Congressman Benishek touched on several topics during his visits across the district last week. They included:
- A review of the revamped Farm Bill passed by the U.S. Senate this week. Benishek said the bill adds crop insurance options for specialty crop producers including Michigan’s cherry and other fruit crops. It also eliminates direct payments to farmers and eliminates some food stamp subsidies. Benishek said, however, there remain significant difference between the House and Senate bills that will have to be ironed out during conference committee work. He expects the Farm Bill to be on the House floor within two weeks.
- A discussion on Immigration reform. Michigan employers say they need immigrant workers to help fill an estimated 90,000 seasonal agricultural jobs in Michigan and another 30,000 jobs in the state’s hospitality sector.
- Help for our country’s veterans. Benishek said it’s a priority for his office to help veterans find employment in the district and find ways to make their military experience more marketable to employers.
The U.S. Senate recently completed work on the Water Resources Development Act authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with flood control efforts, port improvements, wetlands restoration and related projects.
- Thanks in part to the efforts of the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, which includes the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance, the bill includes higher investment in the Great Lakes region from the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The Coalition also fought against expanded use of the trust fund for other budgetary purposes.
- Michigan Sen. Carl Levin secured language stating that existing functions of the HMTF are given first consideration in budget allocations.
- Rivers in the Midwest will receive more funding for channel and port projects because some burdensome cost-share projects have been removed.
- The Coalition will continue to track the legislation in the U.S. House and report on its progress. Learn more about the Coalition’s work by clicking here
Fiscal Year 2014 budget is winding down and should be wrapped up by early June, state lawmakers said this week.
- Despite the state’s budget challenges, several legislative priorities of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance are addressed in the proposed spending plan.
- The proposed budget includes an additional $350 million for roads, $140 million more for K-12 schools and another $65 million for early childhood education in FY ’14 and another $65 million for FY ’15. Majority leaders in the state House and Senate expect the budget work to conclude by the end of next week.
- The budget does not include federal Medicaid expansion that’s supported by Gov. Rick Snyder. Lawmakers said they will continue work on the Medicaid issue over the summer, and the Chamber Alliance will continue to follow the discussions on this legislation.