<![CDATA[Rep. Tim Greimels' Site Feed]]> http://029.housedems.com <![CDATA[Greimel, Dillon, Singh Question DOC, Governor's Office on Cancelling Aramark Fine]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/greimel-dillon-singh-question-doc-governor-s-office-on-cancelling-aramark-fine <p>LANSING - House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) and Reps. <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong> (D-Grand Rapids) <strong>Sam Singh</strong> (D-East Lansing) said today that Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Dan Heyns and Gov. Rick Snyder need to be held accountable for cancelling the $98,000 fine given to Aramark last spring. The problems that led to that fine significantly worsened after that and Aramark was then fined $200,000 in August.</p> <p>&#8220;Cancelling Aramark&#8217;s $98,0000 fine clearly sent the signal that they didn&#8217;t need to worry about their contract violations because the situation only got worse after that, putting DOC employees and communities hosting those prisons in danger,&#8221; said Greimel. &#8220;Emails show that Director Heyns was in contact with people from the governor&#8217;s office who, at the very least, knew that Aramark was going to get a pass on serious contract violations. Director Heyns and the administration need to be held accountable for abdicating their responsibility to hold Aramark accountable.&#8221;</p> <p>Emails obtained by Progress Michigan show that Heyns was in contact with both Aramark officials and Dennis Muchmore from the governor&#8217;s office. Heyns was concerned that they were coming down too hard on Aramark and cancelled the fine to give them more time to fix problems. Aramark&#8217;s problems included unauthorized food substitutions, meal shortages, and serious instances of Aramark employees fraternizing with prisoners. According to a Sept. 11 Detroit Free Press story, the emails show that Heyns was concerned about losing control of a &#8220;joint&#8221; because of these problems, yet he still cancelled the fine. One email between Heyns and Muchmore in the sequence where Heyns talked about backing off with Aramark was redacted by the state.</p> <p>&#8220;Maybe if the DOC and the governor had collected the first fine, the same food and Aramark employee problems wouldn&#8217;t have continued throughout the summer,&#8221; said Dillon. &#8220;The issues here are the safety of prison guards, prison employees, and families living in the communities where these prisons are located, as well as what was in that redacted Muchmore email. We were just lucky that prisoner protests over the quality and lack of food didn&#8217;t turn into riots. When it comes to contract compliance, money talks, and maybe in this instance the talk was about contributions to the NERD fund and maybe that was why that Muchmore email was redacted. Director Heyns and Gov. Snyder need to come clean about this with the Legislature and the people of Michigan. We deserve an explanation of why they thought it was okay to let Aramark get away with putting state employees and communities in danger throughout the summer.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, we have asked tough questions about the Aramark contract and were reassured that corrective action was being taken,&#8221; Singh. &#8220;This revelation, five months after the cancellation of the fine, not only makes me feel misled, but suggests this administration has very little respect for the legislative branch. The fact that the fines were canceled even after Director Heyns expressed concern about losing control of one of the prisons due to unrest over Aramark&#8217;s conduct is troubling. The disregard for the safety of corrections officers and for public safety is astonishing. Aramark&#8217;s performance only worsened over the following months. I think it&#8217;s time Gov. Snyder cancel this contract and become fully transparent about his administration&#8217;s dealings with this company.&#8221;</p> <pre><code> ### </code></pre> <![CDATA[House Dems Applaud Decision to Put 11 Charter School Authorizers on Notice]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-applaud-decision-to-put-11-charter-school-authorizers-on-notice <p>LANSING – House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) and state Rep. <strong>Ellen Cogen Lipton</strong> (D-Huntington Woods) said today that they are grateful the Michigan Department of Education is cracking down on authorizers of underperforming charter schools, but expressed dismay that charter schools have been allowed to operate with a minimum amount of accountability and oversight.</p> <p>“We’ve been concerned for quite a while about the performance, accountability and transparency of charter schools,” Greimel said. “The decision of the Michigan Department of Education to put the authorizers of underperforming and unaccountable schools on notice is a step in the right direction, but we can’t stop there. We must make sure that all schools in the state play by the same rules and are held accountable to parents and taxpayers.”</p> <p>The Michigan Department of Education has put more than a quarter of the charter school authorizers in the state at risk of being suspended because of low academic performance and a lack of accountability at the charter schools they oversee. The authorizers include universities such as Eastern Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, the state-run Education Achievement Authority and Detroit Public Schools, as well as Highland Park Schools and Muskegon Heights Public Schools, which were taken over by the state and transformed into charter school districts two years ago.