Dan Benishek

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Dr. Benishek's Statement on President Obama's Executive Action on Immigration

2014/11/21

WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) released the following statement in response to President Obama taking executive action on immigration in the United States:

"We can agree that our current immigration system is broken, but a move to grant amnesty to certain individuals before others, without securing our borders or seeking the consent of Congress and the American people is not the solution.  This is the wrong move, and I hope the President will reconsider.

First and foremost, we need to secure our borders and send the message to the rest of the world that we do not support illegal immigration. We need to find a way to deal with those who are living in our country illegally that does not include blanket amnesty, while creating an easier path to legal immigration."

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Stabenow, Benishek, Peters Introduce Bill to Stop $100 Million Increase in Electric Bills for Upper Peninsula Families, Small Businesses

2014/11/17

WASHINGTON, D.C. –   U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-1), and Congressman Gary Peters (MI-14) today introduced legislation that would require additional oversight by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), allowing the agency to stop a pending $100 million annual electric rate increase for families and businesses in the Upper Peninsula. This legislation follows a recent regulatory decision made by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that would force consumers in the Upper Peninsula to pay for 99 percent of the Presque Isle Power Plant’s operating costs. This decision by NERC upended an earlier FERC finding that UP customers should be responsible for 14 percent of the power plant’s operating costs. FERC shares oversight responsibilities and has a mandate to consider utility cost allocation issues.

The POWER Act would require FERC to review, analyze, and disapprove any NERC decision that resulted in unjust and unreasonable rate increases on families and businesses. This new authority would provide FERC a direct path to overturn unfair cost shifts resulting from NERC actions.

“Seniors, small businesses, and families in the UP should not be forced to pay for unjust and unreasonable rate increases, while the benefits of this plant continue to be shared with communities in other states,” said Stabenow. “This bill will help keep utility costs from increasing for Michigan families and seniors and keep the doors of small businesses open by creating a new pathway to make sure everyone is paying their fair share. I don’t expect my neighbor to pay my electric bill each month. No one should be forced to pay for unjust utility costs.”

“Residents of the Upper Peninsula—from families to seniors to schools and small businesses—can’t be expected to shoulder the burden of unfair rate increases,” said Rep. Benishek.  “These rate increases are unacceptable and I am committed to finding a solution that will ensure that residents of the Upper Peninsula are not forced to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food on their table this winter.” 

“With winter just around the corner, it is critical that Michigan families have access to reliable and affordable electricity in every part of the state,” said Rep. Gary Peters. “This bipartisan bill will help ensure that utility costs are distributed in a fair and equitable way.”

Last month, Sen. Stabenow and Rep. Benishek called for a moratorium on NERC’s decision and asked FERC to consider the Michigan Public Service Commission’s complaint that the resulting rate increases for people in the UP are not just and reasonable. Earlier this week, FERC announced it would delay the UP rate increases that were previously expected to begin on December 1 in order to further investigate the problem.

 

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Dr. Benishek Announces Legislation to Protect UP from Pending Rate Increases

2014/10/31

 

Iron Mountain, MI:  Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) announced he will be introducing legislation that will work to address the pending electric rate increases currently proposed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, while also protecting all ratepayers in the future from extreme changes in their energy bills that are the result of government mandates.

“Families and businesses in the UP are about to experience firsthand the consequences of DC bureaucrats making decisions that do not take into account the overall impact on the community, and are made before real solutions are found,” said Dr. Benishek.  “It is bad enough that burdensome regulations from the EPA are causing necessary plants to close, but when you have a situation in which bureaucrats force a plant to stay open, force them to make expensive upgrades, and then change how the cost is spread among ratepayers – that is unacceptable and wrong.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently considering a number of cases that will impact energy rates in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The cases revolve around the FERC requirement that the Presque Isle Power Plant remain operating for grid reliability purposes even though its owners are looking to close the plant.  In addition, new cost allocations are being considered that will change the traditional local balancing authority.  The changes in cost allocations may require UP residents to absorb a larger portion of the costs for ongoing operations and upgrades required at Presque Isle Power Plant, with some estimates running as high as $100 million.  Local utility providers have estimated that families would see on average a $30 increase in their monthly bill and small businesses would see a $500 monthly increase.

