<![CDATA[Rep. Douglas A. Geisss' Site Feed]]> http://012.housedems.com <![CDATA[Slavens and Geiss Call for Stronger Regulation of Toxic Waste Disposal in Michigan]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/slavens-and-geiss-call-for-stronger-regulation-of-toxic-waste-disposal-in-michigan <p>State Representatives Dian Slavens (D-Canton) and Douglas Geiss (D-Taylor) expressed their concern today over a shipment of radioactive fracking waste from the state of Pennsylvania that is set to be dumped near Belleville. As environmental regulations have tightened in other states, private companies are turning to Michigan as a dumping ground for caustic substances and radioactive sludge.</p> <p>&#8220;We need a fully effective system of rules to protect our health and safeguard our quality of life,&#8221; Slavens said. &#8220;Our tax dollars should be going toward making schools stronger, not lining the pockets of wealthy CEOs.&#8221;</p> <p>As the process of hydraulic fracturing – also known as fracking – expands across the nation, many states have implemented stricter regulations to curtail environmental threats posed by this process and new restrictions on the disposal of radioactive waste that it generates.</p> <p>An article in the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday revealed that Michigan has become a dumping ground for the radioactive sludge created in many other states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Those states have established that it&#8217;s not safe to store the material in their own dumps, so they&#8217;re sending it here to Michigan.</p> <p>According to the Free Press, 36 tons of radioactive sludge is on its way to the Wayne Disposal Landfill in Van Buren Township, near Belleville, Michigan. It&#8217;s unclear whether or not it has already arrived in its destination, but area residents, who live as close as a quarter of a mile from the dumping site, are concerned about the safety implications this has on their community.</p> <p>&#8220;It is imperative that stricter rules be implemented. The governor has the power to do this. Michigan allows radiation levels ten times higher than surrounding states. Michigan allows radiation levels up to 50 picocuries, which is one hundred times greater than naturally occurring levels. Pennsylvania and Ohio limit their waste to only 5 picocuries. The dumping in Van Buren Township is of concern due to the proximity of this waste storage facility to both densely populated areas and to the Huron River watershed,” said Geiss. &#8220;We must take action to safeguard our Great Lakes and our access to fresh, clean water; we must preserve the environmental health of our state that is so critically important to the vitality of industries from agriculture to tourism and, more importantly, to the well-being of every individual in Michigan.”</p> <p>&#8220;We’ll be exploring legislative options to ensure the protection of the Great Lakes,&#8221; Slavens said. &#8220;In the meantime, Governor Rick Snyder and the Department of Environmental Quality should take administrative measures to make sure Michigan doesn’t become our nation’s landfill.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Sen. Hopgood and Rep. Geiss Call for Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System to End Investment of Romulus Deep Injection Wells]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/sen-hopgood-and-rep-geiss-call-for-detroit-police-and-fire-retirement-system-to-end-investment-of-romulus-deep-injection-wells <p>Today, state Representative <strong>Douglas Geiss</strong> (D-Taylor) and state Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) called on Gov. Rick Snyder, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to end the failed investment of the Detroit Police and Fire Pension System in the Romulus Deep Injection Wells and to pursue their closure. Geiss and Hopgood went on to state that cessation of this funding — funding that threatens the safety of Southeast Michigan residents through the transport and disposal of numerous caustic substances in the legislators’ districts — should be a condition of any state aid provided to guard the pensions of Detroit Police and Fire retirees and pensioners.</p> <p>“The Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System has a history of investing in speculative investments and hoping that these risky investments would be backed up by the citizens of Detroit if they failed,” said Geiss. “The Deep Injection Well project, funded by the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, has failed. It has contributed to roughly $40 million in losses to date, and that tally is set to grow. This project, and those like it, should be halted as a condition of state intervention into the underfunding of the Police and Fire Retirement System.”</p> <p>“The state should not be rewarding the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System for its ill-advised investment in a toxic waste facility,” added Hopgood. “Instead, the facility should be closed and capped. This money drain on the Police and Fire Retirement System needs to end.”