Proos: Economic Future is Optimistic

proos commercialHerald Palladium

State Sen. John Proos, seeking re-election in the 21st District, says Michigan’s economy is heading in the right direction, while acknowledging that it still has a long way to go.

“To say that the economy has rebounded for everybody, I think the evidence is clear that no, it has not,” said Proos, seeking a second four-year term in the Senate. “We have a long way to go to get back to where we once were.”

Before being elected to the Senate in 2010, Proos, 44, served as the state representative for the 79th district of northern Berrien County for three terms until he reached his term limit.

If re-elected, it would be his final term in the Senate due to term limits.

Proos is a 1988 graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School and has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Marquette University and a master’s degree in higher education administration from Michigan State University.

Before he was elected to the Michigan Legislature, Proos was deputy chief of staff and district director for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton.

Following this November’s election, the 21st District will encompass Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties and will no longer include Van Buren County.

Looking up

Proos said he has talked to hundreds of people on their doorsteps “who are clearly not out of the woods. Not every family feels like they are back to where they were. Not every family feels they are in the jobs they absolutely want. But as the economy improves, they will be seeing the benefits.”

Proos said the state’s unemployment rate, at 7.2 percent, is half of what it was four years ago (while still ranked 47th in the nation).

Michigan leads the nation in manufacturing job growth and in the growth of personal income, he said.

He credits these improvements to a change in the business environment, including eliminating many regulations and replacing the Michigan Business Tax with a 6 percent corporate tax.

The reform has created a tax that is “consistent, fair and flat, with no special place for someone to hide,” he said.

The auto industry, aided by a federal bailout, continues to be a “major driver” in Michigan, Proos said. Michigan has seen rapid growth “in part because we had hit the bottom and had been bouncing along the bottom for many years.”

Proos said that the recovery hasn’t taken full effect for some businesses that are “just starting to reap the benefits of the tax changes that were made.”

Closing the skills gap

A lot of businesses are hanging out the “help wanted” sign but are having trouble finding the skilled workers they need. Proos said there are some 75,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in the state.

Proos supports more career and technical education at the high school and post-secondary level and letting students know “that there is a job available today, and it’s not your grandfather’s dirty shop floor,” but a vocation for the future.

Proos defended Gov. Rick Snyder’s record on funding for K-12 education.

“What is clear is that there has been over $1 billion in new funding for schools since Snyder came into office,” Proos said.

Articles have pointed out that much of that increase has gone toward shoring up the teachers’ retirement system.

Proos called that “living up to our obligations to those who have taught our children in the past.”

“As our economy improves, there isn’t a doubt that we should find a way to put more money into our classrooms,” Proos said.

Another area that needs a large infusion is the state’s roads, Proos said.

He has heard estimates that range from $800 million a year up to $2 billion a year are needed, and he isn’t sure which figures are accurate.

“What I do know is that additional funding for roads is necessary to manage the safety and security of the goods and services and the people being transported down our roadways.”

The first thing that needs to happen, Proos said, is to assure taxpayers that every dollar they pay at the pump in gas taxes, that is not constitutionally obligated for other areas, goes into roads. He noted that about two-thirds of the 6 percent sales tax on gas goes to schools and local governments.

Making sure that money comes off the top of a taxes for roads would guarantee the federal matching funds of between $400 million and $500 million a year, Proos said.

He does not support an increase in vehicle registration fees to fund road repairs because that would hit residents on fixed incomes, and small businesses and farms that would pay more for every vehicle they use.

Proos voted against an increase in the state’s minimum wage, believing that the cost to businesses would be passed along to consumers.

He did support right-to-work legislation that allows employees to choose whether to belong to a union and support it with their dues.

“Freedom to work is a step in the right direction to changing the image of Michigan nationally and internationally as a place welcoming to business,” Proos said.

Stopping meth

Legislative initiatives supported by Proos include the creation of the NPLEX system that allows pharmacies to keep track of the sale of ingredients used in methamphetamine, and to stop sales to people over the limit.

Law enforcement agencies have told Proos that this has stopped the sale of 3 million grams of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine and allowed them to investigate where these ingredients are being sought in large quantities.

Proos launched the “Swift and Sure” sanctions for people on probation, with immediate jail time for those who fail random drug tests.

Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock, who oversees the “Swift and Sure” program here, told Proos that the rate of probationers failing drug tests has fallen from 71 to 4 percent.

“A decrease in crime in our communities means less victims and less costs in the community, while changing people’s lives,” Proos said.

