Hi ,

On Wednesday, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order to streamline unemployment benefit claims for tens of thousands of residents experiencing delays.

Under this new order, the state only needs to review an individual’s most recent job separation to determine the individual's benefit eligibility. This means previous employers don’t need to be contacted, so benefits will be approved much quicker.

Yesterday, Gov. Whitmer announced the MI Safe Start Plan , a six-phase plan for safely reopening Michigan's economy based on the current prevalence of COVID-19. The plan includes safely reopening manufacturing on Monday. R eal estate, construction and other work that is traditionally performed outdoors were allowed to resume work yesterday.


Here is the list of industries that are currently allowed to operate under phase 3:

  • Retail: Limited to grocery stores and other critical retail (e.g., pharmacies), plus curbside or delivery for nonessential retail
  • Public Transportation: Permitted
  • Restaurants & Bars: Available for take-out, delivery and drive-through
  • Manufacturing: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines
  • Construction: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines
  • Food & Agriculture: Permitted
  • Offices: Closed to all non-critical workers
  • Education & Child Care: Remote learning in K-12 and higher education, child care for critical workers and anyone resuming work activities
  • Outdoor work: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines

In accordance with the MI Safe Start Plan, Gov. Whitmer has also implemented a new "Stay Safe, Stay Home" Executive Order that is in effect until May 28. Individuals must continue to wear non-medical grade face coverings while in enclosed public spaces, and employers must provide their workers with face coverings.



Helpful COVID-19 Resources and Assistance

My goal is to ensure you have access to the federal, state and community resources that are currently available. Below is a detailed list of resources that are available during this difficult time. Please browse through the headings to find the resources that are relevant and helpful to you.

My office is here to help, you can call us at 517-373-1786 or send me an email at juliebrixie@house.mi.gov.


MiMortgage Relief Partnership


 
  • Providing a 90-day grace period for all mortgage payments.
  • Allowing homeowners to reduce or delay their monthly mortgage payments.
  • Providing relief from mortgage-related late fees and charges for 90 days.
  • Foregoing new foreclosures for 60 days. Financial institutions will not initiate any foreclosure sales or evictions for 60 days for affected homeowners who reach an agreement with their lenders.
  • Working with homeowners to help address unique challenges they may be facing.
 
Financial institutions will not report adverse credit scoring information for affected homeowners who reach an agreement with their financial institution.

Michigan homeowners experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19 are encouraged to contact their financial institution directly. Homeowners are encouraged to reach out before their loan becomes delinquent.

Unemployment benefits increased by $600 per week, expanded to include self-employed residents

Unemployment benefits have been increased by $600 per week and expanded to residents who do not traditionally qualify for state unemployment assistance.

Residents who don't traditionally qualify include people who are self-employed, 1099 contractors, seasonal workers and others who can no longer work because of the pandemic.

If you traditionally qualify, you will be able to receive $600 per week, plus the traditional amount.

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

IMPORTANT UPDATE: On Wednesday, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order to streamline unemployment benefit claims for tens of thousands of Michigan residents experiencing delays.

Under this new order, the state only needs to review an individual’s most recent job separation to determine the individual's benefit entitlement. This means previous employers don’t need to be contacted, so those waiting for benefits will receive them much quicker.

HOW TO APPLY: You can backdate your claim to reflect the day you became unemployed. Once your claim is processed, you will receive unemployment assistance dating back to this date.



The state continues to work on getting more servers to help handle the unprecedented web traffic and is working to increase call center capacity. Due the high volume of calls and web traffic, please submit claims and call the call center on this weekly schedule based on your last name.

If you are still having issues processing your claim online, you may still need to try applying earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
My office can assist you if there are issues with your claim. All we need is your:

  • Name
  • Claim ID#
  • Phone Number
  • Address
  • A detailed description of your case and the issue you're experiencing

Please contact us at 517-373-1786 or juliebrixie@house.mi.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding eligibility for unemployment benefits

Many self-employed residents have asked me specific questions about their eligibility for unemployment benefits. Working with Rep. Elissa Slotkin's office, I was able to put together this Question and Answer resource:

QUESTION 1:  If a self-employed person has not paid payroll taxes on themselves, are they eligible? 

ANSWER 1:  Yes

QUESTION 2:  If a self-employed person pays themselves via an owner drawdown, versus a salary, are they eligible? 

