legislation

Commentary: Healthcare vs. Insurance Care

by Patricia Cogswell, Byron Center, MI

I have been following the health care insurance issues very closely. I am a retired Health Care practice manager and a former RN. I have seen the evolution and downfall of health care over the years.

The major change is in the word Healthcare which exists only in the minds of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. The new word is Insurance Care. The Insurance industry has taken over the healthcare industry. Patients want healthcare but they do not know that it no longer truly exists. Insurance controls the healthcare.

I may be an old retired healthcare worker but I also remember when the medical people decided what a patient needed. I remember the times that when a patient was sick, he was treated according to what the doctor thought he had. Not today — today a non medical person working in an insurance company decides what he needs. The need is based on how much profit the insurance company can get. Yes, it is the same insurance company that went out of the way to promote their product over their competitors to woo you or your employer to sign up with them and take your money for an insurance policy that you and/or your employer decided upon. All goes well until you or your co-worker becomes sick. Suddenly, you are a monetary statistic on a chart created by the insurance company. That chart says that you may have had a pre-existing condition or an un-approved condition.

Pre-existing condition is a loop-hole for insurance companies. Many of us are born with something we did not ask for and maybe did not even know about until we were diagnosed but the insurance company stats person pounces because their stats say that we were previously deemed by this disease therefore we are not now eligible for coverage. A worse scenario is that we did know about the disease but we changed jobs or was laid off or our company closed their doors, etc. The Insurance stat person double pounces on us. We have a pre-existing condition and therefore not eligible for insurance. Oh, they can insurance us but the cost will be very prohibitive. The wealthy will smile and say okay, the rest will just lay awake nights wondering how they can pay for the prescriptions and doctors appts. they need. Many will just give up and no nothing and not fill the prescription or visit the doctor and death will take them. Others will go but take their credit cards to max and remortgage their homes, etc and then have to file bankruptcy or lose their homes.

Okay, these are some facts I have presented. Now I have a question for you – Are you so wealthy you do not need insurance and do not care about others who do or are you a person who cares about your neighbors and believes in the Golden Rule? You choose and I hope you choose the path to Universal Insurance coverage for all.

I am a compassionate Christian who believes in Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself and there is no question how I (if I were a Congressman or Rep) would vote. I could not live with my own conscience if I were to vote for the Insurance companies and the Profits that are made on heathcare. My conscience would not allow me to say that a tax break should be put in place for a citizen for Insurance. A person who cannot afford the premiums for health care would find the tax break worthless. This idea of a tax break is only another example of a loophole tax break for the wealthy. It reminds me of Marie Antoinette who said “Let them Eat Cake” when they could not afford bread.

Please pass this on to anyone who is in desperate need of healthcare or cannot afford the premiums, copays, etc . I just want you to know that I do really care about you. I have given up on passing it on to the congressmen who can actually make a difference in your lives. If you think they will listen, please pass it on to your powers-that-be in your State.

National Call-In Day to Demand an Exit Plan for Afghanistan

061909-stop_funding.png

Fresh off the disappointing passage of more money for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the anti-war group United for Peace and Justice has declared today a national call-in day to Congress to demand an “exit plan” from Afghanistan.

The group writes:

This week, the House passed the war-funding Supplemental bill, providing $79.9 billion to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With this vote, the House has effectively ratified the escalation of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It has done this without any indication of an ‘exit plan’ from the Obama administration.

Tackling this problem is Congressman Jim McGovern’s bill HR 2404, which would require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress outlining an ‘exit plan’ for U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan no later than December 31, 2009. Congressman McGovern’s bill is gaining support and now has 87 co-sponsors. And we’re urging your support now, too.

Today is National Call-In Day to Congress on the McGovern bill and UFPJ urges you to contact your members of Congress to sign-on as a co-sponsor, if they have not already done so. Once you make your calls, please report them back to us here:

http://www.unitedforpeace.org/form.php?modin=163

The Congressional Switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

United for Peace and Justice goes on to assert that while they were disappointed by the passage of the funding bill, peace activists made it extremely difficult for the White House to get the bill passed.

“Read the Bill” Legislation Introduced in Congress

022709-read_the_bill.png

Back in February, MediaMouse.org reported on a campaign called “Read the Bill” that was calling for the passage of legislation that would require Congress to post bills online for 72 hours before voting on them. The legislation would allow time for members of Congress, the media (including bloggers and citizen journalists), and the public to review pending legislation. All too often, legislators vote on bills without ever taking the time to read them. This is especially true of more complex bills such as trade agreements and the economic stimulus bill passed earlier this year.

