- After we weathered that storming, which came to a head on January 6 in the assault on our national Capitol, I am proud to have co-sponsored legislation to ban open carry in our beautiful Capitol in Lansing.
The New Year began with a series of events: some unfortunate, some celebratory, all historic. One in particular hit very close to home. The scene that unfolded at our nation’s Capitol on January 6 evokes memories of April 30, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. Nine months ago, I was sitting in the House chambers of the beautiful Michigan State Capitol when it was stormed by armed individuals demanding to get in. Over the last nine months, we’ve seen that frenzy fomented — questioning the validity of science-based decisions and election results; and endangering the lives of our elected leaders. What started with the armed gunmen in our legislative chambers, was followed by a kidnapping plot against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, death threats made to Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson and Michigan’s Secretary of State Benson. And it all came to a head at the U.S. Capitol on the first Wednesday of the year.
Precautions were taken for the second Wednesday of the year, the Opening Day of the 101st Legislative session. Lansing was flooded with additional security personnel who held a special briefing for me and my colleagues. Even as we worked to ensure our safety and swore to uphold the U.S. and Michigan Constitution, most of our Republican colleagues didn’t wear masks. One in particular, Rep. Matt Maddock, had participated in the D.C. insurrection — actions in stark contrast to the promises we made on Jan. 13th. While the day passed with no other violent/major incidents, we closed out the week by closing the state Capitol and the Anderson House Office Building where my office is located due to further threats of violence. But we were given a sliver of hope: after months of silence, the Michigan Capitol Commission finally took the decision to ban open carry of weapons inside the Capitol. And this week, we will be back in Lansing for session and committee meetings.
We heaved a collective sigh of relief on the third Wednesday of the year with a celebration full of promise. Jan. 20 was the inauguration of our new President and the first woman to serve as Vice President, with messages of unity all around, and an agenda that will address pressing issues ranging from small business relief to getting our Covid response back on track. Closer to home, our government buildings were reopened, another meeting of the Michigan Capitol Commission was scheduled, I got my committee assignments for the new term, and I co-sponsored legislation to ban open carry in our beautiful Capitol.
In my first term, I served on the Energy Committee, and the Local Government & Municipal Finance Committee. This time, I will be serving on the Tax Policy Committee and the Rules and Competitiveness Committee, in addition to continuing the work I did in my first term on local government. The real work is done in committee, where policy is introduced, hearings are held, experts testify, and issues are hashed out. I still remember being really frustrated with the first bill that came to the committee for a hearing in 2019: HB 4095, that sought to skip the local Zoning Board, in order to revise foster care zoning restrictions and remove local control. As a former Zoning Board and Planning Commission member, I spoke out against passing this bill and shared my grave concerns with my state Senate colleagues. Fortunately, the bill never passed the state Senate. While I have two new committee assignments, one thing is the same: committee agendas will still be set by the Republicans who hold the gavel, as they are in the majority.
This final Wednesday of January is yet another historic day: #ThatWomanFromMichigan will give her third State of the State address. Like the State of the Union, the State of the State is typically a formal event, where the chief executive lays out her priorities and sets the tone for the upcoming budget negotiations, addressing both chambers of the legislature and the other branches of state government. At last year’s address, Governor Gretchen Whitmer mentioned a package of bills that House Democrats had just introduced to protect the Affordable Care Act, something that benefits more than a million Michiganders.
I was honored to be acknowledged for contributing to the policy by seeking to protect healthcare for those with preexisting conditions. Our Governor described how she opened up the Governor’s residence to be welcoming of our state’s diversity, hosting an Eid dinner and a Diwali reception. Because this year’s State of the State is virtual, everyone is invited to watch from home at 7 pm EST. How open and welcoming is that! Despite the threats of violence against our democratic institutions and elected leaders, the traditions of government continue, and our democracy stands strong.
Padma Kuppa is Democratic State Representative for Michigan’s 41st House District and has been just re-elected for a second term. A mother, an engineer from NIT Warangal, and an automotive and IT professional for over 2 decades, and a civic and interfaith leader for years, she is the first Indian immigrant and Hindu in the Michigan state legislature. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at ElectPadmaKuppa.com or Kuppa.housedems.com.