Welcome to my Capitol & Community Update e-newsletter. I want to begin by acknowledging the variety of emotions people across our community are facing following the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s radical decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the privacy protections that come with it, something that the vast majority of Americans did not want to happen according to the most recent polling from research outlets such as Gallup.
As a STEM professional and an interfaith advocate, I fully condemn the decision. It represents an attack on religious freedom and is in staunch opposition to the recommendations of the medical and scientific communities. The right to safe, legal abortion has been a guarantee for 50 years, and overnight, that right is now uncertain — even in cases of rape, of incest and when a full-term pregnancy will be fatal.
In Michigan, abortion is currently still legal, pending court proceedings. A preliminary injunction was granted, meaning that Michigan’s pre-Roe laws criminalizing abortion will not go into effect until there is a decision in the lawsuit. As such, I am more committed than ever to protecting the rights of my constituents, including the rights to privacy, abortion and other necessary health care — in addition to honoring the will of the people.
As always, please encourage neighbors and friends in HD 41 — Troy and Clawson — to also sign up for these updates at kuppa.housedems.com, and let us know if you have any thoughts on any state-level issues or requests for scheduling. My office can be reached by phone 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
Monthly Community Conversations
Please join me for my in-person office hours, where I will be giving legislative updates and taking your questions about the issues facing our state and our community! They are a great way to find out what policies I’m working on and share your ideas and concerns with me. Please refer to the policy of the venue regarding masks and physical distancing. Our July meeting information is as follows:
When: Monday, July 25, from 4:30-6 p.m.
Where: Troy Community Center (3179 Livernois Road in Troy)
The following are highlights from recent legislative developments. You can see all of my sponsored legislation and co-sponsored legislation from this term at the provided hyperlinks. Please also see my press releases page for additional updates and information.
Protecting Privacy Rights
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unpopular and radical decision to take away a citizen’s right to privacy in health care — which Americans have enjoyed for nearly half a century — I am committed to protecting the privacy rights of my constituents and all Michiganders. I introduced House Bill 5825 to prohibit employers from monitoring employee communications unless the employer establishes an employee monitoring policy and discloses that policy to employees.
I also introduced HB 5496 to grant adults privacy rights in cases of domestic violence that are currently limited to minors. We cannot go backward. A citizen’s right to privacy at work, home and the doctor’s office is important to me and the constituents that I’ve engaged with, and I will continue to defend these freedoms as a legislator in any way that I can.
Student Loan Forgiveness
I recently joined a bipartisan coalition of legislators in introducing a package of bills related to student loan forgiveness and establishing protections for student borrowers by increasing transparency, affordability and accessibility around student loans. My bill in the package, HB 6265, establishes funding for student loan forgiveness for those who are employed in high-demand jobs in rural counties.
With the current labor shortage, we need to be active in filling the gaps in our workforce, and one way we can do that is by reining in the student loan debt problem that keeps these jobs out of reach for many. More information on the package, which has been referred to the Committee on Education, can be found here.
Justice for Allie
My legislation to prevent vulnerable adults, including seniors and those with disabilities, from being sexually exploited online continues to languish in the House Judiciary Committee. The bills are HB 4159 and HB 4160, with the latter being sponsored by Rep. Julie Calley to make this a bipartisan package. This legislation is very close to our community, having been inspired by a Troy family, and supported by people across the state. Thank you to everyone who has continued to advocate for the advancement of this important legislation with the chair and members of the Judiciary Committee. Our advocacy continues!
Financial Relief for Michiganders
Globally, people everywhere are being hit hard by rising costs from fuel to groceries due to a variety of factors such as international supply chain issues. While others seem interested in playing the blame game, I am committed to bringing real and immediate financial relief to Michiganders. I recently voted in favor of tax relief for all Michiganders. While the Legislature has yet to negotiate the plan with the governor to ensure we do not leave funding holes for our roads, schools, and local government services such as police and fire, I voted in favor of the plan to keep the conversations going. It is a good start and includes an expansion to the Earned Income Tax Credit, a goal Democrats have long sought and that I strongly support, but such large funding gaps need to be addressed before the plan is signed into law. I will continue to prioritize relief for Michigan families as well as sufficient funding for Michigan’s critical services such as roads, schools and police.
Constituents often engage with legislative offices to communicate with the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) about jobless benefits claims. Often, though, there is a more effective option to offer: claimants can schedule an in-person, phone or virtual appointment through Michigan.gov/UIA.
Recently, not all appointments have been filled. About half of in-person appointments are unused each week, as over 14 percent of phone appointments and 65 percent of virtual appointments. A claimant who schedules an appointment is likely able to find a time, day and method that are most convenient for them.
UIA has 12 local offices across Michigan that are open by appointment. UIA offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Benton Harbor, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Muskegon, Saginaw, Sault Ste. Marie, Sterling Heights and Traverse City. UIA’s revamped, user-friendly website at Michigan.gov/UIA includes a link on the homepage to make it easy for claimants to schedule an appointment with UIA staff.