The Read the Bill coalition–which is endorsed by a number of different organizations–announced this week that legislation has been introduced in Congress that would require bills to be posted online 72 hours prior to them being voted on. The bill–H.R. 554–is co-sponsored by Reps. Baird (D-WA) and Culberson (R-TX).

The coalition cites a few examples of why this bill is needed:

  • Most citizens would have supported amending the economic stimulus bill to remove the provision allowing AIG executives to receive retroactive bonuses – if only they had known.
  • The average person probably would have preferred to let the judicial system work rather than have Congress give immunity from lawsuits to telecommunications companies that participated in a controversial wiretapping scheme.
  • Workers hoping to retire on their 401(k) investments might have liked to have some serious analysis of whether credit default swaps ought to be regulated. We know how that worked out.
  • And, just about everyone benefits from mandating time to check for questionable and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

The Read the Bill coalition has setup an online system for contacting your legislators to ask them to both support and co-sponsor the bill in order to improve its chances of passing. Additionally, it is circulating a petition and is hoping to get 15,000 signatures before Congress’s August recess–you should add yours today.

Employee Free Choice Act Still Alive

061709-efca.jpg

After a lot of hope following the election of President Barack Obama, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)–a measure aimed at making it easier for workers to form unions–seemed destined for failure in March. A key Republican Senator–Arlen Specter–withdrew his support for the bill and a group of CEOs offered an alternative proposal that would effectively neuter the bill by removing a key provision–“card check”–that allows workers to form a union once a simple majority of workers support it.

However, there are recent indications that the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act is back on track. According to an article in Roll Call, months of negotiations in the Senate (http://www.theittlist.com/site/ittlist/ind/5456/) are starting to pay off with some sort of deal apparently being near. Senator Tom Harkin says that the bill may be ready by next month. The newspaper further reports that Specter is now looking for a way to support the legislation in order to fend off a Democratic challenger in the next election.

While negotiations are taking place in the Senate, unions are also increasing their efforts in support of the legislation. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has launched an ad campaign targeting five Senators whose votes are considered key in the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. The ads assert that the vote for the EFCA is a choice between supporting working people and the greedy CEOs that were responsible for the current economic crisis.

Hopefully grassroots pressure from labor and social justice groups can keep the Employee Free Choice Act intact, but with how recent “compromise” efforts seem to be going on things like war funding and global warming legislation, I’m not terribly optimistic.

Call Ehlers to Oppose Legislation that will make it Easier to Build a New Coal Power Plant in Holland

021609-vern_ehlers.jpg

I’ve never been a big fan of MoveOn–they are generally way too close to the Democratic Party and are largely unwilling to challenge U.S. imperialism–but they did send out a nice action alert to the people on their West Michigan mailing list asking them to call Representative Vern Ehlers about a measure in Congress that would repeal sections of the Clean Air Act and make it easier to remove roadblocks to the plant.

In the past, MediaMouse.org has highlighted local opposition to the plant and highlighted how the technology being promoted for it is unproven. Aside from being a good way to help stop the coal rush in Michigan, it’s also a good test to see how Ehlers–who has the reputation of being an environmentalist–responds.

Please take the time to call Representative Ehlers today:

For years, Holland Board of Public Works has been trying to build a dirty, coal-fired power plant in Holland, not far from you. If built, the James DeYoung Power Plant would spew out smog and soot pollution, and you’d be in the high-risk zone for health effects. (1)

Until now, local activists with groups like the Sierra Club have been able to stop this and other plants. Relying on the Clean Air Act and other protections, activists have heroically battled Holland Board of Public Works to keep this giant new polluter out of Holland. (2)

But now, coal industry lobbyists have forced a terrible provision into the new energy bill–it would repeal crucial sections of the Clean Air Act and remove some key remaining roadblocks to Holland Board of Public Works’s plant. (3)

Congress is voting next week. Can you call Rep. Ehlers right away?

You can say something like this: “I don’t want a new dirty coal plant in Holland. Please oppose the repeal of the Clean Air Act provisions in the energy bill.”

