It is great to be back! I hope that everyone is staying cool and enjoying the beautiful summer weather. As you may know, the state Legislature has been on break from legislative session for the past few weeks for an in-district work period. We will continue to be in an in-district work period for the remainder of the summer.
Last Tuesday, Primary Election Day, was a very important day for Michiganders to exercise their right to vote. In the coming weeks, county canvassing boards made up of two Democrats and two Republicans will review election materials, sign off on the vote totals and certify outcomes for races wholly contained within the county. They have two weeks to complete that job. The next step in the Democratic election process is the General Election in November! Everyone should have an easily accessible route to vote, as it is an individual’s right as a U.S citizen. Our democracy works best when we have safe, fair and free elections with all voices participating.
I also have exciting personal news: In early July, our district gained a new constituent, the grand finale to my family, Kiaan Singh Puri! My wife and I are overjoyed to welcome the newest addition to our family. As many of you know, I have chosen to take paternity leave in order to bond with my son, to allow for both the emotional and physical support of my wife, and to enjoy these special moments. Everyone, regardless of their gender, should be able to take time away from their jobs to care for their families without facing hardship or workplace discrimination. You can view my full statement on paternity leave here. As your state representative and as a father, I hope that taking paternity leave shows that I will continue to lead by example. While I am still currently on leave, I have started attending a small number of events and plan to return to the office full-time later this month.
As always, if our office can 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:
- Upcoming Time with Ranjeev
- Budget Update
- Judge Rules on Minimum Wage Increase
- Abortion Access in Michigan
- LGBTQ Rights Expanded
UPCOMING TIME WITH RANJEEV
My team is currently working on scheduling our office’s next community coffee hour. We hope to resume monthly coffee hours starting in early September. You can follow us on social media and follow our e-newsletter for updates on our next coffee hour.
Rep. Puri Brings Home Record Funding for Canton
I am thrilled to report that I fought to bring home $5 million in state funds — one of the largest appropriations in the district’s history — to fund the total pavement reconstruction of Canton Center Road. This is a huge win for our community, and I am proud to have delivered on promises to bring home dollars that will directly benefit our residents and community.
My office also worked with Sen. Dayna Polehanki to secure $750,000 for the Sidewalk Gap Reduction Program to help fund the effort in Canton to connect the almost 54 miles of sidewalk gaps throughout the township. Of the 54 miles of missing sidewalk along major paved roads in the community, 8.7 miles exist within a quarter-mile of a public or private school in the township.
Additionally, the School Aid budget included a $13.6 million increase in funding for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools.
I am proud to have fought and delivered on promises to bring home dollars that will directly benefit our community. This budget not only makes transformational investments in education, infrastructure and our economy, it also will have an impact felt by every member of our community from the streets we drive on to the sidewalks we walk on.
Governor Whitmer Signs Fiscal Year 2022-23 Budget
On July 20, Gov. Whitmer signed the fiscal year 2022-23 (FY23) budget into law. The fiscal year 2023 budget is balanced, does not raise taxes by a dime, pays down billions in debt and brings Michigan’s rainy day fund to an all-time high of $1.6 billion. It makes game-changing investments in every student and classroom, empowers working families, connects communities, grows Michigan’s economy, empowers its workforce and protects public health and public safety.
A few specific highlights include:
- $130 million for investing in public safety and community policing resources
- $6 billion toward rebuilding local roads, repairing bridges and improving airport/transit systems
- $2.65 billion to pay down public employee pension systems
- $300 million for economic and community development
The FY23 budget does not include any tax cuts, as Gov. Whitmer and the Legislature are still negotiating what these will look like. Right now, Michiganders are facing rising prices at the pump, the grocery store and on countless everyday expenses. After the budget, Michigan still has billions of dollars in revenue left on the state balance sheet. Gov. Whitmer has proposed temporarily suspending the state sales tax on gas to lower prices for every driver, rolling back the retirement tax to put an average of $1,000 back in the pockets of our seniors, tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit to deliver an average tax refund of $3,000 to $730,000 to working families and delivering $500 inflation relief checks to Michiganders.