</p> <p>“I’m glad to see the Michigan Department of Education and Superintendent Mike Flanagan step up and demand better for our kids,” Lipton said. “All Michigan children deserve the very best education possible, whether they go to a school in a public school district or attend a charter school. Schools that take public money must be held accountable to taxpayers, as should the authorizers who are supposed to oversee them.”</p> <p>The at-risk authorizers have until Oct. 22 to address problems in academic performance, financial audits, state contracts and other issues. Flanagan has said he will suspend authorizers who don’t, meaning that they won’t be able to open new schools or expand existing ones.</p> <p>“This is a first step toward making Michigan’s charter schools accountable and transparent,” Greimel said. “Too many charter schools have operated under a cloud of secrecy for too long, and Superintendent Flanagan is right to put pressure on them to clean up their act and address their educational performance problems. Going forward, we must demand more openness from our charter schools and their authorizers, and we must always put Michigan kids first – not the for-profit corporations that run their charter schools.”</p> <![CDATA[Prison Escape Report: Reduced Staffing Endangered Public Safety]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/prison-escape-report-reduced-staffing-endangered-public-safety <p>LANSING – House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) and state Representative <strong>Andrew J. Kandrevas</strong> (D-Southgate) are calling for action after a report from the Michigan attorney general showed that unmanned guard towers may have contributed to the escape of a prisoner from the Ionia Correctional Facility earlier this year. Cuts to the Michigan Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) budget forced the prison to reduce staffing.</p> <p>&#8220;Republicans in Lansing have shown for years that they put corporate profits and cutting services ahead of people, and, this time, their obsession with cutting corners at prisons to save a few short-term bucks led to the escape of a convicted murderer,&#8221; Greimel said. &#8220;Now, even the Republican attorney general is suggesting that we need to reverse these funding cuts for the safety and well-being of our citizens, and I believe we should follow that recommendation.&#8221;</p> <p>According to the report, MDOC eliminated the use of guard towers on the prison perimeter in 2013. Since then, there have been two escape attempts, one of which was Michael Elliot’s successful escape in February. The report states, &#8220;Many of the correctional officers who were interviewed saw the elimination of the use of guard towers as a contributing factor to the escape.&#8221; The report also called for the need to have manned patrols in our prisons.</p> <p>&#8220;Our corrections officers know that armed guards in towers could have stopped a killer from roaming the streets,&#8221; Kandrevas said. &#8220;As legislators, our top priority must be keeping Michiganians safe. We need immediate action by MDOC to ensure the security of our prisons, and as the AG report points out, there are both technological and staffing solutions which must be implemented immediately, including better physical perimeter monitoring.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Statement from House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel on the Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/statement-from-house-democratic-leader-tim-greimel-on-the-supreme-court-decision-in-burwell-v-hobby-lobby <p>“I’m extremely disappointed in the ruling from the Supreme Court today effectively saying that the religious beliefs of wealthy CEOs trump the health care needs of their female employees. It’s unthinkable that in 2014, we are still arguing about whether women should have access to birth control. Medical decisions should be made between a patient, her doctor and her family without interference from employers or politicians.”</p> <![CDATA[House Dem Leader Greimel: Road Grant Opens Door to Economic Development]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-dem-leader-greimel-road-grant-opens-door-to-economic-development <p>LANSING – House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) welcomed news that the Michigan Department of Transportation has awarded a $2 million grant toward the replacement of an Interstate 75 overpass and an adjoining interchange in Auburn Hills. The replacement of the University Drive overpass and interchange project will foster the ongoing development in that area, which has seen several major manufacturers open nearby offices.</p> <p>“The Michigan Department of Transportation grant of $2 million helps assure that this project will get underway and be completed soon,” Greimel said. “Numerous growing companies have identified the University Drive area as a great place to expand and create jobs, and we must replace this aging and crumbling bridge if we want to see that growth continue. Improving our infrastructure goes hand-in-hand with improving our state’s economy.”</p> <p>The $17 million project is also receiving $10.3 million in funding from MDOT’s Metro Region fund, $4 million from the city of Auburn Hills and $750,000 from Oakland University.