Representative Vernon Ehlers

Phone: 202-225-3831

Grand Rapids District Office: 616-451-8383

Then, please report your call by clicking here:

http://pol.moveon.org/call/index.html?cp_id=956&tg=FHMI_03&id=&t=14

What does this mean in your area? If the coal industry wins, local groups may be unable to stop the James DeYoung Power Plant in Holland. The Clean Air Act provision at stake here requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set standards for global warming pollution for coal plants. Every local coal plant fight is different, but in general it’ll be much easier for coal companies and utilities to get funding to build new plants if there’s no chance the EPA will force those plants to cut their global warming pollution.

How did this happen? For years, George W. Bush refused to use the Clean Air Act to cut global warming pollution. But the Obama administration has taken the first steps toward changing that, so the coal industry is desperate to take away Obama’s authority to limit global warming pollution.

We got Congress’s attention in the last two weeks with a powerful grassroots drive to fix this and other problems in the energy bill. We made thousands of phone calls, wrote letters to local newspapers, and delivered petition signatures in person to hundreds of congressional offices. But we’re not there yet.

The clock is ticking down to the big vote next week, and we need to stop the repeal of this key provision in the Clean Air Act. Can you call Rep. Ehlers today?

Sources:

1. “Surry coal plant: Just say no,” The (Newport News) Daily Press, June 7, 2009 and “Estimating the Health Impacts of Coal-Fired Power Plants Receiving International Financing,” Environmental Defense Fund, 2009

2. “Stopping the Coal Rush,” Sierra Club and “Taking on King Coal,” Time, November 5, 2008

3. “EPA urged to act on climate, not wait for Congress,” Associated Press, May 18, 2009

Headlines: Kennedy Health Bill Would Leave 36 Million Uninsured; CIA Director Initially Backed Torture Truth Commission

Democracy Now Headlines: Kennedy Health Bill Would Leave 36 Million Uninsured; CIA Director Initially Backed Truth Commission

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

Hundreds of Thousands Protest in Iran; Seven Killed

In Iran, hundreds of thousands of people marched in Tehran Monday to protest last week’s disputed presidential election. Defying an official ban on protests, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi joined the massive crowd, which has been described as the largest anti-government demonstration in Iran since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The protests turned bloody last night when seven people were reportedly killed. Meanwhile, Iran’s powerful Guardian Council says it will order a recount of votes in contested areas of Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in Friday’s poll with 63 percent, compared with 34 percent for Mousavi. On Monday, President Obama said he was “deeply troubled” by the violence but would continue to pursue “tough direct diplomacy” with Iran. Supporters of Mousavi have also been holding protests in Paris, New York, Washington and other cities. Babak Talebi took part in a demonstration Monday in Washington.

Babak Talebi: “We are here to show our solidarity with the people inside Iran who are out on the streets demanding that their voice be heard. And they’re demanding a new election, and we’re demanding that the previous one on Friday not be legitimized through recognition in the mainstream media and international entities. We want to make sure that we all stand with the people in Iran and what their demands are.”

Report: Kennedy Health Bill Would Leave 36 Million Uninsured

A new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that Senator Edward Kennedy’s plan to expand healthcare coverage would cost about $1 trillion over the next ten years and fall far short of providing universal healthcare coverage. According to the CBO, the plan would reduce the number of uninsured by 16 million people, but even if the bill became law, 36 million people would remain uninsured in 2017.

Supreme Court Won’t Review Cuban Five Case

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by five jailed Cuban nationals known as the Cuban Five. The five men were convicted in 2001 for spying on the US military and Cuban exiles in southern Florida. All five are serving time in federal prisons across the country. The men say they weren’t spying on the US, but trying to monitor violent right-wing Cuban exile groups that have organized attacks on Cuba. The Cuban Five trial was the only judicial proceeding in US history condemned by the UN Human Rights Commission. Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba’s Parliament, criticized the Supreme Court for refusing to hear the appeal.

Ricardo Alarcon: “Today is a day of shame and of anger. It is a day of shame for those who believe in justice in the North American system. It is a day of anger for many people in all the world that have called upon the US Supreme Court to do something very simple, which is to review the case of the Cuban Five.”

Attorneys for the Cuban Five have argued their trial should have been moved from Miami, the heart of the Cuban American community, because of a biased jury pool.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Border Wall Case

The Supreme Court has also refused to accept a case seeking to stop construction of a wall along the the US-Mexico border. Several Texas border communities had sued the federal government after former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff waived thirty-six federal laws protecting water, air quality, endangered animals and Native American sites in order to build the border wall.

