Washington, D.C. – President Obama signed into law a bill to rename the U.S. Post Office in downtown Jackson as the “Officer James Bonneau Memorial Post Office.” Officer James Bonneau was killed in 2010 while on duty as he and a fellow public safety officer followed up on a domestic disturbance complaint. The legislation introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg, H.R. 3534, passed the House on July 14, 2014 and received final Congressional approval in the Senate on December 8.
“Over four years have passed since Officer Bonneau gave his life in service to the Jackson community. With the naming of the Jackson Post Office, we erect a permanent memorial and establish a tangible reminder of his heroic actions and all of those who put their lives on the line to protect the public. Officer Bonneau was described by those closest to him as loyal, genuine, and good-hearted. The naming of the Officer Bonneau Memorial Post Office is a small step to remember his ultimate sacrifice and to affirm that we will never forget what he lived for - duty over self,” said Rep. Walberg.
“Our family would like to thank Representative Tim Walberg for his hard work and the dedicatedspirit he has shown us and the City of Jackson throughout the introduction and passage of this bill. We are so grateful that Jim’s sacrifice will continue to be remembered by the citizens of Jackson in the years ahead. As great an honor as this is, our wish is that the event leading up to this could be altered,” added Amy and Marc Bonneau, the parents of James Bonneau.
Officer Bonneau graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Criminal Justice. He graduated from Lansing Community College’s Mid-Michigan Police Academy at the top of his class academically before joining the Jackson Police Department. In 2011, Rep. Walberg and Senator Debbie Stabenow posthumously awarded Officer Bonneau the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. Officer Bonneau’s parents, Amy and Marc, accepted the award on behalf of their son.
The legislation will rename the United States Postal Facility located at 113 West Michigan Ave. in Jackson, Michigan.Read More
Today, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act to provide funding, pay, and authorities for the Armed Forces in 2015. The legislation passed on a bipartisan vote of 300-119 and includes a number of important provisions to provide for our nation’s defense and military personnel, including language offered by Rep. Walberg and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to assist new veterans as they transition back into civilian life.
"All our brave men and women in uniform deserve a steady job when they leave military service, but unfortunately many young veterans are now returning home only to face a jobless rate considerably higher than the national average. I’m particularly pleased today’s legislation included a commonsense proposal championed by Sen. Toomey and me which will increase veterans resources as they transition to civilian life," said Rep Walberg after the vote.Background:
Today, Rep. Walberg voted in support of H.R. 647, the ABLE Act of 2014, legislation he cosponsored to create tax-free savings accounts for people born with disabilities to save for future, qualified expenses such as education, housing and medical expenses. H.R. 647 passed with a strong bipartisan vote of 404-17.
“Passage of the ABLE Act will help ease some of the challenges faced by people living with disabilities and their families by extending important financial planning tools that will help them achieve their potential. It’s a commonsense step which will make a difference for those who need it most,” said Rep. Walberg after the vote.Read More
JACKSON, MI – It is tempting to denounce the President of the United States right now, but he's not responsible for every disappointment that comes my way.
As one of 19 million Americans covered by private health insurance we buy ourselves, I noted a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found prices rose just 3 percent in 2014 for family insurance coverage supplied in the workplace a job benefit. This was called positive news that "continues a recent trend of modest increases."
"Boy oh boy!" I said. "I could sure enjoy a little taste of that trend!"
Hope was shattered Nov. 15, when Year Two began for buying health insurance through the government "marketplace."
"Thanks a lot, Obama!" I howled at the new prices.
To buy the same Blue Care Network coverage for the same three people in 2015, my family's cost will jump 17 percent in January.
Our price rose 8 percent this year, even though we cut the number of family members covered from four to three. That's a 26-percent increase over two years for covering 25 percent fewer people.
Where's our positive modest increase, Kaiser Family?
Closer reading of the foundation's report reveals the 3-percent increase is something of a sham. Survey-takers also found deductibles, the money patients must pay before insurance benefits kick in, keep rising. The average deductible is up 47 percent since 2009. Employers are switching to worse insurance and still paying 3 percent more.
Unlike a large corporation, I cannot switch to cheaper insurance because I already purchase the worst coverage allowed by law. Our family deductible is so high people gasp in disbelief.
Local experts say some insurers selling health coverage in the Jackson area actually cut prices for 2015. I assume that's true for some companies in the middle of the pack on pricing, but the bottom-end cost paid by our family went up sharply.
Blaming Obamacare is tempting, but health insurance prices rose every year, and often obscenely, before Obamacare was invented. That's why it was invented.
Maybe health insurance would be just as expensive today if John McCain was finishing his second term as president. All I know is Obamacare has done nothing to drive down high prices paid by my family, and things can easily get worse.