</p> <p>“The developer of the Oakland Technology Park has said that the decaying infrastructure in the area has made prospective tenants think twice before locating here,” Greimel said. “Once this project is completed, it will help Auburn Hills and surrounding areas attract more good-paying jobs, which benefits everyone in our community.”</p> <![CDATA[House Dems Invite Republicans Back to Lansing to Find Road Fix Solution]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-invite-republicans-back-to-lansing-to-find-road-fix-solution <p>LANSING – After walking off the job to take a three-month vacation last week, House Republicans are being invited to return to the state Capitol to finish the task of finding a road funding solution that will fix Michigan’s dangerous roads and bridges.</p> <p>“Michiganders are angry that they have to drive on some of the worst roads in the country just to get to work each morning while their elected leaders take an extended, paid summer vacation,” House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) said. “For Republican legislators to vote to adjourn for the summer without a road funding solution wasn’t just irresponsible, it was unacceptable. I invite legislative Republicans to correct their mistake and join us in Lansing until we find a way to fund road repairs, because Michigan’s leaders should work as hard as the people who voted them into office.”</p> <p>Even though Republicans hold the governor’s office, a majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate, they were unable to devise a plan to fund Michigan’s past-due road repairs. Instead of staying to find a solution, House Republicans voted to adjourn last week over the objections of House Democrats, who are ready to come back to the state Capitol at any time to finish the task.</p> <p>“Michigan’s infrastructure is in a state of crisis, and when a crisis arises, real leaders don’t turn and walk away,” Rep. <strong>Jim Townsend</strong> (D-Royal Oak) said. “I’m ready to dodge potholes every day on my way into Lansing until we find a way to fund these road repairs. I urge legislative Republicans to do the same, so that we can roll up our sleeves, get to work and get the job done.”</p> <![CDATA[House Dems: Legislative Republicans’ Spectacular Road Funding Failure Betrays Michigan Voters]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-legislative-republicans-spectacular-road-funding-failure-betrays-michigan-voters <p>LANSING – Legislative Republicans’ stunning decision to leave for summer vacation rather than stay in Lansing to find a solution for Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges is nothing short of a betrayal of Michigan citizens, House Democrats said Thursday night.</p> <p>“Despite naming infrastructure repair as a top priority for three consecutive years – and despite holding the governor’s office, a House majority and a supermajority in the Senate – Republicans proved themselves to be unfit for the task of leading our state,” House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) said. “Democrats in the House worked hard on a bipartisan road funding package last month that would have kickstarted repairs to our dangerous roads, but Republicans couldn’t agree to pass the bills and get the job done. This is a stunning lack of leadership, a dereliction of duty, and an absolute betrayal of the public trust.”</p> <p>The Republicans’ failure means Michigan drivers and businesses won’t get the road repairs they demand anytime soon. House Democrats were willing to stay into the night, return tomorrow and next week to get the job done, but Republicans instead opted to end negotiations and leave town for a two-month summer vacation.</p> <p>“Hardworking Michiganders know you don’t just get up and leave when there’s still work to be done,” said Greimel. “It’s been said that voters get the government they deserve, but nobody deserves what we’ve seen here today. The failed leadership displayed by the governor and legislative Republicans is staggering. I know that voters deserve better than this from those they elect – and voters know it, too.”</p> <p>House Democrats objected to the premature adjournment of the legislative session Thursday, but Republicans opted to leave their job undone. It’s not clear when, or if, they will return to solve the problem of funding Michigan’s past due infrastructure repairs.</p> <p>Rep. <strong>Marilyn Lane</strong> (D-Fraser), the Democratic vice chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee, introduced House Bills 5143 and 5456 as a way to, at the very least, protect the roads from overweight trucks, and to ensure that motorists aren’t hit with higher insurance costs because of car repairs from pothole damage. House Bill 5143 would halve certain truck weight limits from 164,000 pounds to the federal standard of 80,000 pounds. House Bill 5456 would prevent insurance companies from raising auto insurance rates when a driver submits a claim from pothole damage to their vehicle. Those bills were referred to committees and haven’t yet come up for a vote.</p> <p>“My bills are not answers to our road problems, but they will give motorists some relief from problems created by the majority’s inability to pass a long-term fix for our roads,” said Lane. “By passing my bills, we can at least prevent damage to our roads from overweight trucks going forward, and prevent our constituents from having to foot the bill for the majority’s negligence. We shouldn’t let insurance companies profit from the fact that they couldn’t agree on a plan to fix the roads.”