Senators Stabenow, Peters Introduce Small Business Access to Capital Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today introduced the Small Business Access to Capital Act, which will reauthorize and improve the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to help small businesses grow and create jobs. The legislation builds on the successful SSBCI initiative that both lawmakers championed in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. SSBCI funds the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other state-led lending programs that leverage private financing to help small businesses access the capital they need.

“Small businesses create the majority of new jobs, and when owners can access capital, they can expand and keep the economy growing,” Senator Stabenow said. “Access to capital is an important issue that owners have raised with me as I have travelled the state this past year on my Small Business Tour. I’m pleased to be joining with Senator Peters to build on this successful program that has helped hundreds of small businesses and manufacturers get off the ground or expand.”

“Michigan is home to more than 856,000 small businesses that rely on access to critical resources that help them compete, grow and create new jobs in our communities,” said Senator Peters. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Stabenow to introduce legislation that will expand this successful effort and provide additional resources to boost Michigan small businesses that are the backbone of our economy.”

Michigan has exhausted all SSBCI federal funding, expending over $100 million to date that has leveraged a total investment of nearly $600 million, including private capital. This investment has helped businesses create or retain over 12,000 jobs across the state. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will be able to continue its SSBCI lending programs using recycled federal funds from paid back loans and state funding.

The Small Business Access to Capital Act of 2017 builds on the initial program’s success by providing an additional $500 million in formula funds to all states based on the 2010 law. Michigan would receive over $26 million in new formula funding-more than every state except Florida and California. The bill will also create a new, competitive $1 billion pool of funding for states that have already capitalized on funding from the 2010 program.

NASA Invites Media to ‘Rocket Day’ for Space Launch System

Media are invited to learn about NASA’s deep space exploration plans and view hardware for the world’s most powerful rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), at the agency’s Rocket Day, Wednesday, Oct. 11, at NASA locations in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Read more here:: NASA Invites Media to ‘Rocket Day’ for Space Launch System

South Carolina Students to Speak with NASA Astronaut on Space Station

Students at Laing Middle School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, near Charleston, will speak with a NASA astronaut living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station at 11:30 a.m. EDT Monday, Oct. 2.

Read more here:: South Carolina Students to Speak with NASA Astronaut on Space Station

Briefing, NASA Television Coverage Set for Upcoming US Spacewalks

Three American astronauts aboard the International Space Station will embark on a trio of spacewalks in October to perform station maintenance. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the spacewalks, as well as a briefing to discuss the work to be performed.

Read more here:: Briefing, NASA Television Coverage Set for Upcoming US Spacewalks

Statement from State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) on Recently Proposed Auto Insurance Reform

LANSING – Yesterday, a coalition of legislators introduced legislation to reform no-fault auto insurance in an attempt to lower insurance rates in Michigan. State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) released the following statement:

“While I applaud the work that so many have done to find a solution to lower auto insurance rates, I am concerned that Michigan drivers are promised phantom savings and will not have the protection they need when they become involved in an auto accident. Auto insurers will save millions in claim payments under House Bill 5013, but drivers who keep their current benefits will see no rate reductions. Taking away coverage to reduce premiums while shifting medical costs on to Michigan drivers is the wrong approach to tackle high auto insurance rates. Serious reforms should include creating a state fraud authority to aggressively go after fraud and claims handling abuse and requiring the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association be more open and transparent. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Lansing to legitimate and permanent insurance premium rate reductions while protecting the health and well-being of accident victims.”

John James Announces for U.S. Senate

Detroit – Former Army Captain, conservative Republican, and Detroit businessman John James announced today his bid for U.S. Senate. John James made the announcement over Facebook Thursday and will be releasing 100 videos in 100 days to speak directly with voters.

“Michigan needs a conservative outsider in Washington who will take on the establishment and fight for working Michiganders,” John said Thursday. “My experience as a combat veteran in Iraq, combined with my conservative values and commitment to fighting for conservative principles and my time in business, makes me the conservative outsider we need in Washington.”

From the battlefield to the boardroom, John James has shown a passion for service. A husband, father, combat veteran, and businessman, John is a conservative Republican who believes Michigan deserves better representation in the U.S. Senate. Throughout his life, John has demonstrated energetic leadership, clarity of vision and a passion for service. John is a proven servant-leader who will represent all Michiganders and help unify Washington.

“My service in Iraq has provided me with a unique perspective on national security and the emerging threats that we must pro-actively defend against,” John said. “I have fought against and worked to defeat the threat that terrorists and rogue nations represent to our national security.”