Trained staff at local offices can often address a claimant’s issue more quickly and conveniently than a legislative office, as the latter does not have access to confidential unemployment account information. When local office staff aren’t serving customers, they are working on claimant cases.
Fostering Futures Scholarship Application
The Michigan Department of Treasury is reminding young adults who have experienced foster care on or after their 13th birthday that they are eligible to apply for a scholarship from the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund.
The priority deadline for the Fostering Futures Scholarship application for academic year 2022-23 is Aug. 1. Eligible students enrolled at a Michigan degree-granting college or university may now apply to receive scholarship funds for tuition, fees, room, board, books and supplies. Applications received after Aug. 1 may be placed on a waitlist.
To learn more about the Fostering Futures Scholarship, go to www.fosteringfutures-mi.com.
Fostering Future Scholarship applicants with questions should contact the state Treasury Department’s Student Scholarships and Grants area at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free at (888) 4-GRANTS (888-447-2687).
Michigan Education Trust Tuition Giveaway
More than 36,000 Michiganders have signed up for the Michigan Education Trust (MET) 35th Anniversary $1.5 Million Giveaway, a random, statewide drawing that families and friends can enter on behalf of a child for a chance to win one of 100 $15,000 prepaid tuition prizes. Administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury, MET lets families pay today’s prices for future higher education costs.
Under MET’s giveaway, Michigan residents 18 years or older on Aug. 31, are eligible to enter on behalf of beneficiaries ages birth to 5 by the same date for a chance to win $15,000 in prepaid tuition. A person may enter only once, but multiple people may enter on behalf of the same child. The prepaid tuition prize may be used to pay for future tuition and mandatory fees at a community college, college, university or technical school in accordance with MET terms and conditions.
The giveaway is not being funded by state tax dollars. A prudent investment strategy over the last decade has resulted in a record surplus for MET, which can now be used to invest in Michiganders and provide more Michigan children with access to higher education that will help them prepare to compete in a modern workforce and solve future challenges.
Giveaway entry began May 26 and ends on Aug. 31. Winners will be announced in a series of drawings beginning Sept. 12. Michiganders can enter the giveaway and review rules and eligibility criteria at www.METgiveaway.com.
Reproductive Health Resource Updates
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has taken actions recently to support reproductive health. They include:
- Seeking and receiving approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to extend the postpartum coverage period for Medicaid in Michigan from 60 days following pregnancy to a full year, starting in April 2022.
- Updating Medicaid policy to provider coverage of up to a 12-month supply of prescribed contraceptives for enrollees at either family planning clinics or pharmacies.
- Proposing policy that would establish Medicaid coverage of doula services, contingent upon approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Doulas are trained birth workers who provide non-clinical emotional, physical and informational support to pregnant people and their families before, during and after birth.
- Expanding access to evidence-based home visiting programs to better address health, housing, food security and safety during pregnancy and postpartum.
Contraception is widely used to treat medical conditions such as endometriosis, to treat certain symptoms of menstruation, as well as for family planning purposes for people who do not wish to become pregnant or those for whom pregnancy may pose a medical risk. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), non-exempt health plans must provide, with no out-of-pocket cost, at least one type of each of the 18 contraceptive methods currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as prescribed to women by a health care provider. Related health services, such as an office visit for a contraceptive shot, must also be covered.
Though contraception is provided without cost by most health plans, there are certain circumstances where you may have to pay for these treatments, including:
- If you prefer a type or brand of contraceptive that is not currently covered by your insurer;
- If you use a health care professional that is not in your plan’s network;
- If your health insurance is provided by an exempted institution or company;
- If your health plan is considered a “grandfathered” plan, generally those sold before the ACA was enacted on March 23, 2010. Grandfathered plans are not required to provide coverage for contraception.
For information about low- or no-cost reproductive health services provided by the State of Michigan, including under the state’s Medicaid program, visit the MDHHS’ Family Planning Program website. DIFS can help consumers with health insurance questions and complaints. For more information visit Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or call DIFS at (877) 999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Community Recognitions and Resources
Small Business of the Month
Each month, I recognize two small businesses in the community, one in Troy and one in Clawson, as our small businesses of the month. To nominate a business for this recognition, please fill out this form on my website.
Tributes, Letters, and Certificates
Do you know someone in the district who is retiring and would like a legislative tribute to celebrate their years of service? Has a local team or group reached a milestone that they would like to be acknowledged with an official certificate for each member? Our office can provide legislative tributes, letters and certificates on a wide range of recognitions for constituents. If you would like to request any of these materials for yourself or others, please email my office at PadmaKuppa@house.mi.gov with as much information as possible on the requested recognition, and we will work with you to arrange delivery or presentation of the recognition!
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