It is definitely not easy to get this blog done. I have every intention to do this every week, but things have been quite busy…and we haven’t even taken a vote yet!
Since my first blog, lots has happened. I have met and created relationships with colleagues on my side of the aisle, and was named Assistant Floor Leader by Democratic Leader Greimel. This is a tremendous honor, and I look forward to working closely with Democratic Floor Leader Hobbs as we attempt to get our ideas, bills, and amendments considered. I also have been named Chair of the bi-partisan Capitol Caucus and will work closely with legislators on both sides of the aisle to help the greater Lansing area.
The Governor gave his State of the State speech, which is the start of the legislative session. He said a lot of things, and you can read his speech here: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2013-2014/Journal/house/pdf/2013-HJ-01-16-002.pdf
I have been working hard on legislation and have introduced a few bills and resolutions. So far, here is the legislation that I have introduced:
- HB 4104 and HB 4105 – these bills add libraries to the “gun-free zones” (which are places where people can not bring concealed weapons such as schools, churches, day care centers, etc). The bills also prevent people from openly carrying guns in these “gun-free zones.” Under current law, a person can openly carry a gun in any public place, including schools, churches, bars, dormitories, etc. My legislation will simply prevent the open carry of guns in those areas, exempting police and private security officers.
- HR 17 – this resolution urges Governor Snyder to accept the expanded federal Medicaid dollars. There are hundreds of millions of dollars on the table from the federal government, which would provide coverage for between 400,000 and 600,000 residents. It would also reduce uncompensated care and emergency room visits, thus reducing health care costs. Four Republican governors have accepted these dollars, and my resolution calls on the Governor to do this as well.
I will also be introducing these bills this week, which were campaign pledges:
- A bill to equalize funding for k-12 per pupil dollars. I said repeatedly during the campaign that some students receive up to $12,000 per pupil, while Lansing receives $7,100. This gap needs to be closed, and I will introduce a bill to re-create the 2X system where the lower funded schools get more new money. This will close the gap in about ten years. I also co-sponsored a Republican constitutional amendment and a Republican bill to close the funding gap. This is not a partisan issue, but is necessary for Lansing and Lansing Township residents!
- A bill to create an income tax credit for the costs of college for those students that choose to remain and be employed in Michigan. I have already been told that there is a good chance that this bill will be heard in committee as we analyze how to make Michigan more competitive.
Additionally, I have co-sponsored the following bills:
HJR C - Constitutional amendment to equalize amount of per pupil funding for all local school districts.
HJR E - Require that only bills with appropriations for state budgets are not subject to referendum. This addresses the issue where the Republicans last session put small appropriations in several policy bills (right-to-work, abortion, etc) so that these bills cannot be put up for a vote of the people.
HR 10 - A resolution to declare February 4, 2013, as Rosa Parks Day of Courage in the state of Michigan. (adopted)
HB 4101 – create a fund-raising license plate for girl scouts of America
HB 4103 – allow for no-reason absentee (early) voting
HB 4124 – create a veteran's ombudsman
HB 4127 - allow GPS bail monitoring for probation of certain offenders
HB 4146 – create an income tax credit for expenditures by school teachers for certain supplies
All this in just two weeks of legislative session!
We received committee assignments last week. I was place on the following committees:
- Elections and Ethics – this committee is expected to take up a variety of controversial bills, including the bill to create no-reason absentee voting and the bill that would change the electoral college votes from all-or-nothing to being issued by congressional district.
- Regulatory Reform – this committee is expected to be busy reviewing current liquor regulations, gambling issues, tobacco issues, and others.
- Michigan Competitiveness – this committee will be a think tank of ideas. The Chair has indicated a willingness to discuss whatever members think will make Michigan more competitive. This will be the most thought-provoking committee as we try to make Michigan not just competitive but the best state in the nation.
My office has also been working to assist constituents and we have been able to do this successfully thanks to the very hard work of my staff – Karissa Chabot-Purchase and Marilyn Plummer. Both Lansing residents, these two awesome women are working hard for the citizens of the 68th district every day (and nights and weekends!). I hope everyone has a chance to interact with them.
Although the House of Representatives has not yet taken up bills, the Senate has already begun passing bills. I expect session to become active and busy very soon!
A few upcoming events to know about:
- February 16 (Saturday) will be my first Coffee with Andy. We will be at The Avenue Café (formerly Gone Wired) at 1419 East Michigan Avenue in Lansing from 9 ti 10 in the morning. I am scheduling coffee hours where I can update constituents on important issues, and where constituents can come and tell me their thoughts and views on issues and what is going on in the area. We will have the entire schedule out soon, and it should be in the newsletter that you receive in the mail. We are also looking at some town hall meetings, which are yet to be scheduled. I hope to see you there!
- February 28th will be my first fundraiser of the year. I expect another spirited campaign in 2014 and want to be sure to be able to get my message out. This fundraiser will be a breakfast from 8 to 9:30 at the Michigan Municipal League office at 208 N Capitol Avenue in Lansing. And if you can’t make it, you can always donate online at www.andyschor.com. Thanks for all your support!
That’s it for now. I will try to keep you updated as regularly as I can. And, as always, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 517-373-0826. And you can check out legislative things on my official website at http://schor.housedems.com, or you can see the news articles and other political things at www.andyschor.com.