<![CDATA[Rep. David Rutledges' Site Feed]]> http://054.housedems.com <![CDATA[Statement from State Representative David E. Rutledge (D-Superior Twp), responding to Gov. Snyder’s 2015 State of the State Address:]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/statement-from-state-representative-david-e-rutledge-d-superior-twp-responding-to-gov-snyder-s-2015-state-of-the-state-address <p>&#8220;Coming away from the governor&#8217;s address tonight, I&#8217;m cautiously supportive of many of the ideas he discussed - particularly the concept of the river of opportunity, providing more Michiganders with the right tools to succeed. Of course, as with any major policy, the devil&#8217;s in the details, and I look forward to carefully considering what changes he&#8217;s advocating. I am in full agreement with the governor that the May ballot proposal is crucial for Michigan&#8217;s future as it would enable desperately needed support for our roads, public schools and working families.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Washtenaw Reps. Take Oath of Office for 98th Legislative Session]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/washtenaw-reps-take-oath-of-office-for-98th-legislative-session <p>LANSING – State Representatives Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor),David E. Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) andAdam F. Zemke (D-Ann Arbor)took their oath of office today, starting their next terms in the Michigan House of Representatives.</p> <p>Reps. Driskell and Zemke will be starting their second term after a very active first two years in the Legislature. “In my first term, I worked on a number of issues for my constituents, including broadband accessibility and finding sustainable solutions to access natural resources,” said Rep. Driskell. “While a lot was accomplished these last two years, there’s still a lot to be done.”</p> <p>Rep. Zemke was equally enthused, stating, “I was proud to work in a bipartisan manner, especially when trying to establish better educator evaluation standards. I will continue this and other priorities to help the citizens of the 55th District and the entire state.”</p> <p>Reps. Irwin and Rutledge now begin their final terms and will continue their leadership on and championing of progressive values and middle-class priorities.</p> <p>“I&#8217;m excited about the upcoming session. I&#8217;m hopeful that Michigan will make progress on issues like clean energy and energy efficiency,&#8221; Rep. Irwin said. &#8220;Thank you to my constituents for the opportunity to serve, and I encourage you to contact me with any concerns or questions.&#8221;</p> <p>“We ended last session on a high note,” said Rep. Rutledge. “Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a road funding measure that would provide adequate resources to repair our roads and educate our children, while also providing tax relief for our working poor. My hope is that we will continue that sense of bipartisanship into the new term.”</p> <![CDATA[Greimel Announces Leadership Positions]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/greimel-announces-leadership-positions <p>LANSING – House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) announced today who will fill a number of leadership positions for the 2015-2016 legislative session.</p> <p>“This outstanding Democratic Leadership team will help to shape public policy in a positive way for Michigan’s families, kids and seniors,” said Greimel. “I’m proud to have a leadership team from all different backgrounds and I look forward to working with them to better Michigan.” The leadership posts being announced today include:</p> <ul> <li>Assistant Leaders: Reps. <strong>Fred Durhal III</strong> (D-Detroit) and <strong>Vanessa Guerra</strong> (D-Saginaw)</li> <li>Whip: Rep. <strong>Robert L. Kosowski</strong> (D-Westland)</li> <li>Caucus Chair: Rep. <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Ypsilanti)</li> <li>Caucus Vice Chair: Rep. <strong>Leslie Love</strong> (D-Detroit)</li> <li>Minority Vice Chair of Appropriations: Rep. <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong> (D-Grand Rapids)</li> <li>Policy Chair: Rep. <strong>Winnie Brinks</strong> (D-Grand Rapids) </li> </ul> <p>These members will join a leadership team that includes Rep. <strong>Sam Singh</strong> (D-East Lansing) as Democratic Floor Leader. As a result of his being elected chair of the Detroit Caucus, Rep. <strong>Brian Banks</strong> (D-Detroit) is also part of the House Democrats’ leadership team.</p> <![CDATA[Reps. Applaud Deal to Raise Funding for Roads]]> http://054.housedems.com/news/article/reps-applaud-deal-to-raise-funding-for-roads <p>LANSING –- State Representatives Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline), David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) and Adam F. Zemke(D-Ann Arbor) are proud to have voted in support of a plan to raise money to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges while also guaranteeing tax relief for Michigan’s families and constitutionally protected money for Michigan’s schools. Under the plan, voters would decide on a ballot proposal that would raise the state sales and use tax from 6 to 7 percent to benefit public schools and eliminate the sales tax on motor fuel.</p> <p>“I support the proposal because it funds Michigan transportation systems, both transit and roads, while increasing funding for schools, and restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Rep. Driskell, member of the House Transportation Committee. “I am glad that after two years of working on this issue, we have a proposal that accomplishes these goals.”</p> <p>“In a season now known for petty politics and poor policy, I am proud to vote for a bipartisan agreement. This is how we earn the trust the voters put in us,” Rep. Rutledge said. “We finally have a proposal that helps drivers and invests in schools. I am especially proud to secure, with the support of my colleagues, an additional $40 million for at-risk schools, on top of the $300 million increase to the School Aid Fund this proposal offers.”</p> <p>Legislators scheduled the sales tax increase for a vote in May 2015. With voter approval, it would raise $1.3 billion over four years while eliminating the sales tax on fuel and transitioning to a tax on the wholesale price. Some of the money raised would go to schools and local government to replace lost revenue from the repeal of the gas tax. Voter approval would also trigger the following effects:</p> <p>• Full restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit, taking it back to 20 percent of the federal credit for a total credit of $277 million.</p> <p>• An additional $300 million would go into the School Aid Fund and that funding would be protected under the constitution so that it would only go for PreK-12 schools through community colleges.</p> <p>• $40 million for at-risk schools.</p> <p>• $94 million in additional funding for local units of government.</p> <p>• Additional funding for mass transit, taking more cars off the road and lessening the need for further road repairs.</p> <p>• Increase the fees on trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds and requiring warranties on any road work.</p> <p>• Commit to hiring more minority and women workers in the construction industry.</p> <p>“Today’s agreement is a solid and fair compromise to solve our systemic road problems,” said Rep. Zemke. “This will allow us to improve our roads, provide tax relief to working families and invest in local communities and schools. We can be proud that we invested in Michigan’s economy today.”</p> <![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[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>