IN THIS EDITION
Last Week in the Legislature
Unemployment Insurance Agency Reminder
Michigan has taken tremendous steps towards reopening in the past few weeks. This past week saw the reopening of restaurants and bars at limited capacity for in-person service. Oakland County reopened all outdoor park playgrounds and pools. And, Michigan is currently leading the Midwest in our control over new cases and fatalities of COVID-19. As of June 15, salons, barber shops, and nail salons are now able to open their doors as well.
We would not be able to take these steps to return to our communities, businesses, public spaces, and each other without the tremendous actions of 10 million Michiganders who take this seriously, hunker down, mask up when in public spaces, and practice frequent handwashing. In fact, many other areas around the country are beginning to see a worrying upswing in coronavirus cases and fatalities, with states like Arizona nearly hitting their hospital capacity, and North Carolina considering stay-home efforts as their cases continue to rise.
Michigan was hit especially hard in the first wave and no one wants to go backwards. On a personal level, I make sure to wear a mask every time I’m out in public, on the Senate floor, or in committee. A growing body of evidence shows that masks are uniquely effective at preventing a second wave and limiting transmission. I’m still limiting my trips and I’m being diligent about handwashing — these are simple things we can all do to ensure we can keep our trajectory on the right track as we continue to reopen safely.
If you’ve been out in a crowded place or are returning to work, make sure you go get tested. I received a test a few weeks ago after experiencing a rare symptom of COVID-19; I felt completely healthy but wanted to be sure so as not to pass the virus on to family, friends, or coworkers. The test was quick, painless, and I received results (negative) in 3 days. Frequent testing, along with masks, handwashing, and social distancing, are proven ways we’ll be able to keep this virus at bay. You can find a testing location near you by visiting Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.
Have a great week and keep up with me on social media to join our regular virtual coffee hours.
LAST WEEK IN THE LEGISLATURE
Cocktails-to-go passed nearly unanimously and is on its way to the House! We were proud to be a part of moving this issue forward to help our restaurants and hospitality staff unlock more tools to be able to come out of this crisis on stronger footing.
Throughout this process, our office heard from a number of restaurant and bar owners and hospitality staff throughout our district emphasizing what a game changer this would be as they begin to reopen. We know the restaurant industry operates with very thin margins, and many the restaurants and bars throughout our district are independent and family owned.
This pandemic has been especially challenging on this industry — estimates indicated up to 25% of all restaurants would not survive the pandemic and long road to economic recovery ahead. With limited capacity due to social distancing and safety requirements, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association estimates it will take 12-18 months for many to recover, and much longer if there’s a second wave of COVID-19.
Alcohol sales account for around 30% of a restaurant’s cash flow, so allowing restaurants and bars to add mixed drinks and liquor to their offerings of beer and wine to-go would provide a high-margin item, and allow them to keep additional staff employed — even if many customers choose to continue opting for takeout and delivery as the state continues to reopen.
This approved legislation also allows cities to designate “social districts” where open container laws wouldn’t apply.
I was proud to work collaboratively with Senator Irwin on introducing these bills and voted to support the final omnibus bill sponsored by Senator Nesbitt that included both “cocktails-to-go” and “social districts,” among other liquor-related efforts.
This legislation, introduced by Representative Beth Griffin, would allow additional chiropractic services to be reimbursed under personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
Last Thursday, June 11th, I was proud to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 123 to declare and recognize June 2020 as LGBTQ Pride Month, commemorating the 50th anniversary of annual LGBTQ Pride traditions.
The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act currently does not protect LGBTQ residents from employment or housing discrimination, and leaves many of our friends and neighbors fearing for their own safety and security simply for being true to who they are. They deserve to be seen, respected, and treated fairly under the law.
Michigan has a long way to go in our fight towards equality for all our residents, and I remain committed to supporting that movement in solidarity with our LGBTQ community.
The Senate approved a resolution to memorialize the Congress of the United States to help the State of Michigan, schools, and local governments address revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic, by allowing states more flexibility to control how federal stimulus funding is used within the state.
Currently, the CARES Act only allows the state to utilize federal stimulus funding to cover new COVID-19 related expenses. This resolution encourages Congress to allow the state to leverage these critical funds to fill budget holes created as a direct result of the pending revenue shortfall in the wake of the pandemic — including K-12 school funding, infrastructure funding, and more.
This bill package from the House would amend several acts to revise the definition of telemedicine to expand coverage of Telemedicine in Michigan’s Medicaid program (both traditional and Healthy Michigan).
A joint resolution passed by the Senate amends Article I (Declaration of Rights), Section 11 of the Michigan Constitution to specify that the electronic data and electronic communications of every person would be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, and that a warrant would be required to gain access to those materials. The Constitution specifies that the “person, houses, papers and possessions of every person shall be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Under the resolution, this provision also would apply to electronic data and electronic communications. If approved by a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Legislature, the joint resolution would have to be submitted to the general public for a vote during the next general election.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AGENCY REMINDER
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) continues to develop new processes to battle attempts by criminals to file imposter claims and commit large-scale fraud. Last week, claimants identified as requiring additional identity verification to protect against unemployment identity theft were sent an email introducing them to a new tool to provide ID verification. The process is described below.
How to verify your identity using the new tool:
If a claimant never received or no longer has Form UIA 6347, they will need to follow the steps previously emailed to them to send us a message. Click on the “Send Unemployment a Message” link under the “I Want To” tab. There you can send a message and attach a copy of your identity verification documents.
Important reminder about sharing your personal information
As a reminder, please do NOT provide anyone with your Social Security number that is not an agent from the UIA. We have seen increased attempts of fraud with criminals reaching out directly to residents promising assistance and taking individuals personal information. To prevent further fraud, please do not share this personal information with anyone other than a UIA specialist.
NOTE: This includes our office. As legislative offices are wholly independent from the UIA and are not set up to securely maintain and process sensitive personal information, please do NOT send personal information directly to our office.
Our office has assembled a comprehensive list of resources for those who have been impacted by COVID-19. These resources include information for small business, unemployment assistance, health and safety measures, and more.
We have a dedicated tab on our website with these resources along with an online folder, including information at the local and state level. Bookmark this folder — Team McMorrow updates it on a daily basis:
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