State Representatives Scott Dianda (D-Calumet), left, and John Kivela (D-Marquette) held a press conference Apr. 2, 2013, in the Peter White Library, Marquette, to announce Michigan’s Middle-Class Plan, the House Democrats’ plan for helping families, seniors and kids. (Photo by Michigan House Democratic Staff. Reprinted with permission.)
MARQUETTE — State Representatives John Kivela (D-Marquette) and Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) held a press conference on Tuesday, Apr. 2, at the Peter White Library in Marquette to announce Michigan's Middle-Class Plan, the House Democrats' plan for helping families, seniors and kids.
The plan is based on the response Democrats received during their recent statewide, Real State of Our State Listening Tour. Dianda held a Listening Tour session at the Jutila Center in Hancock on March 4 with Kivela and House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills).*
State Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette), left, answers a question at the Hancock stop on the House Democrats’ Real State of Our State Listening Tour on Monday, March 4, while State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet), center, and House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) look on. (Photo courtesy Karen Johnson, Finlandia University. Reprinted with permission.)
"Our Listening Tour stop in Hancock, to some, is worlds away from the Capitol in Lansing," said Kivela. "But the families and seniors up here in the U.P. reflected the same concerns and struggles as the ones down in Sterling Heights. The overarching theme is that what the majority is doing in Lansing is not working for them."
U.P. citizens gathered at Finlandia University’s Jutila Center for the Hancock stop on the House Democrats’ Real State of Our State Listening Tour on Monday, March 4. The event was hosted by State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) with special guests, House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) and State Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette). (Photo courtesy Karen Johnson, Finlandia University. Reprinted with permission.)
Dianda added he learned middle class working families and seniors have been experiencing a lot of difficulty because of the elimination of tax credits for children, taxes imposed on seniors' pensions and home heating credits for seniors. In addition, this year's property taxes will be higher with the elimination of the homestead exemption.
"People are really starting to see how this is affecting their income in the state of Michigan," Dianda said.
The House Democrats' Middle-Class Plan includes real solutions to problems facing Michigan's families, seniors, kids and women. The plan calls for middle-class tax relief, restoring and protecting funds to public education, eliminating barriers to health care for women, and providing solutions for fixing our roads and bridges. Through their Michigan Middle-Class Plan Democrats hope to do the following:
- Repeal the tax on seniors' retirement income, restore the per-child tax deduction, restore the Earned Income Tax Credit to 11 percent and restore the Homestead Property Tax Credit.
- Implement a fine for habitually overweight trucks, ensure existing transportation funds are used for road construction and refinance existing infrastructure bonds.
- Make the School Aid Fund only available for use in funding K-12 education and increase per-pupil funding by $320.
- Improve access to health care for women by removing barriers to health care centers and increasing access to family planning services.
He noted House Democrats are working on a budget that will pay for all of these changes without raising taxes on the middle class.
"It's the backs of the middle class that have funded the big tax incentives to the businesses," Kivela said. "We know we need to have a business climate that companies can succeed in, but we can't balance that on the backs of the working population of this state."
Hancock City Councilor John Slivon attended the March 4 Listening Tour session at the Jutila Center in Hancock, where three Michigan Representatives were present to answer questions -- Dianda, Kivela and House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills).
Slivon asked a question about the possible effects of the proposed Upper Peninsula mining projects on growing food.* (See link to Democrats' video clip below)
State Rep. Scott Dianda, second from left, and House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel, left, visited mine drillers near Gratiot Lake in Keweenaw County on Sunday, March 3, 2013. Russ Grunwald, third from left, is exploration vice-president for Highland Resources, a Canadian company doing exploration drilling for copper in the area.** The visit was part of a Keweenaw tour Dianda arranged for Greimel preceding the March 4 Real State of Our State Listening stop in Hancock. (Photo by Michigan House Democratic Staff. Reprinted with permission.)
"While Rep. Dianda replied with some concerns on food growing, he never addressed the second part of my question -- whether he has concerns about the effects of mining on food production," Slivon told Keweenaw Now.
The video clip of the Hancock Listening Tour session that appears on the Web site for the House Democrats' Middle-Class Plan includes Slivon's question, some comments by Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson on the high cost of snow removal, and a question on student debt and right-to-work legislation by college student Rawley V.*
"Rep. Kivela and I are new to Lansing, but that provides us with the greatest opportunity to make the biggest difference in how the people of the Upper Peninsula are being represented. We will make them a priority again," said Dianda. "Change needs to start now, and not after two more years of harmful Republican policies."
* Click here to view on YouTube the short video clip with questions and comments from the Hancock session.
** See our March 26, 2012, article, "Canadian company plans exploration project for Keweenaw copper."
Editor's Note: Unfortunately Keweenaw Now was unable to attend the March 4 Listening Tour event in Hancock.
Photos, videos: Rep. Dianda, House Democratic Leader Greimel tour Keweenaw, meet with Houghton County Dems
HANCOCK -- On March 2, 2013, preceding their Listening Tour session, Michigan 110th District Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) and Michigan House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) met with Houghton County Democrats at the Orpheum Theater in Hancock.
The meeting was part of a visit to the area for Greimel, hosted by Dianda, which also included the Copper Dog 150 race, a tour of the Smart Zone in Houghton, a visit to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Baraga and various local Keweenaw sites and events.
House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) and state Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) both volunteered as dog handlers at the start of the Copper Dog 150 in Calumet on Friday, March 1. (Photo by Michigan House Democratic Staff. Reprinted with permission.)
Brian Hoduski, Houghton County Democratic Party co-chair, was pleased with Greimel's visit.
"Being 500 miles from Lansing, it says something about the esteem Rep. Dianda is already held in by Democratic Leader Greimel, that he (Greimel) would travel to the UP and spend a full three days in the 110th," Hoduski said.
Pictured here with State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet), left, and House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), third from left, at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) Tribal Center on Monday, March 4, are Susan LaFernier, KBIC secretary, and Warren C. Swartz, Jr., KBIC president. (Photo by Michigan House Democratic Staff. Reprinted with permission.)
Keweenaw Now's video reporter Allan Baker recorded the March 2 discussion with the Houghton County Democrats.
In this video clip, Dianda introduces Rep. Greimel, who gives a summary of recent Republican legislation that has placed heavy burdens on Michigan middle-class working families, teachers and schools, and senior citizens:
Michigan 110th District Rep. Scott Dianda introduces State Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) to Houghton County Democrats at a March 2, 2013, meeting in Hancock. (Videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)
Here Greimel answers a question on the Kalamazoo oil spill:***
A Michigan Tech student asks about obstacles to student voting:
In the following video clip, Greimel answers a question on the emergency manager legislation, noting examples of emergency managers downstate who have been unsuccessful:
After the meeting with Houghton County Dems, Keweenaw Now's Allan Baker interviews Greimel with some environmental questions. Here Greimel talks about the importance of protecting Michigan's water resources:
**** Update: Click here to see an Apr. 3, 2013, report from Rachel Maddow on the Kalamazoo oil spill.
Click here to learn more about the Michigan House Democrats' Middle-Class Plan.
Click here to visit Rep. Scott Dianda's Web site and see more photos of House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel's visit to the U.P.