Greimel: Bringing ‘can-do bipartisan spirit’ to D.C.

The Detroit News

Democratic state Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills launched his campaign Wednesday for the open congressional seat in the 11th District, where GOP Rep. Dave Trott is retiring.

The former Democratic House leader is the fourth Democrat to enter the primary race, which includes four declared Republican candidates.

“We’ve seen increasing dysfunction in Washington, D.C. We’ve seen terrible inaction. We’ve seen polarizing rhetoric on behalf of leaders in D.C., and we’ve really seen the politicians in Washington completely fail to deliver on the priorities that matter to Michiganders,” Greimel said in an interview.

“The only way to change that is to elect new leadership to Congress – leadership that has a history of being involved in the local community and has a track record of results and accomplishments.”

In the Democratic primary, Greimel joins Haley Stevens of Rochester Hills, former chief of staff to Obama’s Auto Task Force, and Fayrouz Saad of Northville, Detroit’s former director of immigration affairs. Attorney and entrepreneur Dan Haberman of Birmingham this month launched his campaign.

Greimel, an attorney, is a former Oakland County commissioner and Rochester Public Schools board member who holds bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from the University of Michigan.

Greimel is stressing his bipartisan record in Lansing, including his work on expanding Medicaid through the Healthy Michigan program, increasing the minimum wage, as well as the “grand bargain” in Detroit’s historic bankruptcy.

“We need to bring that same can-do bipartisan spirit to Washington, D.C.,” he said.

3 Mich. lawmakers vote against Puerto Rico aid

Three Republican members of the Michigan congressional delegation last week voted against the $36.5 billion disaster relief package to aid hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.

The legislation included $14 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster fund, $16 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program and $576 million for fighting wildfires.

U.S. Reps. Justin Amash of Cascade Township, Jack Bergman of Watersmeet and Mike Bishop of Rochester were among those who voted no.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, missed the vote, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support at 353-69.

Bishop had “serious reservations” about the cost and rushed effort of the legislation, “which essentially bails out the flood insurance industry without any discussion about how it will be funded,” spokeswoman Kelli Ford said.

Bergman supports additional relief for Puerto Rico and other disasters, but he also recognizes “we have budgetary crisis in our country and cannot continue to just throw money at programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program without seeking reform as to how they operate,” spokesman James Hogge said. “This bill did not offer reform of any kind.”

Amash opposes new federal spending without offsetting spending cuts or a method to pay for it.

“That bill shifts the cost onto the next generation through borrowing rather than offsetting with spending cuts or taxing to raise revenue,” Amash said on Twitter.

Female lawmakers say #MeToo

Female Michigan legislators from both sides of the aisle said #MeToo this week, standing up against sexual harassment and assault of women by confirming their own experiences.

“I don’t normally do the copy and paste requests. But this is too important for us to stay quiet,” state Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, wrote on Facebook.

“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Democratic state Reps. Pam Faris of Clio Township, Kristy Pagan of Canton Township and Stephanie Chang of Detroit were among those also sharing the #MeToo status.

Gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and former state Senate minority leader, recounted her decision to share her personal story of rape during a 2013 floor debate on restrictive abortion insurance legislation.

“So I’m here to lend my voice to this movement and encourage others to do that if you feel safe and comfortable doing it, because it’s only by talking about the issues that we face every day that we can actually solve them,” Whitmer said in a video post on social media.

Problem Solvers Caucus + 3

Three Michigan delegation members have joined the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, which seeks bipartisan solutions for stabilizing the health care markets.

The caucus stands at 23 Democrats and 23 Republicans since the arrival of U.S. Reps. Bishop, Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, and Dave Trott, R-Birmingham. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, was already a member of the group.

Members must join in Republican-Democrat pairs, so Trott and Dingell joined together.

Over the summer, the caucus reached an agreement on a bipartisan set of principles to stabilize the insurance markets and is now working on a similar plan for tax reform, leaders say.

Small pot shops can grow too

One of the most influential people in Michigan’s still-forming medical marijuana regulations said he believes there’s room for small firms in the industry as critics decry a proposed capital requirement to get into the business.

Rick Johnson, chairman of the state’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board, said there’s room for small business start-ups wishing to enter the state’s marijuana market after voters legalized it for medical use in a 2008 referendum.

“Absolutely I believe there is,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday.

Johnson said he questions the assumption that businesses aiming for large-scale production or distribution are necessarily on better footing.

But critics of a proposed liquid asset requirement say the state is already setting up big hurdles for small businesses.

On Tuesday, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs proposed that a dispensary prove it has $300,000 in liquid assets before being able start business with an official state-issued license. Growers would need to prove they have $150,000 to $500,000, while distributors would need $200,000.

Contributors: Melissa Nann Burke, Jonathan Oosting and Michael Gerstein