“I am proposing a commonsense bill that would simply say if the government is going to force a power plant to stay open for the purpose of grid reliability, then changes cannot be made that will negatively impact ratepayers until a long term solution is found to ensure reliability.  A reliable grid and electric supply is necessary for the UP and I am committed to working with all stakeholders to achieve that goal,” said Dr. Benishek.

Legislation can be introduced beginning November 12th when the U.S. House of Representatives reconvenes.  In addition to drafting legislation, Dr. Benishek has written the head of FERC calling for the postponement of the rate increases while also providing FERC petitions against their decision signed by UP residents.  Dr. Benishek also sent a letter to FERC with Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Representative Fred Upton (MI-06).  The letter requests that FERC work with the State of Michigan as a partner, and consider alternatives to implementing decisions that could result in rate increases for UP residents.  The letter includes exploration of new generation in the form of a commitment for a natural gas power plant in the UP as a possible alternative.   

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Dr. Benishek: UP Residents Making their Voices Heard on Rate Increases

2014/10/28

Iron Mountain, MI:  Today Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) announced efforts by the citizens of Northern Michigan in making their voices heard to the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) regarding pending rate increases.

“If you talk to anyone in the UP these days, the pending rate increases are a top concern, and rightfully so.   These rate increases in the UP, where we already pay higher than average rates, are simply unacceptable.  This is the result of Washington bureaucrats making decisions without understanding the consequences that hard working families will face,” said Dr. Benishek.  “Many across the UP want their opinion heard and I am helping make sure that happens.  Every petition and comment that is delivered to my office, I am getting a copy to the regulators in charge of making these decisions. Until a long term solution to the UP’s energy needs is found, I will continue to fight against these unfair increases.”

FERC is currently considering a number of cases that will impact energy rates in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including approval of new cost allocations that will reflect the new local balancing authority.  The changes in cost allocations may require UP residents to absorb a larger portion of the costs for ongoing operations and upgrades required at Presque Isle Power Plant, with some estimates running as high as $100 million.  Over 1300 Northern Michigan residents have contacted the office of Dr. Benishek expressing their opposition to the changes.   

Dr. Benishek has continued to advocate for Northern Michigan families and seniors, and believes that a long-term solution for energy reliability must be settled prior to rate changes being agreed upon in the UP.  He continues to meet and speak routinely with stakeholders and federal regulators in an effort to pursue a resolution to this issue.

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Dr. Benishek Pushes for Long-Term Energy Solution in Michigan’s UP

2014/10/28

Marquette, MI:  Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) issued the following statement today following the release of a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) urging the commission to work with their partners in the State of Michigan and consider alternate generation and/or transmission plans prior to making decisions that would result in major rate increases for the citizens of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  In addition to Dr. Benishek, the letter was signed by Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (MI-06).

“The families, schools, and businesses in the UP simply cannot afford the proposed rate increases.  We are looking at individuals paying an extra $30 per month and small businesses paying up to an extra $500 a month, possibly as soon as Dec. 1.  This is not acceptable or sustainable, and will cost jobs is the UP,” said Dr. Benishek, who represents Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

“Working with Gov. Snyder, Attorney General Schuette, and Chairman Upton, as well as other stakeholders on this pending energy crisis, we are trying to help find a long-term solution.  We have a commitment for a new natural gas powered plant in the UP in the very near future, but this won’t work if FERC insists on raising rates in the interim.  The bureaucrats in Washington need to listen to the residents of the UP, as they know what will work best to keep the lights on here.”

In coordination with the UP Energy Summit held today at Marquette, Dr. Benishek sent a letter to FERC (attached) with Gov. Snyder, Attorney General Schuette, and Rep. Upton.  The letter requests that FERC work with the State of Michigan as a partner, and consider alternatives to implementing decisions that could result in rate increases for UP residents.  The letter includes exploration of new generation in the form of a commitment for a natural gas power plant in the UP as a possible alternative. 

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Dr. Benishek: More Must Be Done on Ebola Outbreak

2014/10/21

Traverse City, MI:  Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) issued the following statement on the ongoing Ebola outbreak. 

