Senate District 9 Update

State Senator Paul Wojno

June 4, 2021

Friends,

Summer is fast approaching, and whether you’re reuniting with family and friends, going to the local parks and pools to cool off, or simply enjoying the weather, I hope this message finds you well.

This e-news has valuable information on scholarship information for foster care children, benefit information for military service members, acknowledging Asian American Heritage and Pride months, Michigan’s upcoming free fishing weekend, Michigan’s new high-speed internet office, and programs and assistance to help pay utility bills.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at 517-373-8360, or email me if you have any questions or need assistance.

Warmest regards, 

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Paul Wojno
State Senator
9th District


FOSTERING FUTURES SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS DUE JUNE 30

Young adults who have experienced foster care on or after their 13th birthday have less than a month remaining to apply for a scholarship from the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

The Fostering Futures Scholarship application period for academic year 2021-22 will stay open until June 30, 2021. Eligible students enrolled at a Michigan degree-granting college or university may now apply to receive scholarship funds for tuition, fees, room, board, books, and supplies.

To learn more about the Fostering Futures Scholarship, visit FosteringFutures-MI.com.

Fostering Future Scholarship applicants with questions should contact the state Treasury Department’s Student Scholarships, Grants and Outreach area at MIStudentAid@michigan.gov or call toll-free at 1-888-4-GRANTS (888-447-2687).

REMINDER: MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SPECIAL BENEFITS

The Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury) reminds current and former military members of the special benefits they may be entitled to receive, including:

To learn more about tax relief and other benefits for current and past military members, go to Michigan.gov/Taxes.

HONORING ASIAN AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH, COMBATTING HATE CRIMES

In Michigan, we recognized May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, but our work continues to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans, which have sharply increased over the past year.

Michigan is fortunate to have a Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC) working diligently on behalf of this fastest-growing population, which makes up 3.7% of the state’s total population. Recently, they recognized various communities for condemning anti-Asian hate, discrimination and rhetoric.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of a hate crime or have credible information about one that’s occurred, you are encouraged to call the Michigan Attorney General’s hate crimes hotline to report it at 313-456-0200. Learn more about the AG’s Hate Crimes Unit on their website.

JUNE RECOGNIZED AS PRIDE MONTH

On Monday, June 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist issued a proclamation marking June as Pride Month to recognize the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ Michiganders and to commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, an event recognized as a catalyst for the modern LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement.

Michigan is home to an estimated 373,000 residents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Michigan is home to the nation’s first non-discrimination ordinance, which passed in 1972 in East Lansing, and was also the first state whose Civil Rights Commission independently recognized that discrimination “because of sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity in 2018.

STATE CREATES MICHIGAN HIGH-SPEED INTERNET OFFICE

On Tuesday, June 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Directive 2021-02 to help bridge the digital divide by establishing the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) to make high-speed internet more affordable and accessible.

With broadband access becoming a necessity, the new office will be dedicated to coordinating and advancing efforts to ensure that every home and business has access to an affordable, reliable high-speed connection that meets their needs and that they have the skills to use it effectively.

Gaps in high-speed internet availability, affordability, adoption, and use disproportionately impact communities of color, those in rural areas, and low-income households. Lack of quality internet access costs Michigan $2.5 billion per year in lost economic benefits. Evidence demonstrates that increasing opportunities to get connected have a range of benefits, including education, health outcomes, small businesses, seniors, civic engagement, climate change, rural development and more.

MICHIGAN FREE FISHING WEEKEND – JUNE 12 & 13

The dates for Michigan’s free fishing weekend are June 12 and 13. All fishing license fees will be waived for two days, and a Recreation Passport will NOT be required for entry into state parks and boating access sites during Free Fishing Weekend. Residents and visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes’ waters for all species of fish. All fishing regulations will still apply.

This year, Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend will be held in conjunction with “Three Free” weekend, where residents can grab a fishing pole, ride the off-road trails, and visit state parks and boating access sites all free of charge.

Visit Michigan.gov/DNR for more information on Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend. 

ENERGY ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE

Electric, natural gas, and propane bills can have a major impact on household budgets. For people having trouble paying their energy bills, it is important to know that help may be available. Below you will find helpful tips on navigating the energy assistance process.

Be Proactive – Contact your utility company or propane supplier as soon as you know you will be unable to pay your bill on time. Do not wait for a shut-off notice or put yourself in a situation where you might run out of fuel.

Get Help by Calling 2-1-1 – Call 2-1-1 or go to MI211.org to learn about agencies in your county that may assist with your energy bill.

State Emergency Relief (SER) Program – SER may help low-income households pay part of their heating or electric bills, assist in keeping utilities in service, or have service restored. The program is available all year long. Call your local Department of Health and Human Services office for information or apply on MI Bridges. Households must apply for SER assistance prior to receiving any MEAP services.

Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) – MEAP works with households to provide supplemental bill payment assistance and self-sufficiency services to low-income residents statewide. At the time of SER application, applicants will be able to choose a MEAP provider to work with. A list of organizations that deliver MEAP services can be found on the Michigan Public Service Commission’s website. MEAP Grantees are all Community Partners with MDHHS and can help applicants to navigate the MDHHS application process.

Community Partners – Connect with an MDHHS community partner to help work through the process of applying for assistance.

Home Heating Credit – Qualified persons may receive a credit to help pay winter heating bills. Apply for a Home Heating Credit if you are low-income, receive public assistance, or receive unemployment compensation. Eligible customers must meet guidelines based on household income, exemptions, and heating costs. You must apply by September 30 each year. The application form (MI-1040CR-7) can be requested from the Michigan Department of Treasury at 517-636-4486, or visit website at Michigan.gov/Treasury.

For more information, check out consumer tips on energy assistancehow to apply for energy assistance, or visit Michigan.gov/BeWinterWise for a variety of additional energy resources and information.

HOW TO ACCESS ENERGY ASSISTANCE

If you are a consumer seeking energy assistance, you can find more information on the MiBridges application, which is administered through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 


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