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Your Weekly Michigan Legislative Report

Editors Note: Linda Pepper has taken on producing a regular legislative report for us. Watch this space for weekly reports. When special urgent action is required we may send an e-blast out, but here is what you need to know about the Michigan Legislative Agenda for the week. We thank Linda for her excellent work. - Harold Lassers Communications team Editor Monday March 27, 2017 I monitor legislation in Michigan and to let the GT Dems know if something that needs quick action. There are also a few things that we might like to know about even though action is not needed or is too late. Michigan Resistance is a group out of Ann Arbor that has a conference call with Michigan Democratic ho

Gerrymandering, Democracy Subverted

Voters Not Politicians and Redistricting in Michigan On Friday evening March 24th, ‘Count MI Vote’, supported a workshop on gerrymandering by two members of their subgroup, ‘Voters Not Politicians.’ It was held at Scholars Hall on NMC’s Campus with 150 participants in attendance, many of whom were GT Dems and Indivisible TC members. The workshop leaders began by explaining that gerrymandering is redistricting gone wrong. Voting districts for federal and state legislators are drawn in Michigan by the State Senate Committee and the State House Committee. Therefore, they have the power to choose the boundaries and the type of voters in each district. This enables the political party in power to

Rally to Support the ACA

The air was cold and crisp in the bright sunshine outside Rep. Jack Bergman’s office Wednesday afternoon in Traverse City, where 75 to 100 people gathered on the eve of the House vote to repeal and replace the ACA. Most like Christina from Traverse City, were there because of concerns that so many people are in danger of losing their healthcare. “I’m here, she said, “because I hear my two children, who are physicians, talk about how wonderful it has been to have people getting care that have needed it for so long. They are finally getting it and now they are facing not having it anymore! It is very painful. Very scary. What can they do if they haven’t insurance anymore? I’m here becau

Gerrymandering: A Threat to Democracy

Editor's Note: The following is a guest editorial and invitation on the topic of Gerrrymandering. Gerrymandering is the art that politicians use to draw district voting lines to ensure one thing only – that the party in power stays in power. Two nonpartisan groups have emerged in Michigan to curb this unjust action – Count Mi Vote and Voters Not Politicians. Count Mi Vote, the educational arm of the movement is currently holding Redistricting Town Hall meetings across Michigan to educate the public about gerrymandering and to collect public opinion on a proposed ballot measure to create a Citizens Redistricting Commission that would be charged with drawing fair and just voting districts wit

JPAC Training for Volunteer Observers

JPAC Training for Volunteer Observers Traverse City and surrounding counties have at least one safety net for immigrants and seasonal migrant workers in the agricultural, hotel, and restaurant sectors. The Justice and Peace Advocacy Center’s (JPAC), mission is to train volunteers to act as official observer teams that can be deployed as quickly as possible if a call comes in that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or Border Patrol (BP) agents are active in our area. JPAC has coordinated its efforts with immigration attorneys, and groups such as ALPACT, Justice for Our Neighbors, local law enforcement, area growers and others. If alerted, peaceful observers will rapidly deploy to a g

Tuesday’s At Bergman’s, March 14, 2017

Tuesday’s At Bergman’s, March 14, 2017 It was 17 degrees outside Republican Representative, Jack Bergman’s office this morning, but that did not deter Maggie Zinger from Traverse City. She bundled up in warm clothing, and ventured out to join the ‘Tuesday’s At Bergman’s’ group, carrying a colorful, homemade sign that read: Healthcare for All!!! Not Corporate Welfare and a Wall!! “I’m here for one, to ask for a Town Hall from my representative who has not yet had a face-to-face talk with his constituents, which we are. Mostly, I’m here today to talk about how this [Republican] administration lied about how healthcare was going to work. In the form it is in now, older people would be paying

Mark Brewer on Recount

Michigan Attorney Mark Brewer on his experience representing Presidential candidate Jill Stein in the 2016 post-election recount in Michigan. An overflow crowd of concerned citizens attended a forum on Saturday, March 11, at Minerva’s in the Park Place Hotel, Traverse City, Michigan, to hear Attorney Mark Brewer, former Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. Mr. Brewer described his experience of being enlisted by Green Party Presidential candidate, Jill Stein, to represent her in asking for a post-election re-count. He explained that the presidential margin in Michigan of 13,107 votes, was the closest vote margin in Michigan ever, but not enough to trigger an automatic re-count in and of

Smooth and Evasive, Jack Bergman's Not a Town Meeting

Some Thoughts After Listening in on Rep. Jack Bergman’s "Tele-Town Hall", Tuesday, March 7, 2017 Regarding Veterans Affairs, Mr. Bergman spoke proudly of his work on Veterans issues. He advocates for the use of local facilities such as Munson Hospital to treat veterans when a local VA facility cannot perform the service rather than transporting Vets long distances to downstate VA facilities. Unfortunately, Mr. Bergman was smooth and evasive on other matters. On several environmental questions, he prefaced his answers by expressing enormous love for our environment and water. However, when we cut through his poetics, his positions reflected an ardor that had cooled considerably. For exam

