<![CDATA[Rep. David Rutledges' Site Feed]]> http://054.housedems.com <![CDATA[Washtenaw Reps.: Republicans Must Return for Road Solution]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/washtenaw-reps-republicans-must-return-for-road-solution <p>LANSING &#8212; Members of the Washtenaw County delegation – Democratic Floor Leader <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Superior Township) and state Representatives <strong>Gretchen Driskell</strong> (D-Saline), <strong>Jeff Irwin</strong> (D-Ann Arbor) and <strong>Adam F. Zemke</strong> (D-Ann Arbor) – are calling on legislative Republicans to return to Lansing so that lawmakers can find a solution to Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure.</p> <p>“What we’ve seen here is a failure of leadership,” Rutledge said. “Michigan drivers are saying loud and clear that they want a plan to repair our roads and bridges, and my colleagues and I now join them in saying, ‘Take a vote, not a vacation.’”</p> <p>Last month, the House passed a series of bills that raised a portion of the roughly $1 billion more a year necessary to fund repairs to Michigan’s transportation system. Republicans in the Senate didn’t have the votes for this plan or one of their own. Rather than stay to find a solution, they decided to start their summer break.</p> <p>“The legislation that passed the House wasn’t perfect, but it was a start,” Driskell said. “We all use these roads, and Michigan drivers are ready to pay their fair share to fix them. We are ready to work with the other side to find a solution. Hopefully, we can start by helping them find their political will.”</p> <p>When it became clear that the Senate wasn’t going to find agreement on a road funding package, Republicans in the House moved to adjourn for the summer. Democrats opposed the motion, but they were outvoted.</p> <p>“My Democratic colleagues and I are ready, willing and able to sit down and find a solution to our dangerously crumbling roads, but there’s only so much the minority party can do,” Irwin said. “Unfortunately, too many Republicans have promised to never raise taxes, no matter how much it will cost to let our roads crumble. That’s why Republican leaders are tied in knots, opting to hit the campaign trail rather than hammer out a compromise.”</p> <p>With the Legislature adjourned until the fall, lawmakers missed increasing road funding during peak construction season. Michigan families will be forced to contend with pockmarked roads and crumbling bridges as they drive to work or take a trip, and businesses will have a harder time moving their goods to market.</p> <p>“This is a problem that affects everyone in Michigan, and that’s why we’re calling on all the members of the Legislature to come back to Lansing to find a solution,” Zemke said. “Our constituents sent us here to confront the issues facing them, and it’s our job to come together reach an agreement to fix our roads.”</p> <![CDATA[Reps. Rutledge, Schmidt Join Supporting Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/reps-rutledge-schmidt-join-supporting-tuskegee-airmen-memorial-highway <p>LANSING &#8212; This morning, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the Michigan House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to designate all of Interstate 75 in the state of Michigan as the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway. House Bill 5064, sponsored by Representative <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Superior Township) joins the efforts of several states with the goal of designating the entire I-75 corridor from Miami, Fla., to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. after the Tuskegee Airmen.</p> <p>“As an Air Force veteran, I am honored to lead the effort in Michigan to join this multi-state recognition bestowed upon our trailblazing Tuskegee Airmen,” stated Rep. Rutledge. “I’m so proud that Michigan will be part of this interstate effort, and I can think of no better way to show our country’s continued gratification for the committed service of these servicemen.”</p> <p>Before 1940, African-Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Civil rights organizations exerted pressure that resulted in the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. Regardless of race, the Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and the personnel who kept the planes in the air. The term “Tuskegee Airmen” refers to all who were involved in the so-called “Tuskegee Experience,” the Army Air Corps program to train African-Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft.</p> <p>“The Tuskegee Airmen are true American heroes who fought valiantly for our country and our values,” said Rep. <strong>Wayne Schmidt</strong> (R-Traverse City) chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Their contribution to protecting our country during a tumultuous time in history cannot be repaid. The Tuskegee Airmen fought fascism overseas and racism at home, so we’ll do what we can to give those excellent men and their families continued, deserved respect.”</p> <p>House Bill 5064 now goes before the full House of Representatives for consideration.</p> <![CDATA[Statement from Democratic Floor Leader David Rutledge Congratulating Congressmen Dingell Upon Announcement of His Retirement:]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/statement-from-democratic-floor-leader-david-rutledge-congratulating-congressmen-dingell-upon-announcement-of-his-retirement <p>&#8220;I join with the Washtenaw County community, Southeast Michigan and our state as a whole in celebrating and honoring Congressman John Dingell for his amazing legacy and myriad accomplishments. Since 1955, this man has participated in every major piece of legislation that has been beneficial to the middle class, working families and anyone who is a minority in this country. He&#8217;s been an advocate on countless crucial issues, including safeguarding our environment, protecting the automotive industry and health care access. I have personally benefited from his wisdom, and his mentorship. I&#8217;m so proud to call him my friend.