“As a doctor, I understand that many in Northern Michigan are concerned about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and recent infections that have occurred in the United States.   Having studied communicable diseases, I understand the importance of containment, treatment, prevention, and public health education.

This threat of Ebola must be taken seriously, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that a full-blown outbreak does not occur within America’s borders.   I remain concerned that the federal government has been unprepared to deal with this serious threat to our public health threat, and continues to allow those potentially infected with the virus to arrive in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to be actively coordinating with local hospitals in order to ensure that the medical professionals on the front lines understand and follow treatment protocols for Ebola cases, and guarantee that  best practices are followed.

At this time, I believe we must pursue all options regarding containment of the West African outbreak, including a travel ban on impacted countries and increased screening for all exposed individuals in the United States. In addition, we must continue to work with nations in West Africa to defeat this outbreak at the source.”

Dr. Benishek serves as Chairman of the House Veterans Committee Subcomittee on Health.  Prior to serving in Congress, Dr. Benishek practiced as a general surgeon for 30 years in Iron Mountain, MI. 

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Dr. Benishek Highlights the Impact of Tourism in Northern Michigan

2014/10/14

Traverse City, MI:  Today Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) participated in a roundtable focused on the “Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism in Northern Michigan” with Brad Van Dommelen, President and CEO, Traverse City Tourism and other local business leaders.

“Travel and tourism play a large, and increasing role in the economy here in Northern Michigan.  In the First Congressional District, over 18,000 jobs are directly linked to tourism or the travel industry.  Visitors to our towns are eating at the local ice cream shops in the summer, going on snowmobile tours in the winter, filling up with gas and buying snacks at our local convenience stores, and spending money at our local hotels and restaurants while they are here. That’s a big deal,” noted Dr. Benishek, who represents Michigan’s First Congressional District.

Since coming to Congress, Dr. Benishek has worked with all stakeholders to find ways to improve the economy so that families can continue to live and work in the region.  Tourism and travel generated  $16.7 billion in economic output in Michigan last year, a figure that is predicted increase in the region. 

“Understandably, people from all over the world want to come to Northern Michigan.  I believe this is the most beautiful place on Earth.  Now we just need to make sure it stays that way, and that people who want to spend their time and money here are able to, ” continued Dr. Benishek.  “I am grateful to everyone that participated today, sharing their ideas on how we can work together and find more opportunities to grow this part of our economy. 

Dr. Benishek has supported legislation that will work to continue to encourage more visitors to come to Northern Michigan, like H.R. 4450, the “Travel Promotion Act.”   In addition, he sponsored and worked to get enacted into law legislation that protects access to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Sleeping Bear Dunes was named by ABC’s “Good Morning America” as the most beautiful place in America.  Over 1 million people visit Sleeping Bear Dunes annually, accounting for about $120 million in local spending and supporting 2,000 jobs.

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Dr. Benishek Statement on Silver Carp Discovery

2014/10/08

Traverse City, MI:  Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) issued a statement following the announcement by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources regarding the discovery of silver carp eDNA (a type of Asian carp) in the lower Kalamazoo River.

“Protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species like the Asian carp is one of my top priorities in Congress.  Asian carp do not just represent a threat to the health of our Great Lakes, they also threaten our broader regional economy.  So many jobs here in Northern Michigan depend on the Great Lakes, and I will continue to focus on keeping invasive species out,” said Dr. Dan Benishek, co-chair and founder of the bi-partisan Congressional Invasive Species Caucus and member of the Great Lakes Task Force.

“Although the a positive test for eDNA doesn’t mean that there is an established population of silver carp in the area, it does remind all of us of the need to be more vigilant.  That is why I have continually fought in Congress to ensure that adequate funding, through mechanisms like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, remains in place to fend off invasive species that threaten our lakes.”

Michigan’s First Congressional District has over 1,600 miles of shoreline—the most in the continental United States and is the only District with shoreline on three of the five Great Lakes.  