My insurance guy in Jackson warned in 2012 that I should expect annual price increases of 12 to 20 percent to maintain similar coverage from year to year, which is crushing. So far he's right on the money.
Instead of blaming Obama, insurance companies, doctors, or fat people who smoke, we must find some shred of national unity to fix this for real.
At least the government's web site usually works this year. One step at a time, I guess.
To read the original article at The Jackson Cit Pat, please click here.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Walberg voted in favor of H.R. 4795, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act, to encourage investment in American manufacturing. The legislation passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 238 to 172.
"If our country is to remain globally competitive in the manufacturing sector with nations like China, Washington must provide clear guidelines to industry instead of the current onslaught of unpredictable, arbitrary regulations. This legislation cuts federal red tape, holds the EPA accountable and lays out a transparent construction permitting process so hardworking Americans can get back to work and help grow a healthy economy."Read More
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Walberg voted for H.R. 5682 to provide immediate authority for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, an energy infrastructure project that has been delayed for over six years. H.R. 5682 passed on a strong bipartisan vote of 252-161.“Bipartisan support for the pipeline continues to grow while the Obama Administration and the Senate have blocked every effort over the last six years to pass this important energy infrastructure and boost our economy. The Senate and President are out of excuses – let’s approve the Keystone pipeline and begin construction on this project that will create jobs and lower energy costs,” said Rep. Walberg following the vote. Read More
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday unveiled a restructuring plan to regain the public’s trust and ensure smoother operations after the agency’s recent scheduling scandal, but veterans groups and key members of Congress have expressed little enthusiasm for the proposals.
The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have said nothing about the plans, which is unusual for a major initiative. Meanwhile, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America expressed cautious optimism, mixed with a dash of criticism.
“After years of failure, missed deadlines and disappointment at VA, our veterans will only celebrate when we see results,” IAVA chief executive Paul Rieckhoff said Monday. “We’re all rooting for Secretary McDonald and the VA, but IAVA members won’t be satisfied until the mission is accomplished and we see a measurable difference in local communities nationwide.”
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald speaks about his efforts to improve services during a news conference at the National Press Club on Nov. 7. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) didn’t address any specifics of the VA plan in a statement about the initiative Monday. Instead, he applauded the department’s recent efforts to hire more health professionals who can help deal with increasing demand.
“That’s the senator’s major focus and the subject of his meetings with [VA Secretary Robert McDonald] on VA reform,” said Jeff Frank, a Sanders spokesman.
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), one of the department’s staunchest critics, suggested in a statement Monday that nothing will appease him like seeing quick firings of employees who were responsible for the scheduling scandal, which involved widespread falsification of appointment data to cover up treatment delays.
“New plans, initiatives and organizational structures are all well and good, but they will not produce their intended results until VA rids itself of the employees who have shaken veterans’ trust in the system,” Miller said. “So far, VA hasn’t done that — as evidenced by the fact that the majority of those who caused the VA scandal are still on the department payroll.”
Last month, the department implemented its first official firing under new rules that Congress and President Obama approved this summer for removing senior executives over wrongdoing and performance issues.
All told, the agency has proposed terminations for four senior executives, and McDonald, who took office in the wake of the scheduling scandal, has said that he has proposed disciplinary action for about 40 employees, with the possibility of 1,000 more to come.
But many Republicans, especially Miller, have accused the VA chief of moving too slowly. In particular, the chairman takes issue with the department giving employees five days’ notice before initiating the firing process to give them time to answer the charges against them.
Miller has also complained that VA executives have a chance to retire or accept other federal jobs before the agency has a chance to finalize their removals.
McDonald has argued that he is holding employees accountable as fast as he can while allowing for due process. He said during a media breakfast last week that he can’t just “walk into a room and simply fire people,” even with the new law in place for removing bad actors.
The legislation that was approved this summer shortened the appeal process for senior executives who are proposed for removal, but it does not allow the VA to oust employees without a chance to respond.
“No one doubts that reforming VA is a tough job,” Miller said. “But getting rid of failed executives should be the easiest part — not the most difficult.”To read the original article at the Washington Post, click here. Read More
As we take time this week to pay tribute to our military men and women who have returned home from the battlefield, I hope you will make the day more personal by reflecting on individuals in our community – whether a relative, neighbor or friend – who volunteered to put on a uniform and serve in defense of our great nation.
I've been personally inspired by the story of Samuel MacDonald Worthington, a 1934 graduate of Jackson High School who left his position as a draftsman and tool designer to enlist in the Navy.
Although older than most in training, he was determined to excel as a pilot, and served in World War II as a flight instructor and a patrol plane commander. When his overseas tour ended, Lt. (jg) Worthington re-enlisted to ensure that all of his crew members returned home safely.
