As the weather begins to warm up, we have much to celebrate. March is Reading Month and also Women’s History Month! All month long, my staff and I are working to put together virtual reading sessions for interested groups and recognizing women who have been leaders throughout history, especially throughout Michigan’s history. Last week for example, we witnessed former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm — the first woman to assume the Michigan governorship — become the U.S. Secretary of Energy, only the second woman to do so.
Other updates of note include, the reintroduction of our bill package to strengthen Michigan’s election processes, updated MDHHS pandemic order, vaccine eligibility expansion and February’s Small Business of the Month recipients! Also, for those of you who were unable to attend, I recently hosted a UIA Town Hall as well as a Virtual Coffee Hour on Facebook Live this past Friday. On the latter, we spoke about the ongoing budget negotiations, road infrastructure, and updates about bills currently in committee. Both videos are available for viewing on my Facebook page. Don’t forget to tune into our next Virtual Coffee Hour on Friday, March 12 at 6 p.m. via Facebook Live!
As always, you can reach my office by voicemail at (517) 373-1783 or by email at PadmaKuppa@house.mi.gov for any thoughts or questions about state-level issues. Be sure to also check out the latest on my website at kuppa.housedems.com and on my social media platforms — @PadmaKuppaMI41 (Twitter) and @MIRepPadmaKuppa (Facebook)!
House District 41
Those who know me understand how excited I am that my office and I are gearing up for a committee hearing for my first bill, Justice for Allie. This legislation, inspired by a courageous constituent, would close a loophole in the law to protect vulnerable adults from being sexually exploited online. Justice for Allie was also my first bill introduced last term. This session, Justice for Allie is a 2-bill package: HB 4159 and HB 4160. The latter bill was introduced by Rep. Calley – and underscores our goal of bipartisanship.
If you would like to submit a card of support for these bills at the upcoming Families, Children and Seniors Committee hearing on March 16, please contact my office!
Additionally, last week I re-introduced my Vote at Home legislative bill package with two of my colleagues in an effort to improve transparency and access to voting in Michigan elections. My bill, HB 4362, would require local clerks to send ballot applications with prepaid return postage to every registered voter. The bill will also allow clerks to begin tabulating ballots up to 22 days before Election Day, an idea that the Michigan Senate Republican Leader has indicated support for recently. The other bills in this 3-bill package include HB 4361 and HB 4360, which were introduced by Representatives Haadsma and Hope, respectively. HB 4361 would ensure voters automatically received absentee ballot applications by requiring local clerks to maintain a permanent absent voter list. The bill would also help clerks establish polling locations based on likely in-person voters. HB 4360 would prohibit circulators from intentionally making misleading or false statements to potential signees about the contents of a petition, initiated law, referendum, or recall. These bills have been referred to the Committee on Elections and Ethics and are awaiting a hearing.
While these bills remain in committee, I urge you to reach out to the Chair and members of the Elections and Ethics committee and voice your support for the bill package. Together, we can make sure that our future elections are accessible and efficient for all Michiganders.
MDHHS Pandemic Order Update
As COVID-19 cases go down and the number of people vaccinated go up, MDHHS has announced that starting March 5:
To ensure this trend of loosening limitations continues, it’s important that Michiganders remember to stay safe while supporting our local businesses and visiting with others. It’s as simple as wearing a mask, washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and staying home if you feel ill. As always, thoughts and questions can be sent to COVID19@michigan.gov.
Residents aged 50-64 with pre-existing conditions will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 8 and everyone over 50 will be eligible starting March 22. Those who are eligible can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine to find local health departments and other local vaccine clinics near them that are ready to book appointments. Currently, Oakland County has started a “Save Your Spot” sign-up for the vaccine, which allows Oakland County to organize and distribute the vaccine. Follow these steps to reserve your spot.
