State Senate Economic Development Committee brings hearing to Southgate

From the News-Herald

SOUTHGATE — A state Senate committee heard plenty about job creation and retention in the area Friday.
 
Chairman Mike Kowall (R-White Lake) brought the Economic Development Committee to the Downriver Community Conference office for a hearing and welcomed several of the state and region’s most prominent directors on the topic.
 
The most interesting information came from James McBryde, vice president of governmental affairs for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. In discussing the need for a second bridge to Canada, he said gaining access to a major seaport is one of the most prominent perks.
 
“The port that is really up and coming is Halifax (Nova Scotia),” he said. “That route will be huge for the state and for trade when that corridor opens up.”
 
Gov. Rick Snyder and the Canadian government announced a plan last summer to erect a second span over the Detroit River just south of the privately owned Ambassador Bridge. Canada would fund construction of the bridge and recoup its investment in toll revenue. Other construction costs in the United States, mainly a customs plaza here, would be borne by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
 
Some believe the new bridge could be open to traffic as soon as 2020.
 
Kowall also highlighted the need for a regional advisory committee to assist the state Strategic Fund on matters of international trade. His Senate Bill 272, which is in the House for consideration, would create the authority with members from across the state.
 
Several Downriver dignitaries, including Allen Park Mayor William Matakas; Sandy Mull, Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber president; Anthony Arminiak, Wayne County Community College District Downriver campus president; and Gregory Pitoniak, Southeast Michigan Community Alliance/Michgian Works director, also addressed the committee to highlight the efforts their agencies and communities had designed to make the region competitive.
 
Mull discussed a rebranding campaign for the area that was born out of a summit meeting for the region while Arminiak stressed the need for greater emphasis on skills-based education to fill manufacturing jobs that require more than just basic abilities.
 
“It seems some parents still believe there only are two paths,” he said. “They think you can go into the automotive industry or go to a four-year university. That’s not the case.
 
“We need to do all we can to make it clear that skill-based education can lead to good, high-tech jobs and salaries.”
 
Sen. Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) posed an interesting case to Pitoniak, whose agency assists workers seeking jobs and/or retraining.
 
So-called driver responsibility fees, tacked on to a driver’s registration costs after a certain number of points on their license or other serious traffic offenses, often can become barriers to employment, he said. The trouble is, “They’re too good and raise too much revenue to get rid of.”
 
Pitoniak and DCC Director Jim Perry agreed, but added that both agencies provide paths to transportation to ensure drivers with less-than-stellar records aren’t pushed out of good job opportunities.
 
Sens. Virgil Smith (D-Detroit), Jim Ananich (D-Flint) and Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan) also sat with the committee, which has been touring the state in recent months to stress the services the MEDC can offer communities and individuals seeking to create or attract new business development.
 
Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor), state Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Wayne County Commissioner Joseph Palamara (D-Grosse Ile) also attended the hearing.
 

Sen. Mike Kowall comments on State of the State address

LANSING—State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, offered the following statement Thursday after Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his 2014 State of the State address:

“I applaud the governor for continuing to focus on job growth and economic recovery. We have made tremendous strides over the past three years and I expect more good things to come.

“The world is taking notice. The top credit rating agencies have all upgraded Michigan’s credit outlook and bond ratings. People are investing. Venture capital activity in the state jumped up ten spots—the biggest leap in the nation.

“There is still much more work to be done to continue our recovery. I am eager to work with the governor this year to address these challenges, and I look forward to new successes for Michigan this year.”

Note: Audio remarks from Kowall are available for broadcast on this website. Click on Audio under the the Media Center tab.

Spinal Column: Michigan now the proud home of premier auto show and automated vehicle testing

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

The future has come to Detroit. Over the next two weeks, the most significant and important automobile trade show in the world, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), will display a dazzling array of cutting-edge automotive technology downtown at the Cobo Center.

This year, the NAIAS celebrates its 25th anniversary as an international event. For several decades, beginning in the early 20th century, Detroit hosted a regional auto show. In 1989, thanks to a forward-thinking group of auto dealers within the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, the show was opened to an international audience, and the NAIAS was born.

Twenty-five years later, the NAIAS has become the most prestigious auto show in the world, allowing the general public and industry experts alike access to tomorrow’s vehicles, displaying the most innovative automotive technology on the planet.

On Jan. 13 and 14, the preview of the show for the media was held. On Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 15 and 16, the NAIAS will hold the industry preview, followed by the charity preview on Friday, Jan. 17, and Saturday, Jan. 18.

Finally, the show will open to the general public from Saturday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, Jan. 26.