Pelosi Pressures Antiwar Democrats to Back War Funding Bill

On Capitol Hill, the Democratic House leadership is pressuring antiwar Democrats to support a $106 billion supplemental war funding bill. In May, fifty-one antiwar Democrats opposed an earlier version of the bill. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to pressure some of those Democrats to switch their votes to help pass a new version of the bill that also includes increased funding for the International Monetary Fund. California Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey says the White House has threatened to pull support from freshman antiwar Democrats who vote no on the bill. In order to block passage, thirty-nine House Democrats need to join with Republicans opposing the bill.

Pakistan to Expand Offensive Against Taliban

Pakistan is preparing to expand its war against the Taliban by launching a new offensive in South Waziristan, home to Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban leader. This will mark the second front in Pakistan’s war against militants. Over the past six weeks, Pakistan, with US backing, has waged a major attack on the Swat Valley. The fighting has displaced more than two million civilians.

Al Jazeera Employees Detained in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, two Al Jazeera employees have been detained after being told by officials to report to the country’s intelligence headquarters. Meanwhile, General Stanley McChrystal has taken over as the top US commander in Afghanistan.

UK to Conduct Private Inquiry into Iraq War

The British government has announced it will conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the country’s role in the Iraq war. But antiwar campaigners are criticizing the government’s decision to conduct the inquiry in private.

Report: CIA Director Initially Backed Truth Commission

CIA Director Leon Panetta has revealed he initially supported the creation of a Truth Commission to investigate the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies. Panetta told The New Yorker magazine, quote, “I could see that it would make some sense, frankly, to appoint a high-level commission, with somebody like Sandra Day O’Connor, Lee Hamilton–people like that.” Panetta dropped his support for the Truth Commission after President Obama essentially vetoed the idea in late April.

CIA Officer in El-Masri Rendition Promoted Twice

The New Yorker magazine has also revealed that the CIA has twice promoted an officer responsible for the rendition and detention of an innocent German citizen named Khaled El-Masri. CIA agents kidnapped El-Masri in Macedonia and flew him to Afghanistan, where he was held in a dungeon and tortured. He was jailed for 149 days without charge. The CIA officer refused to release El-Masri even after it was clear that he was not a terror suspect. The officer was never reprimanded.

KSM Says He Gave False Info After Being Tortured

Newly declassified documents reveal that the CIA’s use of torture may have produced false information. Self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told US military officials that he made up stories about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts after being tortured.

Carter: Netanyahu Blocking Peace With Palestinians

Former President Jimmy Carter has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of setting up new obstacles to peace with the Palestinians. On Sunday Netanyahu said for the first time he could accept a two-state solution, but only if the new Palestinian state had no army and no control of its airspace and borders. Jimmy Carter spoke during a stop in Jerusalem.

Jimmy Carter: “My opinion is he raised many new obstacles to peace that had not existed under previous prime ministers. He still apparently insists on expansion of existing settlements, he demands that the Palestinians and the Arabs recognize Israel as a Jewish state although 20 percent of the citizens here are not Jews. This is a new demand, President Obama in his speech called for two states and am glad Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted that concept.”

Earlier today Jimmy Carter visited Gaza for the first time since the Israeli invasion.

Jimmy Carter: “It’s very distressing to me, I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been racked against your people. I come here to the American school which was educating your children, supported by my own country and I see that this been deliberately destroyed by bombs from F-16 made in my country and delivered to the Israelis.”

Jimmy Carter is scheduled to meet Hamas leader Ismail Haniya later today.

Campaigners Urge Caterpillar To Halt Bulldozer Sales to Israel

Shareholders of the company Caterpillar have rejected an effort by human rights activists to stop the firm from selling bulldozers to Israel to be used to demolish homes in Gaza and the West Bank. At the company’s annual meeting last week dissident shareholders submitted a resolution calling for a review of Caterpillar sales to militaries with poor human rights records, including Israel. The Israeli activist Matan Cohen of the group Anarchists Against the Wall attended the shareholders meeting.

Matan Cohen: “Caterpillar has been arguing for years that they are not responsible for what their clients are doing with their products and we made a very simple case. As a recent ruling in the United States court, in the state of New York said, if you are willfully blind to what your clients are doing with your products, you are as legally culpable as they are, hence we demanded Caterpillar stopped providing Israel its services, and stop giving them D-9 bull dozers with which Israel has been demolishing, homes constructing the seperation wall, and uprooting olive groves on a day-to-day basis.”

Environmental Justice Attorney Luke Cole, 46, Dies

And the pioneering environmental justice attorney Luke Cole has died at the age of 46. He was the co-founder of the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment. Over the years Cole battled toxic waste facilities, mega-dairies, mining companies and other pollution threats in poor and minority communities in California and Alaska. Cole died last week after a car accident in Uganda.

