Small Business Group Names Proos Legislator of the Year

WSJM

Andrew Green Reporting

June 30, 2010

More endorsements this week in a number of Southwest Michigan political races. On Wednesday, it was announced that the Small Business Association of Michigan is backing State Representative Tonya Schuitmaker in the primary race for the 20th State Senate seat. Rob Fowler, President and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan, said that Schuitmaker “understands the problems and challenges that entrepreneurs face.” The SBAM is also endorsing Al Pscholka in the GOP primary for State House in the 79th District. Meanwhile, The Michigan Farm Bureau endorsed State Representative Sharon Tyler in the race for the 78th District State House seat. The Republican Tyler is serving her first term in the Michigan House of Representatives as the minority vice-chair of the House Agriculture Committee, and she’s up for re-election in November. Additionally this week, the Small Business Association of Michigan named State Representative John Proos its Legislator of the Year for 2010. According to SBAM, the Legislator of the Year award is presented to the state or federal lawmaker who has shown the most support for small business. Proos said that the award was an honor. He’s currently running in the Republican primary for the 21st District State Senate seat.

Police Show Support for Proos

Niles Daily Star

June 28, 2010

State Rep. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, candidate for the 21st State Senate seat, has earned multiple endorsements from local and county officials and state law enforcement organizations.

“Safety and security in our communities are vital to our economic stability and future success,” Proos said.  “I am honored to receive these endorsements from the men and woman who keep us safe and put themselves in harm’s way to protect us every day.”

On hand to lend Proos their endorsement were Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, Van Buren County Sheriff Dale Gribler and Cass County Undersheriff Rick Behnke. Cass County Sheriff Joe Underwood could not attend but also endorsed Proos.

“John cares about the safety of the people and the officers in southwest Michigan,” Bailey said. “He has worked hard to understand the issues police officers face and what law enforcement need to do our jobs.  I endorse John in his run for the state Senate.”

Proos was pleased he earned the endorsement of the largest statewide police organization.

Proos is running for state Senate in the 21st District which includes Van Buren, Cass and Berrien counties. The primary is Aug. 3.

Choosing Jobs Over Bureaucracy

As chair of the Jobs Task Force, one of the main concerns I heard from businesses across the state was state government over regulation.

As a representative of Southwest Michigan, I see businesses leave our state all the time — not to go to China or India, but to go to Indiana and Illinois.

I recently introduced legislation that addresses this growing concern. The legislation was a direct recommendation from the findings of the Job Task Force.

House Bill 6278 forces the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Environment to act on any business request within six months of the application.

To promote job creation in our state, we must create an environment conducive to job creation. This legislation requires the Michigan DNRE to do their job more efficiently and effectively, and prevents a state department from dragging its feet at the expense of new jobs.

A six-month time frame isn’t too short for this department to do their due diligence in protecting the environment. A business shouldn’t have to wait more than six months to create jobs for Michigan families, especially when they can go to a neighboring state and do businesses much quicker.

Michigan families cannot wait for jobs that could be available now.

Lawmakers Renew Calls for Action on the Asian Carp After Recent Find

WSJM

Andrew Green Reporting

June 24, 2010

Michigan lawmakers are expressing concern over this week’s discovery of an Asian carp just six miles from Lake Michigan. It was announced on Wednesday that a 20-pound bighead carp was found in Lake Calumet, near Chicago. That’s beyond the electronic barriers that were set up to keep the fish from getting too close to the Great Lakes, and State Representative John Proos says this just shows that state leaders were right when they called for more decisive action to prevent the carp from getting here.

Proos says that pressure needs to be increased on the federal government to order that the Chicago shipping locks be closed until a solution is found. Governor Jennifer Granholm, as well as Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Senator Debbie Stabenow, also had strong words about the situation on Thursday. Stabenow said that she wants the area where that Asian carp was found to be poisoned. She also repeated her call for a permanent separation of waterways linking the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

Identifying State Savings

The Michigan budget deficit has grown to nearly $1.8 billion for next year. Some lawmakers want to address this by raising taxes, I disagree.

