Government Matters: Week in review

By Victoria Mullen, WKTV

Peters Honored as Legislator of the Year by Vietnam Veterans of America

Peters Recognized for Fairness for Veterans Provision to Help Service members with PTSD

 

By Allison Green and Zade Alsawah

 

Senator Gary Peters

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) was recognized by the Vietnam Veterans of America as a Legislator of the Year and delivered remarks at the organization’s annual national convention. Peters was recognized for his efforts to pass bipartisan legislation to help veterans who may have been erroneously given a less than honorable discharge from the military due to negative behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the Fairness for Veterans legislation in 2015, and it was signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act in December 2016.

Peters Statement on Release of Brandon Road Study to Limit Spread of Asian Carp

Study Outlines U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Plan to Prevent Invasive Asian Carp from Reaching the Great Lakes

 

By Zade Alsawah and Allison Green

 

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) has issued the following statement on the release of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Brandon Road Draft Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement, which seeks to prevent the spread of invasive Asian carp into the Great Lakes:


“The Great Lakes power Michigan’s economy, supporting our multi-billion dollar commercial shipping, fishing, tourism and agricultural industries, and we must move quickly to ensure the Great Lakes are protected against invasive Asian carp that can disrupt this important ecosystem. I urged the Trump Administration to swiftly release this long awaited report, and I’m pleased we can now move forward with the public comment period and work with stakeholders to determine the next actions needed to prevent the spread of this harmful invasive species and keep our economy growing.”


Earlier this year, Peters introduced legislation with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow to require the Trump Administration to immediately release the Brandon Road Study. Peters also joined with Stabenow and other Great Lakes Senators in a letter calling on President Trump to release the study and expedite potential measures to stop Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. In June, a silver carp was discovered within nine miles of Lake Michigan and beyond an electric barrier designed to prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.

Senator Stabenow Highlights Great Lakes Restoration Success Stories Across Michigan, Importance of Federal Funding

By Miranda Margowsky

 

Senator Debbie Stabenow

This month, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is highlighting Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) success stories throughout Michigan and the importance of federal funding to protect our lakes and waterways.

 

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative provided $196,000 in federal funding to the Kalamazoo Nature Center to restore wetlands and prevent erosion and runoff into the Kalamazoo River. The GLRI funding has led to increased economic activity in the area, giving more people the opportunity to enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and boating on the river. Arcadia Ales, a locally owned brewery, opened a new location on the Kalamazoo River, allowing patrons to take advantage of the riverfront.

 

According to the University Research Corridor, more than 700,000 Michigan jobs, one in five in the state, are tied to water. GLRI is critical to cleaning up our Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways for swimming, boating, and fishing; fighting invasive species like Asian carp, and protecting our Michigan way of life. Michigan projects have received more than $400 million in funding from the GLRI since its establishment. Michigan has an estimated 2,850 miles of coastal water trails as well as an estimated 1,280 miles of inland water trails. Our canoe and kayak industry annually contributes $140 million to our state’s economy.

Senator Stabenow Announces More Than $3.5 Million to Expand Double Up Food Bucks throughout Michigan

By Miranda Margowsky

 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, has announced more than $3.5 million in new federal funding to expand the successful Double Up Food Bucks program in Michigan. The funds come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant program, which Stabenow authored in the 2014 Farm Bill. The grant will be matched by private funding, totaling to $7 million in new investments.

 

Double Up Food Bucks makes it easier for low-income families in Michigan to eat healthy by doubling the value of food assistance dollars spent on fresh, regionally grown produce. This has helped families stretch their food budget while supporting Michigan farmers and rural communities.

 

Fair Food Network will utilize the new funds to expand the Double Up Food Bucks program to more farmers market and grocery stores throughout Michigan. Additionally, funding will be used to expand new technology to make purchases easier for families and farmers, and expand year-round rather than seasonal programming at farmers markets and groceries.

Senator Stabenow Announces Medicare at 55 Act

By Miranda Margowsky

 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has introduced the Medicare at 55 Act, which provides an option for people between the ages of 55 and 64 to buy into Medicare. There are 1.4 million people in Michigan between the ages of 55 and 64, and many of them are burdened by high insurance premiums, unaffordable deductibles and limited options.

 

People in the 55-64 age group face unique health challenges and especially high health care costs. The average person in this age group pays more than $1,200 in annual out-of-pocket costs and is at a greater risk of suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes or arthritis and medical emergencies such as heart attack and stroke.

 

Under the Medicare at 55 Act, an individual between the ages of 55 and 64 who buys into Medicare would receive the same benefits and protections as an individual enrolled under Medicare parts A, B, and D.

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Peters-Young Legislation to Update Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps for Great Lakes

Maps Help Assess Ecological Risks of Oil Spill & Natural Disasters; Great Lakes Maps Have Not Been Updated in Over 20 Years

 

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has approved bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN) to update the Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps in the Great Lakes. ESI maps are used to assess coastal resources that could be at risk in the event of an oil spill or natural disaster, including endangered and threatened species, sensitive shoreline habitats, and human-use resources like beaches, parks and boat ramps. The Great Lakes region ESI maps have not been updated since between 1985 and 1994, though maps for the East coast, West coast, and Gulf coast have seen updates within the last five years.

 

ESI maps, which are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are used to document the potential ecological impacts to natural and human-use resources from risks such as oil spills, natural disasters, and resource damage assessments. The maps are also used in disaster planning and recovery, research and restoration efforts. ESI maps must be regularly updated to ensure they are providing an accurate representation of vulnerable locations and areas that require protection in the event of a disaster. Updates would also improve the accessibility of the ESI maps by making them available in searchable formats.

Peters, Grassley & Feinstein Call for Increased Transparency in Administration Ethics Disclosures

Letter Urges Administration to Make Ethics Waivers Immediately Publicly Available

 

By Allison Green

 

U.S. Senators Gary Peters, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter urging Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney to ensure that any executive branch ethics pledge waivers granted by the Trump Administration are immediately provided to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and made publicly available.

 

On January 28, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13770 requiring all incoming political appointees to sign an ethics pledge as a condition of their employment in the federal government. The Administration’s ethics pledge places certain restrictions on appointees’ participation in matters directly related to their former employers, clients, or matters on which the appointee lobbied prior to their appointment.

 

The executive order also includes a provision allowing the President or his designee to issue a waiver to any individual appointee from any of the ethics pledge’s requirements, though there is no specific requirement that the waiver be issued prior to an appointee’s first day of employment.

 

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