It has been an unusually cold start to the spring/summer months, and I hope you all are finding success as you begin to plant your gardens and pots.
I would also like to say Eid Mubarak to everyone who celebrated Eid al-Fitr and the end of the holy month of Ramadan. I wish you and your loved ones health, happiness and prosperity!
Thank you to those who have continued reaching out to our office to share their thoughts on a variety of issues. Our office has been receiving your calls and emails, and my staff is working hard to read and listen to every comment, question, or concern and respond.
If we can 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
- Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Update
- COVID-19 Update
- Unemployment Update
- District Spotlight
UPCOMING TIME WITH RANJEEV
Virtual Coffee Hour
Monday, June 14, 12-1 p.m.
Live Streamed via YouTube and social media. You can visit our social media accounts and watch recordings of previous coffee hours. Please submit any questions by contacting our office.
Each year, the governor proposes her recommendations through the State Budget Office. Once her recommendations are given, both the Senate and House Appropriations committees go to work to create a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It is up to the Legislature then to create a balanced budget.
Last week, the Michigan House passed a series of fiscal year 2022 departmental budgets. Budgets are a statement of our priorities, and ultimately, the budgets passed last week in the House do not meet the moment for Michigan. I voted NO on almost all departmental budgets.
We need a budget that is a reflection of our true values, and one that helps to build back our economy for families and workers, prioritizes education and provides environmental protection.
Now is not the time to play games and slash funding — and that is exactly what the Republican budget bills do. How can we justify making massive cuts to departments like the Department of Education or the Department of Health and Human Services after the year we’ve had?
We need to invest in Michigan’s students, workers and families to build back from the pandemic and ensure everyone has a fair shot.
I support a budget that:
- Invests in water infrastructure needs to make sure Michiganders have clean water.
- Fully funds the Futures for Frontliners and MI Reconnect programs to advance opportunity for frontline and essential workers who sacrificed so much during the pandemic.
- Uses all the federal funds allocated for relief for working families and small businesses.
- Restores funding to farmers and the Double Up Food Bucks program.
- Funds body cameras and training for the Michigan State Police.
- Invests in Michigan’s broadband infrastructure.
- Ensures that our schools have all the resources they need to confront the unique learning challenges that have arisen from the pandemic.
The priorities above are all examples of what the Republican proposed budget did NOT include or made cuts to. Many of my Democratic colleagues proposed dozens of amendments to include these priorities and others, most of which were not adopted.
While I support many of the projects and areas these proposed budgets fund, the bills as they currently stand ultimately fall short of what schools, communities, small businesses and families deserve, and I believe there’s more work that needs to be done. It is imperative that we all come back to the table and work on a budget that ensures every person has a fair shot. We need to ensure the budget is a reflection of our true values. The budget process is far from over, and I am hopeful that we can continue negotiations and put together a budget that works for every Michigander.
INDEPENDENT CITIZENS REDISTRICTING COMMISSION UPDATE
On May 11, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) held its first public input meeting in Jackson. This was the first of 16 the commission will complete as it travels to various locations across the state to gauge public input on how it can most effectively and equitably redraw Michigan’s congressional and legislative maps.
Commissioners were constitutionally mandated to hold at least 10 such meetings but opted to hold more than required to get a wider swath of valuable input.
If you would like to give input to the commission, a full list of scheduled public hearings can be found on the ICRC website managed by the Department of State. Although there are no public hearings scheduled within the 21st District, there are some close by.
“MI Vacc to Normal” Plan
As of May 13, Michigan has administered 7,542,065 vaccines. Currently, 55.4% of Michiganders ages 16 and older have received at least one dose, with 36.8% percent of Michiganders ages 16 and older being fully vaccinated*, moving the state closer to its goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible.
Last month, Gov. Whitmer announced the ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan, which will use four vaccination-based milestones — using data for Michiganders 16 years or older who’ve received their first dose — to guide future steps required to get back to normal
On May 11, Michigan hit the first vaccine benchmark! With more than 55% of eligible Michiganders receiving their first dose, the requirement for employers to require remote work where feasible will be lifted on May 24.