Improving our state’s economic climate will require real changes that  make Michigan once again job-friendly. A tax increase is a job killer, as every dollar a business sends to Lansing is a dollar not spent on wages or health care for employees in Michigan.

I believe we must find every opportunity to find savings in the state budget, and eliminate all waste, fraud and abuse in state spending.

One idea I’m working on to address this is the Efficient Spending Rewards Act, legislation I recently helped introduce, which will provide incentives for state employees who find savings within their departments.

State employees see firsthand examples every day of government waste. They are the ones who will be better able to identify cost-saving reforms in their jobs.  This is an all-hands-on-deck approach to using every opportunity to make state government more efficient and affordable.

Under the program, employees who find savings will be given a portion of the savings found. This small incentive has the potential to be a big reward, and any savings found could be used to fund Michigan priorities, including public safety, education and our roads.

Farmers’ Market Legislation Passes the House

June 15, 2010

Bipartisan legislation to allow Michigan families to enjoy homemade food from local roadside stands and farmers’ markets is headed to the state Senate, after it was unanimously approved by the Michigan House today.

State Rep. John Proos introduced House Bill 5280 to deregulate current Michigan laws and allow vendors at roadside stands and farmers’ markets to produce goods in their own homes,
but require all products to be labeled with “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.”

“Farmers’ markets account for millions of dollars in industry each year,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “There are over 150 farmers’ markets in Michigan. This legislation is a way of promoting
and protecting a local agriculture industry in our state – from the state. Every job matters, not only to our families, but to the state’s economic turnaround. We cannot allow government to stand in the way of job opportunities, and this legislation encourages entrepreneurship.”

The legislation introduced by Proos sets the maximum sales at $15,000 per year, and will allow cottage food operations to sell at homes, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, county fairs
and town events.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Legislation Could Lessen Restrictions for Roadside Stand Owners

By KATIE JOHNSON
Niles Daily Star

June 15, 2010

New Michigan legislation may make it easier for roadside stands, farmers’ markets and small producers to grow their businesses.

Rep. John Proos, R-St. Joseph has sponsored House Bill 5280 to lessen Michigan Department of Agriculture restrictions for food production.

The bipartisan legislation, which was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives Tuesday, would not require food be made in MDA-certified kitchens if businesses generates less than $15,000 per year.

“We’ve seen a real barrier to entry to these small businesses,” Proos said Monday. “A lot of those farmer’s markets and the producers coordinate with local bakers and cooks and chefs and so forth to produce various products that showcase the produce that is grown in the region. Many of those are small producers. Small producers cannot sometimes legally use the produce without making it in certified kitchens – a minimum $15,000, depending on retrofitting, to meet the requirements.”

The legislation – modeled after states that have passed the same or similar legislation – does call for safety measures, like labels including lists of ingredients that also fulfill federal requirements, like identifying potential allergens.

“We certainly don’t want there to be food-borne illness in our products,” Proos said.

The legislation will continue to the Senate for approval before heading to the governor’s desk. Gov. Granholm has not offered her opinion on the legislation; however, she governs over the MDA, which has been at negotiation tables. If signed, the legislation would take effect immediately.

The committee process sought input on the legislation from a workgroup made up of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan Farm Bureau, Farmers Market Association and lawmakers.

Where can I buy local?

To locate Michigan farmer’s markets, visit www.farmersmarkets.msu.edu.

Michigan Gets Boost for Homemade Food: Lawmakers Say Measure Will Help Entrepreneurs

By DOUGLAS FARMER
South Bend Tribune

June 12, 2010

Farmers market patrons could notice a change in products at their local markets later this summer. Michigan legislators took the first step to legalizing the sale of certain homemade foods at farmers markets and roadside stands this week.

“What the bill allows people to do is if you have your favorite grandma’s recipe and make it, you can sell it,” Benton Harbor farmer’s market advocate Christopher Bedford said. “This is a very big deal. … You basically have this great local food movement.”