For more information on what is included in the budget, you can click here.
Historic Investment in K-12 Education
I am so proud of the work we did on this budget, but I am most proud of the historic funding we were able to appropriate for K-12 public education.
The state School Aid budget passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Whitmer in June supports all eight goals of the Michigan Department of Education’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan.
The new budget includes a $450-per-pupil increase in the state’s foundation allowance and additional increases for students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, English learners, students in rural and isolated districts, and career and technical education programs. The new $9,150 per-pupil foundation allowance is the highest in the state’s school funding history.
The budget also includes increases for early childhood education, early literacy improvements, student safety and student mental health supports.
As a father of two small children and a newborn, education is an important issue to me. Investing in our education system is a direct investment in our children and the future of our state. As your state representative, you should know that I am a strong advocate for public education and investing in our public schools.
The following are major highlights from the FY23 school budget that align with the various goals of Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan that will help drive further improvements in student achievement:
Goal 8: Provide Adequate and Equitable School Funding
- Per-pupil foundation allowance increase of $450 (5.2%) to $9,150 per pupil
- An additional $480.7 million to continue building a weighted funding model to address the different costs associated with educating students with different needs
- $223 million increase for economically disadvantaged students
- $246 million increase for students with disabilities
- $1.3 million increase for English language learners
- $438,000 increase for students in rural and isolated districts
- $10 million increase for career and technical education programs
- $475 million in a School Consolidation and Infrastructure Fund to create healthier and safer schools for students
Goal 7: Increase the Numbers of Certified Teachers in Areas of Shortage
- Teacher Recruitment – $575 million
- Pays tuition costs up to $10,000 per year for eligible students
- Pays $9,600 per semester for work as a student teacher
- $305 million for MI Future Educator Fellowships
- $50 million for MI Future Educator Student Teacher Stipends
- $175 million for Grow Your Own programs for support staff to become teachers
- $15 million for Troops to Teachers
- $10 million to ISDs to recruit and hire career and technical education (CTE) instructors
- $20 million to Teach for America
Goal 3: Improve the Health, Safety, and Wellness of All Learners
- Student mental health supports — an additional $245 million
- $150 million to districts for discretionary mental health needs
- $25 million increase to existing funding for teen health centers
- $25 million increase in existing mental health grants to intermediate school districts (ISDs) for mental health professionals and school mental health centers
- $45 million to ISDs for TRAILS implementation
- Student safety – an additional $210 million
- $168 million to districts for discretionary school safety needs
- $25 million to districts to hire school safety officers
- $15 million for cross-system intervention supports
- $2 million to create a school safety commission
Goal 1: Expand Early Childhood Learning Opportunities
- $34 million increase for the Great Start Readiness Program
- 1,300 additional slots
- Full-day allocation increased to $9,150 per child
- $7.1 million increase for EarlyOn to help educators identify learning and developmental challenges in children
JUDGE RULES ON MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
As many may know, in 2018, Michigan One Fair Wage circulated petitions to have voters consider the proposed minimum wage increase. The Republican controlled Legislature preempted a vote by adopting two initiatives — Public Acts 337 and 338 — and then gutted both, which became PA 368 and PA 369.
- The first petition would have raised Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022. That was amended to raise it gradually to $12.05 by 2030, delaying the full amount by eight years.
- The second law required employers to provide paid sick leave, but was altered to exclude employers with fewer than 50 employees and limiting the amount of annual mandatory leave at larger employers to 40 hours, instead of 72. The change affected nearly 2 million workers in the state.
GOP legislators approved the measures in September 2018 before the election, then made the changes after the election with simple majority votes and the signature of outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder.
On July 19, Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro ruled that the Michigan Legislature’s use of “Adopt and Amend” in 2018 as unconstitutional. The practice involves preventing a voter petition (a proposed measure placed on a ballot by voters) from reaching a ballot by adopting the petition into law, then changing it with fewer votes than would be required had the measure been passed by voters directly.