</p> <![CDATA[Rep. Geiss Introduces Safe and Secure Schools Act]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/rep-geiss-introduces-safe-and-secure-schools-act <p>Today, state Representative Douglas A. Geiss (D-Taylor) introduced new legislation — House Bills 5126 and 5127 — that would create a &#8220;safe and secure schools fund&#8221; within the Michigan Department of Treasury. Revenue for the fund would be generated by an additional $1 assessment for each felony and misdemeanor conviction in the state in addition to the minimum state cost ordered by the courts. The aforementioned assessments would be separated according to the school district jurisdictions in which each offense occurs.</p> <p>&#8220;Giving our children a quality education and keeping them engaged in school is the single best thing we can do to prevent them from committing future crimes,&#8221; said Geiss, &#8220;and yet we have too often witnessed our centers of growth and learning become places of violence and grief. If we are to effectively fulfill our duty to educate our children, we must likewise recognize that it is utterly essential to provide a safe learning environment wherein no child should ever feel threatened.&#8221;</p> <p>The fund may be used by each school district for the purposes of emergency notification systems to local law enforcement, emergency response training for school personnel and teachers, external evaluation of school safety and security, funding security for school trips and extracurricular activities, improvement to school facilities and equipment that enhance security and other projects designed to improve safety at a school.</p> <p>&#8220;We must not fail in our solemn duty to protect our schools and our children,&#8221; Geiss added. &#8220;Benjamin Franklin is often credited with the saying, &#8216;An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.&#8217; I assert that the value of preventing even one more school tragedy is incalculable.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Geiss Seeks Assistance for Taylor and Romulus School Districts]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/geiss-seeks-assistance-for-taylor-and-romulus-school-districts <p> State Representative Douglas A. Geiss (D-Taylor) once again called upon fellow lawmakers to devise a solution to assist the Taylor and Romulus school districts with hardships incurred subsequent to the dissolution of Inkster Public Schools.</p> <p> &ldquo;The Taylor and Romulus school districts have openly welcomed the new students they received from Inkster,&rdquo; said Geiss. &ldquo;However, the acquisition of vacant buildings in severe disrepair has placed an unreasonable and undeserved financial burden upon the Taylor and Romulus Schools. The costs associated with these buildings must not be allowed to divert funds away from the school districts&rsquo; primary mission of educating students.&rdquo;</p> <p> Geiss has repeatedly shared the plight of his local school districts with his colleagues in Lansing since the Inkster schools were dissolved in July, seeking to mitigate any negative effects experienced by students, parents and surrounding communities during the transition. Additionally, bolstered by his position on the House Democrats&rsquo; School Reform Task Force, he generated a presentation (see below) highlighting the Taylor School District&rsquo;s assets vs. liabilities in light of the acquisition of property in Inkster. He says that he is hopeful a solution will be found.</p> <p> &ldquo;This situation was created largely as a result of state policy, and the state should therefore be part of the solution as well. I&rsquo;m pleased that my colleagues in both parties have acknowledged the situation in Taylor and Romulus and have agreed that neighboring communities should not be left holding the bill if a school district is dissolved. I look forward to finding more constructive solutions to aid Michigan&rsquo;s schools and students.&rdquo;</p> <p> Slides from Rep. Geiss&rsquo; presentation may be viewed here: <a href="http://docs.housedems.com/district/012/InksterSchoolDistrictAssetsVersusLiabilities.pdf" title="">http://docs.housedems.com/district/012/InksterSchoolDistrictAssetsVersusLiabilities.pdf</a></p> <![CDATA[House Dems' School Reform Task Force Report Offers Plan to Improve Struggling Schools]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-school-reform-task-force-report-offers-plan-to-improve-struggling-schools <p>LANSING - Members of the Michigan House Democrats&#8217; School Reform Task Force, led by co-chairs Reps. <strong>Ellen Cogen Lipton</strong> (D-Huntington Woods) and <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong> (D-Grand Rapids), presented their report to help struggling schools improve without a state takeover or being moved into the Education Achievement Authority at a press conference in the state Capitol today. The policy proposals are the result of discussions with education professionals, researchers, university presidents and superintendents held across the state over the spring and summer, as well as proposals already introduced by House Democrats.