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Statement from Democratic Floor Leader David Rutledge in Response to the Executive Budget Recommendation]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/statement-from-democratic-floor-leader-david-rutledge-in-response-to-the-executive-budget-recommendation <p>&#8220;It was a refreshing change of pace this morning in Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget presentation to learn that he’s interested in restoring funding to certain areas &#8212; particularly, funding for local school districts, transportation infrastructure and higher education. My Democratic colleagues and I have been fighting Republican cuts to those areas for years. After being told year after year that deep cuts were necessary, state government finds itself with a “surplus,” which is nothing more than the result of over-cutting and poor governing decisions. Now that it’s time for some relief from painful cuts, this proposal is not nearly enough, and Michigan families are fed up with being told that they’re not a priority. No area in our budget is more critical to Michigan’s long-term success than education, but Gov. Snyder’s proposal would do little to help make higher education more accessible to Michigan students, or help districts struggling with day-to-day classroom costs &#8212; the plan still doesn&#8217;t address 75 percent of the $440 per pupil that has been cut since Snyder took office. This proposal is a step in the right direction, but that step is much too small.”</p> <![CDATA[House Democrats Respond to State of the State Address]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/house-democrats-respond-to-state-of-the-state-address <p>LANSING &#8212; House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) and members of the House Democratic Caucus said today that Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative Republicans&#8217; annual State of the State address only promises more of the same failed policies that have yet to create jobs for Michigan families or deliver the best possible education to our students.</p> <p>&#8220;Families and seniors from around Michigan are already struggling because of Republican policies that have raised taxes and slashed school funding, and now they&#8217;ve been told to expect more of the same,&#8221; Greimel said. &#8220;Republicans have had three years to deliver on their promises of better jobs and improved schools. Instead, we have the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation, and many of our kids are in schools that struggle just to stay open.&#8221;</p> <p>This year&#8217;s State of the State address makes it clear that Republicans are doubling down on policies that have raised taxes on middle-class families, ravaged public schools and undermined our economic security. This year:</p> <ul> <li><p>Families face smaller tax refunds, or no refunds at all, because of the loss of tax credits and deductions including the child tax deduction and a severely reduced Earned Income Tax Credit.</p></li> <li><p>Seniors living on fixed incomes will continue struggling because of the retirement tax.</p></li> <li><p>Families will continue searching for educational options because of the Republican plan to continue dissolving school districts and taking over struggling schools through the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), which has yet to show any improvement in the schools it runs.</p></li> <li><p>Women face greater economic struggles thanks to Republican approval of a new law making basic health care more costly.</p></li> <li><p>Republicans continue to push gimmicks to address education including cyber schools and other entities that lack accountability and have yet to show any improvements.</p></li> </ul> <p>In contrast, House Democrats have already introduced proposals that would undo harmful Republican policies and replace them with measures that would bring tax relief to middle-class families and seniors and restore funding to education.</p> <p>&#8220;Michigan families don&#8217;t want more of the same, and that&#8217;s all that Republicans are offering,&#8221; House Democratic Floor Leader Rep. <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Superior Township) said. &#8220;Rather than continuing these failed policies, Democrats have proposals that will get Michigan moving in the right direction once again.&#8221;</p> <p>In his speech, the governor has proposed increasing some programs that help seniors, such as Meals on Wheels. House Democrats point out that this is an attempt to treat a symptom, rather than get at the root of the problem.</p> <p>&#8220;Seniors wouldn&#8217;t need this kind of band-aid approach to getting nutrition if they hadn&#8217;t been forced to pay the new retirement tax in the first place,&#8221; Rep. <strong>Pam Faris</strong> (D-Clio) said. &#8220;Making seniors living on a fixed income pay higher taxes to offset a corporate tax break was wrong, and the only way to fix it is to undo it.