At 17, John made the decision to serve his country. After graduating from West Point in 2004, he became a Ranger-qualified aviation officer. John went on to serve with distinction in Operation Iraqi Freedom where he earned a Combat Action Badge (CAB) and two Air Medals, among other awards while logging 744.3 flight hours in theater leading two Apache platoons.

After eight years of service to the nation, John was honorably discharged and returned to Michigan to work in the family business: James Group International. Currently its President, John has led the company from $35 million to $137 million in revenue while creating 100 additional jobs in Michigan and around the country since 2012.

“My time in business has exposed me to the heavy-handed government regulations and bloated bureaucracy that stifles innovation and entrepreneurship.”

John’s deep faith in the Lord shapes every aspect of his life and every decision he makes. “My lifelong commitment to religious liberties, defending life, protecting Second Amendment freedoms, and strictly limiting the role of government reinforces my belief that we must have political leaders with the courage to fight to protect our freedoms and our principles.”

“I’m not a politician, but my lifelong passion for service and love for America and my state compels me to take action,” John asserted. “As a West Point graduate who served as an Army Captain in Operation Iraqi Freedom flying Apaches, I understand national security,” stated John James. “Revenue has more than tripled and 100 jobs have been created under my leadership as President of our supply-chain logistics company. I understand how to create jobs and the importance of economic opportunity.”

John and his wife Elizabeth reside in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and have two extremely energetic and sweet boys, ages 2 and 3. The James’ love spending time with their parents and family members who reside on both sides of the state. They are active members of Brightmoor Christian Church in Novi, Michigan.

“We’ve traveled the state listening and learning from Michiganders who overwhelmingly encouraged us to jump in,” John said. “We’ll be speaking directly with voters through social media in the coming months, engaging over Facebook, Twitter and other platforms where we will release 100 videos over the next 100 days to highlight Team John James.”

“If you’re ready for the fight, I’m ready to lead.”

To learn more visit JohnJamesforSenate.com.

Source: John James For Senate

DNR Launches ‘Cutting-Edge’ Campaign To Promote Importance Of Sustainable Forestry To Michigan

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has launched a new statewide multimedia campaign to promote awareness about the environmental, socio-economic and public health benefits of Michigan’s trees.

The “A tree for life. Forests for a lifetime.” campaign introduces the importance of sustainable forestry and responsible forest management in a series of four 30-second ads that use real paper cutouts blended with an animation style that brings the paper to life.

“The goal of the campaign is to improve recognition among Michigan residents that our forests need care and management to provide clean water, grow our economy, improve quality of life and preserve our precious natural resources for future generations,” said Debbie Begalle, the DNR’s chief of forest resources. “Forests are much healthier when they are actively taken care of, which includes planting trees, fighting disease and ensuring the right amount of trees are cut down in Michigan to balance the needs of people and animals.”

With nearly 4 million acres of state forest land, Michigan has one of the nation’s largest state forest systems. The state’s forest products industry generates $20 billion annually and employs more than 96,000 people statewide.

The campaign is inspired by results from a 2017 DNR-commissioned survey that uncovered knowledge and perceptions of Michigan residents, including:

  • Nearly 90 percent of respondents agreed that public lands and forests are valuable and important – even if they don’t go there themselves.
  • Nearly 90 percent said it’s important that people manage forests in order to keep them healthy.

An overwhelming majority felt the role of forests was beneficial in providing clean air and water to the state.

The survey also uncovered common misconceptions about sustainable forestry that will be addressed by the new campaign. Many Michigan residents were not aware of key topics central to forest management, including:

  • Active management is essential to responsible environmental stewardship. Forests are much healthier when dedicated people following sound science-based management plans actively manage them. The DNR follows the rules to make sure the right amount of trees are cut to balance the needs of people and wildlife.
  • Michigan will not run out of forests. Trees are a renewable resource. In fact, Michigan’s forests are growing considerably faster than they are being cut – each year 2.7 times more wood is grown than harvested.
  • Michigan has strong rules in place protecting our forests. Since 2005, the Michigan DNR has been certified by independent, third-party review of on-the-ground forest practices that ensure our forests are well-managed. This rigorous certification system means you can trust that the products you purchase have been manufactured responsibly.

The long-term health of forests sometimes requires cutting. The notion that “cutting down trees is bad” is not accurate. Cutting trees prevents the spread of disease and insects, allows new trees and plants to grow, creates better and diverse habitat and forage for wildlife, maintains safe recreation areas and provides wood for many of the products we use every day.