This week, the FDA announced that Pfizer was approved to administer their vaccines to children aged 12-16. For more information on this, click here. This is an important step in reaching Michigan’s 70% goal and to safely reopening our schools and getting our kids back into the classroom.
We all need to do our part to get things back to normal — get vaccinated and encourage your friends and family to do the same! To find a COVID-19 vaccine, please click here.
For statewide vaccine distribution information, visit the State of Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine website.
Gathering and Mask Order Update
Governor Whitmer announced last week that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is updating the Gatherings and Mask Order to align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on face coverings. The new order went into effect on Saturday, May 15.
Under the updated MDHHS Gatherings and Mask Order, Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. While indoors, fully vaccinated Michiganders will no longer need to wear a mask, but residents who are not vaccinated, or have not completed their vaccinations, must continue to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others. Despite this update, individual businesses and schools are still allowed to create their own mask requirements if they so wish. You can see more about the updated CDC guidance here.
Work search requirements will be returning
Unemployment insurance claimants are traditionally required to actively seek work and report their activities during certification for any week they receive benefits. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this requirement has been waived since March 2020. However, in the coming weeks, the requirement to search for work to be eligible for unemployment benefits will be returning. Our office will be sure to provide an update as more information becomes available.
Clarification on Appeal Process
- Determination: Protestable
- Redetermination: Appealable
- Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) through the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR). This office is independent of UIA. Once a hearing is scheduled, involved parties are mailed a notice to inform them when and where the hearing will be held. Currently, almost all hearings are by phone. Once a decision is issued by the ALJ, all involved parties (the claimant, UIA and the employer) have 30 days to appeal the decision. Many issues such as late filing, late reporting and availability/ability to work do not include the employer as an involved party. Employers would also not be involved in PUA appeals.
- Unemployment Insurance Appeals Commission: UIAC does not typically conduct hearings; their decisions are based on the record.
- If the claimant still wanted to appeal further, they would then transition to Circuit Court. An appeal must be timely to go to the next step.
The agency has no involvement in determining when hearings are held or when UIAC will review and rule on a case. Appeals are time sensitive. If a claimant protests late they must include an explanation as to why it is late to establish good cause.
You can find more resources and information on the process here.
If you find that you are in need of assistance with your unemployment claim, you can contact my office using this form.
Canton in the News:
Canton is one of 49 municipalities in Michigan set to receive federal stimulus funding as a result of the American Rescue Plan. This will mean about $9.1 million for Canton to address budget issues that arose due to the pandemic and to provide crucial services for Canton residents.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
May Coffee Hour
Couldn’t make it? You can watch the archive of the coffee hour here.
Michigan House Democrats Embrace Diversity
The Michigan Democratic Caucus encompasses such a wide range of individuals, which allows for so much more representation of our Michigan residents. I am proud to be part of such a diverse group of legislators.
AAPI Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This month we celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of the AAPI Community to our country and state’s culture, history, and successes.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
As of May 3, restaurants, bars and other food and drink vendors became eligible to apply for the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
Registration for applications opened Friday, April 30, although not all businesses will have to register. Online applications stay open until all the funds are disbursed. Businesses planning to apply first should register for an account so they’re not applying through their point-of-sale vendor.
Restaurant owners should look over the official guidance online, including frequently asked questions and the application sample, if they haven’t already.
All business owners should submit their applications as soon as possible, but until May 24, the SBA will prioritize applications from businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged persons. After May 24, it’s first come, first served.
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 don’t hesitate to reach out to me at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
Communications from my office will be available via biweekly email updates or social media. My office would like to flag that for the months of July and August, our e-news updates will be monthly instead of biweekly while we are observing an in-district working period. However, my office will always be open, and you can feel free to reach out to our office directly and do not hesitate to reach out for assistance.
I hope that this information has been helpful and that we can be together again soon in person.