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DADS of Michigan PAC eNewsletter!

December, 2006

Happy Holidays and New Year from: dadspac@dadsofmichigan.org

Bill research and legislative contacts: http://www.dadsofmichigan.org/pacnews.html

 

DADS of Michigan PAC,

The legislature met during the holidays, the session is over and there are a few bills sitting on the Governors desk waiting for signature. We wish we could provide better news, but the news is not all grim, Mr. Scrooge. This legislative session saw more family friendly bills then in more than 10 years. This is a testament that our voice is penetrating the barriers, yet it did not go far enough. Plans are in the works to launch Campaign 2008, which is when the next legislative session concludes. DOMP has already started planning for next year.

We are proud of the accomplishments: legislative forums, testimony and response to many bills in the legislative process including Shared Parenting, paternity, military issues, child support, FOC reform, further developed relationships with the legislators and staff, Equal Parents Week, Mackenzie Marathon for Shared Parenting, work with many groups around the country, VAWA reform, precinct delegates, election work, building a data warehouse on family issues, and much, much more. We have added many new PAC Delegates to legislative districts. Thank you to all that have made a contribution.

We are very appreciative of all of the work of the Naeyaert Advocacy Group for the outstanding professional work in Lansing. We have to have monthly contribution commitments to continue this relationship.

Our issues are not about what political party you support, it is about what is right for families. The good news is that many of the people that we supported (Dem and Rep) for political office won and will remain in office. We will be talking with them in January. There are many new people in the legislature and we need to educate them. Take with you or send a DADS of Michigan brochure with you, or send them some of the articles from the PAC site.

http://www.dadsofmichigan.org/pacnews.html and look at Contact Directors in the top toolbar.

 

Committees 2007-2008

Many of the committee assignments will not be finalized until late January.

However, the Democrat and Republican caucuses in both chambers elected their leadership for the 2007-08 session.  After the deals were cut, votes exchanged and votes tallied, a few surprises emerged.  Further, the choices of both caucuses reveal the type of approach and agenda they are likely to follow as they move forward next year.

The Breakdown–House
Speaker – Andy Dillon (Redford)
Maj. Floor Leader – Steve Tobocman (Detroit)
Minority Leader – Craig DeRoche (Novi)
Min. Floor Leader – Chris Ward (Brighton)

Rep. Dillon faced stiff competition from Rep. Andy Meisner (Ferndale).  Making Dillon’s win even more impressive was the opposition of some powerful Dem constituent groups such as labor unions and billionaire John Stryker.  You may recall that Stryker funded a $5 million dollar campaign opposing several incumbent GOP legislators.  His involvement and resources are credited as a major factor in the Democrats taking the majority. Stryker was vocal in letting Dems know he did not favor a Dillon speakership.  In the end, Democrat legislators elected a conservative leader who could build consensus on important issues.

Dillon’s election as Speaker is seen as a signal that the Democrats would like to take a moderate approach to leadership and will look for compromise with the GOP Senate in order to make progress on many difficult issues next year.  Dillon, one of the more conservative members of the Dem caucus, has been open-minded about business issues and has looked to foster bi-partisan solutions to various issues during his first term in the legislature.

On the GOP side of the House, DeRoche survived an open challenge by Reps. Judy Emmons and Jack Hoogendyk to become Minority Floor Leader.  Many in the caucus had criticized his handling of the election which put his election as minority leader in doubt.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day involved the election of Rep. Chris Ward and Minority Floor Leader.  Rep. Ward had issued a letter moving his name from consideration for the post.  However, he accepted the nomination during the closed caucus meeting and will now assume the minority post.

The Breakdown–Senate
Sen. Majority Leader – Mike Bishop (Rochester)
Sen. Majority Floor Leader – Al Cropsey (DeWitt)
Sen. Minority Leader – Mark Schauer (Battle Creek)
Sen. Minority Floor Leader – Buzz Thomas (Detroit)

The members went on to elect Sen. Al Cropsey as floor leader.  His election as Floor Leader was seen as an important move to re-unite the caucus and allow the conservative caucus a voice in leadership.

