Spring is officially here! The warmer weather is a welcomed change; I hope the increased temperatures and increase in vaccinations across our state will mean we can be together in person again soon.
Thank you to everyone who has continued to reach out to our office to share their thoughts on a variety of issues, we have been receiving your calls and emails and my staff are working hard to read and listen to every comment, question, or concern and respond.
If we can assist in any way, please do not hesitate to contact our office! My office is reachable by phone at (517) 373-2575, and by email at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
State Representative, 21st District
Proudly serving Belleville, Canton, and Van Buren Township
In this Edition:
UPCOMING TIME WITH RANJEEV
As noted in previous newsletters, due to COVID-19 and out of an abundance of caution, we will be meeting virtually for the time being. My office will be exploring options for future meet-ups and town halls, including outdoor, socially-distanced options once weather permits in the Spring. Most importantly though, we will continue to follow all guidance from the CDC and MDHHS and will be excited to meet again in person when it is safe to do so. Please let us know what times work for you!
Virtual Coffee Hour
Monday, April 12, 12-1 p.m.
Live Streamed via YouTube and social media
Resolution to Condemn Violence and Hateful Rhetoric against Asian-Americans
Last week, I introduced House Resolution 61 which condemns hate crimes and hateful rhetoric toward Asian Americans and encourages Michiganders to report hate crimes to the proper authorities.
According to the Stop AAPI Hate National Report, more than 30% of all Asian American and Pacific Islanders have reported being subjected to racist and hateful acts of discrimination or violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Incidents of racial discrimination have been further exacerbated by the hateful rhetoric and perpetuated stigma of the AAPI community.
The report also shows that 3,795 hate-driven incidents have been reported between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021, from all 50 states, including 25 in Michigan. These incidents have included physical assault, verbal harassment, workplace discrimination, refusal of service, online harassment and shunning.
In Atlanta last week, a domestic terrorist killed six innocent Asian American women and killed and injured others. Asian Americans are on edge, they are fearful – these incidents are happening right here in our communities and have been happening for a long time. I have spoken with Asian American parents across our district and the state who are choosing not to send their school-aged children back to in-person learning for fear that they will be verbally and physically assaulted.
Hateful rhetoric, unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have led to increased rates of bullying, harassment and hate crimes against the AAPI community. I strongly condemn any acts of hate and violence — no American or Michigander should live in fear because of who they are.
The mental and emotional toll that racism and hate crimes take on any community is immense and immeasurable. The general lack of awareness of anti-Asian hate crimes and violence exacerbates their impact. It is now more important than ever to come together and denounce all forms of hate, and work in tandem to fight the epidemic of racism and the COVID pandemic.
Michiganders can play a role in establishing a safe and welcoming community by intervening and reporting instances of hate and discrimination. If you or someone you know has been affected by a hate crime, please contact the Michigan Attorney General Hate Crimes Unit at (313) 456-0200. If you have questions about civil rights or believe you have been discriminated against, call the Michigan Department of Civil Rights discrimination hotline at (800) 482-3604.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Expansion
Last week, legislation opening some records up to the public from the Legislature and Executive Office – both of which are now exempt from releasing anything other than financial records – unanimously cleared the House. Michigan has ranked dead last for transparency and ethics in recent years, as one of just two states that exempt the governor and legislators from public records requests.
I was proud to vote YES on this package of bills because Michiganders deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials. There is a long road that lies ahead for Michigan, including looking at laws that will address all the ways secret donors with dark money can fund campaigns and influence elections in Michigan. I remain committed to increasing transparency in Michigan’s government.
A year has now passed since the first case of COVID-19 was found in Michigan. We are in a better place than we were in 2020, but we are not out of the woods. Coronavirus cases, test positivity rates and hospitalizations in Michigan are on the rise over the previous week, as are active outbreaks, particularly in school settings.
Michigan is among 11 states seeing increases in COVID-19 transmission and the only state outside of Minnesota in the Upper Midwest seeing an uptick. Perhaps the biggest driver of the increases is the emergence of the new COVID-19 variants, which are more contagious than the dominant strain of coronavirus. Michigan is one of the states with the highest number of identified cases of the B.1.1.7 strain that first emerged in the United Kingdom. That variant has been identified so far in 31 Michigan counties.
It is so important that we continue to be vigilant. As I have said before, I personally have not received my vaccination and will continue to exercise all social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until guidance is updated. Please be patient. Our supply of vaccinations is increasing, and we are making great progress in getting all eligible Michiganders vaccinated as quickly as possible.
