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Michigan Representative District 63

Choose one candidate. Representatives in the Michigan State House serve two-year terms and receive an annual salary of $71,685.

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    John Anthony La Pietra
    (Grn)

  • Candidate picture

    David C. Maturen
    (Rep)

  • Lynn Shiflea
    (Dem)

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Biographical Information

How should the state assist other municipalities and school districts whose solvency is threatened by its financial obligations to current and future retirees?

Is the way the state funds our cities adequate to ensure safety and service delivery? If not, what changes would you support to our municipal finance model?

When cities are struggling, what is the appropriate way for the state to intervene? Should state intervention – through the emergency manager law or some other avenue – come with dollars attached? Why or why not?

How would you rate the state’s response to the Flint water crisis?

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the state’s response.

How would you rate the federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis?

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the federal government’s response.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

Do you believe Michigan’s tax system is generally fair? If not, what changes do you support?

Do you favor amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity?

Do you support state-level laws modeled on the federal Restoration of Religious Freedom Act?

Have you signed any public pledge to support or oppose any organization’s public policy objectives, such as outlawing abortion or barring any increase in taxes?

Do you support legislation to minimize or eliminate the influence of political parties on drawing lines for legislative districts?

Would you support the establishment of a Detroit Educational Commission that would have authority to site, open and close traditional public and charter schools?

What changes, if any, would you support in the way Michigan authorizes and regulates charter schools?

Do you support decriminalization of recreational marijuana?

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s nominee?

Do you support the renewal and/or expansion of renewable energy mandates for Michigan energy producers?

As more boomers enter retirement, the state faces critical shortages in eldercare services and rapidly rising levels of poverty among older Americans. What should the Legislature and the state government do about it?

The state Board of Education’s proposed guidelines for transgender students has ignited a backlash, particularly among some Republicans in the Legislature. Where do you stand? And what is state government’s role in legislating on this issue?

About a quarter of the state’s children live in poverty or live in families in which access to food and other necessities is unreliable. What can the state Legislature be doing to address this issue?

Do you believe that Michigan can improve and maintain its public infrastructure at current funding levels, or do you believe the Legislature should allocate more money to fix roads, bridges and the like?

Is it the Legislature’s role to ensure that every child in Michigan have access to structured, certified child care and preschool from birth until they enter primary grades?

Do you believe it’s too easy to get a concealed weapons permit in Michigan? Do you believe citizens should be able to carry firearms, open or concealed, anywhere?

Do we incarcerate too many people in Michigan? What would you change in the criminal justice system?

Many school districts, particularly in urban communities, are in decline owing to concentrated levels of poverty and policies that siphon way resources. What is your solution?

Do you support further privatization of state services such as the Department of Corrections?

Do you support energy choice for consumers, monopolies for utilities or some combination? How would you promote development of clean energy alternatives?

City of residence Marshall, MI
Age 58
Family wife Jennifer; daughter Serenity (born 11/5/2014)
Education BA cum laude, Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) 1978; major: planning/public administration JD cum laude, Cooley Law School (Lansing), 2008; concentrations: administrative law, Constitutional law/civil rights
Vehicles owned 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt and 1995 Honda Civic (both bought used; VIN # of Civic indicates it was built in Canada)
Professional Experience I've been an attorney for almost eight years now. Before that, I worked roughly ten years each in government (state, regional, and local levels); for non-profit organizations; and in the private sector. If you want all the details, please let me know.
Political Experience What do you want to count? I've been politically active at least since handing out McGovern flyers just far enough away from the polls on Election Day 1972. I've volunteered for Democrats and Republicans (in the latter case, primarily John Anderson, who later in the 1980 Presidential race made an independent National Unity campaign). But all my activity this century has been Green. I have served the Green Party of Michigan in various roles since helping it get on the ballot in 2000 -- most notably as GPMI's Elections Co-ordinator since 2003.
Race/ethnicity We usually count the half from my father's side as all Italian, and the half from my mother's side as 1/4 each German, English, Irish, and Welsh.
Incumbent? false
For one thing, the state could ease the tension between local governments and retirees by scrapping the pension tax – or at least applying it only to families for whom pensions aren't the last line of defense against poverty. It could also help make sure the obligations are properly evaluated based on reasonable presumptions, and work with localities and employee/retiree groups to build systems that provide sustainable, socially just pensions.
Evidently not, or we wouldn't have had so many “emergencies” – and so many more cities having to cut back on services.