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Dr. Benishek: Proposed Increases in Utility Rates in the UP are Unacceptable

2014/10/07

Iron Mountain, MI:  Today Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) contacted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) application to FERC for approval of new cost allocations that will reflect the new local balancing authority (LBA) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). 

“The proposed increases and the process in which this is occurring is simply unacceptable.  Families, schools, businesses—basically anyone who lives and works in the UP could be looking at a big rate increase as soon as December 1, without gaining any sort of benefit,” said Dr. Benishek.  “FERC must be willing to address this issue in a manner that is fair and recognizes historical precedent and agreements regarding the shared responsibility among energy consumers in an entire system.”

Changes in cost allocations are a result of the splitting of the LBA for Wisconsin and the UP along state lines.  This may result in UP energy users being subject to approximately 99% of the cost of new cost allocations of the system-support resources. The Michigan Public Service Commission has a pending complaint with FERC regarding this decision.

“I will be working with all stakeholders and local policy makers until a solution to this problem is found,” added Dr. Benishek.  “We have to deal with the immediate rate increase, while also focusing on a long-term solution to the unique energy needs of the UP, which have been dealt an incredible blow by the increasing costs and regulatory regime forcing the closure of coal fired plants in our area.”

Dr. Benishek was born and currently lives in the Upper Peninsula.  Prior to being elected to Congress he practiced medicine for 30 years in Iron Mountain.  The letter sent to Chairman  Cheryl A. LaFleur can be found here.

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Dr. Benishek Authors Legislation to Research Toxic Exposure for Military Families

2014/09/16

WASHINGTON, DC:  Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) today announced he has introduced the Toxic Exposure Research Act, H.R. 5484, with Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17) to establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) a national center for research into the health conditions experienced by the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances.

“Having had the opportunity to treat our veterans as a doctor at a VA hospital for nearly 20 years, I understand that not all the injuries our returning service members suffer from are immediately evident.  Wounds from exposure to toxic chemicals can have lifelong and generational effects, the impacts of which we are still determining today, “ said Dr. Benishek. “This bipartisan bill will help address the need to better understand the toxins that many of our heroes have been exposed to, and ensure we focus on understanding the effect exposure may have on their descendants.”

The Toxic Exposure Research Act will allow the VA to research the effect of exposure to toxic substances on the descendants of our veterans.  Veterans seeking care for symptoms of toxic exposure are frequently misdiagnosed due to a lack of scientific understanding, and the research the VA has conducted on suspected birth defects related to toxic exposure is severely limited. The bill would also create a national outreach campaign on potential long-term health effects of exposure to toxic substances by members of the Armed Forces and their descendants.

“The Toxic Exposure Research Act is an important piece of bi-partisan legislation that will help us keep our promise to our veterans.  While we know that our servicemen and women have been exposed to toxic substances while fighting for our country, we also know that many of their children have consequently suffered with various forms of birth defects,” said Congressman Honda. “We need to know the full effects of such toxic exposures. Through the bill’s establishment of a national research center, the VA can determine what effect toxins like Agent Orange have had on the children and grandchildren of our veterans who were exposed.

The Toxic Exposure Research act is the House companion to S.2738, identical legislation introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Senator Jerry Moran (KS).  The legislation is supported by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and AMVETS.

Dr. Benishek has been a leader in advocating for reform at the VA since coming to Washington in 2011. Dr. Benishek spent 20 years working as a surgeon at the Iron Mountain VA Hospital.  He is the only member from Michigan on the Veterans Committee and is Chairman of the Health Subcommittee. His "Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act" passed the House unanimously in June.

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Contact Information

514 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4735
Fax 202-225-4744
benishek.house.gov

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.


Serving With

Bill Huizenga

MICHIGAN's 2nd DISTRICT

Justin Amash

MICHIGAN's 3rd DISTRICT

Dave Camp

MICHIGAN's 4th DISTRICT

Fred Upton

MICHIGAN's 6th DISTRICT

Tim Walberg

MICHIGAN's 7th DISTRICT

Mike Rogers

MICHIGAN's 8th DISTRICT

Candice Miller

MICHIGAN's 10th DISTRICT

Kerry Bentivolio

MICHIGAN's 11th DISTRICT

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