Unless otherwise announced, the Shiawassee County Democratic Party meets the fourth Tuesday of every month in the Corunna City Hall meeting room at 6:00 p.m. Regular business meetings start at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
But we are not willing to accept the “my way or the highway” approach backed by Congressional Republicans that asks the middle class and seniors to bear all the burden while the very wealthiest individuals, big corporations and oil and gas companies continue to enjoy big tax loopholes that are unavailable to middle class Americans and small businesses.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, author of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (also known as 48C), today praised the Departments of Treasury and Energy for announcing the availability of $150 million in tax credits for clean energy manufacturing projects across the country. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Stabenow authored the tax credit which provides businesses with up to a 30 percent tax cut to produce renewable energy technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, and advanced batteries here at home. In 2010, Stabenow’s initiative helped twelve Michigan companies across the state create hundreds of clean energy jobs.
‘My initiative is helping clean energy manufacturers in Michigan and across our country compete against other countries like China, which spends over $140 million a day on clean energy technology,’ said Senator Stabenow. ‘I’m very pleased more Michigan companies will have the opportunity to build new manufacturing facilities, continue to make new clean energy products, and help us win the global race to create the jobs of the future.’
Over the past four years, the United States has more than doubled clean, renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources, and has strengthened its position as a global leader in the clean energy race. At the same time, the American manufacturing sector has begun to rebound, with 500,000 manufacturing jobs added since the beginning of 2010. These tax credits will help continue this growth, while enhancing the country’s energy security and boosting local economic development. Eligible projects will be assessed on a competitive basis by the Department of Energy based on the following criteria: commercial viability, domestic job creation, technological innovation, speed to project completion, and potential for reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The application period for certification began February 7, 2013 and ends on July 23, 2013. Companies interested in applying should click here.
A bipartisan group of Senators today introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act to strengthen our nation’s mental health services. The bill, introduced in the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, puts mental health centers on more equal footing with other health centers by improving quality standards and expanding access to ensure more people can get the mental health care they need. The bill is sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), along with a bipartisan group of colleagues including Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Studies show that individuals with a serious mental illness are actually more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator. However, in the absence of timely diagnosis, early intervention and treatment, people experiencing first break psychosis are at risk of committing acts of violence-at a rate 15 times higher than those in treatment.The group of bipartisan senators was joined by David O. Russell, Oscar-nominated director of Silver Linings Playbook, to discuss the importance of removing the stigma associated with mental illness. Mr. Russell’s experience with his son, Matthew, living with mood disorders led to his writing the screenplay for (based on the book of the same name) and directing Silver Linings Playbook, which was nominated for 8 Academy Awards this year. The film explores the life of Pat Solatano, Jr. (played by Bradley Cooper), a man living with bipolar disorder who moves in with his parents following his release from a mental health institution and tries to rebuild his life. Mr. Russell discussed the need to de-stigmatize mental illness and expand coverage to ensure people get the care they need.Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), said: ‘Most people living with mental illness are not a danger to themselves or anyone else. But the cost of inadequate treatment can be dire in some cases. In the aftermath of the tragedy in Connecticut and too many others like it, it is important to do everything possible to keep our children safe. Strengthening our mental health services is a critical part of that.’
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), said: ‘In the wake of tragedies like Sandy Hook, we must work together to spend federal dollars more wisely when treating people who are mentally ill. This bill will help address our fragmented mental health system and ensure that more patients have access to the care they need by offering current Community Mental Health Centers a chance to expand their services and obtain the Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Center designation.’
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), said: ‘Too often the stigma of mental illness prevents individuals from seeking diagnosis and treatment. Thankfully, we are making strides in meeting this challenge, but we must ensure those who need treatment have access to it. Community Mental Health Centers play a vital role in helping individuals get the care they need to lead healthier, more productive lives. In this era of slashed budgets, we can’t let community mental health centers and the people they serve fall through the cracks. This bill authorizes critical resources to build and expand community mental health centers and help pay for the treatments provided. These centers treat seriously mentally ill children and adults who otherwise wouldn’t have access to life-saving care. This is a vulnerable population and we need to ensure they have access to help, just like they would for any physical illness.’
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), said: ‘America must approach the issue of mental illness with the care, attention and compassion that it deserves. Through recent acts of violence, we have seen the tragic cost that can come from untreated mental illnesses. The Excellence in Mental Health Act will save lives by addressing violence at its source and will ease the struggles of countless individuals and families dealing with mental illness.’
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), said: ‘This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that those who suffer from mental illness are able to get the care they need. By expanding access to quality mental health care, I believe we can reduce violence and save lives.’
