One of the greatest joys I experience is living in such an incredible community. When there is a need we give, when someone is hurting we care, and when someone experiences success we celebrate. What if this Christmas, while we remember the greatest gift ever given, we each look for a neighbor in need and take the time to reach out in some small way. Who knows how much good can come from a few simple acts of kindness?
New Year begins district office hours change
To improve efficient and effective service to the residents of the 73rd House District, beginning in January 2010 my meetings with constituents will be done on an appointment basis rather than the open district office hours schedule. The monthly district office hours format was great for meeting people informally, but often it has been the case that no residents were using the district office hours opportunities to meet with me. Another matter I have taken into account in making this decision is fairness to the businesses and their staffs who have graciously hosted my meetings over the years. The scant and sometimes nonexistent attendance needlessly ties up part of their serving area. I am thankful to each restaurant that worked around my district office hours schedule. I also thank those residents who have met with me at the district office hours. I still look forward to meeting in the local community with anyone who has concerns, opinions or difficulties with state government issues or services using an appointment process. To establish an appointment time and location, please contact my office toll free at 888-414-3684.
“Helping hand” info makes online debut
A new state Web site is making it easier for people facing economic hardship to find state programs and services, tips and how-to information. There are five primary links at www.michigan.gov/helpinghand to access information on Michigan’s unemployment benefits program, food assistance, affordable medical care and help with mortgage trouble, as well as other useful information. The site also has links for United Way’s 2-1-1 local cooperating agencies, including the online Heart of West Michigan United Way Community Resource Directory. Another Web site that can be of use for seniors looking for answers is the AARP’s www.aarp.org/quicklink. This site can help people learn about public benefit programs they may not know are available, and how to get help from them. These programs can help save money on health care, medication, food, utilities, children’s health costs and more. There are options for federal and state-specific program searches.
Reminder: unemployment assistance available 24/7
I included this information in my last column, but with Michigan’s high unemployment I want to remind people that unemployment insurance help can be reached online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Claims can be filed online at www.michigan.gov/uia anytime from 7 a.m., Monday until 7 p.m., Saturday. Claims can also be filed by telephone by calling toll-free 866-500-0017 which is available anytime from 7 a.m., Monday, until 7 p.m., Saturday, with live assistance available from 8 a.m., until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those connecting before or after the regular business hours will not have access to live representatives. Those calling the automated system during off-hours and who cannot complete the filing of their claims because additional information is required will be advised to call the agency back during normal business hours, excluding holidays, to speak with an agency representative. Another service upgrade allows workers to choose their benefit payment option from debit card to direct deposit or vice versa. UIA also has helpful video Webcasts available on its site, www.michigan.gov/uia. There are answers and explanations to more than three dozen common questions on ‘UI Tube’ in the format of guides or tutorials to help users understand and access unemployment programs or benefits. Most of the on-demand programs are less than 10 minutes long. Employers can learn about different aspects of the tax program, as well as how to file quarterly wage, tax and payroll reports. Unemployed workers can learn about unemployment benefits, including the step-by-step process for filing an unemployment claim and registering for work through Michigan Works! They can also learn about their benefit payment options, how to use MARVIN and some of the common problems they may have with claims.
Residents are encouraged to contact me anytime through my Lansing office by calling toll free (888) 414-3684; mailing to the State Capitol, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909-7514; or e-mailing email@example.com.