As summer is beginning to wind down, I hope all of you are able to squeeze in those last days enjoying all of the wonderful weather. I have enjoyed attending events all around the district and meeting so many of you!
The Legislature is currently in the middle of our in-district working period. Although there is not much happening in Lansing for the next few weeks, our team is still working hard. If we can ever 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
- Redistricting Process
- COVID-19 Update
- Unemployment Update
- What We’ve Been Up To
UPCOMING TIME WITH RANJEEV
Thank you to everyone who joined us today at the Belleville Library for our August coffee hour. Our team is working on a schedule of coffee hours for the remainder of the year and hope to include that in our next e-newsletter. We rotate locations and times to ensure there is an option for everyone. If you can’t meet us at one of the scheduled coffee hours, please reach us on email or social media!
On Aug. 17, we returned to Lansing for a summer session day. Despite having a state budget to finish and a continuing public health crisis with COVID-19, we were called to Lansing to vote on a handful of election bills.
The bills hinge on the false pretense that our elections are fraudulent, despite more than 250 audits of Michigan’s 2020 election concluding that it was free and fair.
- House Bill 4837 would prevent third parties from accessing the qualified voter file, which is already prohibited under current law.
- House Bill 4838 would prohibit electronic poll books or voting systems from being connected to the internet during elections, despite internet connections already being disallowed.
- House Bill 4840 would require that ballots from any state or federal election be preserved for 22 months, which is already required under current law for federal elections, and the addition of every state election would present unnecessary logistical challenges.
This legislation gives credence to unsubstantial conspiracy theories surrounding the election, and this narrative needs to end. Many of my Democratic colleagues spoke out in opposition to these bills, and despite my NO vote and those of my colleagues, these bills passed and have moved to the Senate for further review.
Any legislation that seeks to restrict access to the polls or make things more difficult for the sake of gaining political points is unacceptable. We have a state budget to finish, a continuing pandemic to address and a lot of work to do to get working families and small businesses the support they need to recover. It is unacceptable to be using this narrative and these bills to stoke fear and paranoia among voters.
Bill Introduced To Ban Businesses From Mandating Masks, Vaccines
Last week, the Michigan House Committee on Workforce, Trades, and Talent held a hearing on House Bill 4471, a bill that that would make it illegal for employers to require employees to:
- Get COVID-19 vaccines (or flue/TDAP vaccines).
- Wear a mask.
- Disclose their vaccination status.
For context, it’s still legal to fire or evict someone in Michigan due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The committee chair, a Republican, took up the bill claiming, “Michigan businesses are being done a monumental disservice here, because the only data and science they are hearing about is based on often conflicting media reports about guidance from politically motivated government agencies.”
However, vaccines were never designed to stop transmission entirely. What is more important, and is cited by experts, is that they prevent severe infection, hospitalization and death. And while the committee chair called government agencies biased, research made public by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed to vaccinated individuals potentially carrying as much of the virus as an unvaccinated person.
The committee heard from roughly 10 individuals, many in health care or with advanced science degrees, calling coronavirus vaccines not only ineffective but dangerous. Just one person, Brad Williams with the Detroit Regional Chamber, spoke in opposition to the bill and emphasized the way out of the pandemic was through vaccines.
During the hearing, two Michigan nurses testified before the committee questioning vaccine mandates. The rest of the testimony mostly surrounded vaccines and misinformation about their safety.
Some of the claims were:
- Vaccines will actually harm you more as new variants develop.
- The COVID vaccine does not slow the spread of the virus.
- It’s the vaccinated who are driving up variants.
- The vaccines cause more harm than good in terms of death.
- There are no long-term studies on the vaccine.
- Masks increase chances of developing cancer.
I stand with the business community in opposing taking away the ability for a business to do what it needs to do to keep its customers and workers safe, and its doors open. As the delta variant continues to spread rapidly across the state, we need to be doing everything we can to support our small businesses and ensure there is not another economic collapse.
I am strongly opposed to this legislation and will continue to work with my colleagues and the Whitmer administration in any productive way to get more shots in arms and help beat this virus. This is not the time for partisan antics to gain political points; we are in the midst of a public health crisis and need to continue pushing forward.
Our Office Is Seeking Legislative Interns!
If you or someone you know is interested in interning with our office, we are currently searching for our fall semester interns (September-December).
An intern would be expected to aid the representative and members of his staff ranging in the areas of legislation, communications, constituent affairs, general office management and miscellaneous tasks. Some responsibilities will include monitoring legislation and research and providing written correspondence to groups and individuals within House District 21. Hours are negotiable. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.
Applicants must be a college student, veteran or participant in a job entry program. Strong applicants will have a positive attitude, great verbal and oral communication skills, knowledge of Microsoft applications, telephone skills, and writing skills. Previous office experience and knowledge of the Legislature and legislative process is a plus but not required.