Legislators Drafting Health Care Legislation have Financial Ties to the Industry

Last week, we highlighted an article in USA Today that explained how lobbyists are skirting federal campaign finance regulations by giving money to “honor” lawmakers. At the time, we wrote that it is an example of how corrupt the legislative process has become.

Now, there is another noteworthy example. Late last week, The Washington Post reported that most of the legislators drafting health care reform legislation have substantial investments in the sector:

Almost 30 key lawmakers helping draft landmark health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments in a sector that could be dramatically reshaped by this summer’s debate.

The list of members who have personal investments in the corporations that will be affected by the legislation — which President Obama has called this year’s highest domestic priority — includes Congress’s most powerful leaders and a bipartisan collection of lawmakers in key committee posts. Their total health-care holdings could be worth $27 million, because congressional financial disclosure forms released yesterday require reporting of only broad ranges of holdings rather than precise values of assets.

Rules for disclosing this information are limited and there are no rules that prevent members from having a financial interest in industries that they regulate.

Given that so many members of Congress profit from the health care industry, it’s no surprise that a single-payer health care system–which would create a government-sponsored insurance system–is largely off the table. a

Local and Michigan Headlines: Measure Introduced to Repeal Ban on Same-Sex Marriage; Brother Defends Local Administrator of Racist Website

Here are some interesting articles covering Grand Rapids and Michigan that were published elsewhere on the web in the past couple of days:

  • Byrnes same-sex marriage initiative surprises Mich. Democrats – State Representative Pam Brynes is introducing legislation to reverse the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. According to Brynes, the time is right with recent polls showing that most Michigan residents support same-sex marriage and even former Vice President Dick Cheney saying that it’s time.
  • Appeals court allows ACLU challenge on public defender system to go forward – A Michigan Court of Appeals in Ingham County has rejected a claim of immunity by the state of Michigan and allowed a challenge filed by the ACLU on behalf of a class of indigent defendants against the state’s public defender system to go to trial.
  • Senate bills would weaken environmental rules, privatize review – Michigan State Senator Judson Gilbert has introduced two bills in the Senate that would weaken environmental laws by taking away the state’s ability to make laws stricter than their federal counterparts. The bills would also require state agencies to review all laws and asses their friendliness to business.
  • Michigan’s Unkindest Cuts – This is a short commentary piece published over at Michigan Liberal that criticizes the state of Michigan’s decision to cut funding for the arts. The author argues that arts funding–always the first to be cut–is a critical means of attracting new residents to Michigan.
  • Man died defending home despite U.S. eviction moratorium – Late last month, local and state police wearing SWAT equipment and using an armored truck showed up at an Allen Park home to evict a man who was living in his house despite its being foreclosed. The man was shot and killed when police shot a barrage of bullets at his house. Now, several weeks after the shooting, it’s still unclear what happened.
  • Most of West Michigan’s federal stimulus money flowing to road work – The majority of federal stimulus money being spent in West Michigan is going towards roads. The Grand Rapids Press has a handy map highlighting the various projects that have received funding.
  • A question of race? Working couple stopped by police – The Muskegon Chronicle has a disturbing report about racial profiling: an African-American couple quit their job distributing phone books in the predominately white town of Grand Haven because they felt unwelcome after two encounters with police.
  • Mike Lloyd: The special privilege of a Press career – Grand Rapids Press editor Mike Lloyd–who is leaving the Press–gushes about his brushes with power over the years. While not particularly newsworthy, it’s a good reminder of why I’m so glad to see him go.
  • Grand Rapids’ Downtown Development Authority: Did members assemble illegally? – Grand Rapids’ Downtown Development Authority used a secret meeting to discuss a controversial spending plan. Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time the DDA has used secret meetings. The Grand Rapids Press has more in this must-read article.
  • Brother defends hate site operator Steve Reimink who has ties to alleged Holocaust Museum shooter – The brother of Steve Reimink–who was tied to a racist website operated by the Holocaust museum shooter–is trying claim that Steve Reimink is just a normal guy with no ties to organized racism. In the article from the Grand Rapids Press, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that is extremely unlikely.
  • Fair Tax plan wins big at convention – Tea Party activists in Michigan–an outgrowth of national rightwing protests against taxes back in April–are considering a ballot measure to implement a so-called “fair tax” that would replace Michigan’s taxes with a single higher sales tax.

