Representative Brenda Carter hosting k-12 educational experience town hall 4 P.m.

Representative Brenda carter will be hosting a virtual education town hall today at 4 P.M. Panelists will include U.S. Representatives Haley Stevens and Brenda Lawrence; as well as Michigan Senator Rosemary Bayer and Superintendents Mrs. Kelley Williams (Pontiac), Dr. Gerald Hill (West Bloomfield), and Dr. James Schwarz (Avondale). This Google form link will allow you to ask questions prior to the discussion. You can join the ZOOM webinar (ID# 847 1275 0298), or simply watch it LIVE right here at Civic Center TV!

michigan cut off unemployment for thousands of eligible residents. it’s not the first time.

Trey Holubec, a maintenance worker at a water treatment plant, has been fighting to get the state’s attention on the unemployment front. He’s called the UIA thousands of times and has never been able to talk with a single person. Trey called his local Michigan Works office to see if they could help, but kept getting connected with other people trying to connect with the office themselves; in the process hearing dozens of depressing and hopeless stories. He’s since taken his fight to Lansing.

Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders are still not receiving unemployment benefits, and the UIA doesn’t know what percentage of the 340,000 accounts are actually fraudulent. The jump happened after the U.S. Secret Service issued a national alert in May that an international criminal ring was exploiting states for unemployment dollars. The U.S. Department of Labor estimated the nation could lose $26 billion due to unemployment fraud. Michigan responded by adding new fraud protections to their system, which then flagged and shut down 340,000 accounts.

Michiganders were asked to send in further identity verification, and while some accounts have been unfrozen, hundreds of thousands still remain in deadlock. Reports from residents calling the UIA thousands of times, and never being able to make contact, are rampant. In 2013 Michigan implemented new software called MiDAS that automatically checked for fraud. It flagged over 40,000 residents for fraud and had an error rate in determining that fraud at 93%. Rachael Kohl, Director of UofM Law School’s Unemployment Insurance Clinic says, “The only reason I have any faith at all in the agency whatsoever is, the person who exposed the agency’s past bad action, Steve Gray, is now at the helm.” Please click here to read more.

Will extra covid-19 unemployment benefits be extended or replace by ‘back-to-work’ bonus?

President Trump’s administration wants to replace the $600 unemployment payment with a new “back-to-work” bonus, however Democrats would like to extend the weekly payments until next year. Around 1.3 million Michiganders are collecting unemployment right now (minus the ones who’s accounts are frozen), and their enhanced weekly unemployment benefits are set to expire July 31. Financial expert Kirk Cassidy says, “The idea is to give a bonus to incentivize people to come off unemployment and go back to work. For many people who are collecting almost $900 a week, it’s significantly more than they were making when they were working.” A lot seems to be at stake politically for both Republicans and Democrats. Please click here to read more.

how extension of us-canada border shutdown will affect michigan economy, families

The busiest border crossing between the US and Canada will remain closed for another 30 days. Essential traffic like commerce and auto parts are allowed to cross, however “unessential” travel is still prohibited until July 21. It will be a hit on Michigan’s tourism industry, which has already taken quite a few punches during the pandemic. Marci Farnal, of the Bluewater Convention Center in Port Huron says, “Half our summer is gone and our Canadian friends, they play such a big part in the economy in our communities, with our restaurants and our shopping, with our golfing and hotels.” Please click here to read more.

governor’s stay-at-home order allows for summer camps, but not gyms in most of michigan

Many restrictions on Michigan businesses have been loosened up, however gyms are still not allowed to fully reopen. Paul Cox, who co-owns two Anytime Fitness locations says, “Drives me crazy. They don’t hand you a spray bottle at Kroger as you walk around and clean stuff. You go touch groceries and put them back, nobody cleans those. We clean all of our equipment daily.” Some gym owners have made the decision to reopen with safety measure in place despite the order. Please click here to read more. 

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