Proos said meeting and listening to constituents is the most important part of his job, and his office has handled 12,000 cases for citizens in four years.

That has included explaining tax law changes to local school administrators, and helping businesses including the new Greenbush Brewery in Sawyer and the rebuilt Stray Dog in New Buffalo obtain liquor licenses.

“If folks know their voice has been heard and they know that I have listened to their thoughts and concerns and considerations, I think they have a better chance to feel as though their government has been responsive, even if it’s not in agreement with their position,” Proos said.

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Senator Proos Touts 21 New Human Trafficking Laws

Human TraffickingWSJM – Radio

New protections are now in place in Michigan for victims and survivors of human trafficking. Governor Snyder has recently enacted 21 new laws, with three of the bills sponsored by Senator John Proos of St. Joseph. He says the I-94 corridor is among the most active routes for traffickers.

Among the provisions of the new laws are the creation of the Human Trafficking Victims Compensation Act. That act will make survivors eligible for financial compensation from those who trafficked them, and the survivors will also now be allowed to sue their captors. Another part of the new law gives survivors better access to medical and psychological care. Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force founder Cathy Knauf says it’s modern day slavery and is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the country. For total crimes, trafficking trails only drugs and guns.

We Will Never Forget 9-11

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 will forever be etched in our minds.

However, it will also forever be a day that unites us as Americans.

It is a testament to the greatness of the American people that when our liberty is attacked, we come together to meet that challenge.

This year, Rep. Dave Pagel and I welcomed Chikaming Township Fire Department Chief Mike Davidson and Berrien Springs Fire Department Chief Bruce Stover to the Capitol to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the brave men and women who became modern-day heroes due to their extraordinary courage. We will always remember the selflessness of the United 93 passengers, who sacrificed themselves to prevent further tragedy, and the fearless first responders who ran into the twin towers to save lives – often at the cost of their own.

I also want to express my heartfelt appreciation to our firefighters, police officers and brave soldiers who continue to protect our communities and our nation every day.

Out of tragedy we are reminded of blessings that God has bestowed on America and that our constitutional freedoms are worth defending.

To help pay tribute to the anniversary of 9-11 and the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, I supported a Senate resolution that designated September 11-17 as “Michigan Patriot Week.” It is about celebrating America’s founding principles and the patriots who acted and often died to establish and defend the greatest country on Earth.

May God continue to bless America, our troops and our first responders.

State Senator John Proos Talks Smart Phone Security

Proos at the MikeWKZO-Radio

LANSING (WKZO) — State Senator John Proos is warning Michigan seniors about a new kind of digital threat. Proos, who sits on the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, says that we’ve all heard about computer viruses, but now, hackers are targeting smart phones.

“Some of our older folks in our society have less and less understanding of spyware, spamware,” Proos said. “All of the other malware out there can cause so many problems, and ultimately can lead to the loss of one’s identity and the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars across the nation.”

Proos says that everyone should be mindful of how much personal information they have on their phones, and be careful about what they install on it. Just because an app is available, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Kim Komando has a few suggestions regarding security software for your phone in this article.

The Best July 4th Celebration is a Safe One

FireworksOn Friday, July 4, America will be celebrating its 238th birthday.

A tired and restless Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted on July 2, 1776 to approve a resolution of independence that was proposed by Richard Henry Lee.

Two days later, the Congress adopted the official Declaration of Independence and the famous words written by Thomas Jefferson were read aloud to the public: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

With brave voices, our Founding Fathers risked their lives and those of their families and friends to stand up against injustice and tyranny. Their actions and the resulting Revolutionary War would change the world.

To commemorate this courageous act of liberty, we celebrate Independence Day each July 4th.

As Southwest Michigan families join with their communities to honor America, I encourage everyone to make this celebration a safe one.

It starts with fireworks safety. Some simple tips are to closely monitor children using sparklers, keep kids and pets at a safe distance from fireworks and always have a bucket of water ready.

In addition to celebrating at parades and fireworks displays, many residents will gather together with friends and family for picnics or barbecues. I encourage keeping summer safety tips in mind, such as using sunscreen (especially on young kids), drinking plenty of water and being conscious of your surroundings.

While honoring America, please also remember how to properly care for the flag, including how to retire the flag if it is worn or tattered. The U.S. Flag Code says, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way.”

Residents who need to retire a U.S. flag can contact the Boy Scouts or your local Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion post. These organizations often provide flag retirement services.

The Fourth of July is a joyous time to celebrate our freedoms, show our pride in our country and remember the declaration proclaimed more than two centuries ago that started it all.

