<![CDATA[Rep. Tim Greimels' Site Feed]]> http://029.housedems.com <![CDATA[Statement from House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) on the proposed road funding plan:]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/statement-from-house-democratic-leader-tim-greimel-d-auburn-hills-on-the-proposed-road-funding-plan <p>“Not only is this the comprehensive road repair plan that House Democrats and people around the state have been demanding, but it will also provide tax relief to Michigan families and take a great step forward toward restoring funding to our schools. Asking voters to approve a tax increase isn’t a step we take lightly, but taxpayers will get better roads and better schools in exchange, and provide income tax relief to offset the cost to working families.</p> <p>“This plan represents a real opportunity to move Michigan forward, and I will work with my caucus to secure the votes necessary to pass this plan and put the proposal before voters.”</p> <![CDATA[House Democrats Fight House Speaker's Roads Plan That Hurts Schools]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-democrats-fight-house-speaker-s-roads-plan-that-hurts-schools <p>LANSING - House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee vice chairwoman Rep. <strong>Marilyn Lane</strong> (D-Fraser) and Rep. <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong> (D-Grand Rapids) today said they are ready to vote to fix Michigan roads, but not at the expense of taking money out of schools and local communities to pay for road repairs. House Republicans brought House Speaker Jase Bolger&#8217;s plan to the floor, which would repeal the 6 percent sales tax on gasoline while phasing in an increase in a tax on the wholesale price of gasoline. That plan essentially shifts money that now goes to schools and local government to roads.</p> <p>&#8220;Legislative Republicans cut funding for our schools in 2011 to pay for a massive tax cut for large corporations, and it is unconscionable that they now want to take another $750 million per year out of our classrooms to fix roads,&#8221; said Greimel. &#8220;It is irresponsible and short-sighted to try to fix one problem by slashing funding for schools.&#8221;</p> <p>The Republican proposal would exempt gasoline and diesel fuel sales from the sales tax while increasing the gasoline tax in order to eventually raise about $1 billion per year to fund road repairs, according to House Republicans, without any replacement source for our schools. Currently, a large portion of that 6 percent sales tax on gasoline goes is constitutionally dedicated the state School Aid Fund. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency estimates that if HB 4539 - the bill that repeals the sales tax on gasoline - becomes law, schools would lose as much as $750 million per year, and the per-pupil foundation grant would have to be cut accordingly. Bolger claims that, according to economic projections, schools would make up the money they lose by increases in the sales tax revenue as the economy grows.</p> <p>&#8220;??There are a number of bills and proposals to raise money to fix our roads that don&#8217;t take money away from other parts of our budget, and those are the proposals we should be considering,&#8221; said Lane. &#8220;??Our roads and bridges are in dire need of repairs, but taking more money out of ours schools to do this is not a solution. Speaker Bolger is showing a complete lack of leadership and political courage by even suggesting that we fund roads by taking more money away from schools, which will undoubtedly increase class sizes even more and mean less money for books and other resources.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;??If this plan passes then we won&#8217;t have to worry about school buses doing any damage to our roads because school districts won&#8217;t be able to afford to send buses out to pick up our kids,&#8221; said Dillon, Democratic vice chairman of the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee. &#8220;??Our schools have already lost money thanks to the 2011 tax changes, and if we defund our schools by another $750 million a year, then school districts throughout the state are going to face hard choices. We have to have good roads in order to keep and attract new business and industry, but we also have to have good schools in order to educate our kids to succeed in the workforce. HB 4539 won&#8217;t do that, and that&#8217;s why we can&#8217;t support it.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[House Democrats Fight House Speaker’s Roads Plan That Hurts Schools]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-democrats-fight-house-speaker-s-roads-plan-that-hurts-schools <p>LANSING &#8212; House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee vice chairwoman Rep. <strong>Marilyn Lane</strong> (D-Fraser) and Rep. <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong> (D-Grand Rapids) today said they are ready to vote to fix Michigan roads, but not at the expense of taking money out of schools and local communities to pay for road repairs. House Republicans brought House Speaker Jase Bolger’s plan to the floor, which would repeal the 6 percent sales tax on gasoline while phasing in an increase in a tax on the wholesale price of gasoline. That plan essentially shifts money that now goes to schools and local government to roads.