I hope that everyone had a relaxing weekend. I can’t believe the month of May is already here. The first week of May is an important one because it is when we get to celebrate our teachers! The pandemic has ushered in a new way of teaching and learning. From in-person to virtual to a hybrid learning environment (some all in one school year!), our students have faced challenging, yet innovative, times in their learning and development — and teachers have been at the heart of it all!
It’s time to show them our love and appreciation, so let’s give the teachers in our lives a special thanks for all that they do during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2-6. That’s because teaching is a Work of Heart!
Today is also a day for celebration. As the fasting month of Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims from around the world will be preparing for Eid al-Fitr, the “festival of breaking the fast.” I will be joining constituents across the district today to celebrate. Eid Mubarak to those celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan! Our office wishes you health, happiness and prosperity. The rich diversity and vibrant culture of House District 21 makes it an honor to serve every day!
As always, if our office can ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to reach out.
State Representative, 21st District
Proudly serving Belleville, Canton and Van Buren Township
In this Edition:
CANCELED: UPCOMING TIME WITH RANJEEV
Over the weekend, I began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Yesterday, I took an at-home test, which came back positive. A PCR test has also confirmed a positive result for COVID-19.
I am vaccinated and boosted, and I believe that a few days into my symptoms, I am through the worst of it.
As someone who routinely wears a mask and has taken great precaution to avoid COVID-19, this goes to show that even two years into this pandemic, we must remain vigilant.
The CDC guidelines at this time require that I isolate for five days, and wear a mask for another five when in proximity of others and when social distancing is not possible.
With all this said, my office will be canceling all meetings, visits & appearances including my scheduled coffee hour for this evening, May 2. I will be isolating per CDC guidelines.
My staff will continue working during this time and can be best reached by email at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
MI Healthy Climate Plan
Gov. Whitmer unveiled her MI Healthy Climate Plan on April 21, 2022. This plan is a roadmap for Michigan to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050, with initial goals to be reached by 2030.
The climate action proposed in the MI Healthy Climate Plan would create tens of thousands of clean-energy jobs, spur economic development and innovation, lower energy and transportation costs, protect clean air and water, improve public health, protect natural resources and wildlife, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and position Michigan as an energy-independent state.
The Whitmer administration designed this plan to be unique to the issues Michigan faces, such as the increases in severe weather in recent years that have led to polar vortexes, historic floods, dam breaks and weeklong power outages across our state. Additionally, protecting and preserving our natural resources, particularly the Great Lakes, is a key priority of this plan.
The MI Healthy Climate Plan seeks to position Michigan as a top climate action leader in the country. The plan was created with the input of tribal communities, local government officials, climate and environmental justice advocates, business and labor leaders, academic experts, local food and public transit experts, and concerned residents of all walks of life.
April 18-22 was an in-district work period, but the House of Representatives was back in session April 25-29 for our usual legislative activities. The House will remain in session for the next several weeks as we focus on creating the fiscal year 2023 budget before presenting it for Gov. Whitmer’s approval.
Rep. Puri Introduces Resolution Declaring May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Last week, I introduced House Resolution 281 to declare May 2022 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the state of Michigan. I am proud to say this resolution was adopted by the Michigan House of Representatives. I was also honored to have my wife and eldest son in attendance on the House floor with me to listen to my remarks as I introduced this resolution.
HR 281 honors the over 330,000 Michigan residents of Asian and Pacific Island descent. Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) comprise one of the fastest growing populations in both the state and the nation. The AAPI community is incredibly diverse and has made significant contributions to Michigan’s economy, education, culture and quality of life. HR 281 also recognizes the hardships and discrimination the AAPI community has faced historically and continues to face today.
As we know, Asian Americans are among the most targeted groups for hate crimes. The onset of COVID-19 saw a tremendous uptick targeting the East Asian diaspora in the last few years, and after 9/11, South Asian groups, especially Muslims and Sikhs, saw a similar uptick.
It was such a surreal experience to be able to introduce this resolution in front of my third-generation, Asian-American 6-year-old son sitting next to me.
Let’s always celebrate our differences and diversity!
You can watch my full floor speech here.