&#8221;</p> <p>Those proposals include measures to get rid of the tax on retirement income, restore the Homestead Property Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit and bring back the $600 per-child deduction. House Democrats have also introduced a proposal ensuring money in the School Aid Fund be spent on PreK-12 classroom education and backed several amendments to appropriation bills that would have increased school funding.</p> <p>&#8220;Through the budget-making process, Republicans have shown us time and again that middle-class families, seniors and students are not their priorities,&#8221; said Rep. <strong>Rashida H. Tlaib</strong> (D-Detroit), Democratic vice chairwoman for the House Appropriations Committee. &#8220;Corporate interests and CEOs have been put ahead of our families for too long. It&#8217;s time to make Michigan families the priority in Lansing.&#8221;</p> <p>House Democrats will fight to make sure that the budget surplus, fixed at $971 million by state officials at their Jan. 10 revenue estimating conference, is invested in local schools, which have struggled under Republican education cuts, and for long-term tax relief for middle-class families and seniors who have shouldered the burden of corporate tax cuts for the past three years.</p> <p>&#8220;The hard-working families of Michigan who have been asked for shared sacrifice have given enough, and now it&#8217;s time for them to get some relief,&#8221; said Rep. <strong>Sam Singh</strong> (D-East Lansing). &#8220;WWe don&#8217;t need more of the same. We need a better vision for the future and the courage to enact it. It&#8217;s time to put the people of Michigan first.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Statement from Democratic Floor Leader David Rutledge in Response to the Governor's State of the State Address:]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/statement-from-democratic-floor-leader-david-rutledge-in-response-to-the-governor-s-state-of-the-state-address <p>&#8220;Gov. Rick Snyder’s address tonight was full of lovely rhetoric and grand objectives, but Michigan residents demand results. Michigan families deserve more; we should be focusing on strengthening our public education system, investing in infrastructure and cultivating an environment for businesses to grow jobs. Instead, this Legislature has increased lobbyists’ influence on the legislative process. I do give credit to Gov. Snyder for his stated emphasis on rectifying the painful cuts that schools have suffered for the last three years, and his understanding of the importance of early childhood education programs, which yield innumerable benefits in the long term. As his constituents, we must keep our governor accountable &#8212; his words don’t always match his policies. He is supportive of assisting seniors despite the recent implementation of the new retirement tax. He wants to focus on education without sending dollars to the classroom. We must truly emphasize policies that assist those groups who most need help, and focus on the future of our great state.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Washtenaw Dems Denounce Agema's Hateful Comments]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/washtenaw-dems-denounce-agema-s-hateful-comments <p>LANSING &#8212; Members of the Washtenaw County delegation to the Michigan House &#8212; state Representatives <strong>Gretchen Driskell</strong> (D-Town), <strong>Jeff Irwin</strong> (D-Ann Arbor), <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Superior Township) and <strong>Adam Zemke</strong> (D-Ann Arbor) &#8212; together condemn Republican National Committeeman and former Rep. Dave Agema&#8217;s comments about members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The statements are not representative of the vast majority of Michiganders and cast the state in a bad light.</p> <p>&#8220;When a leader of a state party makes comments like this it sends a terrible message to the rest of the world,&#8221; Driskell said. &#8220;Michigan would do better at attracting jobs and supporting our diverse workforce if ignorant statements like this were not made.&#8221;</p> <p>At a recent Berrien County Republican Party event, Agema claimed that LGBT people die when they&#8217;re &#8220;between 30 and 44&#8221; years old and that employees of American Airlines, where Agema used to work, would lie about domestic partnerships in order to receive health care to treat AIDS. Agema&#8217;s statement about life expectancies referred to a long-discredited study based on newspaper obituaries of gay men in urban areas during the height of the AIDS crisis, not scientific samples representative of the LGBT community as a whole.</p> <p>&#8220;Dave Agema continues to use pseudo-science and outright lies to advance a hateful, bigoted agenda,&#8221; Irwin said. &#8220;It says a lot about the Republican Party that they chose Dave Agema for a leadership role. I&#8217;m sure there are Republicans who are as disgusted as I am by his behavior, but his views reflect their party&#8217;s official position.&#8221;</p> <p>Earlier this year, Agema posted an article on his personal Facebook page citing dubious statistics about gay people, accusing them of rampant pedophilia, drug use and disease incidence, and calling them &#8220;filthy.&#8221; Calls for his resignation were widespread, and fellow Republicans also distanced themselves from Agema, but he refused to step down.</p> <p>&#8220;This kind of hateful and discriminatory language has no place in the current political discourse,&#8221; Rutledge said. &#8220;I have had the unfortunate experience to have lived through discrimination, and that&#8217;s why I&#8217;m committed to a Michigan where everyone is treated with the same respect and dignity.