Following the recent approval of a third safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, more doses will be distributed to Michigan doctor’s offices, clinics, and pharmacies that are enrolled in the vaccination program. Reaching a critical mass of vaccinations will allow our state to get back on track and recover from this terrible disease, and that will come with an increase in vaccine supply. Getting vaccinated when it is your turn will allow our state to recover and return to a sense of normalcy as quickly as possible. It is on all of us to do our part. Save your spot today!
February Small Business of the Month Awards
Every month, I recognize two businesses as “Small Business of the Month” — one in Clawson and one in Troy. Small businesses are the heart of our communities and the dedicated people who operate them deserve their hard work and contributions to be acknowledged. Congratulations to this month’s recipients: Zeoli’s Modern Italian Restaurant (Clawson) and Shred415 (Troy)! If you would like to nominate a small business for this recognition, please email my office at PadmaKuppa@house.mi.gov!
Virtual Coffee Hours
Mark your calendars! Every other Friday at 6 p.m., be sure to grab a cup of coffee or your beverage of choice, jump on my Facebook page (@mireppadmakuppa) and come chat with me from the comfort and safety of your own home! Promoting the health, safety, and wellbeing of the residents in our district is my top priority during this time. I understand that you have thoughts and questions and I want to be able to assist in answering as many as I can. Join me for a virtual office hour where I will be providing updates and answering your questions about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other issues facing our community. I hope to see you there!
When: Friday, March 12, beginning at 6 p.m.
How: Visit my Facebook page (@mireppadmakuppa)
When: Friday, March 26, beginning at 6 p.m.
How: Visit my Facebook page (@mireppadmakuppa)
UIA Town Hall
If you were unable to attend my UIA Town Hall, you can still view it at my Facebook page (@MIRepPadmaKuppa) or by clicking here. During the town hall, we spoke about the current status of Michigan’s unemployment system and answered frequently asked questions with special guest Kimberly Berry, Deputy Director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
MLBC Black History Month Event
On February 27, members of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus hosted the annual Black History Month celebration of Black Women in Healthcare on the Frontlines of COVID, with an online presentation about black women in healthcare in the past, present, and future. As the MLBC Historian, I played a lead role in putting that together and was honored to be joined by colleagues and people from around the state – including the Capitol Historian and Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who was one of our honorees! You can watch it here.
Our House Caucus also put together a video project called Facing the Rising Sun: Black Leadership in the Michigan Legislature. It took a look at the powerful impact of the legislators who have served since the first black representative, Rep. William Webb Ferguson, was elected in 1892. Watch the event by clicking here.
APIA-Vote MI Elections & Redistricting Town Hall with VNP
This past week, I was a guest speaker at the Asian Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan (APIA-Vote MI)’s Zoom town hall. There, we focused on different legislation that I have introduced to improve the transparency in our election system. The Voters Not Politicians (VNP), a non-profit organization, also provided a redistricting update. Check out the recording here!
Oakland County is providing free user-friendly screening software to local restaurants and public schools in the county to help enhance safety protocols and streamline the process of screening and tracking for COVID-19. The county’s Department of Economic Development has contracted with Rochester-based software developer Clear To Go! for its software and app that helps ensure anyone who enters a building is healthy and adheres to current health protocols. The county is paying between $500,000-$750,000 for the cost of the software using federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding passed at the end of 2020. The contract runs through June. Click here for additional information.
This week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the launch of the $30 million Michigan Reconnect program, to ensure that more than 4.1 million Michiganders who are 25 or older and do not have a college degree will have an opportunity to earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate. Michigan Reconnect will pay the cost of tuition for eligible adults who want to pursue an associate degree or skills certificate at their in-district community college. The program also offers skills scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition through more than 70 private training schools with 120 programs that offer certificates in high-demand careers in industries such as manufacturing, construction, information technology, healthcare or business management. Click here for additional information.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks announced the expansion of the MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants to include a new grant program for Great Start Readiness Program (GRSP), Head Start, adult education and young adult (ages 18-26) special education teachers. For more information about MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants, go to www.Michigan.gov/MIClassroomHeroes.