Newly-elected Senator Randy Richardville was elected as Pro-Tem, the traditional #3 position in the Senate.

All 3 leaders are seen as pro-business, anti-tax legislators with a strong record on the issues.  New Senate Majority Leader Bishop will now become the perfunctory leader of the GOP in the state and will be expected to take a hard line with the Governor and Dem House leadership on taxes and government spending.

Interestingly, the last Republican Senate Majority Leader to lead the chamber in the face of a Dem House and Dem Governor was John Engler.  As you know, he went on to become a three term Governor in 1990.

In the end, we expect the new House and Senate leadership will try to identify areas of agreement toward finding solutions to some very pressing and difficult problems facing Michigan.  Growing jobs, reforming the tax structure and diversifying the economy will certainly be high on the list.

 

KEY LEGISLATION

Subscribe to the Families and Judiciary committees at http://house.michigan.gov/committees.asp

  • HB 5267 (Mortimer) is a "shared parenting" http://www.dadsofmichigan.org/shared_parenting.html bill which will amend current law so that a written custody agreement by both parents will be presumed to be in everyone’s best interests.Fulfilling the commitment of the Committee, the bill was brought up for testimony on December 6 and a vote on December 12. Thanks to all of those that made a contribution. Double your efforts and we will bring it back.

Get educated on the arguments by looking at the testimony at
http://house.michigan.gov/committeeinfo.asp?lstcommittees=family+and+
children+services&submit=Go
then look in the middle of the page for Testimony, then look for arguments on Dec 6.

 


 

House Committee Deadlocks on Shared Parenting Bill

House Family & Children Services committee votes 4-4-1 to move HB 5267 (Mortimer), the shared parenting bill, providing needed momentum to pro-family organizations.

The Family & Children Services Committee continued to examine HB 5267 (Mortimer), the shared parenting bill, during their committee meeting this morning.  Thank you to all of our (85) Delegates who made the trip to Lansing to support the bill.

The committee heard three (3) hours of impressive testimony during the committee meeting on Wednesday, December 6, 2006, and the vast majority of those in attendance supported passage of the bill.  We continued our work to secure the elusive 5th “yes” vote – and our efforts with Rep. Spade, which did not go unnoticed, nearly put us over the top.

In the end, however, the committee vote on the bill this morning was 4 “YES”, 4 “NO” and 1 “PASS,” which means that the bill was not reported to the floor.

 

COMMITTEE VOTE ON HB 5267 (12/12/06):

Rep. John Stahl (Chair) R-North Branch YES
Rep. Tom Pearce (Vice Chair) R-Rockford YES
Rep. Jack Hoogendyk R-Kalamazoo YES
Rep. Fulton Sheen R-Plainwell YES
Rep. Barb Vander Veen R-Allendale NO
Rep. Brenda Clack (Vice Chair) D-Flint NO
Rep. Lamar Lemmons, Jr. D-Detroit NO
Rep. Gino Polidori D-Dearborn NO
Rep. Dudley Spade D-Tipton PASS

 

It is worth noting that a bill similar to HB 5267, which was introduced by the House Majority Floor Leader in a previous legislative session, was both softer in language and was opposed with less ferocity by our opponents.  That bill, however, received a single hearing, was sent to a stakeholder “workgroup” for additional work, and it was never brought back to the committee for a vote.

Pro-family advocates should feel good about the progress we made on this issue during the current legislative session.  Our goal is to continue working hard to help children and strengthen families next year, against a backdrop of legitimate “shared power” in the legislature.

DADS of Michigan PAC: http://www.dadsofmichigan.org/shared_parenting.html

 


 

  • HB 5701 (Moolenaar) PASSED HOUSE 71 Yeas 33 Nays on June 29. We will bring this bill back. It is is a bill to encourage parents of minor children in a divorce/custody situation to cooperatively draft a parenting plan. This bill is part of a comprehensive “marriage preservation” package of bills (HB 5698-5703).