ANSWER 2:  Yes

QUESTION 3:  If a self-employed person has lost income, but still has some income from their business, are they eligible? 

ANSWER 3:  Yes

QUESTION 4:  How do they determine what date are they deemed unemployed? 

ANSWER 4:  The date they became unemployed is the date they stopped being able to engage in their business activity due to one of the COVID related reasons.

QUESTION 5: Would a business that does not have any W-2 employees qualify? Meaning, would the owners themselves qualify if they pay themselves pass through income rather than a salary our hourly wage? 

ANSWER 5: Yes

If you have additional questions, please contact Dan Opsommer with my office at dopsommer@house.mi.gov.

Paycheck Protection Program for businesses and nonprofits

The Paycheck Protection Program was established under the federal CARES Act to help businesses and nonprofits with financial assistance to meet payroll.

What it would fund?  It would provide 2.5 months of payroll, based on the average total monthly payroll costs from the one-year period prior to the date of application.

Is this loan is forgivable?  Yes, employers that maintain employment for the 8 weeks after origination of loan, or rehire employees by June 30, will have loans forgiven in whole or part, essentially turning the loan into a grant. This forgiveness program is in Section 1106 of the CARES Act.

How to apply?  Businesses and n onprofits may apply at any lending institution that is approved to participate in the program. For information on finding SBA-approved lenders, visit SBA’s online Lender Match tool by clicking here.


What do I do if I haven't received my stimulus check?

If you have not received you stimulus check, please contact one of these offices and they will be able to assist you:

  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s Office: 517-203-1760
  • Sen. Gary Peters’ Office: 517-377-1508
  • Rep. Elissa Slotkin‘s Office: 517-993-0510


IMPORTANT: What to do if you believe you have contracted COVID-19?

If you are concerned that you may have contracted COVID-19 you should call your healthcare provider first. Please start with a call, do not go directly to the doctor's office. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call your local urgent care.

The Michigan Medicaid Program and most insurers will not charge any out of pocket costs for testing. Please contact my office if you are having issues with a medical bill by calling us at 517-373-1786 or send me an email at juliebrixie@house.mi.gov.

Have questions about COVID-19? Ask a Michigan Physician who has volunteered to help.

My friend, Dr. Chris Chiou, is a licensed physician in Michigan and has built a website where you can ask him questions. If you believe you have contracted the virus, you should follow the steps in the heading above, but if you simply have questions, Dr. Chiou has offered his services to help answer them.

Dr. Chiou attended Harvard University. After graduating from medical school, both he and his wife began their residency in Family Medicine at Sparrow Hospital. In 2013, a year before graduating residency, Dr. Chiou was diagnosed with a congenital, benign brain tumor.

Dr. Chiou then stopped his residency and underwent surgery to remove the tumor. While the tumor and its removal left him debilitated, Dr. Chiou was able to return to residency and complete his medical degree. Dr. Chiou now focuses on raising his two sons and helping the community as a non practicing, but licensed physician.

Volunteer Opportunities Across Michigan


Residents also can use the site to find out how they can help in their local communities, give blood, donate money or needed medical supplies, or assist public health officials in tracking infections.

Increased, Expanded Food Assistance Benefits


Households eligible for Food Assistance Program benefits will receive additional benefits in March and April to bring all current SNAP cases to the maximum monthly allowance for that group size.

Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card by TODAY.  Below is the maximum allowable benefit for SNAP customers based on their respective household size:

  • One person: $194
  • Two persons: $355
  • Three persons: $509
  • Four persons: $646
  • Five persons: $768
  • Six persons: $921
  • Seven persons: $1,018
  • Eight persons: $1,164

Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive these additional benefits.

People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card online  or by contacting a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914.

Customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing or speech-impaired, call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.

MDHHS also received approval from the USDA to temporarily suspend federal work requirements affecting close to 27,000 able-bodied adults without dependents to reduce the financial impact of COVID-19.

No action is needed for eligible adults to be temporarily exempt from the requirements. About 143,000 additional able-bodied adults are already exempt from the requirement.

Effective Tuesday, April 1, the three-month time limit for failing to meet work requirements will be lifted for able-bodied adults ages 18 through 49, who have no minor-age children, and are able to work but are not working 80 hours a month. Without the waiver due to COVID-19, they could only receive food assistance benefits for up to three months within a 36-month period without meeting work requirements.