A Green approach would apply Green values. Grassroots Democracy says local people are in general the best judges and deciders of what their communities need. Decentralization adds that services which can be provided locally should be. On the other hand, Social Justice recognizes that local communities are not all equally able to meet their needs, and suggests that the state government help by sharing its progressively-gathered revenues, after identifying total needs statewide. This is (in broad strokes) the model for state support of locally-run public education.
First, do no harm. How many of the “emergencies” so far could have been avoided if the state hadn't cut funds for local public programs in the first place? (Not only are our “emergency managers” the opposite of government BY the People – undemocratic, unrepresentative, and unaccountable – but we define “emergency” only in terms of immediate monetary difficulties. Isn't the Flint water poisoning an emergency?)

The state's first response to an actual emergency (financial or otherwise) should be to make the situation sustainable, then better. That may not take spending money; usually it will. But the imperative is to do what's needed to restore “equal benefit, security and protection”.
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Article I, Section 1 of Michigan's constitution says, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit, security and protection.” All state elected officials take an oath to support that constitution. But the response to Flint shows more loyalty to Jay Feinman's book on insurance-industry tactics, “Delay, Deny, Defend”.

The state skimped on the ounce of prevention and now owes as many pounds of cure as it takes to make things right. If government were just a business, those responsible for the bad decisions would be gone. But those in power in Lansing have made it harder for them to be held accountable BY the People. That must change.
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Lincoln – the one who pointed out that our government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people – also famously said that the legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people what they need done but can't do (at all or as well) for themselves individually. The people of Flint couldn't get the state to make its water safe, but they should have been able to rely on the EPA to watch over the situation and do something about it – for them, not Lansing power players.

The Federal government must help make the state make things right in Flint – and apply the Green values of Ecological Wisdom and Future Focus/Sustainability to solve and prevent similar problems elsewhere.
No.
No.
The state's own limited-by-design study of education funding says the tax system allows increasing inequity. Services have been slashed to provide tax cuts to corporations, while people are driven into the equivalent of debtor's prison by more and higher taxes and fees. That's not generally fair or socially just – and partly because of that, it's not sustainable either.

I would realign state taxes along more progressive lines. As long as income taxes can't be graduated, I would call for higher standard deductions, fully-restored Earned Income Credit, and ending or reforming the pension tax. I would also urge adopting long-term sustainability as a major budgeting and policy goal.
Yes. Respect for Diversity is one of the Ten Key Values of the Green Party; our national party has a Lavender Caucus specifically to address issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Here in Michigan, I was a leader in putting Greens on record as opposing proposals against same-sex marriage before and after one of them reached the ballot as Proposal 2 of 2004. (In fact, GPMI was the only statewide party to oppose Proposal 2.)
No. No right is absolute, because they clash so often. Religious rights are particularly personal; the Supreme Court has even held that one person's separate beliefs merit protection as long as they're sincere. But your right to swing your arms freely stops short of my nose; if your exercise of religious freedom interferes with my rights, then they need to be balanced – and your arm-swinging may be found to be causing me harm.

We might learn from a recent editorial in the journal Bioethics. The authors argue that individual doctors took an oath to put patients first, and have no right to impose their own individual beliefs about abortion, contraception, or assisted suicide.
I have signed Move to Amend's pledge to support recognizing that corporations are not people and money is not speech. My comments on that pledge, including my commitment to accept no PAC money and no more than $100 from any citizen, are here:

https://movetoamend.org/2016-pledge-amend-candidate-responses#michigan

I've also signed onto the agendas of the Movement for Black Lives, the New Progressive Alliance, and Michigan's own Silver Key Alliance. And I make my answers to all candidate questionnaires I receive available on my campaign Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/jalp4thePeople