While you wait, stay safe:
MDHHS Epidemic Orders
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its Gatherings and Mask epidemic order, allowing up to 20% capacity in outdoor stadiums and arenas that establish infection control plans. The update also increases testing for youth ages 13-19 to ensure athletes can safely participate in sports, and addresses issues around cigar lounges and hookah lounges, requiring them to meet certain ventilation standards. The changes are designed to balance day-to-day activities while controlling the spread of COVID-19 and saving Michiganders’ lives. Although progress has been made, it is crucial that Michiganders continue to mask up and socially distance as we take steps to get back to normal. The changes to the order go into effect today and remain in effect through Monday, April 19.
BIG NEWS! Starting today, March 22, COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands to anyone age 50 and older, regardless of health condition, and those aged 16 to 49 with a pre-existing condition. As you have likely heard by now, starting on April 5 everyone aged 16 and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
We know that this news comes with a lot of questions – most importantly, where you can get your vaccine. Here are some tips for getting an appointment:
At this point, retail pharmacies are the No. 1 provider of vaccines to those starting the process. However, many places are only scheduling appointments a week or two in advance because of uncertainty about how many doses they will have available in a given week. Here is how to register with a pharmacy:
To check vaccine availability at your local hospital, Google “COVID vaccine” and the hospital’s name. Most hospitals will require you to create an online account or download an app to get on a waitlist.
Ford Field Mass Vaccination: The state and federal governments are setting up a mass vaccination clinic at Ford Field in Detroit, where 8,000 people will be vaccinated a day, beginning on March 24. The site will operate from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week through mid-May. Sign-up is available through these three options:
After the registration process is completed, people who have registered will receive an invitation either by call or text when it’s their turn to schedule the appointment. Vaccine appointments will be scheduled a few days in advance.
At least 3.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered with 24.9 percent of Michigan residents 16 and older have had at least one dose administered. That’s an increase of 15.5 percent from the week prior at 2 million people.
Among other states, Michigan is ninth in the nation for the number of people fully vaccinated, amounting to 1.134 million people. The state is 36th in the nation for percent of people with first doses and 14th among the most populous states.
For statewide vaccine distribution information, visit the State of Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine website.
Unemployment provisions under the federal American Rescue Plan are extended from March 13 – Sept. 4, 2021:
The relief package also includes the extension of 100% federal financing for the use of the Work Share program.
In late February, the U.S. Dept. of Labor issued guidance expanding PUA eligibility to include three COVID-19 related reasons under which an individual may self-certify. The additional reasons address circumstances when an individual is directly affected by COVID-19 including:
Claimants who were previously denied PUA benefits will be notified with details on the new provisions and how to reapply for PUA benefits. Other state assistance programs are available for Michiganders who need assistance with making ends meet. Through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services MI Bridges program, claimants can apply for health care coverage, food and cash assistance and more. MI Bridges also lists helpful state and local resources.
If you find that you are in need of assistance with your unemployment claim, you can contact my office using this form.
March is Reading Month
To celebrate March is Reading Month, I am inviting all students in grades K-4 to participate in a Book Cover Drawing Contest!
Submissions can be made in person at:
Please note you may also submit digitally via email, but if you’re comfortable to drop off in person, we would LOVE to have original copies to hang in our Lansing office! To submit digitally, email RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov including all details outlined in flyer below.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
Stop the Hate Against Asians Rally
On Sunday, March 21, hundreds rallied and marched to bring awareness to the rise of hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. I had the honor to speak and share my thoughts on how hateful rhetoric and systemic racism have existed for generations; it has sadly taken a mass shooting to spark this conversation. I am proud of the AAPI community and our allies for speaking up – we are resilient.
I was also joined by my new friend, Olive, who is 6. She stood up and gave a powerful speech (that was much better than mine) after me.
7UP Workers Picket in Redford
On Saturday, March 20, I joined the picket line with Teamsters Local 337 alongside colleagues from all levels of government. Since March 11, 80 employees have been on the picket line demanding an end to an unfair two-tier pay system, racial inequities and unfair treatment, which are especially glaring as workers put their health on the line to continue deliveries during the pandemic and keep the company profitable. Building an economy in Michigan that works for everyone is directly linked to workers’ rights protections. It is disheartening to see organizations taking advantage of unions and labor during a pandemic where all of us have already suffered so much. Supporting organized labor is vital in the fight to make Michigan’s economy work for all of us.
March is Reading Month
I’ve recently had the opportunity to participate in March is Reading Month, and although things are looking a little different this year, I’m so happy to have the opportunity to meet with so many classrooms across the 21st House District! For those whose classes I will not be able to visit, I have recorded a video reading, which can be found here. Please do not hesitate to share!
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
During this challenging time, it is more important than ever to stay in touch. I want to hear from you. What do you need? How can we help you? My office is here to assist you or answer any questions you may have. Please, reach out to me at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
Communications from my office will be available via bi-weekly email updates or social media. Otherwise, please feel free to reach out to our office directly and do not hesitate to reach out for assistance.
I hope that this information has been helpful and that we can be together again soon in person.