Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, and the Hertel campaign is ready to hit the streets and talk to our constituents!read more
On Monday, March 3rd, I officially filed with the Ingham County Clerk to be placed on the ballot for the Michigan State Senate’s 23rd district seat.read more
Below are just a few of my thoughts on current issues that are important to me, and to the 23rd District.
As a parent of four children, I was fortunate to have the resources to financially invest in my children’s early education. Unfortunately, many parents cannot afford to do the same. Studies show that investment in early childhood education benefits a child throughout their school career and leads to better outcomes. We must make sure that there is equality of opportunity when it comes to early childhood education and we must invest as a state in the option for universal preschool.
As a parent, the most important issue for me in public service is the quality of our public education. Unfortunately, the current legislature has decided to de-invest from the classroom and to make the education of our children into a for-profit industry. My first priority, to ensure success for our children and our state, is to make sure teachers, local school boards, and support staff have the funding and necessary tools to develop our most important asset as a state — our children.
My other priorities include expanded access of early education for all students, ending the unlimited cap on for-profit charter schools, and providing tools necessary for local elected districts to expand learning opportunities (including year-round schools, language emergent programs & community-in-school models).
The 23rd district is the home of Michigan State University. MSU plays an essential role in the economic well-being of not just the 23rd district, but also to the State of Michigan. We must ensure Michigan State University’s success through strong investment.
Recently the Republicans in the legislature have tried to influence academic programs at Michigan State, by threatening to withhold dollars for programs with which they politically disagree. We cannot allow politics to stand in the way of academic integrity and the autonomy of any university, let alone Michigan State.
Our university system in Michigan provides a very special opportunity to all young women and men throughout our state. The only way these opportunities can be truly realized is to expand access to higher education. All students, regardless of income, deserve the chance to reach their full potential. We must find sources of revenue to ensure that access to public education is affordable for all families in Michigan.
Lansing is also fortunate to have one of the premiere community colleges located right in our capitol city, Lansing Community College. Community college can be a bridge to further educational achievement or essential training for good-paying jobs right here in our community. We need to continue investing in our community college system.
Although women make up more than 50% of Michigan’s population, studies show that equal pay for women has still not been achieved in our state. I strongly support legislation that will require businesses to treat men and women equally.
I also strongly believe in a woman’s right to choose, and oppose any intrusion by the State of Michigan into a decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor.
The Michigan legislature passed a new law this year that would require a woman to buy a separate insurance rider to cover abortion, even in the extreme cases of rape, incest, or in instances that would protect the life & health of the mother. I find this type of legislation to be extremely offensive, and will do everything I can as a legislator to repeal it.
In many ways, issues that are often classified as women’s issues are actually family issues. Pay equity, access to family planning services, and protections in our workplace are all issues that affect me as both a husband and a father, and they are deeply important to me.
The State of Michigan owes a great deal of thanks to our senior citizens, who built this state through their hard work. Unfortunately, Governor Snyder and Senate Republicans have chosen to balance the budget on the backs of our seniors. Senior pensions are now taxed, for the first time in Michigan’s history, thanks to the recent legislation that was signed by Governor Synder. This is outlandish for two reasons: first, many of our seniors live on a fixed income and had made their retirement plans not knowing of this new tax burden. More egregious, the Governor decided to use this increase in taxes to give a massive tax cut to corporations and CEOs in Michigan. As your State Senator, I will never overlook the needs of our seniors to cater to powerful interest groups.
Equality for All
The issue of equal rights for LGBT citizens is the civil-rights fight of our time. We can no longer allow the State of Michigan to discriminate against its own people. LGBT citizens should be able to work without the fear of being fired for who they are. Marriage equality should be recognized, and Michigan should no longer stand in the way of adoption rights for LGBT couples.
Michigan has a choice. We can be on either the right or wrong side of history. I choose to stand on the right side for equality.
It is impossible to drive around the 23rd district without confronting the fact that Michigan has a major problem with funding for our roads and bridges. While many other states in the Midwest have made large investments over the last decade, Michigan has failed to do so. It is estimated that it will take over $2 billion dollars a year in order to improve our roads to reasonable standards. We as a state cannot shrink from this responsibility. It will take a combination of increased user fees, taxes, and prioritizing of current funds to fix this massive problem.
In December of 2012, I was proud to march with my brothers and sisters in the labor movement, protesting the passage of right-to-work laws without any public input. The Governor and his legislature locked the public out of the Capitol building, a public that was begging for their voice to be heard. These so-called right-to-work policies are nothing more than a right-to-freeload. They allow for non-dues-paying workers to receive all the benefits of a union-negotiated contract. Federal law was already clear in its stance that no person can be forced to join a union. The right-to-work legislation, then, had nothing to do with workers’ freedoms, but instead had everything to do with lessening their combined voices for workers’ rights.
If elected, I will seek to repeal right-to-work, and fight to protect prevailing wage, and to restore workers’ rights back to the working men and women of Michigan.
Michigan is at a crossroads when it comes to economic development. The choices of the current legislature and governor have been to cut business taxes and to decrease workers’ rights in an attempt to recruit more businesses to the state. This has proven to be largely unsuccessful. Michigan needs a long-term job strategy that focuses on investments in public education, higher education, skill training and infrastructure.
We cannot cut our way to the bottom, but instead must rebuild from the ground up, and invest in our most valuable assets, which are the people of this great state of Michigan.
Law enforcement, fire fighters, and EMS workers demonstrate the most essential role of government – to provide for the safety of our citizens. Unfortunately, because of decisions by our legislature, and cuts to revenue-sharing, these critical services have been reduced throughout the state, and our neighborhoods are less safe. This is a problem, not only in our cities, but also in the rural areas of Ingham County. If elected to the State Senate, I will fight to restore revenue-sharing dollarsand keep police officers and first responders on our streets where they belong.
Michigan currently spends over 20% of state general-fund dollars (or just under $2 billion dollars) on our prisons. This is unacceptable and must be dealt with. We must improve programs that reduce long-term prison populations. These include quality mental health care, substance abuse programs, and programs for youth offenders. We can stem the long-term flow of prisoners into our jails.
We must also look at mandatory sentencing laws, and examine their effect on our prison population.
As Register of Deeds, I have highlighted the issue of the foreclosure crisis, and the illegal foreclosure practices of our banking industry. Michigan is one of the easiest states in which to foreclose on a homeowner, and there are no protections for the due process rights of citizens in foreclosure.
I have proven cases of illegal foreclosure here in Michigan, that have been prosecuted by the Attorney General.Large institutions, Bank of America for one, have admitted to illegally foreclosing on our men and women serving in the military abroad. In spite of all of this evidence of corruption, the Michigan Legislature has done nothing but make it easier for banks to foreclose on our residents. This is unacceptable. We must build more protections into the system for citizens who are at risk of losing their most important asset. And we must punish those in the banking industry that have allowed these fraudulent practices to continue, and who rob people of their due process rights.
Throughout my career on the County Commission, access to basic primary care was a major priority of mine. We expanded the Ingham Health Plan to cover a higher percentage of individuals than almost any other county in the state. Because of the Affordable Care Act, and Michigan Medicaid expansion, we have now dramatically increased the access to care for hundreds of thousands of our Michigan residents. We must protect these gains and make sure that the people of Michigan have access to quality hospitals.
A selection of issues that are important to me, and to the 23rd district.read more