I hope you all have a fun and safe Independence Day.

Announcing my Bid for Re-Election to the State Senate in Michigan’s Great Southwest

Proos_Dowagiac DailyEarlier today I announced my candidacy for the 21st Michigan State Senate seat in Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.
Michigan is turning around, but I believe there is more work to be done to put Michigan back on solid footing.  I will continue to focus my efforts on creating an environment that fosters jobs for our families, welcoming new businesses and investing in a world class education system to prepare our children to fill the economic opportunities right here in Southwest Michigan.

The 21st State Senate district will change after the 2014 election from the counties of Van Buren, Cass and Berrien to Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph.

I would like to earn the support and vote of individuals and families in Southwest Michigan as I continue to fight for the common-sense values we hold dear.  Vital to the success of Southwest Michigan and our families are the expansion of infrastructure through broadband networks, ensuring the safety of our communities through proper funding of police and fire services and protecting our precious natural resources.
I ask for your support in Michigan’s primary election on August 5th, 2014 and in the general election, November 4, 2014.
Some of the first term initiatives that I have been proud to work on include:

•    Working to eliminate the fraud waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars, finding efficiencies totaling about 120 million dollars.
•    Improving access to career and technical education for our students through legislation to facilitate flow of information between students, families, schools, the Department of Education, community organizations and businesses.
•    Instituting new point-of-sale computer system designed to stop meth dealers from buying large amounts of ephedrine/pseudoephedrine at pharmacies.
•    Initiating the first proposal to fund our roads since John Engler was Governor.  My legislation dedicated $100 million of unallocated sales tax money, already paid at the gas pump toward Michigan’s infrastructure.
•    Sponsoring legislation to rehabilitate criminals before they are huge expense to society through the swift and sure program available to county courts.
•    Facilitated a new program to connect hunters with farmers looking to protect their land from crop damage.
•    Pushing to give Michigan businesses priority in applying for state contracts whenever possible.
•    Supports the eradication of invasive species from our precious natural resources.

During my tenure in the state legislature I have served over 9,000 individuals, families and businesses in Southwest Michigan who have asked for assistance.  I consider the ability to help so many cut through government red tape as one of my greatest accomplishments.

John Proos Announces Bid for the State Senate in Michigan’s Great Southwest

Proos_Dowagiac DailyState Senator John Proos (R-St. Joseph) today announced his candidacy for the 21st Michigan State Senate seat in Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.
“Michigan is turning around, but I believe there is more work to be done to put Michigan back on solid footing” said John Proos R-St. Joseph.  “I will continue to focus my efforts on creating an environment that fosters jobs for our families, welcoming new businesses and investing in a world class education system to prepare our children to fill the economic opportunities right here in Southwest Michigan.”
The 21st State Senate district will change after the 2014 election from the counties of Van Buren, Cass and Berrien to Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph.
“I would like to earn the support and vote of individuals and families in Southwest Michigan as I continue to fight for the common-sense values we hold dear,” said Proos.  “Vital to the success of Southwest Michigan and our families are the expansion of infrastructure through broadband networks, ensuring the safety of our communities through proper funding of police and fire services and protecting our precious natural resources.”
Proos asks for residents’ votes in Michigan’s primary election on August 5th, 2014 and in the general election, November 4, 2014.
Proos’ first term initiatives:

•    Working to eliminate the fraud waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars, Proos has found efficiencies totaling about 120 million dollars.
•    Improving access to career and technical education for our students through legislation to facilitate flow of information between students, families, schools, the Department of Education, community organizations and businesses.
•    Instituting new point-of-sale computer system designed to stop meth dealers from buying large amounts of ephedrine/pseudoephedrine at pharmacies.
•    Initiating the first proposal to fund our roads since John Engler was Governor.  Proos’ legislation dedicated $100 million of unallocated sales tax money, already paid at the gas pump toward Michigan’s infrastructure.
•    Sponsoring legislation to rehabilitate criminals before they are huge expense to society through the swift and sure program available to county courts.
•    Facilitated a new program to connect hunters with farmers looking to protect their land from crop damage.
•    Pushing to give Michigan businesses priority in applying for state contracts whenever possible.
•    Supports the eradication of invasive species from our precious natural resources.
During Proos’ tenure in the state legislature he has served over 9,000 individuals, families and businesses in Southwest Michigan who have asked for assistance from his office.  He has noted the ability to help so many cut through government red tape as one of his greatest accomplishments.