Lobbyists Exploit Provision Allowing them to “Honor” Lawmakers

060909-lobbyist.jpg

USA Today–certainly not well-regarded as a source for hard-hitting journalism–has a surprisingly good piece that looks at how lobbyists are able skirt campaign finance regulations by contributing funds to “honor” lawmakers. The paper writes:

Despite a ban on gifts to lawmakers and limits on campaign contributions, lobbyists and groups that employ them can spend unlimited money to honor members of Congress or donate to non-profits connected to them or their relatives. The public – until now – had little insight into the scope of this largely hidden world of special-interest influence.

For the first time, those contributions are being tracked due to ethics rules adopted in 2007. What USA Today found in their comprehensive review wasn’t pretty: lobbyists and their corporate backers are using the loophole to influence lawmakers.

Two specific examples from the article:

Last year, the telecommunication industry gave more than $72,000 to non-profits and charities in honor of Rockefeller, who advocated legislation to provide legal immunity to phone companies that participated in the government’s anti-terrorism eavesdropping program. The largest donation came from AT&T. At the time, Rockefeller chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee and helped broker a deal on the bill, which passed last year.

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the House energy committee, asked an energy company to donate to a foundation that bears his name. His daughter-in-law, Amy Barton, is the unpaid director.

Utility giant Exelon gave $25,000 to the non-profit last June and $50,000 in 2006, according to federal records and interviews with company officials.

Barton wrote to Exelon CEO John Rowe, seeking the money, says David Brown, Exelon’s top lobbyist. The company is one of the nation’s largest producers of nuclear energy. Barton has long advocated on the industry’s behalf, pushing for the opening of a nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain, outside Las Vegas.

Local and Michigan Headlines: Agema Ranked Least Effective Legislator in Michigan House; U of M Study Says Smoking Ban Won’t Hurt Businesses

Here are some recent headlines published elsewhere covering Grand Rapids and Michigan:

  • Goodbye, GM – Michael Moore–writing from the Flint birthplace of General Motors–looks at the company’s bankruptcy.
  • Congratulations to Rep. Dave Agema – Representative David Agema of Grandville was ranked the least effective legislator in the House of Representatives according to a survey conducted by the Lansing based MIRS news service. Apparently Agema’s attacks on immigrants, LGBT people, and Native Americans aren’t working in his favor.
  • E-Verify is Verifiably Bad – The ACLU of Michigan is criticizing a proposal by an Oakland County Commissioner to require that contractors and vendors doing business with the county participate in the “E-Verify” program. E-Verify is a flawed federal database that is supposed to determine if people are legally able to work in the United States. The ACLU says that 17.8 million of the database’s files have incorrect information and that the program is an invasion of privacy.
  • Convicted Detroit reporter faces sentencing – A Detroit-based reported will be sentencing this week after being convicted of felony police obstruction. Many see her conviction as retaliation for her work in illuminating police brutality in Detroit.
  • Detroit: Farm city – Urban gardening in Detroit has received a lot of attention in recent years and now a Detroit businessman is touting a plan to create the largest urban farm in the world in Detroit. It’s an interesting idea.
  • U of M study concludes a workplace smoking ban will not hurt business – A University of Michigan study has concluded that a ban on smoking in the state’s bars and restaurants would not negatively affect revenues.
  • Kent County Board members propose ‘local first’ policies – Three Democratic Kent County Commissioners are proposing a subcommittee to develop a “local first” policy for the county that would emphasize using local companies. The rationale is that it would keep more jobs and money in the county.
  • Union agreement with GM not enough to revive Wyoming stamping plant after Friday’s closing – Local workers hoped that the GM plant in Wyoming might reopen after GM declared bankruptcy, but the plant was not listed among GM’s stand-by plants.
  • Proposed budget for Grand Rapids school district cuts 95 teaching jobs, almost $9 million in spending – The Grand Rapids Public Schools is proposing eliminating 95 teaching jobs and $9 million in spending. The Board will discuss the plan tonight at its meeting.
  • Stupak: Move Gitmo to UP Mackinac meeting – U.S. Representative Bart Stupak–who represents residents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula–is advocating that the Obama administration consider moving the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to a detention facility in the U.P. Representative Pete Hoekstra of Holland said that he has been to Guantanamo and that the people held there are “evil people” and that they would “become magnets for homegrown terror” if they were moved to Michigan.

If we missed anything, let us know in the comments.