</p> <p>&#8220;Legislative Republicans cut funding for our schools in 2011 to pay for a massive tax cut for large corporations, and it is unconscionable that they now want to take another $750 million per year out of our classrooms to fix roads,&#8221; said Greimel. &#8220;It is irresponsible and short-sighted to try to fix one problem by slashing funding for schools.&#8221;</p> <p>The Republican proposal would exempt gasoline and diesel fuel sales from the sales tax while increasing the gasoline tax in order to eventually raise about $1 billion per year to fund road repairs, according to House Republicans, without any replacement source for our schools. Currently, a large portion of that 6 percent sales tax on gasoline is constitutionally dedicated to the state School Aid Fund. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency estimates that if HB 4539 &#8212; the bill that repeals the sales tax on gasoline &#8212; becomes law, schools would lose as much as $750 million per year, and the per-pupil foundation grant would have to be cut accordingly. Bolger claims that, according to economic projections, schools would make up the money they lose by increases in the sales tax revenue as the economy grows.</p> <p>“There are a number of bills and proposals to raise money to fix our roads that don’t take money away from other parts of our budget, and those are the proposals we should be considering,” said Lane. “Our roads and bridges are in dire need of repairs, but taking more money out of ours schools to do this is not a solution. Speaker Bolger is showing a complete lack of leadership and political courage by even suggesting that we fund roads by taking more money away from schools, which will undoubtedly increase class sizes even more and mean less money for books and other resources.”</p> <p>“If this plan passes then we won’t have to worry about school buses doing any damage to our roads because school districts won’t be able to afford to send buses out to pick up our kids,” said Dillon, Democratic vice chairman of the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee. “Our schools have already lost money thanks to the 2011 tax changes, and if we defund our schools by another $750 million a year, then school districts throughout the state are going to face hard choices. We have to have good roads in order to keep and attract new business and industry, but we also have to have good schools in order to educate our kids to succeed in the workforce. HB 4539 won’t do that, and that’s why we can’t support it.”</p> <![CDATA[House Dem Caucus: Elliott-Larsen Must Protect All LGBT People]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-dem-caucus-elliott-larsen-must-protect-all-lgbt-people <p>LANSING – The Michigan House Democratic Caucus said today that it stands against any proposed change to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act that fails to protect all members of the LGBT community or allows for religious discrimination.</p> <p>“When it comes to legal protections for marginalized and targeted groups of people, we cannot compromise,” House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) said. “No Michigander deserves to be denied employment or housing because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, and the civil rights of all of them must be protected. We can’t support any bill that falls short of that. Justice demands that we stand up for the rights and equality of all people, not just some of them.”</p> <p>It’s anticipated that a bill to be introduced by Rep. Frank Foster (R-Petoskey) would grant civil rights protection on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity. However, in a recent survey, more than half of transgender people asked said they have suffered from workplace discrimination. It’s believed the bill would also allow people to claim a religious exemption that allows them to discriminate against members of the LGBT community.</p> <p>“We must never allow faith to be an excuse for bigotry,” Greimel said. “One person’s civil rights can never be subject to another’s religious belief. We can’t accept a civil rights law that is so flawed and leaves so many people behind. We urge our Republican counterparts to work with us to create a real civil rights bill that will protect all LGBT Michiganders.”</p> <![CDATA[House Democratic Caucus Retains Rep. Greimel as Leader]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-democratic-caucus-retains-rep-greimel-as-leader <p>LANSING – The Michigan House Democratic Caucus chose to keep Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) as the House Democratic Leader for the 2015-2016 session. Rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) will serve as Democratic Floor Leader.</p> <p>“The task of standing up for Michigan’s hardworking families, its seniors and students goes on,” Greimel said. “Michiganders still need a strong voice in the Capitol, and the House Democrats pledge to speak loudly on their behalf. Whether it’s tax relief for working, middle-class families, repealing the tax on senior retirement or restoring critical funding for our schools, the House Democrats will be with the people of Michigan every step of the way, fighting for a better tomorrow.”</p> <p>Greimel joined the Legislature during a special election in 2012 and was elected the House Democratic Leader later that year. An attorney who practiced in the areas of labor, employment and civil rights, Greimel previously served as a member and president of the Rochester Board of Education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science, a master’s degree in public policy and a law degree from the University of Michigan.