House Democrats push 2013 agenda

MARQUETTE – Michigan House Democrats on Tuesday announced a 2013 legislative agenda focused on education funding, infrastructure repairs and improving health care access for women.

Locally, Reps. John Kivela, D-Marquette, and Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, discussed the plan during a public forum at Peter White Public Library.

“We cannot continue for two more years with legislation that only benefits the few while ignoring the many,” Kivela said.

The agenda, called Michigan’s Middle Class Plan, focuses on lowering taxes on seniors and middle-class families, increasing per pupil funding for public schools, opening up health care options for women and repairing roads and bridges statewide.

“This plan will restore the homestead property tax exemption, reinstate the per-child tax deduction, restore the earned income tax credit to 11 percent and repeal the tax on seniors’ pensions,” Kivela said. “It will raise the current per pupil allowance by $320 per child and make the school aid fund only available for its intended purpose, which is K-12 education. We also firmly believe that women having access to health centers is a right and not a privilege and we want to ensure that continues on.”

He added the plan “increases patient privacy, protects health care centers and requires insurance companies to cover comprehensive, preventive-based family planning.”

The plan was formed using responses collected during seven forums across the state, including one in Hancock.

During the year, Michigan House Democrats will introduce packages of bills reflecting the goals of the agenda, according to Kivela.

“We’re going to fight hard to get them introduced on the floor and to committees and try to fight for votes,” he said. “We’ll see how far it goes. A lot of these bills were introduced last year, as well, but we’re going to keep pushing and keep trying.”

Kivela said the Democrats are working on a budget that will fund all of the agenda’s main items “without raising taxes on the middle class.” The plan can be found online at realstateofourstate.com.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.