Welcome to my Capitol & Community Update e-newsletter! In addition to my other regular constituent outreach efforts, such as my in-person coffee hours and weekend legislative walks in the district, I am happy to continue providing these email updates with the latest information, resources and opportunities relevant to our community members. I am happy that I have been able to see people at in-person community events, one being last week’s coffee hour in Troy. Thank you to everyone who joined!
As always, you can reach my office 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
In-Person Office Hours
Between knocking doors and hosting virtual events, it has been great to return to in-person office hours, and I’m excited that we are finally bringing back Pints with Padma! Instead of a coffee, grab a pint with me as we discuss the legislation and other things we’ve been working on, as well as taking your questions!
When: Thursday, Aug. 26, from 5-6:30 p.m.
Where: Old Detroit Burger Bar (27 E. 14 Mile Road in Clawson)
Join me to knock on doors in the community! We’ll be talking with neighbors in Troy and Clawson about the issues that matter to them, so we can update our legislative agenda in Lansing. We will meet outside the main entrance of the Troy Community Center for a quick training and to distribute materials at the start of each shift. New volunteers are welcome, but they must register in advance!
When: Every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
How: Register at https://tinyurl.com/KuppaWalks
Justice for Allie
My first bill, Justice for Allie, is still awaiting a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. This legislation, inspired by a courageous family of constituents, 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 two-bill package: House Bills 4159 and 4160. The latter bill was introduced by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland) and underscores our bipartisanship commitment to preventing sexual exploitation. Following their passage from the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee, we are awaiting the next steps for the bills in the Judiciary Committee. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support these bills on their legislative journey! Please help us to advocate on behalf of this legislation by sharing your support with the members of the Judiciary Committee.
My bill, HB 4802, was recently passed by the House Energy Committee! I had previously given testimony on the bill before the committee on June 8 and June 17. The bill is part of a bipartisan legislative bill package (HB 4801–4805) to expand electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in Michigan. After working with industry leaders, the Gov. Whitmer administration and a bipartisan group of legislators, I am hopeful that these bills will be passed by the entire chamber when we return from the in-district work period. I am proud to support efforts to ensure that Michigan remains a leader in the automotive industry!
In-District Work Period
The Legislature is now in the in-district work period, where we do not have our regular Tuesday-Thursday session schedule; we are called back to Lansing as needed. Regular session weeks will start back up again in the fall. The current House session schedule can be viewed here. During this time, I plan to ramp up my door-knocking and community engagement efforts. I’m so excited to be able to hear more of constituents’ thoughts on the ongoing issues of both Lansing and House District 41. I also hope to add more in-person events to my calendar. Stay tuned and see you out there!
Currently, all Michiganders who are at least 12 years of age are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are eligible can visit Oakland County’s COVID-19 Vaccine Hub, Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine or the CDC’s Vaccine Finder to find local health departments and vaccine clinics that are ready to book appointments.
If you know a vaccine-eligible individual who doesn’t have access to the internet, or they need help with vaccine translation services, call 2-1-1 and press ‘5’ for free, confidential assistance. If you need additional help navigating the vaccine scheduling process, call the COVID-19 hotline at (888) 535-6136 (press 1).
Oakland County continues to have the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan, so we all must remain vigilant and do our part to limit the spread of this virus. This includes getting vaccinated if you are able, continuing to wear masks when appropriate, physically distancing and frequently washing your hands.
To reach the crucial 70% vaccinated mark, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced the MI Shot To Win sweepstakes! Michiganders who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can enter to win cash prizes and college scholarships at mishottowin.com until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 3.
COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA)
COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) is a federally funded program available through MI State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to help Michigan tenants facing pandemic-related hardships avoid eviction, while also ensuring landlords can recoup owed rent. The program can provide rental and utility assistance for eligible renter households so that they retain their housing stability. The CERA program is an important resource for those who have experienced financial hardships due to the pandemic and provides peace of mind to renters by ensuring they will be able to stay in their homes.
MSHDA is currently administering the CERA Program through its statewide network of local nonprofit housing resource agencies.
MSHDA estimates that 50,000 to 55,000 families will be able to receive financial assistance through CERA. For more info on who is eligible, check out the FAQ page here.
HOW TO APPLY? MSHDA has an online application portal for application intake. This is the best way to apply for those that have a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Tenants and landlords can also apply through their local service agency.
Please see the CERA Contact List for the service agency in our county.
Eligible Unemployment Claimants Granted Overpayment Waivers
The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has begun to notify claimants who are no longer eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits that overpayments will be waived.
In June, claimants were asked to requalify for PUA by providing the agency with the necessary information to remain eligible for the federal program. Four PUA COVID-19 eligibility reasons that were included at the beginning of the pandemic are no longer accepted. Under federal law, UIA had to reevaluate PUA eligibility for individuals who selected one of the non-qualifying reasons.
Of the roughly 690,000 claimants that were asked to requalify, about 241,000 responded to the UIA’s request. Waivers will be granted to the initial group of approximately 350,000 non-responses, many of whom may no longer be collecting benefits.
Claimants will be notified through their MiWAM account or via US Mail.
New Federal Programs to Expand Internet Access
We know that many families here in Michigan still do not have access to reliable, high-speed internet. This makes learning and working in the 21st century increasingly difficult. As we have all had to rely on virtual tools to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to bridge the digital divide and equip Michiganders with the tools they need to succeed. These exciting federal programs will be instrumental in expanding access to crucial broadband services.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
This is a program that will provide a discount of up to $50 per month off a qualifying household’s internet bill (and up to $75 per month for households on tribal lands). In addition, some internet service providers are also providing discounts on the purchase of internet-capable devices, like laptop computers.
More than one million Americans enrolled in this program during its first week. Some of the most common ways that families qualify are:
Visit www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org to learn more and enroll, call (833) 511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week, or sign up directly with your internet service provider.
A full list of the internet service providers in our state that are offering the Emergency Broadband Benefit program can be found here. Providers can sign up at any time to become an EBB provider.
Emergency Connectivity Fund Grants Available through FCC
The Federal Communications Commission has released a Report and Order providing details about the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan, which will provide $7.1 billion in grants that can support schools and libraries in providing connectivity to students, school staff and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and high-speed internet service sufficient for remote learning. The application is open until Aug. 13.
Learn more here.
Broadband Infrastructure Grants Available through NTIA
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has released the rules for the Broadband Infrastructure Grant program that was created under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This program will provide a total of $288 million in grants to public-private partnerships established to expand broadband service. The application is open until Aug. 17.
Learn more here.
Additional Tax Credit for Michigan Families
Raising kids can be expensive, and the Child Tax Credit is here to help. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan increased the amount of the 2021 Child Tax Credit to support families with children. The full benefit of the Child Tax Credit is now $300 per month per child under age 6 and $250 for each child age 6 to 17.
If you filed your 2020 taxes this year or your 2019 taxes last year or used the IRS “Non-Filer Portal” to get a stimulus check last year, you don’t need to do anything. The IRS will automatically send you a monthly payment by direct deposit or check.
If you didn’t file taxes in the last 2 years, you just need to fill out a simple form available at www.childtaxcredit.gov.