Shapiro had ruled that use of this practice in 2018 by the Republican-led Legislature, which altered two voter petitions, was unconstitutional and that the Michigan Legislature doesn’t have the power to both adopt and amend an initiative in the same two-year legislative session.
Under the laws reinstated by Shapiro’s original ruling, Michigan’s current $9.87 minimum wage would be $12 and indexed to inflation, while the minimum wage for tipped workers would increase from $3.75 to $9.60. The ruling also revived a policy that would allow more Michigan workers to accrue more paid sick leave hours from their job, regardless of the size of employer they work for.
To allow time for employers and state agencies to adopt the change, it will take effect on Feb. 19, 2023.
This is a huge win for our workers and economy. Every working Michigander deserves to earn a living wage. Better wages will uplift families, enable the state and businesses to attract and retain better workers, and stimulate the local economy.
An appeal of Judge Shapiro’s decision has been filed, and a legal battle continues at this time. This could mean that the situation may fluctuate. The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity recognizes that residents and employers are likely to have questions on implementation of this ruling, more information as it develops here.
ABORTION ACCESS IN MICHIGAN
As you may know, on June 24, the United States Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn Roe vs. Wade, undoing 50 years of precedent and striking down the constitutional right to an abortion. The court’s ruling follows the draft opinion that became public in May and will allow states to pass extreme or total abortion bans. Michigan already has a near-total abortion ban on the books from 1931 that makes most abortion a felony with no exception for rape or incest. At this moment, abortion remains legal in Michigan due to an injunction by a judge, but this may be temporary. On Aug. 1, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled county prosecutors can enforce the state’s law criminalizing abortion before this decision was quickly stopped by a circuit court late in the afternoon that issued a restraining order on the ban, again blocking it from taking effect.
This is all to say that while things could still change, as of today, abortion is still legal in Michigan. Abortion funds, clinics and support networks are here to help you. Do not cancel your appointments, and if you need care, please reach out to a provider immediately.
Reproductive health care is deeply personal, unique to individual situations and should not be determined by political debate or politicians. The decision to overturn Roe is wrong and will harm millions of people. We should all be able to make the personal health care decisions that impact our lives, health and futures. The impact of this decision will cause disproportionate harm to women, people of color, those living on lower incomes, young people, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
As your state representative, I will continue to fight to ensure all Michiganders have access to safe medical care and empower them to determine if, when and how to pursue a pregnancy.
Lastly, it is important to note that the Reproductive Freedom For All Petition gathered the number of signatures needed to appear on the November ballot (they submitted over 750,000 signatures). The ballot initiative would provide for a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom. The term reproductive freedom would be defined as “the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management and infertility care. The ballot initiative would provide that the state can regulate abortion after fetal viability, except that the state could not ban the use of abortion to “protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual,” as determined by an attending health care professional.
On Nov. 8, every registered voter in the state of Michigan will have the opportunity to vote on this initiative.
LGBTQ+ RIGHTS EXPANDED
A decades-long effort to make illegal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations ended in victory on July 28 at the Michigan Supreme Court.
A 5-2 Supreme Court majority ruled the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual orientation, with many who have called for such protections for decades celebrating the ruling. Previous rulings by lower courts have also affirmed that the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity due to similar legal arguments.
Justice Elizabeth Clement, appointed to the bench by Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder, wrote the majority opinion in Rouch World v. Department of Civil Rights, signed onto by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, Justice Richard Bernstein, Justice Megan Cavanagh and Justice Elizabeth Welch. Justice Brian Zahra and Justice David Viviano dissented.
Elliott-Larsen bars discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status. For years, but especially in the last 15 years, members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community urged the Legislature to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected groups. While Democrats have introduced legislation to create these protections, Republican majorities in the Legislature have refused to act to pass these necessary protections for LGBTQ+ Michiganders.
This Michigan Supreme Court Decision is a huge win for LGBTQ+ Michiganders, but the fight for LGBTQ+ equality is not over. I will continue fighting alongside my Democratic colleagues to codify this decision into law and to expand protections for LGBTQ+ people in other areas of the law.
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.