During his second deployment, Worthington's plane came upon the wreckage of the U.S.S. Indianapolis (CA-35), in the Pacific Ocean – one of the worst at sea naval disasters in history.
Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, the U.S.S. Indianapolis with almost 1,200 crew members on board, was hit by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine.
The ship was split into three parts, and it sank within 12 minutes. Three-quarters of the crew died in the attack, making it the largest loss of life at sea in the Navy's history.
While on patrol from Saipan to Jinamoc, Worthington and his crew noticed a flash and a large oil slick.
They saw the survivors of the tragedy, with sharks around the perimeter, and the crew began dropping all survival gear – including their own life jackets and rafts - but their request for permission to land and pick up survivors was denied.
Worthington's daughter Dee-Dee says, "My precious father has passed to his heavenly home, but I still have contact with the radioman. My mother and I were honored to represent my father at the opening of an exhibit at the National Military History Center in Auburn, Indiana.
The exhibit included a U.S.S. Indianapolis display with a picture of my dad/crew and an informative write-up. We also were humbled to meet some of the survivors."
On Veterans Day, we will pause to reflect on the many sacrifices our nation's uniformed men and women have made for our country.
Here in the House of Representatives, I've worked to honor those sacrifices by supporting a number of veterans' bills, including legislation to address the disability claim backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), improve vocational and educational opportunities, and to help vulnerable disabled veterans maintain housing.
In May, I introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure living Medal of Honor recipients receive timely access to their health benefits.
We have a duty to make sure these heroes have access to the VA when they need it, and the Medal of Honor Priority Care Act will ensure that this select group of individuals is guaranteed high-quality care.
I've also spearheaded efforts to assist service members as they end their military service and transition back into civilian life.
The Service Members Transition Improvement Act is a bipartisan bill I've introduced to strengthen the connection between separating soldiers and veteran service organizations by providing a more accessible and up-to-date copy of their information to state veterans agencies.
The legislation was later included as an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act which passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
For those heroes who are no longer with us, such as Lt. Samuel Worthington, we will forever be grateful for their heroic military service and defense of our nation's freedoms.
For those who are still living in our community, we will continue to demonstrate our gratitude and work to provide the benefits and care they have earned and deserved.Read More
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Tim Walberg issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement of his support for regulating the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act:
"The President's recently announced support for regulating the Internet as a utility is bad for consumers, entrepreneurs, and the future of our economy. The Internet has served as an engine for economic growth precisely because of its freedom from undue government regulation and interference. The FCC is an independent body and should resist this political pressure from the White House to regulate the internet in a way which will increase online censorship, kill jobs and limit future innovations."
Following a slew of recent negative press involving IRS’s use of civil forfeiture laws, IRS’s Chief of Criminal Investigation (CI) has issued a statement stating that the agency would no longer pursue the seizure and forfeiture of funds associated solely with legal source “structuring” cases unless there are exceptional circumstances that warrant such seizures or forfeitures. This article provides background on the banking laws implicated in these cases and on the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture program, the facts of a recent high-profile case that brought this issue into the public eye, and proposed legislation to combat perceived civil forfeiture abuses.
Background. Under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), financial institutions generally must report each deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency or other payment or transfer which involves a transaction in currency of more than $10,000. Multiple currency transactions must be treated as a single transaction if the financial institution has knowledge that the transactions are by or on behalf of any one person and result in either cash in or cash out totalling more than $10,000 during any one business day. (31 CFR §103.22)
A taxpayer may not “structure,” or assist in structuring, his deposits (e.g., by keeping a series of deposits under the $10,000 threshold) in order to avoid BSA requirements. (31 USC 5324(a)(3)) A fine of not more than $250,000, or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both, may be imposed on a person who willfully violates this anti-structuring provision. (31 USC 5322(a))
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) website, the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture Program “encompasses the seizure and forfeiture of assets that represent the proceeds of, or were used to facilitate federal crimes. The primary mission of the Program is to employ asset forfeiture powers in a manner that enhances public safety and security. This is accomplished by removing the proceeds of crime and other assets relied upon by criminals and their associates to perpetuate their criminal activity against our society. Asset forfeiture has the power to disrupt or dismantle criminal organizations that would continue to function if we only convicted and incarcerated specific individuals.”
Recent scandal. A recent New York Times article (“Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required” (Oct. 25, 2014), by Shaila Dewan) profiled Carole Hinder, a restaurant owner who, for 38 years, deposited the earnings from her cash-only establishment at a local bank. According to the article, last year, without charging Hinder with any crime, IRS seized her checking account because of the less-than-$10,000 pattern in deposits—which, by itself, was apparently a sufficient basis to obtain a seizure warrant despite the facts that valid business reasons may exist for keeping deposit levels under $10,000 and that doing so isn’t illegal absent an intent to evade the BSA reporting requirements. (The article indicates that IRS is one of several agencies that investigates cases then refers them to the DOJ.)