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), said: ‘In the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, it is clear that we need to take a serious look at our mental health system. Our current system is fragmented, and patients with serious mental illness all too often lack access to the care that they need. Our bill will help address this problem by expanding access to mental health care for individuals, regardless of their ability to pay, through our nation’s Community Mental Health Centers. It will also help to improve the quality of mental health care by holding these centers accountable to higher standards.’
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), said: ‘Ensuring that those suffering from mental illness have access to the health care and support they need is important for many reasons. One reason is to help prevent debilitating mental and behavioral health problems, suicide, and violent acts like we saw at an elementary school in Connecticut.’
David O. Russell, Oscar-Nominated Director of Silver Linings Playbook, said: ‘We must continue working to remove the stigma from mental illness in our society and expand care for those living with mental illness who need it. We talk about diabetes, we talk about heart disease, so why can’t we talk about mental illness in a regular way? It was very important for me to have done this movie, to talk about a very personal experience with mental illness and open a dialogue. ‘
Malkia Newman, Board Chair, Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority, said: ‘I lived over 30 years with undiagnosed Bi-Polar Disorder. But my life is a testament to the fact that recovery is possible, thanks to the services and supports that I received through the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority. What makes me worried is that so many other people can’t get access to the services I got. My message to Congress is: please pass this bill so that everyone can get the mental health help they need.’
Linda Rosenberg, President/CEO of National Council for Behavioral Health, said: ‘Being comfortable with openly talking about mental illness and engaging those living with mental illness and their families can increase the likelihood we may be able to help and direct the person to proper treatment. Even when friends and family of someone who appears to be developing mental illness can tell that something is amiss, they may not know how to intervene and get that person proper care. This legislation can help overcome these barriers and connect people to care.’
Sheriff Brian Gootkin, Sheriff of Gallatin County, MT, said: ‘I’ve been in law enforcement since 1993, and in the Air Force before that, and I’ve seen how dire the consequences can be when those living with mental illness and their families do not get the care they need. That is why it is more important than ever that we strengthen our mental health services across the nation.’
Nancy Smith, Mother of a daughter with a severe emotional disorder, said: ‘Community mental health services saved my daughter’s life and her future. Our family was lucky and we were able to link her with Community Connections, but there are still gaps in the system. The Excellence in Mental Health Act will enable community mental health programs to offer a broader array of services for people like our daughter.’
The Excellence in Mental Health Act establishes criteria for Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Centers to ensure the centers cover a broad range of mental health services – including 24-hour crisis care, increased integration of physical, mental and substance abuse treatment so they are treated simultaneously rather than separately, and expanded support for families of people living with mental health issues.
The legislation also expands access to America’s 2,000 Community Mental Health Centers by supporting the modernization of existing centers and the construction of new behavioral health centers. Community Mental Health Centers currently serve over 8 million people, including 2.2 million young people. With at least 25% of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan experiencing some type of mental health condition, Community Mental Health Centers are expected to soon be serving 200,000 veterans.
According to a national survey, one-third of the 4.8 million people suffering from mood disorders do not receive treatment, and fewer than half of the people with severe mental disorders receive treatment of any kind in a given year. The current lack of access to quality care ultimately forces local law enforcement to respond to psychiatric emergencies and diverts officers from other duties. Expanded centers providing more services will be able to treat up to 1.5 million additional people as a result of this legislation.
Michigan House Republicans Introduce Legislation to Force Women to Undergo Unnecessary, Invasive Medical Procedure
LANSING – Despite saying “social issues are not on my agenda,” Gov. Rick Snyder may soon have to decide whether Michigan women seeking an abortion will be subjected to transvaginal ultrasounds under legislation introduced by Michigan House Republicans.
“Rick Snyder should come out publicly and denounce this extreme, Tea Party bill, which would invade women’s privacy and endanger their health with an unnecessary medical procedure,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “It’s time for Michigan Republicans to stop intruding on a woman’s relationship with her doctor and start focusing on jobs and the economy. Snyder says he wants to move forward from the divisiveness of the lame duck session. He can make progress toward that goal by stating for the record that he will veto this legislation if Lansing Republicans put it ‘on the agenda’ and send it to his desk.”
When running for governor in 2010, Snyder was asked if he would sign legislation restricting abortion. He replied, “Yes. I’m pro-life, pro-family.”
In December 2012, Snyder signed House Bill 5711, landmark anti-choice legislation designed to limit Michigan women’s access to safe and legal medical care.
LANSING — The Michigan Democratic Party today launched a new website, MichiganDashboard.com, that demonstrates how Gov. Rick Snyder has failed in his quest to make Michigan a “top 10 state.”
