Dianda Requests Auditor General Audit MDOC Decision

Statement from state Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) on requesting the state Auditor General

to audit MDOC’s decision to close Ojibway Correctional Facility:

MARENISCO — Last week, the state announced that it would close the Ojibway Correctional Facility in Marenisco in Gogebic County on Dec. 1. Today, state Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) followed up on his recent letter to Gov. Rick Snyder with a letter to state Auditor General Doug Ringler, requesting a performance audit on whether the Michigan Department of Corrections followed language in the state budget to properly consider the economic impact on the community before closing this facility. In addition, Rep. Dianda issued the following statement:

            “My constituents are demanding answers and they deserve to know how MDOC came to the decision to close Ojibway. Language in the state budget requires the department to seriously consider the economic impact on the surrounding community of closing a correctional facility. The closure of Ojibway Correctional Facility could result in Gogebic County losing more than $700,000 in state school aid, the local hospital stands to lose more than $1 million in broken contracts, and corrections workers would have to drive more than 200 miles a day just to get to and from work at the closest remaining correctional facility. It looks to me, and many others, like MDOC did not take into account the consequences to the community. Local elected officials, business owners, and families and I believe that the costs of closing this facility far outweigh the benefits. I am asking the auditor general to conduct an audit because I believe MDOC failed to comply with the requirements in the budget and did not consider other communities that may be more able to absorb the impact of closing a correctional facility.”

###


Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) on Federal Disaster Declaration

CALUMET — On Thursday, August 2nd, President Donald Trump granted a Major Disaster Declaration for Gogebic, Houghton and Menominee counties. State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) released the following statement:           

            “I want to thank President Trump and FEMA for working with our federal, state and local officials for granting a major disaster declaration for Gogebic, Houghton and Menominee counties. The public assistance and hazard mitigation will lend a helping hand to repair our infrastructure and prevent risks to life and property from natural hazards in the future. We will ensure assistance is used wisely to do the most good for the most people. I’ll continue to work with our federal officials to ensure individual assistance is granted to help homeowners get the relief they need from the severe damage we endured from June’s storms.”

Dianda Requests Federal Disaster Declaration for U.P. Communities

Local communities still struggle to recover from devastating flood damage

CALUMET — State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced a House resolution today asking President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster for the Michigan U.P. counties of Houghton, Gogebic and Menominee, which are still struggling to clean up and rebuild after widespread damage from flooding in June. 

“The disaster declaration from Gov. Rick Snyder helped our communities respond to the needs of residents and businesses immediately after the catastrophic floods on June 17, but nearly a month later we still need additional help to continue our recovery,” said Dianda. “State officials have assessed the situation and determined that the damage has reached federal disaster declaration levels. I hope that we can get a quick response from the president so that families and businesses can continue working to get their lives back together.” 

Two days of intense storms and flash flooding did significant damage to roads, highways, businesses and homes. Washouts and sinkholes destroyed and damaged roads, trails, homes and businesses. Federal aid would allow homeowners and businesses to apply for assistance through programs, grants and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. It would also help with state costs for work on public facilities such as schools and roads.

“These were unexpected and disastrous floods, and now we need to make sure that our repairs to our buildings and roads can withstand this kind of an event in the future,” said Dianda. “Our families, kids, businesses and local governments are working hard to recover. We appreciate all of the state assistance and the help from volunteers. Now we need our federal government to lend a hand and I look forward to working with them on our recovery.”

###

Dianda Supports Small Business Bills

Legislation supports entrepreneurship, innovation, and provides resources to neighborhood businesses

LANSING — House Democrats unveiled their latest proposal to create good jobs with strong benefits and foster neighborhood business growth today in a press call outlining the Neighborhood Businesses, Neighborhood Growth package. Neighborhood businesses created more than 34,000 jobs in Michigan in 2014, with total small business employment accounting for nearly 50.2 percent of the workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration[i]. The Democratic proposal would work to support entrepreneurs, innovators, small business owners and their employees, building opportunity for all.

“No one should have to worry about how they’ll support themselves and their families as they age, least of all the small business owners who have given so much to their community,” said state Rep. Scott Dianda(D-Calumet). “In the U.P. our restaurants, shops and stores have been run by the same families and people for years — sometimes generations. For too long those innovators and drivers of local growth have been ignored by the state. Our plan puts their economic security first.”

“When community businesses grow, local wages and our local economies grow with them,” said state Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township), sponsor of House Bill 6238. “Yet, as a small business owner myself, I know how hard it can be to take that leap and start your own venture. That’s why it’s critical our state be focused on supporting these local innovators. Our plan makes sure entrepreneurs have the resources they need to jumpstart that growth.”

The package supports entrepreneurship, innovation and provides resources to small businesses in Michigan by:

·        House Bill 6238 (Lasinski) would create a small business and entrepreneurship services office in order to facilitate the creation and retention of small business jobs in the state.

·        A House Resolution (Rep. Gay-Dagnogo) to urge the governor and the office of Talent and Economic Development to increase support and their focus on small businesses, including providing grants for entrepreneurs, help for startup companies, and minority business development.

·        House Bill 6237 (Chirkun) would create a small business preference in state procurement that requires a percentage of certain contracts be set aside for businesses that meet the definition of small business.

·        House Bill 5708 (Dianda) and House Bill 5709 (Wittenberg) would allow and allocate funding for small business owners to buy into a secure retirement savings plan at the state level.