&#8221;</p> <p>Agema&#8217;s beliefs are not supported by facts or widely shared by Michiganders, especially youth. Across party lines, young voters overwhelmingly support marriage equality and the effort to overturn Michigan&#8217;s constitutional ban on marriage equality, put into place in 2004.</p> <p>&#8220;If Michigan is to attract and retain the best young talent, we have to be an inclusive, welcoming state,&#8221; Zemke said. &#8220;These comments, in addition to being totally reprehensible, are not indicative of the kind of image Michigan should put forth - one that says we are a state that welcomes people regardless of sexual orientation.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Washtenaw Dems Demand End to Federal Government Shutdown]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/washtenaw-dems-demand-end-to-federal-government-shutdown <p>LANSING – State Representatives <strong>Gretchen Driskell</strong> (D-Saline), <strong>Jeff Irwin</strong> (D-Ann Arbor), <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Superior Township) and <strong>Adam F. Zemke</strong> (D-Ann Arbor) demanded today that congressional Republicans bring an immediate end to the federal government shutdown that is threatening vital state programs by bringing a &#8220;clean&#8221; continuing resolution to a vote. Because of the government shutdown, now in its 10th day, Michigan is losing $18 million a day that is used to fund programs for veterans, children and entrepreneurs.</p> <p>&#8220;The vast majority of people want Congress to fund the government, but a small faction is pursuing a narrow agenda rather than doing what&#8217;s best for the people,&#8221; Driskell said. &#8220;As a result, there is real suffering being inflicted on Michiganders.&#8221;</p> <p>Irwin added, &#8220;The idea that a very small minority of Congress could prevent a vote on funding the federal government represents a real problem for Michigan families. The majority in Congress wants to move forward, but a tiny ultra-conservative group is holding the nation hostage, and the ransom is being paid right now by Michigan families who rely on food stamps, Head Start or assistance for our veterans.&#8221;</p> <p>Earlier this month, Michigan&#8217;s State Budget Director, John Nixon, said the state stands to lose $18 million in federal funding each day the government is shut down. As a result, several programs that serve Michiganders stand to lose funding during the shutdown or will have to scale back services. Programs affected include:</p> <ul> <li>Head Start programs: Michigan&#8217;s 39 Early Head Start and 67 Head Start programs serve 35,961 children and their families and rely on federal funding to operate.</li> <li>School lunch programs: The federally funded free and reduced-priced school lunch program serves an average of 360,438 breakfasts and 867,167 lunches daily to students from low-income families in Michigan. </li> <li>Veterans&#8217; services: New veterans&#8217; educational, compensation and pension benefits have been delayed, and disability payments to veterans may also be slowed. Michigan is home to 660,773 veterans. </li> <li>Small Business Administration programs: Entrepreneurs who seek federally guaranteed small-business loans to open or expand will see their applications delayed. The SBA typically receives 1,000 applications each week.</li> <li>New Social Security benefits: Seniors who become eligible for Social Security during the shutdown will likely have to wait for government operations to resume before new claims are processed.</li> <li>Women, Infants and Children program: The program that ensures that impoverished pregnant women, infants and toddlers could run out of money to operate as early as today. </li> <li>Real estate delays: Real estate transactions, which require identity and income verification, will likely be delayed as Internal Revenue Service operations are limited during the shutdown.</li> </ul> <p>&#8220;This situation never should have happened in the first place, but it&#8217;s time to get these programs functioning again,&#8221; Rutledge said. &#8220;Families, seniors and veterans shouldn&#8217;t suffer as a result of this shutdown. Re-open the government now.&#8221;</p> <p>Zemke continued, &#8220;The federal budget shouldn&#8217;t be held hostage by a radical minority or those interested in self-aggrandizement. It is time to set aside ideology and get back to work.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[House Dems' School Reform Task Force Report Offers Plan to Improve Struggling Schools]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-school-reform-task-force-report-offers-plan-to-improve-struggling-schools <p>LANSING - Members of the Michigan House Democrats&#8217; School Reform Task Force, led by co-chairs Reps. <strong>Ellen Cogen Lipton</strong> (D-Huntington Woods) and <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong> (D-Grand Rapids), presented their report to help struggling schools improve without a state takeover or being moved into the Education Achievement Authority at a press conference in the state Capitol today. The policy proposals are the result of discussions with education professionals, researchers, university presidents and superintendents held across the state over the spring and summer, as well as proposals already introduced by House Democrats.</p> <p>The report can be viewed at <a href="http://housedemtaskforces.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Task-Force-Report_SchoolReformFinal.pdf" title="">http://housedemtaskforces.