Below are topics of local and national interest to all of us.
LANSING – State Representative Andy Schor (D-Lansing) today announced the introduction of a bill aimed at providing homeowners facing foreclosure recourse when lenders engage in certain 'bad practice' lending behaviors.
Schor's legislation, House Bill 4800, attempts to address foreclosure fraud by amending the Revised Judicature Act to allow for judicial foreclosure proceedings when a lender engages in one or more of the following 'bad practices:'
Schor noted, "The House and the Senate are in the midst of reviewing a variety of issues related to foreclosure here in our state. That discussion needs to include recourse for bad practices by bad actors, and I hope this bill will be a part of that conversation."
State Representative Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge), who co-sponsored HB 4800, echoed Schor's comments. She noted, "Foreclosure is a very serious issue facing many of Michigan's citizens. There's still work to do to ensure that our homeowners are protected so that our communities are able to continue to grow and thrive as our state moves forward in its recovery from the recession."
LANSING — Rep. Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge) successfully added an amendment to House Bill 4466, a bill that reforms Michigan's Merit Curriculum — the set of standards Michigan high school students must satisfy before earning a diploma. The bill passed the House today and was sent to the Senate. Her amendment reaffirms a student's right to have a personal curriculum tailored to his or her own educational needs.
"I am pleased that families and students will now be informed that they have the right to request a personal curriculum," said Rep. Abed. "Being able to learn through a personal curriculum instead of the standard curriculum that a school offers can be the difference between a student succeeding or failing in school."
Abed's amendment ensures that families will be notified that they can request a personal curriculum for their children. The added flexibility can aid students in danger of failing and can give advanced learners the ability to take classes that challenge them academically.
"Too often, parents and student don't even know that they can request a personal curriculum," said Abed. "I thank my colleagues for adopting my amendment to ensure that schools inform their students and parents of this option on an annual basis."
LANSING – State Representative Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge) has introduced legislation to guarantee leave time for employees with a spouse on active military duty in any branch of the armed forces including the reserves and National Guard.
"My bill will ensure that service members can enjoy time with their spouses when they are on a leave from their service without having to worry that their spouse may lose his or her job because he or she has taken time off," said Rep. Abed.
Rep. Abed's legislation, House Bill 4777, would create the Family Military Leave Act. It would provide employees with a spouse on active duty in any branch of the armed forces, the reserves, and the National Guard with up to 160 hours of leave time from their employment per deployment. The employer would have to continue to provide benefits during this leave time but not wages or salary. Employers would be required to restore the employee to the same position with the seniority, benefits, pay and other employment conditions they had before the leave was taken. The bill would prohibit an employer from discharging, fining, suspending, expelling, disciplining or discriminating against an employee that takes this leave.
"No one should have to fear for their job if they join their spouse when he or she is granted leave from service," said Rep. Abed. "A deployment can last a year or more. My bill would help these families enjoy some quality time together during the limited leave time given to our service men and women. "
LANSING – State Representative Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge) recently introduced legislation adding cyber-bullying to the state's anti-bullying law. House Bill 4727 would amend the school code to add cyber-bullying and would require school to report incidents of cyber-bullying to the Michigan Department of Education.
"Students of all ages are very savvy when it comes to using technology to communicate with their friends and, unfortunately, some of them also use their smartphone and computers to bully others," said Abed. "We need to expand our bullying law and programs in our schools by recognizing the seriousness of cyber-bullying and letting our students know that we won't tolerate that either."
HB 4727 would require schools to add cyber-bullying to their policies prohibiting bullying. The bill would also require the Michigan Department of Education to create a form for school districts and public school academies to use to annually report bullying and cyber-bullying incidents to the department.
"My bill will show our students that bullying can take many different forms and that it's not appropriate in any form," said Abed. "To truly protect our students and create a safe learning environment, we need an anti-bullying policy that includes cyber-bullying. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass my bill and get it to the governor's desk in time to take effect with the coming school year."
