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Senator Patrick Colbeck’s Newsletter
 

SERVING THE STATE SENATE 7TH DISTRICT

HEADLINES FROM THIS EDITION

- State of the State: doing good, but could be even better
- Vote to repeal pension tax fails
- Senator Colbeck testifies against "sanctuary cities"
- Investigation expanded into improper electric shut-offs by DTE
- Michigan Aerospace Day at the Capitol
- Plymouth Library offers skilled trades program
- Career-Tech Education Month
- Nominate someone for Governor's service award
- Once again "legal" to warm cars
- February district hours with Sen. Colbeck

TAKING THE STATE OF THE STATE
FROM GOOD TO GREAT

There was much good news to share during Michigan's recent State of the State address by Governor Rick Snyder. As an example, Michigan now leads the nation with over 122,800 additional manufacturing jobs added since 2010. Sen. Colbeck pointed out that many of the new economic figures stand in stark contrast to where things were at when he entered office in 2011, and that new policies have led to a new economic environment in Michigan where jobs can thrive.

"In the wake of the passage of Michigan's Right to Work legislation, the state has created 540,000 private sector jobs," Colbeck said. "I was honored to have led the effort to restore the freedom of assembly to our workers and am happy to note that our job growth has also been accompanied by an average growth in income on the order of $10,000 per Michigan resident".

"In 2010, I also pledged my commitment to make Michigan number one in job growth," Colbeck said. "We have achieved this objective in manufacturing, but there is much more work to do to ensure that all of our residents are able to experience the economic rebound from Michigan's 'Lost Decade'.  However, there is no doubt in my mind we could be doing even better if the administration had not supported a few key bills."

Colbeck cited significant policy differences between himself and the governor as barriers to what could have been an even better state of the state. For example, the senator opposed policies that increased the size of government, such as the gas tax and registration fee hikes, the Senior Pension Tax hike, and the expansion of Obamacare known as Healthy Michigan. Those policy changes have held Michigan back.

"Governor Snyder stated that the 670,000 new Medicaid enrollees resulting from the passage of Healthy Michigan indicates success," Colbeck said. "I believe that any time we have more Michigan residents dependent upon the government, it instead indicates a failure somewhere in the system. To make matters worse, Healthy Michigan is not very healthy and the projected 'savings' for Michigan's Medicaid Expansion program have not materialized."

Colbeck said because of a lack of success with the program it is currently set to be automatically repealed. If a new law is passed to try to save it, the state would be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars of additional expenses that would drain resources from infrastructure, education, and other important areas.

VOTE TO REPEAL PENSION TAX FAILS

The Michigan legislature recently passed legislation to ensure Michigan's tax laws dovetail with new federal tax changes. While Senator Colbeck voted "yes" on the legislation, the senator also wants to make sure that the change doesn't unintentionally stymie the state's ability to get rid of the pension tax.

"We still need to fully address the income tax issues we have debated over the past year, especially as it relates to getting rid of the pension tax," said Colbeck. "I'm very disappointed that the most recent amendment to repeal the pension tax failed, but this is still something we need to push hard for again before the end of the year."

The attempted amendment to SB748 that would have gotten rid of the pension tax failed on a 17-20 vote. Sen. Colbeck voted in favor of its passage.

SEN. COLBECK TESTIFIES AGAINST
SANCTUARY CITIES

Sen. Colbeck introduced and recently testified in favor of SCR 21, a state resolution to support passage of the federal law known as the "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act". The resolution was also done in conjunction with SCR 20, introduced in support of "Kate's Law".

In Michigan, five communities have adopted some measure of sanctuary policies. These communities are Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit, Lansing and Washtenaw County.

"Sanctuary in this context is merely a euphemism for not enforcing the law," Sen. Colbeck said during his testimony in support of SCR 20 and 21. "The practical implications of sanctuary cities is that law enforcement officers are directed by elected officials not to enforce federal law despite these same elected officials not having the legal authority to do so. These decisions are typically driven by political considerations that do not include the safety of our citizens."

Sen. Colbeck cited the tragic death of Kate Steinle as evidence of the very real safety concerns associated with the refusal to enforce U.S. immigration law. Colbeck said that the man who killed Kate should never have been here, and that it is absurd that an additional law needs to be passed to make sure police can fully detain people who are here illegally.

Under the proposed federal laws, any individual, spouse or a parent or child of that individual who is the victim of murder or rape may then bring civil suit against a municipality whose sanctuary policies enabled the convicted criminal. The law would apply to other serious felonies as well, and penalties would also be increased for illegal immigrants who commit criminal offenses while in our country.

DTE SHUT-OFF INVESTIGATON EXPANDED

Evidentiary hearing ordered in DTE shut-off probe

Ratepayers from the 7th District and across the state have been lodging a high number of complaints against DTE over the past six months, and on Monday the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) expanded their investigation and ordered DTE to prove they did not violate the Commission's billing rules when the utility converted to a new computer system. You can read the Detroit News write-up on the investigation HERE.

Senator Colbeck last month testified before the House Energy Policy Committee regarding the shut-offs, and applauded the new evidentiary show cause hearing (Case No. U-20084).