</p> <p>The report can be viewed at <a href="http://housedemtaskforces.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Task-Force-Report_SchoolReformFinal.pdf" title="">http://housedemtaskforces.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Task-Force-Report_SchoolReformFinal.pdf </a></p> <p>&#8220;The current administration is too quick to label our schools as &#8216;failed&#8217; and to use students as test subjects in unproven educational programs, and my colleagues and I believe that we have a better way to improve our struggling schools,&#8221; said Lipton. &#8220;This task force report draws on discussions with researchers, educators and superintendents who have first-hand experience with improving their schools and delivering the best education possible to their students.&#8221;</p> <p>The task force plan focuses on three areas: community education action plans, a study of the actual cost of educating students, and accountability and transparency standards.</p> <p>&#8220;Experience is often said to be the best teacher, and this report offers suggestions and ideas that are proven successful and take into account the different needs of school districts and students across Michigan,&#8221; said Rep. <strong>Andy Schor</strong> (D-Lansing). &#8220;Our proposals will lead to effective school reform as well as open the door to other discussions and ideas about how to give our students the best possible education.&#8221;</p> <p>Proposals in the task force&#8217;s report include:</p> <p><strong>Community education action plans</strong></p> <ul> <li><p>Legislation to strengthen the Michigan School Reform Office by requiring education professionals, parents, community leaders and other experts to conduct a review of struggling schools and the creation of an aggressive turn-around action plan designed to address the specific issues and challenges of that school.</p></li> <li><p>Passing legislation to create a master teacher plan with the goal of preparing our best students to choose to be teachers and mentor those teachers now in our classrooms.</p></li> </ul> <p><strong>The cost to educate our students</strong></p> <ul> <li><p>Legislation requiring a comprehensive study of the true cost to educate a child in a Michigan public school.</p></li> <li><p>Ensuring that, as a result of this study, specific needs of each unique school district are addressed and properly funded.</p></li> <li><p>A constitutional amendment to guarantee that School Aid dollars are protected and only used in our public schools for education through high school. (House Joint Resolution Z - Rep. Collene Lamonte)</p></li> </ul> <p><strong>Level the Playing Field</strong></p> <ul> <li><p>Disclosure of the amount of taxpayer dollars actually spent on classroom instruction including the cost to provide instruction in a virtual school over the Internet.</p></li> <li><p>All schools &#8212; public, charter and virtual &#8212; must have school boards that comply with the Open Meetings Act and hold their school board meetings in their school communities at times and places that are accessible for parents and community members.</p></li> <li><p>No group with the ability to authorize charter schools will be allowed to authorize new charter schools if any of their existing schools fall in the bottom 5 percent of schools.</p></li> </ul> <p>Reps. <strong>Theresa Abed</strong> (D-Grand Ledge), <strong>Terry Brown</strong> (D-Pigeon), <strong>Douglas A. Geiss</strong> (D-Taylor), <strong>John Kivela</strong> (D-Marquette), <strong>Collene Lamonte</strong> (D-Montague), <strong>Stacy Erwin Oakes</strong> (D-Saginaw), <strong>David Rutledge</strong> (D-Superior Township), <strong>Thomas F. Stallworth III</strong> (D-Detroit), and <strong>Adam F. Zemke</strong> (D-Ann Arbor) are also members of the task force.</p> <p>&#8220;Our students deserve better than Republican proposals that were being formulated in secret, behind closed doors and with no input from educators, parents and members of our local communities,&#8221; said Rep. <strong>Brandon Dillon</strong>. &#8220;I believe that our school reform plan &#8212; that we formulated after talking with researchers and experts and that involves community members as well as teachers, parents and students &#8212; will put our schools on the path to success, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to debate and pass our proposals.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Geiss Announces Grant to Romulus Business]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/geiss-announces-grant-to-romulus-business <p>TAYLOR - State Representative <strong>Douglas A. Geiss</strong> (D-Taylor) announced today that ZYNP International will receive a Michigan Business Development Program Incentive from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) to expand and grow its operation in Romulus.