Welcome to my Capitol & Community Update e-newsletter! Now that the primary elections are behind us, I’m so excited to be able to engage with you all again through these e-news updates, social media and other mass communications that were paused during the blackout period (the month preceding primary elections).
I first want to say that I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I have been. It’s always thrilling to get to spend more time in the community, meeting new people and having important conversations. And while all the summer fun is great, I’m ready to get back to work on your behalf in Lansing.
As always, please encourage neighbors and friends in House District 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 venute policy regarding masks and physical distancing. Our August meeting information is as follow:
When: Monday, Aug. 22, from 4:30-6 p.m.
Where: Troy Community Center (3179 Livernois Road in Troy)
The following are highlights from recent legislative developments. All of my sponsored legislation and co-sponsored legislation from this term are available at the provided hyperlinks. You can also see my press releases page for additional updates and information.
Please note that the House has not convened since June 30. We were scheduled to meet on July 20; however, the majority party opted against it at the last minute. We are next scheduled to meet on Aug. 17. I look forward to returning to work on behalf of my constituents at the Michigan Capitol. As a reminder, below are my most recent legislative highlights.
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 at 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 heightened costs on fuel, groceries, etc. As a legislator, I am committed to bringing real and immediate financial relief to Michigan families and 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 (EITC), 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.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has secured a second approval from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to suspend certain collection activities for nearly 400,000 workers who applied for federal jobless benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The suspension stops new wage garnishments and state of Michigan tax refund intercepts. This is the second time the UIA has worked with DOL to grant the suspension to provide relief for Michigan workers. An earlier suspension expired in May.
I am excited to see this approval become realized as the suspension of these collections will put money back in the pockets of people who needed pandemic unemployment benefits and followed the rules when they asked for help. This federal action will provide the UIA with the time they need to evaluate claims for overpayment waivers, which they report will be announced soon. So far, over 62,000 waivers have already been granted.
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 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.
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, 2022, 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, 2022. 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 Resources
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 provide 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. The Department of Insurance and Financial Services (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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