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@MyKitchenTable - May 27, 2021

@MyKitchenTable: Thursday, May 27, 2021

Dear Friend:

“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” – President Roosevelt

As we approach the Memorial Day Weekend, and many who are vaccinated plan ways to spend times with friends and loved ones, please take time to remember our fallen heroes. This weekend, pause to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation and way of life. We are indebted to the men and women who have served our country and protected us at home and abroad. May we continue to honor their memory.

It’s certainly been a busy week since our last KT update. There weren’t votes in Washington this week, which meant I was here at home making a number of visits across southwest Michigan.

ImageI spent the past week in the Kalamazoo area at a number of different stops, including visiting Western Michigan University's Business Park, which was set up by my former staffer who is now the vice president for government relations at WMU, Jeff Breneman. There we had conversations with business leaders and professors about energy, infrastructure, and innovation. We also stopped by Roofsit, a fundraiser to benefit Community Healing Centers, which aims to help children with childhood trauma. I also toured the YWCA Edison Children's Center, a redevelopment that includes housing and will also help folks attain affordable childcare. Then I also thanked our brave first responders at the Paw Paw Fire Department Event. We have incredible folks doing extraordinary things across our district, and we all can be proud of and grateful for them.


I also have met with a number of local employers. As I drive the district, there are signs at business after business looking for workers with some over $20/hour. Today I had a zoom with local home builders and a zoom earlier this week with local realtors.  Lumber prices are way up and putting a squeeze on new construction adding tens of thousands to the cost of a new house with April housing starts down nearly 10%.  There are real issues with supply chain for manufacturers triggered by a lack of employees returning to work.  

On Wednesday, I met with the Kalamazoo County Transportation Study to share an update on talks regarding a federal infrastructure deal. The latest you may have seen today is that a group of Republican Senators offered a counterproposal to President Biden's more than $2 trillion infrastructure deal. The $928 billion counteroffer includes $506 billion for roads, bridges and major projects. As NPR details HERE, other increases include $48 billion for water infrastructure, $25 billion for airports, $65 billion for broadband and $22 billion for freight and passenger rail.

ImageI also participated in the groundbreaking for the new $95 million justice facility in downtown Kalamazoo. The county’s new Justice Facility will bring together county prosecutor’s office, as well as Circuit and District courtrooms and facilities. You can learn more about the facility and see photos from the groundbreaking HERE.

A few other items this week too. I joined my Michigan colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of State Blinken regarding the arrest of U.S. citizen and journalist Danny Fenster of Huntington Woods, Michigan in Burma. We expressed our concern for his wellbeing and asked the Sec. of State to secure his release. There is no known cause for Mr. Fenster’s detention, but he is the fourth foreign journalist to be detained in Burma since the February 1 military coup. You can read our letter to the Secretary Blinken HERE.

I also joined my Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to hold a hearing on the origins of the COVID-19 crisis. This virus has killed nearly 600,000 Americans and millions worldwide, and we need to know where it came from. What did the Chinese Communist Party know? Was there a coverup? These are questions we need answers to and it’s time for us to get them. Stay tuned.

Lastly, the EPA announced this week that work will start in June to clean up the Allied Paper Landfill in Kalamazoo. Cleaning up this site and restoring it to productive use has been one of my top priorities for years, and it is absolutely necessary for the well-being of our community. This announcement is one we have been eagerly waiting to hear for years. You can learn more HERE.

As restrictions are lifted, enjoy time with your friends and family and be safe. And if you’re going out on the water, please remember to be extra cautious. Here are a few good links about events around Kalamazoo HERE, about boater safety from the DNR HERE, and Memorial Day parades and events around Holland HERE.

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

All the best,


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