House Passes Bills to Distribute Opioid Settlement Funds
This week, I voted yes on legislation that would facilitate the distribution of $776 million in opioid lawsuit settlement funds and create an advisory committee in the future.
This legislation is the result of Michigan joining litigation that ended in the $26 billion settlement between distributors Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The state is poised to receive close to $776 million over the next 18 years. The settlement is the largest multistate agreement since the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998. The bills in the package are:
About half of Michigan’s settlement will go to the state, and the other half will go to 269 Michigan communities. The money is meant to be spent on efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, including treatment, recovery, support, criminal justice initiatives, prevention and help for addicted pregnant women.
This legislation will now head to the state Senate for further legislative review.
Reproductive Health Care Act
Our office has been receiving dozens of emails asking for my support of the Reproductive Health Care Act and access to abortion. I would like to reaffirm to all of my constituents that I am a proud co-sponsor of House Bills 5542–5548, also known as the Reproductive Health Care Act.
Michigan state law includes numerous restrictions on abortion care, serving as barriers to access for women seeking it as a safe, constitutionally protected health care option. Additionally, medically unnecessary and burdensome standards are imposed on abortion providers across the state in an attempt to criminalize those administering the best medically appropriate care for each of their patient’s unique circumstances.
As your state representative, it is my belief that legislators do not belong in the doctor’s office with anyone who is making such personal decisions about their reproductive health care.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
Rep. Puri Visits P-CCS with Attorney General Dana Nessel to Talk School Safety
A few weeks ago, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, state Sen. Dayna Polehanki, state Rep. Matt Koleszar and I were joined by Plymouth-Canton Community Schools administration during a tour of Plymouth High School. We saw firsthand the safety measures put into place at P-CCS to keep our district’s schools safe.
As a member of the School Safety Task Force, I was able to see and ask questions regarding the uniqueness of our district and P-CEP, and I learned about methods and tools in place to keep our children safe. I want to thank everyone working hard every day to make our district’s schools some of the best in the state!
UIA Temporarily Pauses New Wage Garnishments, State Tax Refund Intercepts for Those Facing Federal Benefits Claims Overpayments
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has paused new wage garnishments and intercepts of state of Michigan tax refunds in about 398,000 cases where workers collected federal unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, until at least May 7 while UIA completes its review of claimant accounts that may qualify for overpayment waivers.
The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) granted the temporary pause after Gov. Whitmer intervened seeking the legal authority from USDOL and Congress to hold state collections until cases could be reviewed and/or issued waivers so that eligible Michiganders are not negatively affected.
The collections pause involves cases where workers were told they must pay back benefits they received. About 385,000 of the total cases include overpayments under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
For more information, see the full statement here.
COVID-19 cases have slowly started to tick back up again, with average daily cases at just over 2,000 in Michigan as of April 27. This is an increase from two weeks ago when average daily cases were just under 1,000 in Michigan. However, this is still a relatively low number of cases, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services considers Wayne County, as well as most of the state, to be low risk.
Now is the time to be extra vigilant about masking and staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations to do your part to ensure the case numbers do not continue to go up. You can find more information on up-to-date COVID-19 policies and case data at michigan.gov/coronavirus.
Income Tax Filing
The state individual income tax filing deadline was April 18. However, the Michigan Department of Treasury does have late return options for those who missed the deadline. If you have an outstanding tax debt and cannot make full payment, the department can work with you on payment options with the goal of limiting interest charges and late payment penalties.
Treasury recommends past-due tax filers to consider:
Taxpayers who receive a final tax bill and are unable to pay the entire amount owed can consider:
The last three options for final tax bills should be filed separately from the state income tax return.
Taxpayers with questions about their state income taxes are encouraged to use Treasury eServices. The online platform enables taxpayers to ask state income tax-related questions when convenient and avoids the extended wait times for calls this time of year.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Our office is always here to answer any questions or concerns and listen to any thoughts you have on any particular issue. The best way to reach us is by email at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov. Our team is working hard to respond to every email and voicemail left with our office in a timely manner. We appreciate your patience as we experience increased communications!
We also hope you will join us for upcoming coffee hours so that we can meet and I can hear what is on your mind.