</p> <p>&#8220;This investment in a Romulus business will help create more jobs now and, just as important, keeps this company here in Michigan providing good jobs for our workers and students who will one day enter the workforce,&#8221; said Geiss. &#8220;This is great news for Romulus.&#8221;</p> <p>ZYNP International is a world-leading automotive supplier that manufactures cylinder liners for gasoline and diesel engines. ZYNP plans to expand its existing operations as well as add a new Research and Development center in the city of Romulus, investing $9.5 million and creating 51 new jobs. As a result, the company is being awarded a $350,000 Michigan Business Development Program incentive in the form of a performance-based grant. Michigan was chosen over a competing site in Texas. The city of Romulus is prepared to recommend a property tax abatement in further support of the project.</p> <p>&#8220;This shows that Michigan is still the best place to build cars, and that our car companies and suppliers are still important components of Michigan&#8217;s economy,&#8221; said Geiss.</p> <![CDATA[House Dems' Education Task Force to Hold First Meeting]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/house-dems-education-task-force-to-hold-first-meeting <p>LANSING &#8212; The Michigan House Democrats&#8217; Education Task Force will hold its first meeting from <strong><u>2-4 p.m. on Monday, May 20, in Room 426 of the Capitol Building in Lansing</u></strong>. Rep. <strong><a href="http://027.housedems.com/">Ellen Cogen Lipton</a> (D-Huntington Woods), who is the Democratic vice chairwoman of the House Education Committee, and Rep. <a href="http://075.housedems.com/">Brandon Dillon</a> (D-Grand Rapids), the Democratic vice chairman of the House School Aid subcommittee, will co-chair the task force. Other members are Reps. <a href="http://071.housedems.com/">Theresa Abed</a> (D-Grand Ledge), <a href="http://084.housedems.com/">Terry Brown</a> (D-Pigeon), <a href="http://012.housedems.com/">Douglas A. Geiss</a> (D-Taylor), <a href="http://109.housedems.com/">John Kivela</a> (D-Marquette), <a href="http://091.housedems.com/">Collene Lamonte</a> (D-Montague), <a href="http://095.housedems.com/">Stacy Erwin Oakes</a> (D-Saginaw), <a href="http://054.housedems.com/">David Rutledge</a> (D-Ypsilanti), <a href="http://068.housedems.com/">Andy Schor</a> (D-Lansing), <a href="http://007.housedems.com/">Thomas F. Stallworth III</a> (D-Detroit) and <a href="http://055.housedems.com/">Adam Zemke</a> (D-Ann Arbor).</strong></p> <p>The task was formed in response to House Republicans&#8217; effort to expand the unproven Education Achievement Authority across the state, even though students in the 15 schools currently run by the EAA have reported conditions detrimental to learning in those schools. Task force members are seeking real solutions that will work for our state.</p> <p><strong>WHO:</strong> Reps. <strong><a href="http://027.housedems.com/">Ellen Cogen Lipton</a> (D-Huntington Woods), Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids), <a href="http://071.housedems.com/">Theresa Abed</a> (D-Grand Ledge), <a href="http://084.housedems.com/">Terry Brown</a> (D-Pigeon), <a href="http://012.housedems.com/">Douglas A. Geiss</a> (D-Taylor), <a href="http://109.housedems.com/">John Kivela</a> (D-Marquette), <a href="http://091.housedems.com/">Collene Lamonte</a> (D-Montague), <a href="http://095.housedems.com/">Stacy Erwin Oakes</a> (D-Saginaw), <a href="http://054.housedems.com/">David Rutledge</a> (D-Ypsilanti), <a href="http://068.housedems.com/">Andy Schor</a> (D-Lansing), <a href="http://007.housedems.com/">Thomas F. Stallworth III</a> (D-Detroit) and <a href="http://055.housedems.com/">Adam Zemke</a> (D-Ann Arbor).</strong></p> <p><strong>WHERE:</strong> Michigan State Capitol, Room 426<br /> Lansing</p> <p><strong>WHEN: <u>Monday, May 20, from 2 to 4 p.m.</u></strong></p> <![CDATA[Geiss Condemns Republican Attack on Michigan Farmers' Right to Grow]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/geiss-condemns-republican-attack-on-michigan-farmers-right-to-grow <p>LANSING -State Representative <strong>Douglas A. Geiss</strong> (D-Taylor) criticized the passage of HB 4546 in the House Committee on Agriculture, a bill that includes a tax increase of up to and in some cases more than 57% on Michigan&#8217;s Potato Growers. Currently, an assessment of one cent per hundredweight of potatoes grown in Michigan is levied on each particular lot or quantity of potatoes and is imposed upon each grower and shipper in the state. HB 4546, introduced by Representative <strong>Rick Outman</strong> (R-Six Lakes), significantly increases the assessment levied by the state.</p> <p>&#8220;Forcing our hardworking farmers - the men and women who give us our food and help care for our planet - to pay fees just for the privilege of earning an honest living is an affront to their <em>Right to Grow</em> as American citizens&#8221;, said Geiss. &#8220;This taxation on a farmer&#8217;s livelihood violates every grower&#8217;s right to determine what is in their best interests as a small business person, and likewise restricts their right to choose what they do on their own private property.