Washington, D.C. – Legislation authored by Dr. Dan Benishek to protect sportsmen rights was passed today by the House of Representatives as part of an amendment to S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act.
“Hunting and fishing are more than just recreational activities in Northern Michigan, they are major contributors to our economy,” said Dr. Benishek. “It is vital that we protect access to our federal lands for these activities.”
The language introduced by Dr. Benishek, H.R. 528, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, would create an "open until closed" policy for sportsmen's use of federal land and would block threats from interest groups that seek to limit hunting, fishing and shooting on federal properties. The proposed legislation would limit these threats to sportsmen access by directing federal land managers at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to facilitate use and access for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting activities on federal lands. The outdoor recreation economy contributes nearly $20 billion annually to Michigan’s economy.
“I have spent countless hours outdoors enjoying the abundant natural resources that we are lucky enough to have here in Northern Michigan,” added life-long UP resident Dr. Benishek. “Today’s vote brings us closer to protecting the right to access federal lands for our sportsmen and women. Ensuring these opportunities are available to future generations is a legacy I will be proud to leave behind. “
The House and Senate will establish a Conference Committee to work out the differences between the Senate passed S. 2012, and the House’s amended version of S. 2012. Should an agreement be reached by the two legislative bodies, both bodies will vote on the conference report. Upon passage of the conference report, it would then be sent to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
Dr. Benishek was born in Iron River and graduated from Wayne State Medical School in 1978. He served as a general surgeon in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in a private practice since 1983 while also working part-time at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for the past twenty years.Read More
Washington, DC: Today, Dr. Benishek introduced legislation to rename the Traverse City VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) after Colonel Demas T. Craw, a Medal of Honor recipient from Traverse City.
“Renaming the Traverse City facility after a local Medal of Honor recipient is an appropriate way to not only recognize the service of Colonel Craw, but it is also a reminder of the sacrifices that so many Northern Michigan veterans have made for our nation,” said Dr. Benishek.
Born near Traverse City in 1900, Colonel Craw served in in the U.S. Army during both world wars. As a United States Army Air Forces officer in WWII, he served as a U.S. advisor to the Royal Air Force prior to American entry to the war and was captured and interned by German forces for six weeks in 1941. He was killed in action on November 8, 1942, after volunteering to lead a dangerous and ultimately successful mission behind enemy lines. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty.”
The renaming effort has been led at the local level by Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Terry Hawn and Dr. Dan Lathrop. Together, they worked to build interest and local support within the veteran community and with Traverse City officials. Federal legislation is needed to rename a VA CBOC.
“This is an idea that was born in Traverse City and I commend LTC Hawn and Dr. Lathrop for all their hard work and desire to honor a local hero,” added Dr. Benishek. “We are taking the necessary steps to see this idea become a reality by introducing a bill and building bipartisan support.”
The legislation was introduced with the entire Michigan Congressional delegation as cosponsors. Renaming the facility currently has the support of the Grand Traverse Area Veterans Coalition, VFW Cherryland Post 2780, Traverse City American Legion Post 35, Fife Lake American Legion Post 219, Cherryland VFW Post 2780 Auxiliary, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Northwestern Michigan Chapter, American Military League Post #1, State Senator Wayne Schmidt, State Representative Larry Inman, and Traverse City Mayor James Carruthers. In addition, over 2,000 Traverse City area residents have signed a petition to rename the facility after COL Craw.Read More
Washington, DC - Today Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) announced a new change in policy at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that would reduce the amount of paper work local health care providers must complete when participating in the VA Choice program. This change is intended to decrease the payment delays that local providers experience when participating in the Choice program. Frequent delays have led to some providers opting to leave the program, further reducing heath care access for veterans.
"Our veterans have earned the right to high quality health care, and it is our responsibility to ensure they have access to that care. We cannot allow bureaucracy and paperwork to keep the Choice program from working in the manner that Congress intended it to work for our veterans," said Dr. Benishek. "I have heard from far too many local health care providers who are trying to take care of our veterans in the Choice program, but continue to encounter hurdles such as not being paid in a timely manner. While I am pleased the VA is taking this first step to help streamline the program, more needs to be done and I will continue to work with veterans and providers to improve the program."
Under previous rules, payments to providers were not allowed until a copy of the veteran's medical record was submitted. This unnecessary and unusual paperwork requirement has been cited as a cause of confusion and delays among Choice providers leading to some deciding to drop out of the program. The Choice program was created by Congress in 2014 in response to the unacceptable waiting times for veterans seeking medical care. The program allows veterans to seek needed health care from participating non-VA health care providers in their community should access to the regular VA medical facility not be available.
