Happy New Year! As my first term as state representative has drawn to a close and a new one begins, I wanted to take a moment to recognize each and every one in the Troy and Clawson community. In a year unlike any other, we joined together to overcome challenge after challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I have carried your strength, resilience and care for the community with me to Lansing, where it remains at the top of my mind with every vote I take in the Capitol.
During the last few weeks of the 100th Legislative Session, also known as ‘Lame Duck,’ my colleagues and I voted on important pieces of legislation. This edition of my e-newsletter will cover some of the highlights of what was passed along with a few helpful resources as we move into the new year.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to recognize my new legislative team for my office in Lansing: Ashleigh Schoeninger and James Sklar! Ashleigh has been with my office for quite some time already, but I’m excited to have her serving in this new role as Legislative Director. James has come aboard to serve as a Legislative Aide as he completes his Juris Doctorate from the Michigan State University College of Law. Our team has already enjoyed working together the past few weeks, and can’t wait for all we can accomplish in the new term!
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1783 or email at PadmaKuppa@house.mi.gov for questions about this or any other state-level issue. I look forward to continuing to serve the 41st House District in this new year and new term, and wish you and yours a happy, healthy and safe start to 2021!
State Representative, 41st House District
Lame Duck Recap
Within the last few weeks of the 100th legislative term, many pieces of important legislation made their way through the House and Senate and made it to Gov. Whitmer’s desk to be signed.
COVID-19 Supplemental Funding
Senate Bill 748, now Public Act 257 of 2020, passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Whitmer last week. As signed, this funding includes about $340 million in COVID-19 relief for Michigan residents and small businesses, including:
- More than $55 million for COVID-19 vaccine administration and planning;
- $55 million for small business survival grants;
- $45 million in employee assistance grants for workers who have been laid off because of COVID-19 business closures;
- $22.5 million for COVID-19 testing and rapid response;
- $100 million to continue $2/hour in additional pay for direct care workers;
- $15 million to hospitals and long-term care facilities for additional staffing and reimbursement for housing COVID-19 patients
- $2.5 million for hazard pay for educators left out of previous hazard payments, including Great Start Readiness Preschool teachers, special education teachers, and adult education teachers; and
- $3.5 million for entertainment venues that have not been able to hold events since March.
During the legislative process, this bill also had a piece of boilerplate language tucked in it by the majority party that would have allowed for hazardous materials to be transported across the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Thankfully, Gov. Whitmer vetoed this potentially dangerous possibility that had the potential to put countless communities and Michiganders in jeopardy, not to mention the safety and security of our Great Lakes.
While this bill was by no means perfect, it still served as an important first step in addressing the needs so many of Michigan’s small businesses and families have faced due to the ongoing pandemic. In this new year and term, I will continue to staunchly advocate for legislative solutions to our community’s most pressing challenges.
To read the complete analysis of PA 257 as enacted, click here.
The Legislature also passed Senate Bill 604, now Public Act 258 of 2020, which continues the extension of Michigan unemployment benefits through March 31, 2021. This will hopefully build upon the federal-level stimulus funding that was passed by the U.S. Congress recently, which included relief measures that would allow for the extension and expansion of unemployment benefits and provide much needed assistance to millions of Michiganders and Americans alike. While Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has cautioned about delays in benefits for those currently enrolled in federal benefits programs, they will be working as quickly as possible to implement the updates to these programs once more information is provided from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Once extensions are fully implemented, claimants will be made whole for any disruptions in benefits.
Water Shutoffs Prohibited through March
While some cities have extended their own moratoriums to prevent water utility shutoffs through the end of March 2021 during the ongoing pandemic, we took action to codify these protections statewide. Senate Bill 241, now Public Act 252 of 2020, was sponsored by state Sen. Stephanie Chang and will ensure residents across Michigan can have the peace of mind that their water access won’t be put in jeopardy as we continue to battle COVID-19 in our communities.
Criminal Justice Reform
Building on the recommendations made by the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, a package of bills passed the Legislature that would keep people out of jail by eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for some low-level, nonviolent crimes and limiting automatic suspensions of driver’s licenses. Here’s a list of these important bills, click below to view the contents of the legislation:
To view the most recent bill analysis for this package, click here.
Last year, the Michiganders everywhere made their voices heard loud and clear with record voter participation and engagement, all in the face of a global pandemic that continues to impact our everyday lives. Nearing the end of the term, I joined with a few of my House Democratic colleagues to introduce legislation that would strengthen our state’s elections processes for both voters and elections administrators, while taking steps to foster a healthier, 21st-century democracy the people of our state are counting on. To learn more, click here for an overview of this package.
With the end to last term, any remaining legislation must be reintroduced this legislative term in order to be considered and will restart the legislative process once again. Reintroducing this package is one of my top priorities once session starts back up again in the new year, and I look forward to updating you further as it progresses through the legislative process!
Michigan Small Business Call Center — (888) 522-0103
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) call center is ready to answer questions about assistance available to small businesses through existing state programs by calling (888) 522-0103.
Small Business Administration Loans
Michigan small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and nonprofits that have suffered substantial economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak can now apply for low-interest loans as part of $1 billion in funding due to the statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration. The application for disaster loan assistance can be found on the Small Business Administration’s website by clicking here.
Additional Resources for Small Businesses
The Michigan Small Business Development Center offers several resources for small business owners trying to navigate this public health crisis including loan application guidance and webinars.
Resources for Veterans
The Michigan Veteran Resource Center, hosted through the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, has a 24/7 hotline to help veterans and their families with questions and emergency needs. For more information, please call (800) MICH-VET, visit michiganveterans.com or Facebook.com/MIVeterans.