The video series – which uses a blend of traditional stop-motion and digital filmmaking – was created using paper made from Michigan trees. The paper was produced by French Paper Co. – a sixth-generation, family-owned paper mill located in Niles, Michigan.

The spots will air on social media platforms and traditional public and commercial broadcasting outlets in metro Detroit. Or watch them at www.michigan.gov/ForestsForALifetime, where you can also learn more about sustainable forestry management in Michigan.

“Careful management is critical to ensuring sustainable forests, whether they’re in the heart of Detroit or in the heart of the Upper Peninsula,” Begalle said. “That’s why we work so hard to keep our forests strong and abundant.”

One last chance to repeal and replace Obamacare and save the 115th Congress

By Natalia Castro

For the last eight months, we have watched the Republican Party flounder on healthcare. Now, with the clock running out, most seem to agree on one thing — this is their last, best chance to repeal and replace Obamacare this year. Republicans are pushing for a vote this week to pass a replacement for Obamacare, and many are hoping this will be the first major legislative achievement for this Congress. All they need is for Republicans to finally utilize the majority they have been holding back.

The legislation put forth by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham(R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy(R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), referred to as the Cassidy-Graham bill, offers an approach which Republicans across the spectrum should approve of.

The legislation removes harmful Obamacare burdens such as the individual mandate and the employer mandate, which forced individuals to purchase coverage and discouraged employers from hiring full-time workers. The bill also empowers states by allowing them to apply for waivers from Obamacare regulations and provides block grants for state flexibility with their own healthcare plans.

This might not be the full repeal and replace Republicans had once hoped for, but they ruined any chance of that when they failed to garner the votes to pass those bills months ago. Now, time is nearly up and this is the best opportunity to prevent millions of Americans from facing dramatic premium increases.

Considering, conservatives leaders such as Utah’s Mike Lee and Arkansas’s Tom Cotton have already voiced positivity toward the bill alongside common Republican moderates writing the bill such as Heller and Graham, this could be a turning point for momentum within the GOP.

Conservative coalitions are even rushing to back to the bill. Endorsements for passage have been given by Americans for Limited Government, the Wall Street Journal, Christian Coalition of American, and The Weekly Standard.

The bill has also received support from the President, and 15 Republicans sitting Governors who wrote in a letter to Mitch McConnell, “Adequately funded, flexible block grants to the states are the last, best hope to finally repeal and replace Obamacare – a program which is collapsing before our very eyes. We stand ready to work with you and the other members of the Senate, the Speaker and the other members of the House, and with the President and his administration to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that works – in the states.”

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski was a splinting vote in the GOP’s early repeal and replace push, but now Republicans seem to be willing to throw her a bone to promote party unity and finally move the legislation.

Alaska and four other sparsely populated states could be shielded from major cuts to Medicaid through 2026.

Politico reports, “The Medicaid delay would potentially apply to Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana, based on their low-density populations. Those states would be allowed to opt out on the bill’s fixed payments if certain health spending conditions are met in the prior year or the HHS secretary determines the new funding system is insufficient. The chance to opt out would end in 2026.”

Murkowski has been clear about her current reservations with the bill and how it will affect such as high cost, low-density state like hers. Graham and Cassidy’s planned changes could make her decision easier.

Unfortunately, complicating matters, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has predictably come out against the bill.

And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has once again insisted on a “bipartisan” approach, despite having voted for similar legislation this summer before voting against the so-called “skinny” repeal. Whatever party unity has been gained by the GOP in the process of building support for Graham-Cassidy has been squandered by McCain.

Apparently the bill that McCain’s against are the ones that have a chance of actually passing.

Now all eyes turn toward Rand Paul and Lisa Murkowski. They must realize this is a pivotal point for the country suffering from high premiums under Obamacare. Senate leaders must approach both to see what they’d be comfortable with if modifications to the legislation are needed.

The failure to govern here is beyond disappointing, it is disenfranchising the American people who voted to get something in place on health care besides Obamacare.

With immigration and tax reform fights right around the corner, Republicans must show unity and strength to get the Trump agenda voters selected in 2016 passed. This is a critical opportunity to make good on one of the party’s oldest campaign promises. Now is not the time for internal fights, it is time to come together as a majority and replace Obamacare once and for all. Otherwise, the job might fall to the 116th Congress.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government.

Vice President Pence Visits NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Vice President Mike Pence offered his thanks Monday to employees working on NASA’s human spaceflight programs during a tour of the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Read more here:: Vice President Pence Visits NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center