“Under the spell of Rick Snyder’s relentless positive spinning, you might think Michigan is a top 10 state,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “The facts are far from it. Indeed a closer look at the economic statistics shows that Michigan’s recovery is stalled compared to the rest of the nation. Furthermore, Snyder’s agenda of favoring corporations over middle-class families is endangering progress toward economic growth.”
Snyder has been touting Michigan as the “comeback state,” but Michigan’s economic recovery has reversed under his administration. A year ago Michigan’s unemployment rate ranked 41st among the states, but as of December 2012, Michigan had fallen to 45th in the nation.
Michigan’s median household income is about $4,500 less than the national average, ranking Michigan at 34th overall. However, Michigan’s middle-class families and seniors will be paying more in state taxes because of Snyder and Lansing Republicans eliminating the child deduction, reducing the homestead property tax credit, reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit and implementing a tax on seniors’ pensions, among other tax increases.
The reduction in the Earned Income Tax Credit will also have a negative impact on Michigan’s ranking in the child poverty rate, which is currently 36th in the nation. The Michigan League for Public Policy estimates 9,000 children will fall back into poverty because of this change.
The Michigan Dashboard provides data on the following measures:
LANSING — The Michigan Democratic Party today released the following statement celebrating February as Black History Month.
“Michigan students can be proud to learn so many great moments in black history happened right here,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “Before slavery was outlawed, thousands of runaway slaves made their way north via the Underground Railroad. The abolitionist community in Michigan opened their homes and conducted many on their final journey to freedom, with 45,000 slaves passing through Detroit on their way to Canada.
“After the Civil War, noted abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth eventually settled in Battle Creek. She was turned away at the polls when she tried to vote in the 1872 election, but she never stopped fighting for justice and equality.
“The civil rights movement had many Michigan moments, as well. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. captivated an audience of 25,000 with the first version of his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at Detroit’s Cobo Arena in June 1963, two months before the famed March on Washington. Motown Records, a black-owned company from the Motor City, created the soundtrack for a generation growing up during the civil rights era.”
Schuette Uses State Resources to Pander to Tea Party Republicans, Help Corporate Donor
LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is misusing taxpayer resources to help a corporation attack women’s access to health care by supporting a lawsuit brought by Domino’s Farms that would allow employers to deny their employees insurance coverage for critical health services like contraception.
“Schuette is once again on duty for big corporations, and in this case he’s actually using taxpayer dollars to help out a campaign donor,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “On top of all that, Schuette is wasting our tax dollars in an effort to deny women access to essential health care services. Corporations shouldn’t be allowed to prevent parents from deciding when and how many kids to have, and Schuette shouldn’t be using state resources to campaign for the Tea Party vote.”
Domino’s Farms owner, Thomas Monaghan, contributed $2,400 to Schuette’s campaign in 2010. On Tuesday, Schuette filed a friend of the court brief in Monaghan’s case, which was scheduled for a hearing in federal court today.
Public polling shows broad support for requiring insurers to fully cover prescription birth control. Nearly 99 percent of American women have relied on birth control at one point in their lives, but more than half of young women have struggled to afford it.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today congratulated James Bardenhagen, of Bardenhagen Farms in Suttons Bay, for being named to the Federal Crop Insurance Board by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Senator Stabenow was a strong advocate for Mr. Bardenhagen, a retired Michigan State University Extension Director in Leelanau County who grows cherries, apples, grapes, potatoes, hay, and small grains.
Bardenhagen’s appointment to the Crop Insurance Board comes at a critical time for Northern Michigan, as the board considers extending crop insurance to cherry growers and farmers of other crops that don’t currently have access to crop insurance protection. After spring freezes wiped out many Northern Michigan farmers last year, the need for expanded protection against weather disaster became even clearer.
Chairwoman Stabenow said: ‘It is critical we have a Northern Michigan voice on this national board as we try to extend protections like crop insurance to cherry growers and others that don’t currently have help when disaster strikes. Jim’s input during the writing of the Farm Bill was extremely valuable. He is well respected in the agricultural community and will be an excellent representative for Michigan and for farmers across the country.’
Mr. Bardenhagen said: ‘I am honored to serve on the Crop Insurance Board which will allow me to shape policies that will help growers in Michigan. I look forward to continuing to work with Chairwoman Stabenow on a Farm Bill that strengthens crop insurance for all growers.’
Mr. Bardenhagen was one of four new additions to the Board, which oversees the nation’s risk management program for our farmers to promote economic stability in the agriculture industry. Senator Stabenow strongly supported Mr. Bardenhagen during the naming process, communicating directly with Secretary Vilsack to advocate for his appointment.