More than 5,000 journalists from around the world are expected to attend the NAIAS this year. The show’s impact will be felt across the globe.

As the state senator for the 15th District, representing thousands of residents who work in the automobile industry as well as countless auto manufacturing and supplier companies, I am eagerly anticipating the auto show.

This year, I have an even keener interest in the show than usual. I sponsored two measures last year to allow the testing of automated motor vehicles on Michigan roadways. Automated vehicles are capable of sensing their surroundings and navigating without human input.

Senate Bill 169 will allow automakers and upfitters to test automated motor vehicles with a human in the driver’s seat to monitor performance and intervene if necessary. SB 663 will protect original manufacturers from civil liability for damages caused by modified autonomous vehicles, unless the defect from which the damages resulted was present in the vehicle when it was manufactured.

In his 2013 State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder said he wanted to establish Michigan as a leader in automated vehicle technology to attract jobs stemming from this developing industry. I am happy to say that we are now closer to realizing this goal, as the governor recently signed both of my measures into law, as Public Acts 231 and 251 of 2013.

Last year, an automated vehicle was featured at the NAIAS. I hope to see some more of these vehicles at the show again this year.

Automated vehicles are a remarkable technology that will someday improve the lives of millions of Americans. The technology will also strengthen the economies of the states in which it is based. Michigan is now poised to become a leader among those states.

The NAIAS represents the best the automotive world has to offer. Automated vehicles are part of that cutting-edge technology. I am proud that Michigan is now home to both.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee and vice chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation. He serves the citizens of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Sen. Kowall available for comments following State of the State address

Who:
State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake.

What:
Reaction and comments following the governor’s State of the State address.

When:
After the address, which is scheduled to begin Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.

Where:
House Appropriations Room
Third Floor
State Capitol
Lansing, MI

Brief:
Kowall will be available following the State of the State address for comments on state issues mentioned by the governor in the address.

He is also available for phone interviews on Friday, Jan. 17.

Please call Kowall’s office at 1-517-373-1758 prior to 5 p.m. on Jan. 16 to schedule an interview time with the senator.

Audio remarks will be available for broadcast from the senator’s website at www.SenatorMikeKowall.com. Click on Audio under the Media Center tab.

Michigan poised to drive the automated vehicle industry

Senator Mike Kowall in the Detroit News

The future has come to Detroit. Over the next two weeks, the most significant and important auto show in the world, the North American International Auto Show, will display a dazzling array of cutting-edge automotive technology downtown at Cobo Center.
 
This year, the NAIAS celebrates its 25th anniversary as an international event. For decades, beginning in the early 20th Century, Detroit hosted a regional auto show. In 1989, thanks to a forward-thinking group of auto dealers within the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, the show was opened to an international audience, and the NAIAS was born.
 
Twenty-five years later, the NAIAS has become the most prestigious auto show in the world, allowing the public and industry experts alike access to tomorrow's vehicles, displaying the most innovative automotive technology on the planet. The news media's preview kicks off today, and the public show starts Saturday.
 
More than 5,000 journalists from around the world are expected to attend the auto show this year. Its impact will be felt across the globe.
 
As the state senator for the 15th District, representing thousands of residents who work in the automobile industry, as well as at countless auto manufacturing and supplier companies, I am eagerly anticipating the auto show. But this year, I have an even keener interest in it.
 
I sponsored two measures last year to allow the testing of automated motor vehicles on Michigan roadways. Automated vehicles are capable of sensing their surroundings and navigating without human input.
 
Senate Bill 169 will allow automakers and upfitters to test automated motor vehicles with a human in the driver's seat to monitor performance and intervene if necessary. SB 663 will protect automakers from civil liability for damages caused by modified autonomous vehicles, unless the defect from which the damages resulted was present in the vehicle when it was manufactured.
 
In his 2013 State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder said he wanted to establish Michigan as a leader in automated vehicle technology to attract jobs stemming from this developing industry. I am happy to say that we are now closer to realizing this goal, as the governor recently signed both measures into law, as Public Acts 231 and 251 of 2013.
 
Last year, an automated vehicle was featured at the NAIAS. I hope to see some more of these vehicles at the show again this year. Automated vehicles are a remarkable technology that someday could improve the lives of millions of Americans. The technology will also strengthen the economies of the states in which it is based. Michigan is now poised to become a leader among those states.
 
The NAIAS represents the best the automotive world has to offer. Automated vehicles are part of that cutting-edge technology. I am proud that Michigan is now home to both.
 
Mike Kowall, a Republican from White Lake Township, represents Michigan's 15th District in the state Senate, and is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation. This column was originally written for the Spinal Column Newsweekly.