  • SB 436 (McManus) – We will bring this bill back. It is a bill which will provide unwed biological fathers with legal standing on issues of paternity and custody for their children. The bill has been through numerous drafts and revisions, and an initial hearing was held in the Senate Families & Human Services committee last month.

Marriage Package Passed House Committee on May 3. We are working with Citizens for Traditional Values (CTV) and the Michigan Family Forum (MFF) to pass this legislation.

The Senate Judiciary committee was delayed for a few hours in December, and while they didn’t expect any support from the DEMs, Sen. Patterson didn’t showed up either, so Sen. Cropsey didn’t take formal testimony nor call for a vote on HB 5701 (Moolenaar), the parenting plan bill, and the rest of the marriage package bills.  There was an effort to discharge the bills from committee and take them up on the floor this morning, but two very influential GOP Senators expressed strong objections to this in caucus.

Detailed driving maps to the State Capital from all directions are available at this web page: http://michigan.gov/documents/gethere_14067_7.PDF

 

2007 New Year Letter to:

DEAR REPRESENTATIVE

Thank you very much for your service and work this year.

Dads and Moms struggle unsuccessfully with courts to be involved in their children’s school and sports activities and with their lives.  Seventy percent in Detroit and one third of Michigan children have only one parent. Look at the social consequences, to children that loose parents, and parents that loose their children. There are 3 things you can do. We do not support involvement with unfit parents, but even unfit parents can become good parents when given a chance.

  1. Pass legislation to support parents and family.
  2. Pass legislation for mandatory parenting plans.  Our recommended parenting plan specifies access to school records and authorizes attendance at school open house events; parents day, bring your parents to school, sports, plays, graduations, etc.
  3. Request a modification of the Parenting Time Guidelines published by DHS.
  4. Initiate a Referendum that stipulates that State or Federal funded educational institutions comply with:

    Title 20, Chapter 31, Subchapter II, Part 4, § 1232g.
    Family educational and privacy rights

I have asked my family and friends to write and vote on this important issue.

Sincerely,

 

FIND YOUR LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES

We suggest when contacting your representatives that you not only email them.   Instead, call their offices on the telephone. You’ll speak to a real person, and have much more impact.  These people are there to serve you.  It is their job to talk to you and to listen carefully to your concerns.

http://www.dadsofmichigan.org/contact_directories.html#legislative

 

CONTACT THE MEDIA

Just like the advice above, it is better to write or call individual editors and reporters.  Tell them what is on your mind.  Suggest story ideas to them.   Tell them how family law is destroying your life, or the lives of you family.   They are always looking for a fresh take on an issue.  Give it to them! Follow the procedures listed in the notes for contacting elected officials above.

http://www.dadsofmichigan.org/contact_directories.html#media

 

Vital Statistics

Find below some important links on marriage and family.

Marriage http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm

Marriage http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/02news/div_mar_cohab.htm

DV http://www.usda.gov/da/shmd/aware.htm

DV http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/ipvfacts.htm A national study found that 29% of women and 22% of men had experienced physical, sexual, or psychological IPV during their lifetime
(Coker et al. 2002).

DV Defined: Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.

So, if the partner, (or members of State Agencies), keeps you from the children, you are a victim of DV. http://www.usdoj.gov/ovw/domviolence.htm


Psychological Abuse: Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

 

Michigan 2005 Statistics http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/resources/publications/statistics/2005/circuitcaseloadreport2005.pdf

 

In Glenn Sacks recent co-authored column, Rise in Out-of-Wedlock Births Is Bad News for America’s Kids (Washington Times, 12/4/06), family law attorney Jeffery M. Leving and I wrote:

"The recent announcement from the National Center for Health Statistics that the out-of-wedlock birth rate is at an all-time high is bad news for America’s children. It would be easier to understand, perhaps, if it were naive teenage mothers who were creating this trend. However, according to the new NCHS study, the trend – which is creating 1.5 million babies a year–is being driven by adult women, many of whom are in their 30s and 40s and are choosing single motherhood. They should know better.

"There are various popular interpretations of the out-of-wedlock trend. One is to blame men who, we are told, routinely impregnate naive, hapless women and then abandon them. However, given modern women’s birth control and reproductive options, when women have children outside of marriage, it’s usually because they want to.

