We are almost all the way through October, and it seems as though the leaves are just now beginning to change! As our office continues to knock on doors and check in on our neighbors, we have been excited to see the fall and Halloween décor on everyone’s porches. In my household, the excitement for costumes, candy and trick-or-treating is running high. I hope that everyone has a safe, exciting and spooky Halloween weekend!
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
- COVID-19 Update
- What We’ve Been Up To
UPCOMING TIME WITH RANJEEV
November Coffee Hour
Monday, Nov. 8 from 7-8 p.m.
Village Arts Factory (50755 Cherry Hill Road Suite 1 in Canton)
Voter Suppression Bills Pass MI House
On Oct. 14, we debated several bills that would have made it harder to vote, especially for seniors, those who are homebound and those who can’t take time off from work.
The mere existence of this legislation and the false urgency with which it’s being pushed imply that our elections aren’t free and fair. These bills disproportionally affect people of color and those communities that are already vulnerable and marginalized.
I voted NO on each of these bills because while they take on the guise of being about “election reform,” they are clearly being used as voter suppression. Unfortunately, despite my NO vote and the NO vote of every single one of my Democratic colleagues, these bills passed out of the House along party lines.
Michigan does not have a voter ID or voter fraud problem. We already have voter ID laws that we know work to prevent fraud.
The right to vote is granted to every American. Any legislation that takes steps to implement barriers or impede a person’s ability to cast a ballot is unacceptable.
Tampon Tax Bills Pass MI House
With all the chaos surrounding voter suppression legislation, I am excited to say that a really great package of bills has recently passed the House as well. House Bill 5267 and Senate Bill 153 would exempt menstrual products, such as tampons, from sales and use taxes.
The passage of these bills is a momentous occasion, as it eliminates the sales and use taxes on these medically necessary products. This is a common sense move that will reduce an unfair tax burden while simultaneously returning seven million dollars back into the pockets of Michiganders.
I was proud to vote YES on these bills, and I look forward to their continued progression to becoming law.
Education Voucher Bills Pass MI House
Recently, Senate and House Republicans passed bills to undermine the 1970 constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of public money to aid non-public schools. These bills would create tax shelter organizations that could pay for tuition costs at non-public schools. This legislation is a blatant violation of the state Constitution’s ban on the use of public monies or property to directly or indirectly aid nonpublic schools.
Under House Bills 5404 and 5405, donations to a student opportunity scholarship account would be income tax-deductible. Donations to an organization would be eligible for a 100% tax credit with a $500 million total cap for all credits in any state fiscal year. This would result in money effectively being taken away from our public schools.
This legislation blatantly benefits private schools, as they will be the biggest recipient of these funds. This will result in private donors getting tax benefits to pay for kids to attend private or schools, which is clearly unconstitutional.
Many of my colleagues spoke out in opposition to this legislation. Despite their pleas, and the NO vote of myself and many of my democratic colleagues, these bills passed the House.
I look forward to continuing to work on policy that strengthens our K-12 education system and ensures that every public school has the resources necessary to provide the best education possible to our children.
Energy Committee Hears Testimony on Power Outages
Last week, the House Energy Committee held another oversight hearing on the power outages that have been increasing in number and duration across the state. We heard testimony from DTE Energy, Consumers and Indiana Michigan Power.
Michigan ranks fourth worst in the country for total number of power outages.
Decades of chronic underinvestment in grid infrastructure have resulted in outdated, inefficient and unreliable power systems — systems that disproportionately affect low-income communities of color. For this reason, I specifically asked how we are able to achieve improvements and resiliency without passing the burden onto our marginalized communities.
We know that climate change means more severe storms and obscure weather patterns. Our utilities need to be proactive, not reactive.
Resiliency needs to be at the forefront of every conversation with our utilities. This must be done with a strong focus on advancing equity through grid modernization.
Cake to Celebrate Passing of HB 5044
It’s tradition to bring in a small gift after your first bill passes the House.
I was proud to bring in some Cannoli Cake from Luca Pastry in Canton. Thank you for providing delicious cannoli cake to the entire Michigan House of the 101st Legislature!
MDHHS Halloween Guidance
To keep Halloween a safe and fun holiday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is offering tips and tricks to keep loved ones safe and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Tips for trick-or-treaters and parents:
- Talk with children about Halloween safety and expectations.
- Stay outdoors for activities, particularly if participants are not vaccinated.
- Trick or treat in small groups.
- Avoid congregating in groups around houses.
- If indoors or in crowded outdoor settings, wear a face mask covering both mouth and nose (a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask).
- Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask if wearing both causes difficulty breathing. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
Tips for homeowners to consider:
- Distribute candy on a table to eliminate direct contact.
- Consider handing out candy in an open space where distancing is possible, rather than from the front door.
- Consider a neighborhood costume parade; it is an easy way to keep safe distance from children.
Vaccine Distribution Update
Gov. Whitmer announced that 10 million Michiganders have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state is nearing our goal of a 70% vaccination rate, with 68.3% of residents over 16 years old having received their first dose. I am thrilled to hear that Michiganders are getting vaccinated!
I join Gov. Whitmer in urging eligible Michiganders who are not fully vaccinated to make plans to get the doses they need. The vaccine is safe, effective and the best way to protect our community during this pandemic. I am so encouraged by how Michiganders have stepped up to this challenge so far and hopeful that we will continue to take the steps necessary to reduce transmission. The battle is not yet over, but we have already overcome many challenges by working as a community. Together, we can overcome this pandemic!
If you find that you are in need of assistance with your unemployment claim, you can contact my office using this form.
State Resources for Job Search
There are numerous free resources and programs available to support individuals in taking their next steps. Whether they want to conduct a job search, explore new career pathways, or discover educational or training programs, there are many opportunities they can pursue.
- Pure Michigan Talent Connect at MITalent.org is a free job search resource that lists more than 90,000 jobs currently available in Michigan.
- The Michigan Return to Work Playbook is an online portal that features job readiness and industry/job-specific resources as well as resources to support specific individuals (such as veterans or individuals with disabilities).
- Career exploration, resume assistance, interview skills, classroom and on-the-job-training, virtual and in-person job fairs, and more are provided through a local Michigan Works! service center. Call 800-285-WORKS or visit michiganworks.org.
- Apply for health care coverage, food and cash assistance, and more using the Michigan Department of Health and Humans Services’ MI Bridges system, which also lists helpful state and local resources.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
On Oct. 16, Team Puri was out in full force checking in on hundreds of neighbors throughout the district. I want to give a special shout out to our fall 2021 Student Advisory Group for joining us to help canvass. These amazing high school students were a huge help in knocking on 600+ doors.
Boys and Girls Club Ford Field Experience
I never thought I would be playing on Ford Field on Sundays, but thanks to Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, the Ford Foundation, and the Detroit Lions for having me as part of the Ford Field takeover day, I was able to make that dream come true.
I was able to participate in the 7 vs. 7 Flag Football game (I even had a couple TDs!) made up of different community partners that all play a tremendous role in ensuring we have the resources to put on such great programming for Detroit and SE Michigan kids.
I usually enjoy being on the same team as Lt. Gov. Garlin Chilchrist, but the gloves had to come off for this one. The white team won ended up on top, but a *questionable* call from the referee took away a game-winning touchdown!
My body is sore and will be for the next week, but it was worth it for such an amazing cause. Thankful for all the participating organizations for their commitment to our kids.
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.