down.  

This means EMU will have more dollars available for tuition assistance and affordability, employee pay, program expansion, and infrastructure investments.  

These are just some of the highlights of this year’s budget. You can see more by following my Facebook page. Not all of these great investments are covered by the news, so I’m posting highlights every day to my Facebook. 


Modernizing Our Armed Services Facilities 

Last October, I toured the Ypsilanti Armory and spoke with Army officials about their need to upgrade and improve the facility. This budget includes $100 million to modernize Michigan’s armories, which will ensure that our female soldiers have equitable bathrooms, locker rooms, and a much-needed lactation room. 


Reducing Insulin Prices 

One of my colleagues and partner in legislation is focused on reducing insulin prices, and I’m eager to work with him on this. His proposal is for the state of Michigan to produce insulin to directly compete with large pharmaceutical companies. Michigan State University has the capability to manufacture insulin, but would need state support in financing the facility, equipment, and paperwork for FDA approval. While our state has surplus funding, the time is right to put this in motion. 

Insulin prices are unreasonably high, and this is an idea where I see bipartisan effort toward a meaningful and positive change for residents.  


Restoring the 2018 Minimum Wage, and Paid Sick Leave Initiatives 

In 2018, the Republican Legislature and Governor Snyder gutted two voter petitions by using a legislative practice called “Adopt and Amend”. “Adopt and Amend” prevents a voter petition (a proposed measure placed on a ballot by voters) from reaching a ballot by adopting the petition into law, then changing it with fewer votes than would be required had the measure been passed by voters directly. 

They gutted the minimum wage and paid sick leave petitions this way. 

Thankfully, a Court of Claims has ruled that the “Adopt and Amend” practice is unconstitutional, and the two petitions must be restored as they were first adopted by the legislature. If this ruling stands, it means: 

  • Employees will earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 72 hours per year. 
  • The minimum wage will increase to $12 per hour with the tipped minimum wage rising up to $12 per hour by 2024. Both will then increase at the rate of inflation. 

This is a win for all of us, and for democracy. I’m hopeful that if this ruling is appealed, that it will be affirmed. 


UPCOMING HAPPY HOUR WITH JEFF 

Please join me at my happy hour this Monday, July 25th, at 734 Brewing Company at 15 E. Cross Street in Ypsilanti from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. I’m looking forward to seeing you there, and talking about what has been happening in Lansing and our community.

Happy Hour with State Senator Jeff Irwin

Don’t forget to click on “Going” on the Facebook event page to get a reminder the day before and the day of.  

For more information please contact (517) 373-2406 or respond to this email. 


AUGUST PRIMARY 

There are only 12 days left until the August 2nd primary! If you still have your absentee ballot you may want to deliver it to your local clerk’s ballot drop box. You can find your clerk’s office and drop box here.  

Voting Absentee Do's and Don'ts


COOLING SITES IN WASHTENAW COUNTY 

This summer is supposed to be hot. We’ve already had multiple days where the temperature reached the high 90s. If you need a place to cool off, check out the cooling centers around Washtenaw County: https://bit.ly/3xSDakZ 

Cooling Sites, Washtenaw County


MORTGAGE, RENTAL AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE 

MIHAF Application

Homeowners can apply for the MIHAF program here, but before you start please make sure you have all the necessary documents and information. You can find what documents and information you’ll need here

Who Is Eligible? 

  • Homeowners with household incomes less than 150% of Area Median Income (AMI). 
  • Homeowners who own and occupy the property as their primary residence. 
  • Homeowners must have and explain a financial hardship directly related to COVID-19 on or after January 21, 2020.  

Up to $25,000 Grant Per Household 

Eligible households can receive a grant worth up to $25,000 to help them pay: 

  • Delinquent mortgage/housing expenses, including property tax and insurance escrow shortages. 
  • Delinquent land contract payments, mobile home consumer loan payments or mobile home park lot payments. 
  • Delinquent property taxes. 
  • Delinquent condominium/homeowners’ association fees. 
  • Delinquent homeowner’s insurance. 
  • Delinquent utilities, gas, electric, water, sewer. 
  • Delinquent internet broadband services. 

CERA Application 

Tenants and landlords can apply by clicking here, but before you start please make sure you have all the necessary documents and information. You can find what documents and information you’ll need here

Who Is Eligible? 

CERA serves renter households that have incomes less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) who meet the following conditions: 

  • Individual(s) in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or has experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the coronavirus outbreak; and  
  • Individual(s) in the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability by being past due on rent. 

Utility Assistance 

Households eligible for CERA can also receive utility assistance for tenant supplied electricity, home heating (any type of fuel), water, sewer, and trash (if billed along with another utility). 

Internet Assistance 

Through CERA, a flat $300 internet stipend that is available for households that have home internet and include a recent internet bill/statement in their application. The $300 payment will be made to either the Internet service provider or the tenant.


COVID-19 RESOURCES

General Vaccination Info

The Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) has an ongoing vaccination site located at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti. 

  • Schedule an appointment here. If you need help scheduling, call us at 734-544-6700. 
  • Walk-ins without an appointment are accepted during clinic hours: Monday-Friday from 9:00-11:30 a.m. and 1:00-3:30 p.m.

Free, door-to-door, accessible, round-trip transportation to any COVID-19 vaccination site in Washtenaw County is available through the Vaccinate Washtenaw Program. 

This program is open to any person of any age in Washtenaw County. Rides are booked through the AARP Ride@50+ Program. Call 844-900-4892 and use the code “Vaccinate Washtenaw.” If the call center is busy, you can also call 734-773-0907 to schedule a ride.

Please check the WCHD website for more info about additional doses for immunocompromised people: washtenaw.org/3269/COVID-19-Vaccination

Booster Shots

The Washtenaw County Health Department is offering Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson booster doses at their clinic located at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti. They ask that you please bring your vaccination card and identification, if possible. 

COVID Testing

Lynx XD has drive-thru saliva PCR testing sites in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. For both sites, pre-registration is required online at lynxdx.health/register. Once you pre-register, you will be directed to schedule a time/date for your test.

For additional testing sites across Washtenaw County, and our state, visit the WCHD’s website here: washtenaw.org/3158/Testing


ENERGY BILL ASSISTANCE AND SHUTOFF PROTECTION

We have numerous utility shutoff protection programs and programs that will help you afford your utility bills. These programs range from bill payment assistance to assistance winterizing your home. Check out our list of these programs here: https://bit.ly/3HCZLUC

As an elected representative, I believe in being readily available and transparent because my office is your office.

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