If you can't find a response to someone, tell me; if I was invited to respond, I'll find my reply.
I'd want to see the details in any bill, but I support ending bi-partisan monopoly on redistricting. I agree with Common Cause president Karen Hobart Flynn's comment on a major lawsuit in Maryland: “Gerrymandering pits political power against the people, regardless of which party holds power.” Bob Phillips of Common Cause's office in North Carolina adds, “What is at stake is whether politicians have the power to manipulate voting maps to unjustly insulate themselves from accountability, or whether voters have the fundamental right as Americans to choose their representatives in fair and open elections.” Redistricting too is a job for government BY the people, of all parties or no party!
Since I understand and agree that “All political power is inherent in the people”, I would say (in the spirit of the Green Values of Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice, and Decentralization) that the proper seat of that authority should be Detroit's elected school board.
Efforts to privatize public functions should be subject to more independent public scrutiny, not less. This is especially true when we are talking about experiments – however well-meant – with our children and their education to be the future citizens of this nation. If a charter school can't bear close scrutiny BY the People, and still keep its promises to provide better education (looked at more broadly than by standardized tests) for all who want to attend, then that experiment has failed and we need to act accordingly. If charter schools continue, we must be able to see where the public money goes – and to to hold chartering agencies accountable for what is done with their approval.
I support MI Legalize's grassroots approach to this issue, which is in line with the Green Value of Community-Based Economics. Michigan Greens endorsed and supported that initiative, and we support it still – whether it wins in the courts or has to renew its petition drive. We oppose the type of top-down industry-driven plan that was rejected BY the People in Ohio last year.
I do – and I already have. Jill Stein came to Detroit for Labor Day weekend, and my family and I attended the rally at Bert's Warehouse. In fact, I was among a group of GPMI candidates photographed with her – and I got to shake her hand and tell her she was the best thing to come from Massachusetts since my wife. I'm also hoping to meet her running mate Ajamu Baraka next month, when he's scheduled to come back to Michigan.

I would gladly appear with her again, or just be in the audience when she speaks to Michigan about erasing existing student loan debt and making college tuition-free, her Green Power Plan for renewable/sustainable energy and job creation, and more.
I support Jill Stein's Power to the People Plan to get to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and create jobs doing it. See:

http://www.jill2016.com/platform

So I would help Michigan take a leading role in that plan and that vital movement.
One thing the state can do is answer the call of the Silver Key Coalition and make Michigan a “no-wait state” for senior in-home services.

http://silverkeycoalition.com/home

It could also repeal the pension tax, at least up to a high threshold level, or perhaps offset them (at least) with a “Silver Standard” tax credit like EIC.
I stand in favor of Respect for Diversity and Social Justice – including the right of transgender students to be who they are. And the state government's role is, again, to provide “equal benefits, security and protection” – this time to transgender students.
Jill Stein, the national Green Party, and GPMI all have platform planks on ending poverty in general. And there are obvious things state government can do: more support for EIC and school meal programs, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, single-payer health care for all, etc. But access to food in particular should not be a problem for anyone in our state, where so much of so many kinds of food is grown. The Green value of Community-Based Economics suggests that a cross between USDA surplus programs and Community-Sponsored Agriculture could help get fresh locally grown food to families who need it most – and maybe encourage them to grow some themselves (urban/suburban farming).
Infrastructure is a good example of Lincoln's saying that the object of government is to do for a community of people what they need done but can't do for themselves. Again, the state has a duty to provide for the equal benefit of the people. Meeting infrastructure needs is the top priority, but maintenance of sustainable systems ranks ahead of expansion. (Recent research shows making more and wider roads actually creates traffic, and doesn't cut congestion – an “if you build it, they will come” phenomenon I saw as a transportation planner in the 1980s.) But a new service of clear use to the public (such as Internet access) could be added to infrastructure as a public utility.
It is part of the duty of the Legislature (and all of state government) to provide “equal benefits, security and protection” to every child. Greens propose several ways to do this, and I look forward to discussing which approach or approaches fits Michigan best. Jill Stein's platform for ending poverty includes free universal child care and “tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university.” The national party platform says, “[T]he care and nurture of children, elders and the disabled are essential to a healthy, peaceful, and sustainable society. We should recognize that the work of their caregivers is of social and economic value, and reward it accordingly.”
I don't know what impact recent changes in the CCW process have had. I do know the Supreme Court recognizes individual 2nd Amendment rights while allowing some regulation. Like other advocates of Non-Violence, Greens accept self-defense but encourage peaceful action. I'd want to be sure CCW permit-holders (and police, and all gun-owners) know how and when NOT to use their guns, and what they can do instead. To paraphrase, if your only tool is a gun, all your problems start to look like targets. (An open carrier could be liable for civil assault if someone is put in reasonable fear of being shot. Might holding owners responsible for all uses of their guns be good for public safety?)
Yes, we do incarcerate too many people. I would reduce use of statutory minimums, giving judges more discretion in sentencing. I would de-emphasize prosecution for truly victimless crimes, e.g., medical marihuana (we should be planning what to do when this front of the “War on Drugs” is abandond, marijuana use is legalized, and regulation is the goal). I would put more effort into rehabilitation, for long-term benefits to the individuals involved and to the people. And, especially given the state's long years of problems with health care for the incarcerated, I would look at compassionate release for those in serious need of better health care than they're getting while incarcerated.
I'm reminded of the late Terry Pratchett's “Sam Vimes Boot Theory of Economic Injstice”. When the rich can spend $50 on good boots that last ten years but the poor can only scrape together $10 for boots that wear out every year, the poor man spends twice as much over time – and still has wet feet the end of every year, too.