Rally for a Free Press: Protecting our First Amendment Rights

Rally for a Free Press: Protecting our First Amendment Rights Saturday, March 4, 2017 was sunny and chilly, and the mood at the Traverse City Rally for a Free Press was positive and spirited. Concerned citizens of all ages were gathered in front of the Traverse City Record Eagle office at noon to express support for a free press, our First Amendment rights and the importance of the media in maintaining our democracy. Cheerleaders kept chants going with positive affirmations including, “this is what democracy looks like.” Vehicles going by honked in support, with passengers waving, giving a thumb up. Rally members mingled, making new friends, while talking about issues that mattered to the

FLOW: For the Love of Water

FLOW: For the Love of Water On Thursday evening, March 2, 2017, an over-FLOW-ing crowd attended a viewing of “Great Lakes, Bad Lines,” at the Workshop Brewery owned and operated by Pete Kirkwood, whose wife, Liz Kirkwood, is the Executive Director of FLOW, a leader of the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign dedicated to shutting down Line 5, an oil pipeline in the Mackinac Straits. Built in 1953, the 65-year-old line exhibits problems with corrosion-causing invasive mussels, rust, missing supports, and shifting pipes in currants exceeding the power of Niagara Falls. With 23 million gallons of oil per day running through the pipeline engineered to last 60 years, FLOW maintains it is not a questi

Charter and Private School Report Card An Op-ED

Editors Note: This editorial is written by one of our members, Will Fagen. Mr Fagen is a retired educator, who lives in Grand Traverse County. Before retiring to Michigan, he was a Dean of Students and taught Physics in both Maryland public and private schools. Charter and Private School Report Card: Why equal government oversight is essential for success. As a retired educator with over 32 years of experience, I’m fascinated by the discussion surrounding charter school accountability in the state of Michigan. According to an article in the Detroit Free Press on June 22, 2014 “Michigan taxpayers pour nearly $1 billion a year into charter schools — but state laws regulating charters are a

Indivisible Traverse City Members Take on Action Oriented Agenda

Indivisible Traverse City Members Take on Action Oriented Agenda March 5, 2017 Gretchen Iorio, Indivisible TC leader, addressed another record crowd at the Indivisible TC regular Sunday meeting at 11 am at the Right Brain Brewery. The group now has a new email: Members are encouraged to use this to send action group minutes, inquiries, comments, etc. to the leadership. The weekly rally, Tuesday’s at Bergman’s will continue at his office at 10:30 am where concerned citizens can ask for a town hall, transparency in revealing content of the GOP ACA Healthcare plan, if there is one, the HB 610 stalled, but not defeated bill that would provide vouchers

Toward Universal Healthcare

Toward Universal Healthcare: How a hybrid of Medicare, VA, and Medicaid health insurance models with a single payer source would be the best of all worlds. As an active past president and chair of the Legislative Committee of the Michigan Home Health Association for years, I have gone to Washington and Lansing as a spokesperson, contacting every Michigan Federal Senate and Representative office annually over a period of many years. We were very successful in advocating for and achieving many of our home health related goals primarily because we always limited the scope of our efforts to 3 or 4 items, came with several members who had supporting examples to share, and viable recommendations f

GT Dems Progressive Potluck, Justice and Peace Advocacy Center

Report on GT Dems Progressive Potluck, Feb 27, 2017 Gladys Munoz, co-founder of the Justice and Peace Advocacy Center, spoke last night at the GT Dems 2nd Progressive Potluck at Little Fleet. She talked about the fear that members of our farm worker community are experiencing due to Trump's new order to round up and deport any immigrant without legal standing, breaking families apart and sending children into foster care. There are about 7000 people in our greater community, including family members, affected by this police state harassment and discrimination. That isn’t counting the people of color in the service industry who are often affected in the same way. Some little-known facts rega

Coffee Hour with Senator Wayne Schmidt

Coffee Hour with Senator Wayne Schmidt, Friday, Feb 24, 2017 Braving icy road conditions and pouring rain, a group of seven of Senator Wayne Schmidt’s constituents met with him at the Loon’s Nest this morning in Fife Lake. We were welcomed by friendly staff who took our orders for coffee, eggs, pancakes, and sandwiches. On full stomachs and with cheerful dispositions, a wide range of concerns were addressed to the Senator for clarification and where he stands. The Senator was asked what the prospects were for a bill regarding cuts to the Michigan income tax being reintroduced since HB 4001 had been defeated in the House. While the Senator said he is unfamiliar with the workings of the Hou

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