The Michigan House Agriculture Committee approved Bills 5280 and 5837, introduced jointly by Rep. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, and Rep. Pam Byrnes, D-Ann Arbor, at a committee meeting Wednesday. The two bills, if passed by the House of Representatives and the state Senate, would grant an exemption to “a cottage food operation” from licensing and inspection laws previously required.

Currently, any prepared food, such as pies and pastries, must come from a Michigan Department of Agriculture certified kitchen, Proos said. He estimated the cost of such a kitchen at “between $15,000 and $25,000.”

Thus, homemade prepared foods could not be sold legally. If the bills pass, these foods could be sold at farmers markets and road-side stands.

“It says that foods defined under the act are essentially not regulated by the state,” Bedford said. “People can sell directly to their customers. They can’t sell to wholesalers or through anybody else, but at markets to their customers.”

Proos said it was time for this change.

“It was really a hindrance to the entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “This eliminates the barrier entry. The idea behind it is who knows who the next Mrs. Fields is going to be, starting out in a small way.”

Lee LaVanway of the Benton Harbor Fruit Market feels the bills, while a step in the right direction,

limit individuals to keep their operation too small scale. The bills would grant the “cottage food operation” exemption only to operations that do not exceed $15,000 in gross sales annually.

“I like this effort. I think the concept is good, but that $15,000 limitation shouldn’t fly,” he said. “If we are serious about creating jobs and revitalizing our local economies here in the great fruit belt, we need to look at small farms.”

Proos said the limitation was created with safety as a priority.

“The idea behind it is the food safety is the number one goal and objective,” he said. “It is not a number that turns it into a commercial industry.

“Once you get to the point of the $15,000 threshold, then I think you are in a position you should consider capitalizing your product through a proper commercial kitchen and move to the next level. This is a business incubator in the farm market.”

Cottage food operations must meet a few requirements still to be eligible to sell homemade foods according to the bills. Mainly, labels that indicate ingredients, potential allergies, and location of the kitchen must be placed on any food, as well as a label that reads, “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.”

House Approves Legislation to Protect Great Lakes from Invasive Species, Water Diversion

Posted in June 8th, 2010
by AdminBSnook
River Country Journal

The Michigan House Tuesday (June 8th) approved legislation to protect Michigan’s greatest natural resources from all types of threats, state Rep. John Proos announced.

“The Legislature has a duty to protect the Great Lakes from threats – whether it’s invasive species or water diversion to other states,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “These resolutions set precedent for protection of the Great Lakes going forward, and it is important to set a tone of conservation and protection now, for today and our future generations.”

House Resolution 37 urges policy makers to address aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which is an agreement between the United States and Canada that has been in force for 40 years providing joint goals of coordinating efforts to clean up, restore and maintain improved water quality. The resolution calls for updating the agreement to include new issues that have emerged, such as aquatic invasive species that have fundamentally altered the landscape for managing Great Lakes water quality.

House Resolution 38 urges the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council to scrutinize carefully the Waukesha, Wisconsin water diversion from the Great Lakes.

Waukesha, Wisconsin has stated its intention to apply for an 18.5 million gallon per day diversion of water from Lake Michigan to meet its current drinking water needs and future economic growth. The resolution concludes by urging the council to scrutinize carefully the proposed water diversion request.

The resolutions were unanimously approved by the House and now head to the governor for consideration.

Proposed Cut in Corrections Budget

WTVB – AM 1590

LANSING (WKZO) — State Representative John Proos says Michigan spends more on prisoners than other Midwestern states — over $97 per prisoner per day, compared to $70 in neighboring states. He plans to propose changes to address that.

Proos is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections, and says that even though Michigan is releasing more prisoners early and closing facilities, something more needs to be done to keep costs in check. He points to an additional 85 million dollars in “economic increases” within the proposed budget, which he says includes 69 million for new salaries and benefits. He says the corrections department can make some other changes, as well. Proos says that he plans to introduce several budget amendments when the subcommittee meets.