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Tag Archive | "Capitol"

After a year of challenges, more work to do in 2013

_V-LevinBy Sen. Carl Levin

The Senate returned to the Capitol this month after a turbulent 2012. In the areas our citizens look to us to address—boosting economic growth and job creation, building a foundation for long-term competitiveness, protecting our environment and our national security—we overcame some major challenges and made some progress in 2012, but delayed many of the tough decisions until 2013.

We ended the year with a debate over the “fiscal cliff,” and while we avoided the potential economic catastrophe of going over the cliff on Dec. 31, we only temporarily delayed draconian automatic spending cuts that will kick in early this year if we can’t reach another agreement to avoid them.

One way we can bring down the deficit while avoiding those damaging cuts is to close some egregious corporate tax loopholes.

Over the last year, I’ve fought for changes to bring down the deficit and make the tax code fairer. For example, we should end the tax loopholes and accounting gimmicks that allow companies to give lucrative stock options to executives and stick Uncle Sam with the tab; that allow companies to avoid taxes by shifting U.S. income to offshore shell corporations; that subsidize companies for moving U.S. jobs offshore; and that allow hedge fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than their staff.

Revenue from closing those loopholes will help us preserve programs that support the aspirations of average families. For example, Congress acted over the summer to avoid a doubling of student-loan rates that would have put college – already a financial strain for most families – even further out of reach. We beat back attempts to reduce the budgets for education, research into groundbreaking technology and life-saving medical treatments. We must continue to fight to preserve these important investments in our people and their future.

Of course, for us in Michigan, the continuing renaissance of the domestic auto industry has been vital. Growing auto sales and employment continue to demonstrate the wisdom of the federal investments in preserving this backbone of American manufacturing. Just as important as what’s happening on factory floors today is how we’re preparing for long-term competitiveness. We need to make sure we build the cars of tomorrow as well as those of today.

The announcement in December that several of our state’s companies and educational institutions will participate in a federal research consortium developing next-generation vehicle batteries means good jobs for our people now and in the future. And the continued growth of clean energy technologies–not just as sources for energy, but as a growing business for our companies—underlines the strong steps taken by our entrepreneurs, often with federal support, to build for the future.

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I know how important a strong and innovative industrial base is to our defense. The Defense Authorization Act we passed at the end of the year draws on Michigan’s manufacturing, engineering and technological prowess in a host of ways. And in November, my wife, Barbara, and I attended the keel-laying ceremony for the USS Detroit, one of a new class of Navy vessels built to counter the security threats of the coming decades. Hundreds of Michigan workers will help build the USS Detroit and sister ships at a shipyard in Marinette, Wis., just across the state line from Menominee.

That is just the latest chapter in Michigan’s maritime heritage, a heritage inextricably linked to the Great Lakes. In 2012, Congress passed legislation I pushed for that could help improve harbor maintenance. The Senate passed a bill I authored to protect thousands of acres of wilderness at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and though the House did not pass this bill, I’m hopeful we’ll succeed in this Congress. And as co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I helped lead bipartisan efforts to ensure adequate funding for Great Lakes preservation and restoration, including programs to protect against invasive species such as Asian carp.

I just returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, looking ahead to an important year for our policy in that region. Spending time with the brave men and women of our military is always inspiring. We are on schedule to hand over security responsibility for all of Afghanistan to that nation’s security forces. Serious challenges remain, most notably in helping develop Afghan government institutions that are effective and free of corruption.

We face no shortage of challenges entering 2013. I’m optimistic we can meet them. The people we serve expect and deserve it, and our nation’s future demands it.

Carl Levin is the senior U.S. senator from Michigan.

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A special view in Lansing

On Friday, May 6th, Ms. Falcinelli, Mrs.Poll, Mrs. Smith, and Mrs. Underwood’s Cedar View Elementary classrooms went to Lansing for their 4th grade field trip to see our state Capitol building and the Michigan Historical Museum. This special trip is a culminating activity after studying Michigan history, geography, economics, and our state and federal government throughout third and fourth grades. The students are always excited to see our wonderful Capitol building and see where our laws are made.  One activity they really enjoy is lying down on the glass floor in the rotunda and looking up at the beautiful capitol dome. The Michigan Historical Museum brings Michigan’s history right before the students’ eyes.
The students who attended Lansing on Friday happened to be there on a day of a historical event. It was the day of the unveiling of former Governor Granholm’s portrait.  Some of the classes were able to see Governor Granholm there in the Capitol building.  Mrs. Poll’s class had the honor of having a representative from the capitol explain to them some of the symbolism included in the governor’s portrait. In the portrait the governor is looking past a vase of apple blossoms and out a sunlit window. Some of the symbols in the portrait include: a small wind turbine to show her work toward green energy, a Chevy Volt to show her work support of extending the range of the electric car, a mortarboard to show that she wants to increase the number of college graduates in Michigan, and a shovel that was used to break the ground for an advanced auto battery plant in Holland, Michigan.
On Wednesday, May 11th, a second batch of fourth graders headed to Lansing. This time, students from Ms. Zank, Mrs. Baas, Mrs. Nielsen, Mr. Moleski, and Mr. Gregory visited the Michigan Historical Museum and state Capitol. Since congress rarely convenes on a Friday, it was the Wednesday group that had the opportunity of a fourth grade lifetime. Several of our groups from Cedar View were honored in the House of Representatives by our very own representative Pete MacGregor. These groups were able to see the representatives at work and listen in on how they voted on a bill.
All of the students had an awesome time viewing the history of Michigan at the Michigan Historical Museum, but the main attraction was seeing how our government actually works.  The fourth grade teachers spent many hours preparing their students for this trip. No question from the tour guides went unanswered by our marvelous fourth graders. The lead tour guide at the capitol told me that Cedar View Elementary is one of the finest and largest groups to enter the Capitol and leave as the best behaved.  Congratulations to all of the fourth grade students of Cedar View for representing our community and demonstrating the Habits of Mind.

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MacGregor sworn in, receives committee assignments

State Rep. Peter MacGregor was sworn into office. Pictured here with the representative are sons Patrick and Matthew, wife Christine, and son John.

State Rep. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, was sworn into office at the Capitol Wednesday, January 12, at noon, officially taking his place as a member of the 96th state legislature, representing Michigan’s 73rd House District.
MacGregor, a former small business owner and local public official, was elected to the House seat in November. This will be his first term in the State House.
“I was very proud to take the oath of office today on behalf of the people of the 73rd district. The re-invention of Michigan isn’t going to be a quick fix but I look forward to being part of the solution and getting our state back on track,” MacGregor said.
Committee assignments were also distributed. MacGregor will sit on the Appropriations Committee, serving as chair of the State Police and Military and Veterans Affairs subcommittees and vice chair of the Community Health subcommittee. The representative has also been assigned to the DELEG (Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth) subcommittee.
“I’m honored to be asked to serve on appropriations. In these challenging economic times, it isn’t going to be an easy role but I look forward to right-sizing government and being part of the solution.  I am humbled to be asked, as a freshmen, to chair two subcommittees and to vice-chair Community Health, the largest department budget. I also look forward to serving on Labor and Economic Growth,” MacGregor said.
Joining MacGregor at today’s swearing in was his wife Christine and their sons, Patrick, John and Matthew.

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