To provide “equal benefits, security, and protection” for these districts, the state needs to help them buy better boots. (But local people who'll have to wear the boots get to pick the best fit.) Then, the state should provide equitable, socially just operating funding to make sure the districts have the resources to maintain their new boots and use them well.
It is not impossible for private efforts to save the public money without jeopardizing all the benefits of public services – including public accountability. But Aramark – and Flint, and other “emergencies” (of the type not covered by Michigan's EM system) – show privatization of public functions requires more independent public scrutiny, not less. If privatizers can't provide the promised public savings and benefits when watched closely BY the People, and still make the purely financial profits they crave, then we shouldn't rely on them.
Again, I support Jill Stein's Power to the People Plan to get to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and create jobs doing it. So I would help Michigan take a leading role in that plan and that movement. The plan's goals, and the Green values it is based on, suggest focusing on individuals (including those producing their own electricity or otherwise using less) and smaller local utilities. I would also urge that rate structures be more progressive – with lower rates (and minimal or no flat base monthly charges) for those who use less electricity, and higher rates to those who use the most (and make capital expenditures necessary).
City of residence Vicksburg (Brady Twp)
Age 68
Family Wife Nancy, adult children Nicole, Michelle and Celeste.
Education Bay City Central 1966 WMU BBA 1970 WMU MPA 1978 Lansing CC Certificate Assessment Admin 1974 +/-
Vehicles owned Hyundai Santa Fe 2008 Oldsmobile 2003 BMW 2005
Professional Experience Real Estate Appraiser, Maturen & Assoc, 1978 to present Previous employment, Appraiser, Property Tax Division, Michigan Department of Treasury Sgt. U.S. Army 1971-1973
Political Experience Brady Twp Trustee 1987 - 2002 Kalamazoo County Commissioner 2002 to 2014 State Representative 2015-2016
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Campaign Website http://davematuren.com
Incumbent? true
A return to solvency can be done without the state’s assistance. When I was Chairman of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners – even though we had a defined benefit pension plan that was 111% funded – we reduced our multiplier by ½% and eliminated retiree health care for new employees. The county is on a long term trend to maintaining solvency in OPEB obligations and eliminating taxpayer liabilities in the future. Other local governments must address the issue even though it may be painful.
Before we need to look at a tax increase, we need to look at what can be done with cooperative agreements for municipal services. Proposal A of 1994 has been a great benefit to property owners in our state. But with inflationary increases for the 2016 Taxable Value of 0.003 (3/10 of 1 %) this year, it is hard for municipalities to keep abreast of cost increases. The local units of government have a package of bills they want to introduce on this topic and I will take a serious look at them.
Emergency Managers are needed when local governments have failed to keep their books in order. Sometimes it is too late for even an EM to turn things around. Detroit is an example. The state can act as a catalyst to bring other parties to the table (see Grand Bargain) to start to right the ship. EM’s are not experts in every facet of local government – but can try their best – after their presence is shown to be necessary - to do the best job they can to put the books in order. I do not think that state funds should be brought along – but on occasion (Detroit Public Schools comes to mind) there is too much risk to the state itself to not bring money to the table.
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I think the response was a measured, strategic one. Get the immediate health concerns under control and then look at the bigger picture with the facts in hand. The citizens were let down by local, state and federal governments. Plenty of blame to go around. Governor Snyder truly wants a long term fix for the residents and Attorney General Schuette is pursuing legal action against those who are culpable for the failure.
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They could be doing more. A lot more. The state has stepped up with over $200,000,000 so far. I see some legislation in the U S Senate to help out.
I noted this last time I filled this questionnaire out. Misdemeanor. Open alcohol in a vehicle. The amount of alcohol (wine) was not enough to cause impairment (3 to 4 oz.). I had no alcohol in my system. I insisted on a breathalyzer test. I paid my fine. Incurred very high insurance costs for the next five years. There is no education in the second kick of mule as Sen. Sam Ervin used to say.
No.
It is generally a fair system on a state basis with no one source being relied upon for a majority of revenue. I am working on the big box retail assessment issue (Dark Stores – HB5578) to make the system more equitable for local property taxpayers.
