Welcome to my Capitol and Community Update e-newsletter! As the in-district work period comes to an end and our regular session schedule starts back up, I am excited to take the input I’ve received this summer from knocking doors, hosting events and other regular constituent outreach efforts and apply it to my work in Lansing. I am also happy to continue to provide these email updates with the latest information, resources and opportunities relevant to our community members.
Please encourage neighbors and friends in HD 41 to also signup to receive these updates at kuppa.housedems.com, and let us know if you have any feedback on the newsletter or concerns about any state-level issues. As always, you can reach my office at (517) 373-1783 or by email at PadmaKuppa@house.mi.gov. Be sure to also check out the latest on my social media platforms — @PadmaKuppaMI41 (Twitter) and @MIRepPadmaKuppa (Facebook)!
House District 41
Fall is around the corner and a beautiful time to go for a walk! Join me to knock on doors in the community where 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, just be sure to register in advance!
When: Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
How: Register at https://tinyurl.com/KuppaWalks
Budget Wins for Troy & Clawson
Last week, I voted in favor of a budget that makes pivotal investments in our state and our communities, with key funding in childcare, education, infrastructure and our economy. This budget also includes:
I was proud to see funding in the budget for these projects that I have championed since taking office in 2019 after hearing direct input from constituents. Read my full statement here.
Eliminating the Tampon Tax
Our efforts have paid off! I am thrilled to share that I, along with my Democratic legislative colleagues and many student and stakeholder advocates, have championed bipartisan legislation that was recently PASSED by the House Tax Policy Committee. In February, I introduced House Bill 4271 as part of a bicameral legislative bill package that would exempt necessary menstrual hygiene products, such as pads and tampons, from Michigan’s sales and use taxes. I am proud to see that Michigan is that much closer to eliminating this unjust tax and finally addressing the issue of “period poverty” in a meaningful way. Since November 2020, I’ve been writing a monthly op-ed at American Kahani (kahani means “story”), and my August piece focused on this. You can also watch my committee testimony here.
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 bipartisan two-bill package: HB 4159 and HB 4160. The latter bill was introduced by Rep. Julie Calley and underscores our combined commitment to preventing sexual exploitation of the vulnerable. 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 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 administration and a bipartisan group of legislators, I am hopeful that these bills will be passed by the entire chamber soon. I am proud to support efforts to ensure that Michigan remains a leader in the automotive industry!
This legislative term, I sponsored HB 4835, which is part of the bicameral Drive SAFE legislative bill package, which would allow Michigan residents to obtain a driver’s license and/or state identification card regardless of their immigration status. Due to our state’s current laws, documented immigrants are often unable to obtain driver’s licenses or state identification cards, making it difficult or even impossible to do basic things like shop for groceries , go to work or the doctor or get their kids to school. With support from law enforcement, faith leaders, and the agriculture and business sectors, we have widespread agreement that it’s time we stop holding Michigan’s residents and economy back by becoming the 17th state to adopt this legislation. The House bills were recently scheduled for a committee hearing, but it was canceled at the last minute. Help us reschedule the hearing by sharing your stories and support with the members of the Rules and Competitiveness Committee.
In August, the FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, all Michiganders who are at least 12 years of age are eligible to receive the safe, effective 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 needs 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.
COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA)
COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) is a federally funded program available through the 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 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.
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 on 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.
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, 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.
Deadline for Mortgage Assistance Approaching
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is reminding Michigan consumers with federally backed mortgages who are worried about falling behind on payments that assistance is available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but they must act before the Sept. 30 deadline.
Under the CARES Act, borrowers with federally backed loans could ask for a pause or reduction of their payments, also known as a forbearance, of up to 180 days, with an extension of 180 days if additional relief is needed. The Biden Administration has extended the forbearance enrollment window through Sept. 30.
Individuals with federally backed mortgages have until Sept. 30 to request an initial forbearance. Individuals with loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac do not currently have a deadline for requesting an initial forbearance.
The MiMortgage Relief Partnership is also available to assist impacted homeowners in Michigan until Dec. 31. Through this partnership, more than 230 of Michigan’s financial institutions have agreed to provide mortgage relief to borrowers experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Individuals unsure of who owns their mortgage can visit the Federal Housing Finance Agency website.
For more information on COVID-19 related mortgage relief, call DIFS Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (877) 999-6442.