Veterans or providers who are seeking to participate in the Choice program or who have any issues or concerns with the program are encouraged to contact Dr. Benishek's office at 202-225-4735.
Dr. Benishek spent 20 years as a VA doctor treating patients at the Iron Mountain VA facility. As Chairman of the Veterans Health Subcommittee, he played an integral role in creating and helping to pass the landmark reform legislation, leading many of the hearings that uncovered the VA's incompetency. Dr. Benishek was also successful in getting a new law enacted based on an idea from a local veterans that provides Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) greater access to federal surplus property, such as spare vehicles and equipment, for use at their facilities.Read More
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Reps. Dan Benishek, M.D. (MI-1) and Mike Quigley (IL-5) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to spur Great Lakes funding and research efforts and help support effective fishery management decisions. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act gives the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the clear legislative authority it needs to support the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industry. This bill will provide better federal funding opportunities to update technologies and create new research projects to benefit the Great Lakes, which hold one-fifth of the world’s fresh water surface water. This legislation will help close the resource gap between the Great Lakes Science Center and other fishery research centers across the country. Despite the size of the Great Lakes and the value of the fishery, the Great Lakes science program does not have the same funding authorizations as science centers on saltwater coasts.
“The Great Lakes are an ecological treasure, not just for Michiganders, but for Americans across the country,” said Senator Peters, member of the Great Lakes Task Force. “The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act will increase certainty for the Great Lakes by ending piecemeal funding and putting in place a pathway for steady, long-term federal support. Giving the USGS, Great Lakes Science Center the legislative authority that it deserves will assist research efforts and aid development of advanced data collection technologies, so that we can continue to protect the diverse Great Lakes ecosystem and the regional economies it supports.”
“Our Great Lakes and waterways are part of who we are and our way of life,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force. “From water quality issues to invasive species, there are so many challenges facing our lakes and fisheries, which is why funding for cutting-edge research is so important.”
“The Great Lakes fisheries are a key source of economic activity, and support countless jobs and a way of life here in Michigan,” said Dr. Benishek, member of the Great Lakes Task Force. “By ensuring a dedicated source of federal funding to support research activities, this bipartisan initiative will help combat issues facing the Great Lakes like invasive species and allow the sport and commercial fishing industry to remain viable and vibrant.”
“Chicagoans understand the role the Great Lakes play as an economic driver for our region. In order to protect and improve this unique resource, we must support the necessary scientific advancements that help to develop new research technologies and enhance Great Lakes fishery assessments so we can better understand the health of the ecosystem,” said Congressman Quigley, member of the Great Lakes Task Force. “The Great Lakes Science Center is already conducting vital research, but they are limited by piecemeal funding from Congress. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act with Congressman Benishek to ensure the Great Lakes Science Center has the funding it needs to better manage the complex challenges of the Great Lakes ecosystem.”
The legislation is supported by a broad coalition of environmental and conservation groups, including Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Council of Lake Committees, Council of Great Lakes Fisheries Agencies, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Shedd Aquarium, Trout Unlimited, and JMS Naval Architects.
“We must protect and improve the Great Lakes fishery, and science is the foundation of that mission,” said Great Lakes Fishery Commission vice-chair David Ullrich, executive director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. “A healthy fishery means a healthy environment and economy. The more we know about what is going on with the fishery, the more equipped we are to protect it and manage it well.”
“The Great Lakes are vital to the economy of all of the states bordering them, and they are an environmental treasure,” said Dale Tahtinen, Vice President for Governmental Relations, Michigan Technological University. “We must preserve them not only for today, but for future generations.”
Since 1996, the Great Lakes Science Center has been funded through the U.S. Geological Survey’s base appropriations with no dedicated funding source of its own. The USGS, Great Lakes Science Center needs authorizing legislation and a reliable funding stream to conduct and modernize fishery research throughout the five Great Lakes to support wise fishery management decisions. This bill gives the USGS Director more leverage to devote money to the Great Lakes and authorizes $17.5M for fiscal years 2017-2026.
Based in Ann Arbor, the USGS, Great Lakes Science Center maintains staff and field stations in five of the eight Great Lakes States, including Michigan, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. It owns and operates five large fishery research vessels, and is the only agency that conducts lake-wide fisheries science assessments on each of the five Great lakes.
The USGS, Great Lakes Science Center has made significant research contributions, including advancing a suite of projects to support restoration efforts of native prey fish populations throughout the Great Lakes basin; leading world-class research on the most notable invasive species in the history of the Great Lakes: the parasitic sea lamprey; and helping to implement one of the largest freshwater telemetry fish-movement-tracking networks in the world. These efforts help scientists better assess the status of native fish populations or target invasive species control with more accuracy.