LANSING – House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), and state Representatives Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge) and Tom Cochran (D-Mason) today announced the House Democrats' plan for middle-class tax relief. The bills, based on Michigan's Middle Class Plan, are focused on restoring tax credits and deductions to middle-class families and repealing taxes on retirees. Legislation included in the plan will relieve the tax burden on Michigan families when next year's tax season rolls around.
"Today, Michigan middle-class families and senior citizens know all too well how the Republican tax increases have unfairly burdened them," said Greimel. "It's time Republicans realize how much damage their tax policies have done, and work with us to support bills giving much-needed tax relief to struggling families and seniors."
Last session, the Republican-led Legislature made severe changes to the Michigan tax code that punished middle-class families and seniors, including a new tax on retirement income, eliminating the Homestead Property Tax Credit for many homeowners, a drastic cut to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the elimination of the $600 per-child tax deduction and tax credits for charitable donations. These changes were made to fund nearly $2 billion in tax breaks for big corporations, effectively making Michigan's low-income and middle-class families pay for a handout to big corporations. The new taxes took effect in 2012, and many taxpayers became aware of them for the first time as they filed their state income taxes this year.
"I have heard repeatedly from residents in my district that they are shocked and outraged over the tax changes that are directly hurting seniors who have no way to make it up and struggling families who are trying to make ends meet,” said Rep. Abed. "From emails, letters, calls to my office and talking to people at my coffee hours, I have heard over and over again how hard the tax changes have hit them. Many have had their return dramatically cut and some even end up owing taxes. This is money seniors and families were relying on to pay property taxes, make needed repairs and catch up on bills. Michiganders deserve better than to lose money so that big corporations can have tax breaks."
Over the past two months, Democratic state representatives heard the concerns of struggling Michiganders during their Real State of Our State Listening Tour. After the tour's completion, legislators used this feedback to construct Michigan's Middle Class Plan, including the following tax initiatives:
Along with these initiatives, the House Democrats pledge to continue fighting against tax increases on the middle class and seniors every time a new, harmful tax is introduced to the Legislature, and to keep Michigan taxpayers aware of the changes through a series of town halls held across the state.
"The tax relief plan that we are proposing will bring real relief to Michigan families," said Rep. Cochran. "If we want a strong economy in our state then our middle-class families and senior citizens have to be able to afford to live here. It's important to pass our bills because they will put money back in the hands of our families so they can take care of their needs."
While securing tax cuts for businesses, reducing support for local governments and cutting education funding, Lansing Republicans raised taxes last year on working families, seniors and individual taxpayers in Michigan with the following legislation(courtesy of the MDP):1. Implemented a pension tax
We all know that Governor Rick Snyder repeatedly said so-called "right to work" legislation was "not on his agenda," but then he signed it. What else has he said? What other promises has he failed to keep? You can visit the MDP's new website for resources on what Snyder has said on the issues -- and then what he has actually done. And check back often; they will be adding new issues and bills just as soon as Snyder signs them... all the way until Election Day 2014.
An appalling summary from Congressman Bernie Sanders: “In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and more inequality than at any time period since 1928. The top one percent owns 42 percent of the wealth . . . the bottom 60 percent own only 2.3 percent. In terms of income distribution in 2010, the last study done on this issue, the top one percent earned 93 percent of all new income, while the bottom 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent.”
BRIGHTON -- When questioned by the press today [Thursday, January 17, 2013] after a speech to the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce in Livingston County, Gov. Rick Snyder admitted that he has no data to support the Michigan job creation claims touted by “right to work” advocates. “Finally we have an admission from Snyder of what we’ve long known -- that the push for so-called ‘right to work’ legislation was purely political and he has no economic data to prove claims that it will create more jobs here in Michigan,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “Right to work was adopted to please the Tea Party and Dick DeVos, pure and simple.” MDP, 1-17-13
“The concept of a citizen’s right to bear arms has been the subject of the greatest fraud -- I repeat the word ‘fraud’ -- on the American public by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime.” US Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, 1991