Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Would Help Reduce Gas Prices

Proos_Keystone Testimony
John testifies before the Senate Committee on Energy and Technology in support of his resolution, which urges the federal government to allow construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

As gas prices approach $4 a gallon, Southwest Michigan families need some relief at the pump. There is a solution to meet our needs, reduce prices and also create jobs – but it is still awaiting federal approval.

The Keystone XL pipeline project can supply the energy to a recovering economy, reduce the amount of Middle East oil imports and create thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs.

Approving it would be a good move for both Michigan families and workers.

I sponsored a resolution adopted by the Senate to urge the president and Congress to support the increased importation of oil from North American reserves and to call on the U.S. secretary of state to approve the new pipeline as part of a greater plan to drive down gas prices.

We must address America’s long-and short-term energy needs. As we look at more sustainable energy sources, we must acknowledge that – even with new energy technologies and alternatives – our economy will remain dependent on oil for decades.

Once completed, the pipeline could replace roughly 40 percent of the oil the U.S. currently imports from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela and also eliminate the need for 200 ocean tankers – reducing emissions equal to taking 4 million cars off the road.

My resolution urges the federal government to end the status quo that is hurting our economy, pocketbooks and national security. Let’s look to our Canadian friends to help put Michigan back to work, meet our energy needs and reduce the cost of filling up the family car.

By partnering with Canada and building the pipeline we can do all that, while simultaneously making the world a safer place.

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Honored to be Named Legislator of the Year by Michigan Police Chiefs

Proos_Leg. of the YearThroughout my time in public service, I have worked to improve Michigan’s economy, create jobs and ensure our government fulfills its core function of keeping our families safe.

As a father, I take my responsibility to heart. That is why I was especially honored to be named Legislator of the Year by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP).

Berrien Springs chief of police Milt Agay presented me with the honor in recognition of my cooperative work with law enforcement agencies and my leadership on key public safety issues, including enactment of the Swift and Sure program and increased supervision of parolees.

I sponsored Senate Bill 1315 to give police officers the authority, already given to parole officers, to search any of the more than 18,000 parolees in Michigan at any time and without first needing to get a warrant. The new law enables our police to help provide more supervision of parolees and enhanced protection of our communities while also reducing the costs of the state prison system.

I also brought to Michigan a successful program that helped significantly reduce crime and drug use by probationers in Hawaii, saving the state millions of dollars.

Michigan’s Swift and Sure program supervises high-risk probationers and requires frequent, random drug and alcohol testing. The results are better outcomes for both the offender and the taxpayer. After seeing the positive results of the program in places like Berrien County, I worked to make the pilot program permanent.

While it is an honor to be recognized by the men and women leading our local police departments, the real reward is a safe neighborhood to raise my children.

Michigan’s Winter Free Fishing Weekend Set for Feb. 16-17

Ice FishingMichigan offers two weekends each year when Southwest Michigan families and out-of-state visitors can get together and enjoy some of the world’s best fishing – at no charge.

This year’s Winter Free Fishing Weekend is Feb. 16-17.

The free weekend is an excellent opportunity to introduce the joy of fishing to children or to try winter fishing for the first time.

During the weekend, all fishing license fees will be waived, but all fishing regulations still apply.

To encourage involvement in the Free Fishing Weekends, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations, including local and state parks, constituent groups, schools, businesses and others.

For more information on Free Fishing Weekend, including a list of activities across the state, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

The website also includes useful information about ice fishing. The article, entitled “Fishing Technique: Ice Fishing, The Coolest Sport Around,” is located under Related Resources. It features safety advice and basics on getting started and commonly used equipment.

I encourage Southwest Michigan anglers – and those who have never gone fishing – to get out and take part in one of our state’s premier outdoor activities this weekend.

Michigan has more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes for residents to enjoy.

If you head out on the ice or water this weekend, please remember that having fun starts with being safe.

Bill Would Let the Voters Decide About a Part-Time Legislature

ChamberAs we look to support key priorities while balancing our state budget, I think it is unfair to ask residents to do more with less and not have lawmakers take a serious look at going to a part-time legislature.

Having Michigan join the other 40 states with part-time legislatures would save taxpayer dollars and shrink the overall size of government.

I recently introduced a proposal in the Senate that would let voters decide whether the legislature should become part-time, working no more than 90 days per year.

Although our legislature averages 110 session days a year, I know we can get our work done in much less time. In 2012, we accomplished much to help protect our communities and improve our economy while only meeting for 81 session days.

Most importantly, changing to a part-time legislature could potentially save the state millions of dollars every year. Michigan legislators make an average of $72,600 a year – for a total of $10.7 million annually. By comparison, Indiana’s part-time legislators are paid less than $23,000 per year with a $152 per diem for each session day.

I know that it would probably be a significant challenge to balance the duties as your senator and the workload of a separate career, but if lawmakers in most of the other states have managed to do it, so can we.

This is a reform that makes good common sense.

We are looking for budget savings and solutions to problems on a daily basis, and my plan could result in millions of dollars in savings by giving Michigan voters the ability to decide for themselves what sort of state government they want.