June has flown by all too quickly, but summer is officially here! For my family, this means working on our garden, landscaping and taking the kids to the park!
As most of you have seen and heard, on June 22, Michigan lifted nearly all of the COVID-19 restrictions. This announcement came just in time for our office as we plan to hold our first-ever in-person coffee hour in July. More on this can be found below!
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
- Legislative Update
- COVID-19 Update
- Unemployment Update
- What We’ve Been Up To
- District Spotlight
UPCOMING TIME WITH RANJEEV
Coffee Hour – In-Person
Thursday, July 23, from 6:30-7:30 p.m
Gazebo at Canton’s Heritage Park – Behind the Canton Township Police Department and Canton Township Office Building, off Veteran’s Way.
Coffee Hour – Virtual
We still plan to offer a virtual option for the time being, which will happen in addition to our in-person meet-ups. The date and time for our virtual coffee hour will be communicated in the next E-news!
Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget
We ended the week in Lansing last Thursday with a 10-hour session day, going until almost midnight. We voted on a series of bills, including many of the fiscal year 2021-22 departmental budget bills. Negotiations on the higher education and community college pieces of the budget are still ongoing.
Most notably, the House passed a School Aid Fund budget (HB 4411), which provided a historic investment in our K-12 education system. Although we left some money on the table, this is still a School Aid budget I proudly voted to support. The bill contains $16.74 billion, a 7.8 percent increase for the current year. We also concurred with the Senate version of a supplemental education bill (HB 4421), which provides $4.4 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
I was proud to vote YES on these bills.
The School Aid Fund budget would, among other things:
- Close the funding gap: brings every district up to the same level of per-pupil funding, leveling the playing field among our state’s schools.
- Increase funding for special education.
- Increase funding for Great Start Readiness Program (Pre-K): brings per-pupil payments to the same level as K-12 schools and creates more slots so every eligible child can access quality preschool.
- Increase funding for mental health services for students: funding to increase mental health services and wraparound services (i.e. nurses, counselors, school psychologists) for students, which is critically important after the challenges our kids have faced during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, $650 million we could be taking home to our schools was left sitting on the table. So while this budget does make transformational investments that I know will help our schools and students succeed, I hope that we will make these dollars available.
For those who have been following this process and are wondering what comes next, all budget bills passed by the House will now move to the Senate a week before the Legislature’s statutory July 1 deadline to get a budget to the Governor. It is unclear at this time where Senate leadership stands on our passed appropriations, but I am hopeful that they will also take action to approve of this historic spending for public education and move quickly to get budgets to the governor before July 1.
The budget has a ways to go before it is finalized, and negotiations between the House, Senate, and governor’s office are ongoing, but I will continue to fight for our values every day and make sure our priorities are protected in any final version of the budget that comes before me.
Michigan has reported more than 8.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered as of Wednesday, June 23, with 61.2% of 16-and-up residents having received at least one dose while 51.1% of 16-and-up residents are considered fully vaccinated.
On June 22, nearly all remaining pandemic restrictions were lifted. This includes any remaining capacity limits, mask mandates, etc., unless individual businesses choose to enforce some regulations themselves.
Some orders will remain in effect as planned in corrections, long-term care and agriculture. Public health measures will continue for reporting requirements and COVID testing. Guidance for keeping children and staff safe in schools will be released next week by the governor’s office.
I am so happy we are turning the corner and moving on from the pandemic. It is important to note that we are not entirely in the clear just yet, and the risk of new variants (such as the Delta variant) are a concern. Please use caution and continue to follow the latest guidance.
UIA Branch Offices Reopening
The Unemployment Insurance Agency today announced it would be offering in-person unemployment insurance services at 12 local unemployment offices starting June 30, though only by appointment. They have been closed for more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, the UIA said it planned to reopen offices on July 12 but hoped to make that earlier.
Residents are now able to begin scheduling appointments online here. The appointments are offered in 15-minute slots and can be scheduled up to a week in advance. Appointments will be available 8:15 a.m. through 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Work Search Requirements Returning
While Michigan’s requirement to search for work to remain eligible for unemployment benefits has been suspended due to the pandemic, the requirements were reinstated as of May 30, 2021. For each week you claim unemployment benefits, you will be required to search for work and submit details of at least one work search activity per week.
You can find a list of FAQs regarding workshare here.
If you find that you are in need of assistance with your unemployment claim, you can contact my office using this form.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
Sgt. Dale Waltz Retirement
It was a pleasure to recognize Sgt. Dale Waltz with a tribute in honor of his retirement from the Canton Police Department. We are so thankful for Sgt. Waltz’s 25 years of service to our community, and we wish him well as he begins this new chapter! Canton has been made a better and safer town thanks in part to his leadership.
The Partnership for the Arts and Humanities hosted the first-ever Juneteenth celebration at the Arts Warehouse in Canton earlier this month.
The event was put together by Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated and planned by local teenagers and featured various exhibitions of arts, music, spoken word and more.
The Juneteenth Commemoration art exhibit runs through the end of the month; check it out!
I was also happy to attend a Juneteenth celebration hosted by the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. It was a great celebration of freedom, which included a very special guest, Governor Gretchen Whitmer!
My team in Lansing was excited to head out into the community this past week to talk to constituents about the issues facing our state. Constituents shared a wide variety of issues they are most concerned or passionate about such as voting rights, environmental protection and access to affordable health care.
We will be going door to door all summer long and look forward to the conversations! If you ever find yourself needing assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.
Canton’s very own, Jodie Sengstock, has been appointed by the governor to the Michigan Board of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery. There, she will be an advisor and overseer of podiatric medicine in our state. Dr. Sengstock brings years of expertise and passion in this field to our state’s oversight network. We are proud of Dr. Sengstock for being yet another example of excellence from Canton. Congratulations!
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. With that said, my office is always open – do not hesitate to reach out should you ever find yourself needing assistance.