The suspension of the time limit will continue through the end of the month following the month in which the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration is lifted by the secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services. MDHHS will provide updates when it receives notice of additional changes to the work requirements.

Student Loan Payment Assistance

The federal CARES Act will automatically suspend payments on all federally-owned student loans until September 30. No interest will accrue on these loans during this suspension.

While it may be difficult to contact student loan services right now due to the current surge in activity, borrowers should check their accounts online in the coming weeks to better understand their eligibility.

REMINDER: Federal, state and city income tax filing deadline extended to July 15

The federal and state income tax deadline has been extended from April 15 to July 15.

Cities in Michigan with income taxes due on April 15 will now be due on July 15. Cities in Michigan with income taxes due on April 30 will now be due on July 31.

Blood Donors Needed to Prevent Shortage

As the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services continues to urge residents to practice social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19, officials are calling on healthy residents to continue blood donations to help the state avoid a life-threatening blood shortage.

Individuals who are healthy and eligible to give blood or platelets, are urged to make an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App on mobile phones, visiting RedCrossBlood.org  or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Since March 18, nearly 4,500 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to COVID-19 concerns, resulting in more than 150,000 fewer blood donations. In the Michigan Region, over 200 drives, representing more than 6,000 units, have been cancelled.

This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.

The Red Cross has taken the following mitigation measures to help keep blood recipients, staff and donors safe:

  • The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org.
  • All individuals will be prescreened by checking their temperature before they enter any Red Cross blood drive or donation center, including staff and volunteers.
  • At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.
  • The average blood drives are only 20-30 people rather than large gatherings. Additional spacing has been implemented within each blood drive set up to incorporate social distancing measures between donation beds and stations within the blood drive.

Evictions Have Been Suspended

Gov. Whitmer has extended the executive order allowing tenants and mobile home owners to remain in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic even if they are unable to stay current on their rent.

Connecting Families with Free Meals


CATA Emergency Transportation Service



Service will continue to operate fare-free. CATA operators and riders will be required to wear a face mask or face covering. New measures also include signage inside buses to ensure that riders observe the prescribed social distance of 6 feet. Riders will not be permitted to stand in bus aisles.

Passengers riding fixed-route service should board and exist from the rear door. For the latest information, please visit cata.org.

Assistance for Seniors

If you are a senior living in Ingham, Eaton or Clinton County, you can contact the Tri-County Office on Aging at 517-887-1440 or by visiting them online here.

They can help connect seniors with Meals on Wheels and other services.

Water Shut-off and Billing Issues

Last month Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order requiring the reconnection of service to residences that have had their water shut off. The BWL, East Lansing and Meridian Township had all suspended water shut-offs at the very beginning of the pandemic.

If you are on a public water system and need your service restored, contact your local government. If you won't be able to make a payment, please contact them ASAP to work on establishing a payment plan.

Gas and Electric Shut-off and Billing Issues

Consumers and DTE Energy have stopped shut-offs for senior citizens and low-income eligible households. The BWL has suspended all electric and water shut-offs.

If you won't be able make a payment, contact them ASAP and they will help you establish a payment plan. You can contact my office if you are having any difficulty in establish a payment plan.

Consumers Energy: 800-477-5050
DTE Energy: 800-477-4747
BWL: 518-702-6006

Gov. Whitmer Issues Tax Foreclosure Extension

If your property is in tax foreclosure, the Governor has extended the deadline to reclaim your property until May 29 or until 30 days after the lifting of the State of Emergency.

Combating price-gouging

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is working to address price-gougers.

You can submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team by calling 877-765-8388 or by visiting their website by clicking here. The phone lines are usually open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

I had the honor of working to staff the complaint hotline to help address the high call volume and continue volunteering with various call centers.

Under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, a business found to be price-gouging could face legal action, and be required to pay damages to consumers and civil penalties of up to $25,000 for knowing and persistent violations – if the store fails to comply with the Attorney General’s cease and desist order.

In addition,  Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-08  makes specified price-gouging behaviors criminal misdemeanors, which can be prosecuted on top of civil action under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

Again, my office is here to help during these difficult times, you can call us at 517-373-1786 or send me an email at juliebrixie@house.mi.gov.

Thank you for making major adjustments to help protect our families, friends and communities from the spread of COVID-19 during this very difficult time.

Sincerely,

Julie Brixie
State Representative
69th District