Washington, DC - The US Department of Interior announced today that the SS Badger, the last coal-fired steam ship operating on the Great Lakes (and likely the United States), will be named as a National Historic Landmark today. The National Historic Landmark program recognizes historic resources that illustrate the heritage of the United States.
During Dr. Benishek's first year in office, the SS Badger, which provides over 200 jobs to Northern Michigan families, was facing a shutdown due to regulatory burdens from the EPA. Reps. Benishek, along with Reps. Huizenga and Levin, led the charge to protect ships like the SS Badger. Additionally, Dr. Benishek has supported efforts to recognize the economic and historic significance of the ship. This process ultimately led to the designation of the SS Badger as a National Historic Landmark today.
"This iconic ship is a part of Northern Michigan history, and I am happy to learn that it will be recognized accordingly. Every year, the Badger brings thousands of families across Lake Michigan to enjoy the Pure Michigan experience. This ship is a part of our culture and heritage, and I will always work to ensure that it can continue to serve our state," said Congressman Dan Benishek, who represents Michigan's First District.
The 410 foot ferry first launched in 1952 and can carry 600 passengers and 180 vehicles across Lake Michigan between Wisconsin and Michigan.Read More
Washington, DC - The 2016 Congressional Snowmobile Ride will begin on Wednesday February 17th at the Iron's Cafe in Irons, MI. This year's event will cover events in Michigan's 1st, 2nd, and 4th Congressional Districts with Congressman Benishek and Congressman Moolenaar joining the ride. The Members will hold Meet and Greet events at each location along the route. Residents of the community are welcome to join the Congressmen on the trail if they have their own snowmobiles. Press is also welcome to attend the events but an RSVP is requested.
"While this may be my final Snowmobile Tour as a Congressman, I will be enjoying the trails of Northern Michigan with my family for years to come. Snowmobiling is a key part of our outdoor economy which contributes nearly $19 billion in annual spending to our state and accounts for 194,000 jobs. So many small businesses like those we will be visiting this week depend on seasonal tourism, and that's why in Congress I am working to keep our federal forests and trails open and accessible for families to enjoy," said Congressman Dan Benishek who will be retiring at the end of this year.
A more detailed description of both days is provided below. Please keep in mind these times are approximations and are not definitive deadlines.
Itinerary Wednesday, February 16th, 2016
10:00 am Stop at the Irons Café, 5408 W 10 1/2 Mile Rd., Irons, MI 49644, "Meet & Greet"
1:30 Geno's Sports Bar, 14848 Thompson Ave., Thompsonville, MI 49683 for a "Meet & Greet"
4:00 pm Platte River State Fish Hatchery, 15210 US-31, Beulah, MI 49617
Itinerary Thursday, February 17th, 2016
10:30 am Stop at Boon's General Store, 562 Haskins, Boon, MI 49618 at the Bonfire for a "Meet & Greet"
12:30 pm Lunch at Coyote Crossing, 8593 S 13 Rd., Cadillac, MI 49601 "Meet & Greet"Read More
514 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dan Benishek’s story is like that of many people from Northern Michigan. Dan was born in Iron River, Michigan. His family didn’t have much when he was growing up, and his father was killed in a mining accident when he was only 5 years old. After his father’s death, Dan’s mother, with the help of family, raised Dan and his brother, Tim.
As a boy, Dan worked in his grandmother’s business—the Iron River Hotel. Dan made beds, hauled beer, and cleaned the spittoons. His grandmother paid him $10 a week for his efforts, but he had to save it for the future.
After Dan graduated from West Iron High School in 1970, he went on to earn a B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan in 1974. Dan graduated from Wayne State Medical School in 1978 and completed a Family Practice internship in Flint at St Joseph’s Hospital. He has served as a general surgeon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a private practice since 1983. He has worked part-time at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for the past twenty years.
Dan worked as a general surgeon in Iron Mountain for nearly 30 years and raised his family in Iron Mountain. Along the way, it never occurred to him to get into politics, let alone run for Congress. But, like many people in Northern Michigan, Dan just got tired of seeing career politicians in Washington waste taxpayer dollars our nation doesn’t have on bills they didn’t even read.
Since coming to Congress, Dan has been fighting every day to create jobs in Northern Michigan, improve services to our veterans, and renew the promise of the American Dream for our children, grandchildren and future generations.
Dan is an avid hunter and fisherman and a proud member of the NRA and the GOA.
Dan and his wife Judy live near Crystal Falls, Michigan. They have five children and four grandchildren. Prior to being sworn into Congress on January 5, 2011, Dr. Benishek had never sought nor held any previous public office.
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