</p> <![CDATA[Rep. Tim Greimel Speaks on the Detroit Grand Bargain]]> http://029.housedems.com/multimedia/videos/rep-tim-greimel-speaks-on-the-detroit-grand-bargain <p>House Democratic Leader Rep. Tim Greimel speaks on the bi-partisan effort to help the pensioners of Detroit and the city. The package of bills provides $194.8 million to help the City pension systems, and helps to expedite Detroit out of bankruptcy. They now head to the Senate.</p> <![CDATA[Michigan House Dems Support Pay Raise for Minimum Wage Workers]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/michigan-house-dems-support-pay-raise-for-minimum-wage-workers <p>LANSING — House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) said a bill passed by the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday will bring self-sufficiency to many hardworking Michigan families. Senate Bill 934 will increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour by 2018, a 25 percent increase over the current minimum wage of $7.40 an hour. Beginning in 2019, the minimum wage will then increase with the rate of inflation up to 3.5 percent per year.</p> <p>“Michigan families are working harder than ever, and they deserve a raise,” Greimel said. “I’m thankful for the groundswell of grassroots support for a minimum raise increase, which spurred the Legislature into action. This will go a long way to bringing relief to families who have been struggling for years to make ends meet. This bill moves us closer toward making economic security a reality for Michigan families.”</p> <p>The minimum wage increase will have a major effect on households headed by women, who disproportionately make up minimum-wage earners. According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, women make up 53 percent of the state’s low-wage workers, even though they comprise just 48 percent of Michigan’s workforce.</p> <p>“Passing an increase to the minimum wage will give a financial boost to Michigan’s working women and their families,” Rep. <strong>Rashida H. Tlaib</strong> (D-Detroit) said. “While I had introduced a proposal to lift the minimum wage to $10 an hour, I see this increase as a good first step. Now, we must work even harder to bring even more relief to Michigan families.”</p> <p>House Democrats have introduced additional bills that would benefit working families, including a tax relief package that would restore the Homestead Property Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit to previous levels, bring back the $600 per-child deduction and get rid of the new retirement tax that seniors have been struggling to pay. Those bills – introduced more than a year ago – have yet to receive any committee hearings.</p> <p>“I’m proud to have helped give Michigan’s working families a pay raise, but our work here is not yet done,” said Rep. <strong>Jon M. Switalski</strong> (D-Warren), who had previously introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour. “We need to deliver tax fairness to Michigan families, so that fewer of their hard-earned dollars will go to pay for those increases levied on them over the past three years.”</p> <![CDATA[House Dems: Republican Policies Stunt Michigan’s Economic Recovery]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-republican-policies-stunt-michigan-s-economic-recovery <p>LANSING &#8212; Michigan House Democrats said today that the latest numbers from the Consensus Revenue Estimating Committee show that even though hardworking Michigan families are paying more in taxes, it still isn’t enough to make up for a massive corporate handout, putting critical state spending in peril. The CREC estimated today that state revenues are down about two-thirds from the surplus of $971 million estimated in January. This opened a $400 million hole in the House-proposed budget passed last week.</p> <p>“Three years ago, legislative Republicans rewrote the tax code and placed a heavy burden on middle-class families and seniors, making them pay 32 percent more in taxes while major corporations were given a huge tax break and now pay 83 percent less,” House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) said. “As a result of those republican tax increases, Michigan families and seniors have less money to spend in their local communities. Local small businesses continue to struggle, and Michigan is still among the highest in the country when it comes to unemployment.&#8221;</p> <p>The state Legislature is in the middle of its annual budget-making process, and lawmakers had relied on a surplus of $971 million to help fund items such as road repair, school funding and revenue sharing for local communities, which funds things such as emergency services. Without that sizable surplus, legislators will now have to decide where in the already-proposed budget to make cuts.</p> <p>Meanwhile, after Republicans promised the state that the corporate tax break would result in jobs, new figures also show that job growth in Michigan is slowing. There were 47,900 jobs created in Michigan in 2013, down from 76,800 jobs created the year before. Also this week, the state said its unemployment rate nudged down a tenth of a percentage to 7.4 percent, still far above the national rate of 6.3 percent.</p> <p>“Republicans sold the idea that giving tax breaks to major corporations would lead to job growth and prosperity,” said <strong>Rashida H. Tlaib</strong> (D-Detroit), Democratic vice chairwoman for the House Appropriations Committee. “Instead, we’re seeing state revenues coming in lower than expected and job growth sputter. We can’t wait for Republicans to grind our state’s economy to a standstill – we need a better vision for our future, and we need it now.”</p>