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Task-Force-Report_SchoolReformFinal.pdf </a></p> <p>&#8220;The current administration is too quick to label our schools as &#8216;failed&#8217; and to use students as test subjects in unproven educational programs, and my colleagues and I believe that we have a better way to improve our struggling schools,&#8221; said Lipton. &#8220;This task force report draws on discussions with researchers, educators and superintendents who have first-hand experience with improving their schools and delivering the best education possible to their students.&#8221;</p> <p>The task force plan focuses on three areas: community education action plans, a study of the actual cost of educating students, and accountability and transparency standards.</p> <p>&#8220;Experience is often said to be the best teacher, and this report offers suggestions and ideas that are proven successful and take into account the different needs of school districts and students across Michigan,&#8221; said Rep. <strong>Andy Schor</strong> (D-Lansing). &#8220;Our proposals will lead to effective school reform as well as open the door to other discussions and ideas about how to give our students the best possible education.&#8221;</p> <p>Proposals in the task force&#8217;s report include:</p> <p><strong>Community education action plans</strong></p> <ul> <li><p>Legislation to strengthen the Michigan School Reform Office by requiring education professionals, parents, community leaders and other experts to conduct a review of struggling schools and the creation of an aggressive turn-around action plan designed to address the specific issues and challenges of that school.</p></li> <li><p>Passing legislation to create a master teacher plan with the goal of preparing our best students to choose to be teachers and mentor those teachers now in our classrooms.</p></li> </ul> <p><strong>The cost to educate our students</strong></p> <ul> <li><p>Legislation requiring a comprehensive study of the true cost to educate a child in a Michigan public school.</p></li> <li><p>Ensuring that, as a result of this study, specific needs of each unique school district are addressed and properly funded.</p></li> <li><p>A constitutional amendment to guarantee that School Aid dollars are protected and only used in our public schools for education through high school. (House Joint Resolution Z - Rep. Collene Lamonte)</p></li> </ul> <p><strong>Level the Playing Field</strong></p> <ul> <li><p>Disclosure of the amount of taxpayer dollars actually spent on classroom instruction including the cost to provide instruction in a virtual school over the Internet.</p></li> <li><p>All schools &#8212; public, charter and virtual &#8212; must have school boards that comply with the Open Meetings Act and hold their school board meetings in their school communities at times and places that are accessible for parents and community members.</p></li> <li><p>No group with the ability to authorize charter schools will be allowed to authorize new charter schools if any of their existing schools fall in the bottom 5 percent of schools.</p></li> </ul> <p>Reps. <strong>Theresa Abed</strong> (D-Grand Ledge), <strong>Terry Brown</strong> (D-Pigeon), <strong>Douglas A. Geiss</strong> (D-Taylor), <strong>John Kivela</strong> (D-Marquette), <strong>Collene Lamonte</strong> (D-Montague), <strong>Stacy Erwin Oakes</strong> (D-Saginaw), <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Superior Township), <strong>Thomas F. Stallworth III</strong> (D-Detroit), and <strong>Adam F. Zemke</strong> (D-Ann Arbor) are also members of the task force.</p> <p>&#8220;Our students deserve better than Republican proposals that were being formulated in secret, behind closed doors and with no input from educators, parents and members of our local communities,&#8221; said Rep. <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong>. &#8220;I believe that our school reform plan &#8212; that we formulated after talking with researchers and experts and that involves community members as well as teachers, parents and students &#8212; will put our schools on the path to success, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to debate and pass our proposals.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Rutledge Praises Proposed Project at Site of Former Willow Run Powertrain Plant]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/rutledge-praises-proposed-project-at-site-of-former-willow-run-powertrain-plant <p>LANSING &#8212; House Democratic Floor Leader <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Superior Township) today announced his support for a project proposed by the RACER Trust to develop the former site of Willow Run Powertrain Plant. The two-phase project will result in a technologically advanced connected vehicle research center.</p> <p>&#8220;This is fantastic news for all residents of Southeast Michigan,&#8221; said Rutledge. &#8220;It will result not only in job creation, but will drive innovation in automotive research, drawing on the depth of expertise and experience in this area.&#8221;</p> <p>Removal and dismantling will begin this fall, and is expected to take about a year, at which point redevelopment will begin, subject to a development agreement with Ypsilanti Township. The facility, the first of its kind, will serve automakers, suppliers and related technology companies. The contracts will not impede the campaign by Yankee Air Museum to purchase and separate a portion of the Willow Run Powertrain plant to serve as a permanent home for the museum and its collections.</p> <p>&#8220;This project is vital to the forward momentum of our community, and the region,&#8221; Rutledge said, &#8220;and I&#8217;m so pleased to see this progress. After years of decline, we are moving forward, entering an exciting period of reinvention and rejuvenation.&#8221;</p>