THE GROSSE POINTES — As a newly-elected Michigan legislator attending his first state of the state address Wednesday, Jan. 16, it was what State Rep. Brian Banks, D-Detroit, didn’t hear from Gov. Rick Snyder that made the biggest impression.
“I was looking to hear from the governor issues relating to crime and the state of Detroit, which he did not mention,” said Banks, representing House District 1.
This is the first legislative session in which District 1 encompasses Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods, Harper Woods and part of Detroit.
In prior years, all five Pointes were grouped in one district.
Banks said he was disappointed the governor didn’t address the status of an emergency financial manager for Detroit.
“This EFM is lingering over citizens’ heads,” Banks said.
Regarding economic matters, Banks said, “I believe there is a disconnect between the governor and middle class families, especially families that struggle to make ends meet. He’s pushed policies that hurt families, workers and children.”
Banks cited education.
“The governor is advocating for his Educational Achievement Authority,” Banks said.
The authority is the governor’s initiative to operate the state’s lowest performing 5 percent of schools.
Banks said the authority gives parents little say over what happens in neighborhood schools.
“The EAA paves the way for school vouchers and makes it possible to allow for-profit corporations to take over public schools,” he said. “It doesn’t sit well.”
He wants to introduce legislation eliminating certain school districts from being part of the EAA.
Banks campaigned for office, in part, on his background as an educator.
“As a former elementary school teacher, college professor and advocate for education, I am deeply concerned about the future of our children’s education and the governor’s direction for our public education system,” he said.
Banks said his first couple of weeks in office have been a great experience.
“We’ve received numerous calls, more from the Pointes than Detroit,” he said. “I’ve received calls and e-mails of support and people asking me to support particular legislation and introduce legislation.”
Most callers oppose the EAA, he said.
“Several were about protecting Second Amendment rights, with the gun issue,” he said. “I’m looking forward to serving residents and getting things done and introducing policy that will help residents.”
Addressing accretion, which is an important topic to many Pointe residents, is on “our to-do list,” Banks said.
He’d like to serve on the education and judiciary committees.
“One key to ensuring a bright future for our community is to ensure that our children receive the best education possible,” Banks said. “Having graduated from Michigan State University College of Law, I have the ability to properly analyze and interpret legislation regarding judicial issues.”
He’s also interested in serving on the healthcare policy and energy and technology committees.
Banks holds office hours in the district on:
the first Monday of every month at Caribou Coffee, 19419 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods;
the third Monday of every month at McDonald’s, 14271 Gratiot at Seven Mile, Detroit.
Hours for both locations are 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.