&#8221;</p> <p>In committee, Geiss introduced an amendment to the bill that would allow small farmers to opt-out if they do not want to participate in the state program or disagree with the assessment. Alternately, Geiss offered a second amendment to the bill that would tie its passage to a repeal of so-called &#8220;Right to Work&#8221; legislation signed into law at the close of 2012. In doing so, he demanded that the legislature adopt a consistent position regarding mandated fees and fair work practices.</p> <p>&#8220;I am disappointed that House Republicans have once again failed to stand up for Michigan&#8217;s hardest working citizens, choosing instead the path of hypocrisy. Time after time, House Republican leadership has pursued political ideology while ignoring both logic and morality,&#8221; said Geiss. &#8220;It would appear that expecting consistency in action and morals from a legislature that is led by a Speaker under Grand Jury investigation is akin to the expectation to grow a crop of citrus fruit during a Michigan winter - both are nice ideas that will never come to fruition. Nonetheless, the convergence of morality and agriculture policy has taught me that, in the end, we truly do each reap what we sow.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Representative Geiss, Senator Hopgood Host Student Athletic Champions]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/representative-geiss-senator-hopgood-host-student-athletic-champions <p>LANSING - Today, State Representative <strong>Douglas A. Geiss</strong> (D-Taylor) and State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) welcomed members of the Romulus High School Boys Basketball Team and the Romulus Community High School Basketball Team as they visited the Capitol to be recognized by the Michigan Legislature for their recent state championship victories.</p> <p>&#8220;Congratulations to the Romulus High School Eagles and the Romulus Community High School Lions for their outstanding accomplishments, which culminated with state championship titles this basketball season,&#8221; said Senator Hopgood. &#8220;The hard work, dedication and continued success of these student-athletes and their coaches are certainly deserving of the recognition and honor they received in the Michigan Legislature today.&#8221; </p> <p>The Romulus Eagles defeated Detroit Southeastern by a score of 61-49 on March 23 in the Class A state boys basketball final. In the 2012 semifinals, Romulus narrowly lost to Rockford, 62-61. After last year&#8217;s loss, and three other disappointing trips to the Breslin Center, this 2013 victory has given Romulus its first state title since 1986. The Romulus Community High School Lions brought a second title home to Romulus by winning the 2013 Michigan Alternative Athletic Association Class B State Championship.</p> <p>After arriving in Lansing, members of both teams toured the historic Michigan State Capitol Building, received recognition from the Michigan Senate and Michigan House of Representatives, and were treated to a lunch arranged by Geiss and Hopgood.</p> <p>&#8220;What you&#8217;ve all achieved is simply tremendous,&#8221; Geiss told the team members. &#8220;You have made your community, your schools, your coaches and indeed all of us very proud, and you will carry this achievement with you throughout your lives as a source of pride.&#8221;</p> <![CDATA[Rep. Geiss Reminds Motorists About Ramp Reconstruction Beginning April 22]]> http://012.housedems.com/news/article/rep-geiss-reminds-motorists-about-ramp-reconstruction-beginning-april-22 <p><strong>Fast Facts:</strong></p> <p><strong>- Crews will rebuild the ramps at the I-75/Eureka Road interchange.</strong></p> <p><strong>- Each ramp will be closed and detoured for 45 days.</strong></p> <p><strong>- Single-lane closures on I-75 will be limited to off-peak hours.</strong></p> <p>Ramp reconstruction at I-75/Eureka Road interchange begins April 22 in Wayne County. Access to and from I-75 at Eureka Road in the city of Taylor will be improved following a project to reconstruct the ramps at the interchange. Work on this $1.8 million investment is scheduled to begin Monday, April 22, and be completed by Labor Day.</p> <p>MDOT says full ramp closures are necessary because there simply is not enough space to accommodate traffic at the same time the pavement is being rebuilt. Tentatively, the ramps will be closed in the following order, each for a maximum of 45 days:</p> <ul> <li><p>Eureka Road entrance to southbound I-75</p></li> <li><p>Northbound I-75 exit to Eureka Road</p></li> <li><p>Eureka Road entrance to northbound I-75</p></li> </ul> <p>The southbound I-75 exit ramp to Eureka Road will not be rebuilt, just patched, and will be closed for only one weekend. Impacts on I-75 will be minimal with only single-lane closures between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays, and at all times on weekends when necessary.</p> <p>Residents are urged to utilize the Northline and Telegraph ramps to access I-75 during the construction phase.</p>