"When DTE testified before the committee, I heard many things that stood in stark contrast to what constituents contacting my office were telling me," said Sen. Colbeck. "While a faulty new computer system may be at the heart of many of DTE's inappropriate shut-offs, it is obvious that many other types of problems occurred where the company is not following proper rules regarding shut-off and the return of power regardless of the computer system they have. Although the company offered a report that said that the safety of their customers was paramount, there are too many instances where power was not turned back on as quickly as it should have, even in freezing temperatures. Actions speak louder than words, and I was particularly upset when DTE said they felt that the damage to their reputation this has caused is somehow a form of punishment. When people can't change service providers for this type of 'customer service', trying to say a tarnished reputation is punishment is going to fall on deaf ears."

A prehearing conference is tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. March 2 before Administrative Law Judge Lauren G. VanSteel at the Commission's Lansing offices, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway. The date is subject to change.

Those who experienced a shut-off problem, a rules violation, or who would like to lodge a complaint that their latest bills appear to be in error can find out how to contact the MPSC by clicking HERE so they can lodge a formal complaint or request a hearing.

Although Consumers Energy is not the subject of this specific investigation, ratepayers can also call the same phone number to lodge billing complaints or other rules violations against them as well.

MICHIGAN AEROSPACE DAY AT THE CAPITOL

Download images to view this graphic.

Senator Colbeck recently welcomed representatives from the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (MAMA) and other guests to the Capitol on Wednesday in celebration of Michigan Aerospace Day.

Sen. Colbeck introduced a resolution earlier this month (Senate Resolution 120) to designate Jan. 31, 2018 as Michigan Aerospace Day in honor of the state's heritage of aerospace innovation and manufacturing.

According to a recent PwC report, Michigan now ranks number two in the country for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness. Sen. Colbeck, who is himself an aerospace engineer, hosted a reception in the Capitol building where lawmakers met with trade professionals to learn how the state can continue to build on the policy successes that have made Michigan a destination for aerospace manufacturing and jobs.

PLYMOUTH LIBRARY SKILLED TRADES WORKSHOP PROMISES TO BE A SUCCESS

The Plymouth District Library has already filled all of its slots for a workshop to explore careers in the skilled trades being held this evening, February 7th at 7pm. The program is however also going to be streamed live on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PlymouthDistrictLibrary.

The program will cover training requirements and trade school options, apprenticeships, earning potential and career trajectory, licensing requirements, placement tests, and more. If you would have been interested in attending please contact the library to express interest in them setting up additional future dates.

Presenters will include Michelle Knierim, CBSP, EDSI Regional Consultant and Andrew Lathrop, Departmental Specialist at Michigan Talent Investment Agency. Library staff members will introduce attendees to the online job search and career preparation products that are available through the library. To see their calendar full of other future trades related events like the 3D Printing Lab click HERE.

CAREER-TECH EDUCATION MONTH

February is Career and Technical Education month in Michigan. Career and tech education provides students with an opportunity to learn the skills needed for in-demand, good paying careers in a variety of fields, and prepares students to become lifelong learners. Hear first-hand experiences by going to: going-pro.com/cte.

Students, parents, educators and anyone else wanting to learn more about careers can use the state's new Pathfinder website, which includes data on training, wages, projected openings and other information. Additional information about Professional Trades careers is at Going-Pro.com.

NOMINATE SOMEONE FOR GOVERNOR'S SERVICE AWARD

Know someone who volunteers in the community and goes above and beyond?

The Michigan Community Service Commission is seeking nominations for the 2018 Governor's Service Awards. The Governor's Service Awards are given annually to individuals, organizations and businesses to acknowledge their commitment to serving their communities through volunteerism. The online nomination form is available by clicking HERE.

The nomination deadline is Feb. 16th. The awards celebration is hosted by the Michigan Community Service Commission and will be held June 5th in Lansing.

ONCE AGAIN 'LEGAL' TO WARM CARS

Most people reading this would have never guessed that they might have been breaking the law by warming up their car in their driveways. While many are familiar with the concept of "nanny state" laws, the following story from Michigan Capitol Confidential also highlights how administrative rules can be part of the problem:

http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/you-can-legally-warm-your-car-now

In some circumstances the legislature is able to pass a law to change administrative rules. From a practical standpoint this can often be easier said than done, and Michigan law has changed over the years in a way that makes it harder for the legislature to correct administrative rules that don't properly dovetail with the law or that clearly exceed the scope of their authority.

For that reason the Senator introduced SJR M, which has yet to receive a hearing but seems to be more important with each passing day as the list of rogue rules grows longer and longer.

"In other states it is much easier to address rogue administrative rules, and people are discovering more and more rules that are negatively impacting their lives that were created by unelected bureaucrats instead of elected officials they can hold accountable at the ballot box," said Sen. Colbeck. "We need to change Michigan law back so that it is once again similar to what we see in other areas of the country where the legislature can properly reign in executive abuses of power."

FEBRUARY DISTRICT HOURS

This month's district hours will be Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 at the Canton Twp. Hall, 1150 S. Canton Center Rd, Canton, MI 48188. Time: 6:00 -7:00 pm. Please click HERE for more information. We hope to see you there!

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THE MICHIGAN STATE SENATE
7th DISTRICT

Michigan’s 7th Senate District
 

The 7th State Senate District proudly serves the following areas: Canton Township, city of Livonia, city or Northville & Northville Township, city of Plymouth & Plymouth Township, and the City of Wayne.

Senator Patrick Colbeck
201 Townsend St., Suite #3400
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Phone: (517) 373-7350

Email: SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov
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Our website: www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com
 

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