Welcome to my Capitol and Community Update e-newsletter! As our regular session schedule starts back up, I am excited to take the input that I’ve received this summer from knocking doors, hosting events, and listening to members of our community, and apply it to our legislative efforts and votes in Lansing. I’m also happy to continue providing these email updates with the latest information, resources and opportunities relevant to our community members.
Please encourage neighbors and friends in House District 41 to also sign up to receive these updates at kuppa.housedems.com. 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 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 a great time 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! Walks will continue through October.
When: Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
How: Register at https://tinyurl.com/KuppaWalks.
Virtual Mental Health Listening Tour
My legislative colleagues and I have been working to organize a listening tour to get feedback from constituents on mental health legislation currently being considered by the Michigan Legislature. The next stop is Oakland County! This will be a guided discussion among local mental health stakeholders and constituents around the state in order to create legislation and recommendations. Recommendations could include revising departmental policies, establishing new programs or continuing discussions through workgroups.
When: Thursday, Oct. 14, from 5-6:30 p.m.
How: Register here.
Virtual Voting Rights Panel
Baker College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council hosts an annual Misunderstood Panel event, inviting experts and professionals across our communities to speak on various topics. We’ll discuss groups and communities within society that are routinely stigmatized, misunderstood and marginalized. I will be a panelist on this year’s virtual event, which will focus on voting rights and barriers to voting.
When: Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 5 p.m.
How: Register here.
In-Person Coffee Hour
Please join me for an in-person office hour, where I’ll give a legislative update and take your questions about the issues facing our state and community.
When: Friday, Dec. 3, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Where: Downtown Charlie’s (236 S. Main St. in Clawson)
Budget Wins for Clawson and Troy
I voted for a budget Gov. Whitmer recently signed into law that makes pivotal investments in our cities, schools and state, with key funding allocated for child care, education, infrastructure and business development, all to strengthen the economy. This budget also includes:
I was proud to see funding in the budget for some of the projects that I have championed since taking office in 2019 based on direct input from constituents. Read my full statement here.
Justice for Allie
The first bill I introduced in both of my terms so far, 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. This session, Justice for Allie is a bipartisan duo of bills, HB 4159 and HB 4160, with the latter bill being sponsored by Rep. Julie Calley. The bills were previously PASSED unanimously by the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee, and now we are awaiting next steps in the Judiciary Committee. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support these bills on their legislative journey!
The bill is part of a bipartisan legislative package (HB 4801-4805) to expand electric vehicle infrastructure in Michigan. After working with industry leaders, the administration and a bipartisan group of legislators, I’m hopeful that the entire chamber will pass these bills soon. I am proud to support efforts to ensure that Michigan remains a leader in the automotive industry!
Eliminating the Tampon Tax
Another of our legislative 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. You can watch my committee testimony here.
In February, I introduced HB 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 tax. 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. Rep. Yancey and I are now calling on the Legislature to send this legislation to the governor’s desk for her to sign into law.
This legislative term, I sponsored HB 4835, which is part of the bicameral Drive SAFE legislative bill package, which would allow Michigan residents, including many immigrants who currently cannot do so, to obtain a driver’s license and/or state identification card. Due to our state’s current laws, immigrants — including those on H1B, H4 and similar visas — are often unable to obtain driver’s licenses or state identification cards, making it difficult or even impossible to do basic things like grocery shopping, going to work or the doctor, or getting 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, and become the 17th state to adopt this legislation.
House Dems Pass FY 22 Budget
I was proud to work with my House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass a budget that will make transformational investments in Michigan’s future.
My House Democratic colleagues and I fought to ensure this budget works for Michigan families across our state.I am so proud to deliver critical funding for a number of my key priorities:
This budget is a far cry from the one originally proposed by the Legislature last spring, which included a 75% funding cut for most departments. House Democrats fought hard to negotiate a real budget that is good for working families, students, seniors and everyone else in the district and the state.
In the wake of the worst crisis we’ve seen in our lifetime, it’s more important than ever that we invest in our communities and ensure everyone in our state has the support they need to not only recover but thrive.
I look forward to continuing negotiations around the remaining federal dollars available to Michigan and bringing even more funding home to our community.
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 ready to book appointments.
The FDA has granted full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. For information regarding the third “booster” dose of the vaccine, visit the CDC’s guide on booster shots.
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.
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.
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 to 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 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.
Clean Energy Projects Financing
Home Energy Loan
Make your house a comfortable, energy-modern home through Michigan Saves financing. Getting started is simple! Tap into cleaner power for your household today.
You can also apply by calling (877) 867-8522 during designated phone hours:
Monday–Thursday: 8:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Commercial Energy Financing
Minimize your commercial property or building’s expenses with affordable financing for clean energy improvements to keep more money for the things that matter most.
To learn more, visit MichiganSaves.org.