"Nevertheless, our society often goes to great lengths to see unwed mothers as victims. The highly-publicized Fadia Ward case provides a good example. Ward founded www.sorryassbabydaddies.com to publicly shame ‘deadbeat dads’ and ‘take their manhood away.’ She has appeared on ABC News Now, Black Entertainment Television, BBC Radio, Good Day Philadelphia, and many others, and has been portrayed as a heroine in numerous newspaper articles. Few have challenged her assertion that she bears no responsibility for her situation, even though she had four children by four different men by the age of 27…

"There are some unwed mothers who really are victims. As a society we’re very aware of the ways some men misuse their power, particularly in the family. Now, however, it’s time to take a hard look at the ways some women misuse their power. Needlessly creating fatherless babies is one of them.

Read the full article http://www.glennsacks.com/rise_in_out-of-wedlock.htm

 

ECONOMIST SAYS MARRIAGE IS KEY TO A BETTER ECONOMY 
Gongwer, October 12, 2006

The 21st Century Jobs Fund: $2 billion; funding public schools: $13.1 billion; keeping families together: priceless. So says a political economist who came to Lansing on Thursday to share with state officials his notion that by reducing divorce rates, there would fewer disadvantaged children, thereby increasing the number of young people ready to take on high-tech jobs and accelerating Michigan from the industrial revolution to the technological superhighway.

Josiah Baker, a professor at the University of Florida who was in town to tape an Oakland County public access show, had an audience with legislative staff as well as Children’s Ombudsmen Verlie Ruffin and Ron Hicks, the governor’s legislative liaison for the Department of Human Services.

The meeting was hosted by the Family Rights Coalition of Michigan and Rep. Jack Hoogendyk (R-Kalamazoo), member of the House Child and Family Services Committee.   Mr. Hoogendyk is co-sponsor of HB 5698 that would require divorcing couples to show they understand what research shows is the effect of divorce.

Mr. Baker, who has studied the effects of no-fault divorce on divorce and fertility rates in the former Soviet Union, said that he sees divorce and the resulting damages to children as a "social epidemic" that has serious repercussions for the U.S. economy.

He said that while all of the current initiatives to boost education and job development are helpful in shaping up the state’s economy, "the divorce system places a handicap on the education system."

Without citing specific sources, Mr. Baker said he has found that children of divorce are more likely to drop out of high school, be teen parents, use drugs and commit crime.

While the resulting lowered income that often comes with divorce might be a contributing factor to these ails, the bigger problem is the lack of two, loving parents in the household, he said.

"We need to have highly developed resources in order to compete in a post industrial society," Mr. Baker said. "If we have a generation of children growing up with divorced parents, they won’t have the resources or training necessary to do these (technological) jobs."

Mr. Baker, who has also spoken with the legislature in Florida, proposes that Michigan lawmakers impose one or all of several measures, including: creating mandatory legal separation before couples can pursue a divorce; mandating a "cooling down" period before divorce action goes further; encouraging couples to enter into a prenuptial agreement or a "marriage contract" so they know exactly what they are getting into and then allowing for determination of child custody to be included in a prenup, which is currently not allowed in those agreements.

Most those proposals have been introduced in one form or another in the Legislature, and in some cases over several years, but have not made it into law.

He said he also supports HB 5267, which would give the automatic presumption of equal custody in divorce proceedings involving two legally fit parents as just another measure not to "incentivize" divorce.

 

PAC Action: Many of you can not commit the time to be in Lansing for legislative sessions and we have engaged a very effective lobbyist to get in front of the legislators. We need your financial support. With many of the pending bills reaching a critical stage, DADS of Michigan PAC engaged a lobbyist to further these issues. This is not free and we need you to make a monthly financial commitment of $10, $15, $25, $50, $100, $500, $1000 per month for the next year. We can process these via credit card each month. Please call our hotline at 248-559-3237 today to make your pledge or email dadspac@dadsofmichigan.org.

"…because the best parent is both parents"