Rep. Dianda discusses the issues

HOUGHTON – State Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, discussed recent votes on local and state issues during an interview Friday.

Dianda said he supports a recent package of bills that allows for the use of secondary-use products for roads, creation of road beds and also for mixes, whether blacktop or concrete. As an example, he cited flyash, which is used in the manufacture of cement.

“We have all of this stamp sand from back in the mining days that is not contaminated, it’s not on the Superfund site, but we have a lot of that crushed stone that’s all over our region, whether we’re talking about Gogebic County, or Iron County, or Ontonagon or Houghton/Keweenaw.”

Down the road, he said, the Gay stamp sands might be able to be used for concrete production. Dianda said stamp sands have already been used on roads in his district as part of winter maintenance.

“I’d like to really see us be able to utilize that as a positive, have a clean up, and get a lot of these areas back to the way that they were before we dumped all of that stamp sand on the beaches,” he said.

Dianda said he also supports the continuation of a gray wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. Twenty-two wolves were killed in Michigan’s first hunt last year.

A petition with more than 374,000 signatures reaffirming the Natural Resources Commission’s ability to regulate a game species was submitted to the state last week. Signatures have also been submitted for two competing proposals that would overturn the wolf hunt.

“If they don’t have a natural predator, and we can’t hunt those wolves, are we going to have triple the amount of wolves around that are not going to be supported?” he said.

In statewide issues, Dianda voted against a bill package approved by the House in May that included $195 million in Detroit bankruptcy funds.

“In my eyes, I don’t see that taking care of that total amount of debt that we’re on the hook for,” he said. “I’m all for making sure that the pensions are taken care of, and that’s my main concern with this. I’m not as concerned with the other parts of it.”

Dianda also voted in favor of a bill to raise the minimum wage, which passed the House 76-34 and was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder last week. The bill headed off a ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in 2017.

Republican and Democratic leaders negotiated a bill that would raise the level to $9.25 an hour by 2018 from its current $7.40. The first increase will come on Sept. 1, when it rises to $8.15. Future increases will be indexed to inflation.

“I supported this bill because I felt very strongly that especially in the U.P., with our current expenses and utilities going up, that we needed to make sure we came up with something immediate,” he said. “This had immediate effect.”

By giving more money to workers, it might also reduce the amount the state spends on benefits, Dianda said.