If you are interested, please send a copy of your resume and cover letter to our office at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
MICHIGAN REDISTRICTING PROCESS
With long-awaited and repeatedly delayed U.S. Census data in tow, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Track voted on Thursday to approve a new mapping process and schedule to complete its work before year’s end.
The commissioners laid out a list of dates they will re-map different areas of the state. For our district, the dates for beginning the process are as follows:
- Aug. 20 – Senate mapping in the Southeast and South Central regions.
- Aug. 23 – House mapping in the Southeast region.
Sept. 22 would be the final date of draft-proposed mapping, at which time the commission will deliberate on its proposed plan between Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 — the date scheduled for a vote on proposed draft maps.
The rest of the timeline is as follows:
- Oct. 8 — Proposed maps would be published on Oct. 8.
- Oct. 11-28 — A second round of public hearings on the plans would take place.
- Oct 29., Nov. 1-5 — Deliberations would continue.
- Nov. 5 — A second vote on the proposed plans would be held, which is the same time prescribed in the previously-approved schedule.
- Nov. 14 — The commission’s mapping consultant, Election Data Services, would produce the maps and have them prepared for publication, along with legal descriptions and census documentation, after which another 45-day public comment period would begin.
- Dec. 29 — The final day of the second public comment period,
- Dec. 30 — First day the commission could vote on the adoption of final maps. A majority vote to approve those maps would need to include yes votes from at least two Democrats, two Republicans and two politically unaffiliated members of the commission.
During January of 2022, the commission will draft a report due to the Department of State on Feb. 2, 2022.
Barring any legal challenges, the maps will become law on March 3, 2022.
One of the main caveats to the schedule would be if commissioners on their own decided to present and seek approval for alternate plans as opposed to the ones drawn up by the commission as a whole. That could lengthen the process as the commission deliberates on whether to adopt multiple plans for public comment.
If a plan goes through the first public comment period but is amended when it comes back to the commission, the plan must then undergo yet another 45-day public comment period, further elongating the commission’s already tight schedule.
For more information or to get involved in the public comment periods, you can visit here.
We have rounded a major corner in this pandemic, but it is so important that we continue to remain vigilant. The highly contagious delta variant now accounts for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to new estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is the vaccines being used in the U.S. all appear to be highly effective at protecting against serious disease, hospitalization and death. For those who have not yet been vaccinated, it is highly encouraged you do so.
Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the delta variant can spread the virus to others. To reduce their risk of becoming infected with the delta variant and potentially spreading it to others, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people:
- Wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
- Fully vaccinated people might choose to mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated. People who are at increased risk for severe disease include older adults and those who have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, overweight or obesity, and heart conditions.
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- If they come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, get tested 3-5 days after the date of their exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.
- Isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
MDHHS Recommendations for Safer School Operations During COVID-19
As schools across Michigan begin to bring students back to the classroom for in-person learning this fall, it is imperative that we ensure our children and educators remain safe and healthy. MDHHS has updated K-12 Opening Guidance.
To view the MDHHS Recommendations for Safer School Operations during COVID-19, you can visit here.
MDHHS recommends that all schools adopt policies to:
- Promote vaccination for eligible students, staff and families.
- Require universal masking for all students, staff and visitors regardless of community transmission rate or vaccination status.
- Implement layered prevention measures outlined below.
Unfortunately, at this time, COVID-19 guidance is being left up to individual school districts to set health standards for the school year. Families should check with their school district to find out what health standards are being implemented for the upcoming year.
PUA Unemployment Benefits Ending Sept. 4
A number of federal unemployment programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) are ending on Sept. 4. Even if you have weeks remaining on a PUA or PEUC claim, weeks after Sept. 4 will not be paid.
Weeks prior to Sept. 4 that are pending review, protest, non-monetary issues etc. can still be paid once those issues are resolved.
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
These past two weeks, my team got out in the community and knocked on almost 400 doors to talk to constituents about what I am working on in Lansing and listen to any concerns they may have. We want to give a special shout out to a few students from our Student Advisory Group joining us to make this happen.
We look forward to meeting you at the door sometime this summer!
U.S. Amateur Championship – Congratulations James Piot!
Congratulations to our own Canton resident James Piot on his recent victory in the U.S. Ameteur Golf Championship! James was finishing up his senior year at Michigan State University after four years of impressive golf feats, such as being the 2018 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, all while maintaining a 3.6 GPA. House District 21 is so proud to have you as one of our own!
Rental Assistance for Tenants and Landlords
If you’re a renter having trouble paying your rent, utilities or other housing costs — or if you’re a landlord trying to stay afloat with tenants in this situation — help may be available. State and local programs are distributing billions of dollars in rental assistance to help renters stay housed during the pandemic.
Visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Rental Assistance Finder to find out what this means for you and what you can do. The CFPB’s site also includes resources to help renters and landlords understand other resources to help navigate various financial hardships related to the pandemic.
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.