###

Dianda Says New Budget Fails UP Families

-Keweenaw Report-

State Representative Scott Dianda is not happy with the new state budget.  After his “No” vote, the Calumet Democrat issued the following statement:

Statement from state Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) on his no vote on the state budget that fails U.P. families:

LANSING — Today, the Legislature voted on final versions of the state budget for fiscal year 2018-2019. State Rep.Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) voted against the General Omnibus Budget and the School Omnibus Budget and issued the following statement:

“There are so many issues with this budget, it is difficult to keep track. For starters, the  budget fails U.P. families and the young people  in our community looking for good jobs so they can build a good future for themselves right at home. Not to mention it also demands that a prison close, but we don’t know which prison that will be—putting hundreds of jobs in jeopardy and throwing those families into a world of undeserved uncertainty. Local governments will continue to struggle because revenue sharing dollars still aren’t enough to help them provide all the services that make communities work well for residents and businesses. Even with an increase in our per-pupil funding, our schools will still be stretched thin because we continue to divert money to fund cyber schools, which don’t have the same costs as traditional public schools, as well as private non-public schools which is unconstitutional. Instead of putting families first, this administration has focused on benefitting their corporate friends and have enacted policies to deprive people of health care and slash wages. This isn’t a budget that works for families, local communities or students, and that is why I voted no.”

Statement from Scott Dianda on the Endorsement of his Candidacy by Randy Bishop:

 “This past Friday, I was humbled to receive the personal endorsement of Randy Bishop, a well-known conservative radio show host in northern Michigan. While I identify as a democrat, my tenure in the House of Representatives has never been about one party. My campaign for state senate has never been about one party. I have a proven voting record, I’ve worked with folks across the aisle and I have garnered support from all sides because I represent the people of the Upper Peninsula first over any party. To see that folks are trying to silence Randy’s first amendment right to personally endorse the candidates he believes will best represent the people of this state is appalling. If we truly want to help business grow and people thrive, we need to put the people first over party politics.

###

Dianda Earns AFSCME, Council 25 Endorsement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

From the Office of Steve Rzeppa, AFSCME Coucil 25

Congratulations! Today, the AFSCME Council 25 Executive Board and Officers ratified the recommendations of our Area PEOPLE Committees and voted to officially endorse your candidacy for office in 2018.

Thank you for your commitment to public service and for standing up for public sector employees across Michigan. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions.

In Solidarity,

Steven Rzeppa

Dianda Addresses Attacks on Prevailing Wage

Another attack on hard-working families is on the horizon. This time, the Republican controlled legislature is going after the wages of our construction workers by repealing the state’s prevailing wage law.

Enacted in the 1960’s, Michigan’s prevailing wage law ensures that local union and non-union construction workers on publicly financed projects are paid fair wages and benefits. These are the folks who build our schools, roads and other vital infrastructure right here at home.

Supporters of repealing the prevailing wage law will tell you that paying higher wages drives up construction costs. That is not the case. We’ve seen this before in 1994 when the state suspended prevailing wage. The results showed no significant reduction in construction costs. Aside from lower wages and reduced benefits for our construction workers, a repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law will lead to a less trained workforce and higher injury rates on the job site that truly drive up the costs of our public construction projects.

Currently we have a shortage of skilled trades workers across of the state. We’ve done a lot on the state and local level to bolster educational opportunities for our children to learn a skilled trade. Why would we lower wages for skilled trades jobs when we do not have enough skilled workers to fill these jobs?

What Michigan’s prevailing wage law does is promote competition and rewards quality work and productivity rather than solely focusing on those who pay the lowest wages. It helps our hard-working men and women on public construction projects earn a living wage so they can put food on the table and support their family. It directly benefits our local economy from our small businesses to helping us grow our local tax base so we can provide adequate essential services that we rely on.

By repealing our prevailing wage law, we put our future at risk. I will be voting against any repeal of prevailing wage because we need to keep good-paying jobs and a highly trained workforce right here in the U.P. so we can grow our economy.

In Solidarity,

-- Scott --

Dianda Wants A.G. to Investigate Skyrocketing Gas Prices

LANSING — State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) sent a letter to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today asking him to investigate increasing gas prices across the state. Michigan gas prices currently rank higher than the national average, and in many places exceed $3.00 per gallon.

“As the state’s elected consumer protection advocate, AG Schuette has a responsibility to protect Michigan families,” said Dianda. “Frankly I am surprised he has not opened an investigation already. Instead of using his position to advocate for our hardworking families and seniors, too often we have seen he uses it for grandstanding in his desperate climb up the political ladder. Meanwhile, real families on the ground are hurting. It’s time he do something about that.”

According to AAA, the national average gas price for May 30 is $2.96, and the average gas price for May 30 in Michigan is $3.06. With summer tourism in full swing, Dianda argues that U.P., and other Michigan, small businesses risk losing money because families can’t afford to travel because of high gas prices.

“Enough is enough. I hope A.G. Schuette shares my concern and alarm for our Michigan families and businesses and takes a good hard look at these gas prices,” said Dianda. “We’re all paying more at the pump because of the Republican-sponsored roads plan, so when gas prices then increase on top of that, families and small businesses take a real hit. This hurts all of our bottom lines, so I call on AG Schuette to do his job and help investigate these prices, in the hopes that families can soon see relief.”

###

Broadband expansion in the Upper Peninsula

By Melanie Palmer, ABC 10 News

“NMU is going to do a good job with that and we also have great local providers too. We have a lot of small, independent telephone companies that also have the broadband. The one thing it always comes down to for the people is the cost. We have a lot of people in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that just don’t have the income, they may be able to afford the internet but it’s always buying that equipment,” said State Representative, Scott Dianda.

Dianda is currently hosting a number of different listening town halls across the U.P. Since internet access currently can be difficult for some constituents in the area, Dianda is hoping to find out any prevalent issues from these people that he might need to bring to Lansing.