According to a press release by the Institute for Justice (IJ), Hinder and the IJ are bringing a lawsuit challenging the forfeiture. ( http://www.ij.org/iowa-forfeiture-release-10-27-2014 ) Larry Salzman, an IJ attorney, called civil forfeiture “one of the most serious assaults on property rights in America today.” The IJ says that unlike criminal forfeiture (which generally follows a criminal conviction), with civil forfeiture, a property owner can have his or her property permanently taken without ever being convicted of or even charged with a crime. The IJ also alleges that IRS made 639 seizures in 2012, up from 114 in 2005—a more-than-550% increase.
RIA observation:Weekly Alert readers might remember the Institute for Justice from their representation of the plaintiffs in the Loving case (Loving, et al, v. IRS, et al, 113 AFTR 2d 2014-867113 AFTR 2d 2014-867), which successfully challenged IRS’s authority to regulate tax return preparers who prepare and file tax returns for compensation.
IRS’s response. Richard Weber, chief of IRS-CI, provided the following statement to the New York Times: “After a thorough review of our structuring cases over the last year and in order to provide consistency… I.R.S.-C.I. will no longer pursue the seizure and forfeiture of funds associated solely with “legal source” structuring cases unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying the seizure and forfeiture and the case has been approved at the director of field operations (D.F.O.) level. While the act of structuring — whether the funds are from a legal or illegal source — is against the law, I.R.S.-C.I. special agents will use this act as an indicator that further illegal activity may be occurring.”
Political response. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee and senior member of the Finance Committee, commented in response that “[t]he IRS plays a role in fighting money laundering and other criminal activity, but it has to treat business owners fairly. If the pendulum has swung too far in favor of the government and against fairness for innocent people, then it’s time to reform civil asset forfeiture laws and procedures.”
Legislative proposals. There have been a number of recent bills introduced regarding civil asset forfeiture (which has become an increasingly prevalent issue over the past few years, with alleged abuses occurring at the state and local levels in addition to misuse by federal agencies) prior to this latest scandal. S.2644, the “Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act of 2014,” was introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) back in July. The bill would make the federal government’s standard of proof in civil forfeiture proceedings be “clear and convincing evidence” and would require the government, in addition to showing a substantial connection between the seized property and the offense in a forfeiture proceeding, to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the owner of any interest in the seized property intentionally used the property (or knowingly consented or was willfully blind to the use of the property by another) in connection with the offense.
H.R. 5212, the “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2014,” was also introduced in July by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI). The bill would similarly make the government’s standard of proof be “clear and convincing evidence,” require the government to notify all owners of forfeited property of the possibility of using a public defender to argue their case, and expand the criteria to consider when weighing the proportionality of the amount of the forfeiture against the connected crime.
To read the original article at Reuters, click here.
2436 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Tim Walberg is currently serving his third term in Congress as the representative of south-central Michigan. The diverse constituency of Michigan’s 7th District encompasses Branch, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties, along with parts of Washtenaw County. Since first taking office, Tim has hosted hundreds of coffee and town hall meetings to better understand the thoughts and concerns of the district.
Prior to his time in public office, Tim served as a pastor in Michigan and Indiana, as president of the Warren Reuther Center for Education and Community Impact, and as a division manager for Moody Bible Institute. He also served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1983 to 1999, and is proud to bring his reputation as a principled legislator, fiscal reformer, and defender of traditional values to Washington.
In the 113th Congress, Tim serves on the House Education and the Workforce Committee as Chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. In addition, he serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
He and his wife, Sue, have been married for over 39 years, and enjoy spending time outdoors and riding on their Harley. They live in Tipton, Michigan, where they raised their three children: Matthew, Heidi and Caleb.
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Glad to see the legacy and bravery of Officer Bonneau will be remembered and honored in Jackson for years to come http://t.co/Onw6AhPXpy
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Glad Rep. Walberg is mentioning people whose lives have been destroyed by Obamacare but it's a a shame none of them are testifying today
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I'm glad that the legacy and bravery of Officer Bonneau will be remembered in Jackson for many years to come.
While I’m pleased to learn of the release of Alan Gross, today’s announcement by the President is one-sided and does nothing to advance democracy,
Great news for Coldwater and a warm Michigan welcome to Clemens Food Group!
A great write-up from The Mackinac Center for Public Policy on my efforts to reform civil asset forfeiture. "At the federal level, Michigan’s
A must read from The Wall Street Journal. The search for the truth is a bipartisan issue, and as a member of the Oversight Committee I will