</p> <p>Singh, elected to the state House in 2012, served as the mayor of East Lansing and spent 10 years as an East Lansing City Council member, where he helped strengthen ties between the city and Michigan State University and worked on regional cooperation and economic development. He has also served as the president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association and worked on the New Economy Initiative. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Michigan State University.</p> <p>“The House Democrats are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” Singh said. “At a time when families are still seeking good-paying jobs in a sluggish recovery, seniors are struggling to make ends meet under the new retirement tax and Michigan kids are sent to underfunded schools, we have no time to rest. We’re eager to go to work for the people of Michigan.”</p> <![CDATA[House Dems Say Aramark Employee Murder for Hire Plot Should be the Final Straw]]> http://029.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-say-aramark-employee-murder-for-hire-plot-should-be-the-final-straw <p>LANSING - House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) and Reps. <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong> (D-Grand Rapids) and <strong>Sam Singh</strong> (D-East Lansing) said today that the latest revelation of an Aramark employee trying to contract with one prisoner to kill another prisoner should be the final straw that cancels the Department of Corrections contract with Aramark.</p> <p>&#8220;I feel like a broken record or an extra in `Groundhog Day,&#8217;&#8221; said Greimel. &#8220;What other issues need to come to light before Republicans realize the safety of our state is at risk. I would hope that my Republican House colleagues would agree with me that enough is enough and immediately cancel the contract.&#8221;</p> <p>The latest Aramark employee problem was revealed today in a Detroit Free Press article about a Michigan State Police investigation of an Aramark employee at the Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula asking a prisoner to arrange a hit on another prisoner in a different facility. A prisoner came forward in July saying that the food service worker approached him about arranging the hit. The Aramark worker was banned from the facility but not arrested, and an investigation was started. Now a warrant request has been submitted to the Chippewa County Prosecutor&#8217;s Office.</p> <p>&#8220;The problems with Aramark have gotten progressively worse, and now we have a murder for hire plot. If this is the kind of person Aramark hires then not even our prison guards are safe in these facilities,&#8221; said Dillon. &#8220;They are endangering employees and this is costing the state extra money. Is Aramark going to pay for the state police investigation? I&#8217;d be surprised if the state is realizing any of the savings that were supposed to come with this Aramark contract, but savings are irrelevant when you are putting your law-abiding employees in danger. Our guards and other law-abiding workers deserve better. As Leader Greimel said: enough is enough.&#8221;</p> <p>Rep. <strong>Collene Lamonte</strong> (D-Montague) yesterday introduced a resolution that would formally cancel the Aramark contract. In addition, House Democrats are preparing legislation that would address the problems created when the administration privatized prison food services. Some of the bills included would demand accountability and transparency in state contracts and would:</p> <ul> <li><p>Require that a state agency must submit a detailed cost-benefit analysis to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.</p></li> <li><p>Require vendors participating in the bid process to be in compliance with all local, state and federal laws and regulations.</p></li> </ul> <p>In addition, House Democrats will propose that:</p> <ul> <li><p>The Auditor General audit the Department of Correction&#8217;s food service program for anticipated financial savings and performance.</p></li> <li><p>The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections hold an immediate hearing on the Aramark contract.</p></li> </ul> <p>&#8220;We were told that privatizing prisoner food services and giving the contract to Aramark was a good idea because it would save money, but it turns out that it&#8217;s just one more case of `you get what you pay for,&#8221; Lamonte said. &#8220;Aramark&#8217;s employees have committed one violation after another including employees having sexual relationships with inmates; smuggling heroin, cocaine and marijuana into the prison for inmates; and systemic food shortages that are putting our corrections officers at risk. Florida has already terminated their contract with Aramark and Michigan should follow suit immediately before any more moral, health or financial damage occurs.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Republicans can no longer argue that these are isolated incidents and that these problems can be worked out,&#8221; said Singh. &#8220;We are dangerously close, as Director Heyns said in his email earlier this year about that $98,000 fine back in March, to losing `a joint.&#8217; We&#8217;ve gone from bad food, to sex and drugs to murder for hire. I shudder to think of what would have to happen next to get the administration to cancel this contract.&#8221;</p> <![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>