This is a challenging issue and is related directly to the following question. Achieving a balance between nondiscrimination and religious freedom concerns is difficult and may be impossible. I need to look at the entire topic further.
See above question.
No. “I will always or I will never” type of questions ignore the complexity of the issues.
I would like to take look at what other states have done with computer assisted delineation of Districts. Has it achieved whatever objective was intended?
I thought it had quite a bit of merit for the roughly 47,000 kids in the Detroit school system. It did not have the support to get it included in what still is a responsible approach to the matter.
I think to the extent that they are not (and I am not saying that is the case) they should be held to the same academic standards as other “public” schools. Otherwise I do not see any needed changes.
No. Let’s see what the experiences of Colorado and a few other states show before we think about legalizing one more drug or similar substance.
I am focusing on my own re-election and keeping the majority in the Michigan House of Representatives. Donald Trump appears to have his own personal methods of campaigning and reaching voters and does not need my endorsement to further that end.
Current policy is to require a 10% renewable mandate. The decline in the price of renewables and the Federal Clean Power Plan impact on Michigan should give plenty of incentive to increase renewables in the state without a specific mandate.
We need to do what we can to further the mission of quasi-governmental entities like Senior Services. I am hesitant to put any more burdens on our children and grandchildren to provide additional services for our seniors. They too have a heavy burden starting out in life with bills and an uncertain retirement situation in front of them. A lot of this should fall on the shoulders of the federal government – though with its massive, growing debt I am not certain how it can responsibly pay for programs to address issues like these.
I think that the SBE has gotten into family matters while it was involving itself in what it perceived to be school matters. The release of its recommendations showed them to be voluntary so school districts can simply ignore them if they feel they are not relevant.
Ideally prior to starting a family, individuals should have the necessary physical, financial and emotional support in place first. I have toured food banks and other charitable providers and there is plenty of food for the asking. Schools offer free breakfasts and lunches – but only for ¾ of the year. We need to find new avenues (and expand food bank’s participation) to fill in the gaps for the other ¼ of the year and weekends.
As usual there are many competing “needs” knocking on state government’s door. We have ignored our infrastructure as witnessed by lack of a road tax increase for 19 years until our recent road package – and that was for infrastructure that we could visibly see. Subsurface lines, etc. do not last forever and need constant maintenance but we cannot “see” the need until an event occurs and then it is many times too late for a simple repair. Many municipalities have built maintenance and replacement of aging infrastructure into the rates their customers pay for service. The state cannot afford to replace all the pipes in Michigan that need replacing. We can assist in emergency situations
I believe that it is the parent’s responsibility for child care. That responsibility goes along with the decision to become a parent. The state does have a constitutional mandate for K-12 education - but programs like Pre-K, Ready 4s, etc. are very valuable and should get (and I believe that they do to a large extent) funding from the state and federal government.
A. I think the permitting process is fine. B. No.
A. Yes. B. Use alternative sentencing methods (Kalamazoo and Calhoun county courts are good examples) like drug and sobriety courts to intervene early in one’s life before he or she gets to the point of violations serious enough to require incarceration.
We can try more categorical spending to help out – but more money is not always the answer. The recent annexation (merger) between Marshall and Albion schools is looking very positive. The recent 200 page plus report on education needs in Michigan suggests an additional $1,200 per pupil in the Foundation allowance. That likely is not achievable under the current financial picture.
Yes – but privatization for its own sake is not the answer. We must have specific, quantifiable objectives in the agreement and hold the contractor to them.
Current policy is 10% choice. That is likely to remain unchanged. Energy furnished by monopolies regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission is in the long term best interest for the state’s consumers. Reliability and capacity in the complex grid we call MISO are critical. The decline in the price of renewables and the Federal Clean Power Plan impact on Michigan should give plenty of incentive to increase renewables in the state without a specific mandate as noted above.
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