Day 4 #RideMI Motorcycle Tour: Peters stops in Bloomingdale, Jones & Sturgis

STURGIS, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters began the fourth day of his #RideMI Motorcycle Tour at Bloomingdale Communications in Van Buren County. Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, toured the company and met with employees to discuss their work to increase broadband access in Van Buren County, as well as his efforts in the Senate to help deploy broadband service to more communities.


“Expanding broadband in rural areas leads to economic growth, stronger schools and improved access to healthcare,” said Senator Peters. “Bloomingdale Communications and its employees are working hard to give residents in Van Buren County and the surrounding area dependable, high-speed internet service, improving their quality of life. As Congress, the FCC and other agencies move forward with broadband policymaking, I will be working to ensure that the small broadband carriers like Bloomingdale Communications, who are serving rural areas, are treated fairly.”


“Bloomingdale Communications is excited to welcome Senator Gary Peters to our office to discuss the benefits and challenges of delivering broadband to residents and businesses in rural Van Buren County, Michigan,” said Mark Bahnson, CEO and General Manager of Bloomingdale Communications.  “As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Peters’ has been a strong supporter of issues important to our community like Rural Call Completion and equitable treatment of small and rural broadband suppliers. His visit was a great opportunity to thank the Senator for his work to ensure Michigan’s rural communities remain connected.”


Data on broadband coverage is often overstated, making it difficult to identify areas most in need of broadband investment and calling into question the reliability of the National Broadband Map. The Commerce Committee passed Peters’ amendment to update the National Broadband Map by requiring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to report on existing data collection practices for fixed and mobile broadband coverage and offer recommendations for improvements. He also recently joined 26 of his colleagues in urging the FCC to update the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Mobility Fund to prioritize new mobile broadband deployment in rural and underserved areas.


His second stop of the day was at Rolling Meadows Farm in Cass County, where he met with members of the Michigan Farm Bureau to discuss the importance of agriculture to Michigan’s economy and hear about the challenges facing farmers. Rolling Meadows is a fifth-generation family farm that raises pigs and grows corn, soybeans, wheat and hay.


“Our agricultural diversity is one of Michigan’s greatest strengths, and Rolling Meadows Farms is part of our state’s rich farming tradition. From our cherries and blueberries to our soybeans and livestock, Michigan’s agriculture sector contributes over $100 billion to the state’s economy and employs nearly one out of every four Michiganders,” said Senator Peters. “To protect and grow this vital industry, farmers need the flexibility to maximize their investments. I was proud to support legislation to extend small business expensing so that farmers are able to invest in new technology and equipment.”


“Agriculture one of Michigan’s biggest industries, and as a fifth generation farm, Rolling Meadows is proud to be part of our state’s rich farming tradition,” said Jon White, owner of Rolling Meadows Farms. “I thank Senator Peters for visiting Rolling Meadows Farms today to see firsthand the work we’re doing to provide Michiganders with sustainable, locally grown meat and grains and hear about the issues facing Michigan’s farmers.”


Senator Peters has been a strong supporter of provisions to allow farms and other small businesses to immediately deduct the cost of capital investments in the same year that it is purchased, helping to defray the cost of new farm equipment, machinery and other major purchases. Last year, the expensing limit was permanently set at $500,000 with a $2 million overall investment limit in a larger, year-end tax bill, which Senator Peters voted for.


Senator Peters ended the day at Hamilton Harley-Davidson in Sturgis, where he met and took a motorcycle ride with local veterans. Last year, Hamilton Harley-Davidson Co-Owners Tommy and Tom Hamilton launched the #FreedomRide program that makes a 2015 Harley-Davidson® FatBoy Low available to any current active or inactive military veteran to rent at no charge. Peters also discussed his legislation to help veterans who may have been erroneously given a less-than-honorable discharge from the military. 

“America’s servicemen and women make unimaginable sacrifices to protect our freedom, and it is inspiring to see Hamilton Harley-Davidson honoring them with a special version of freedom – the thrill of riding a motorcycle on the open road,” said Senator Peters. “We have made a solemn promise to stand by those who serve our nation in uniform, and as a former Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve and son of a World War II veteran, I take very seriously the responsibility to uphold that promise. In the Senate, I am working to ensure our servicemembers have the resources to execute their mission safely and effectively and successfully transition to civilian life after military service.”


“Hamilton Harley-Davidson launched our #FreedomRide program as a small way

to honor the big sacrifices made by our nation¹s veterans,” said owner Tommy Hamilton. “We were pleased to have Senator Peters visit our dealership today to share his love of motorcycles with Sturgis-area veterans and see the #FreedomRide in action. We thank Senator Peters for his continued efforts to support our men and women in uniform both during and after their service.”


A less-than-honorable discharge is often given for instances of minor misconduct such as being late to formation and missing appointments – behavior often seen in those suffering from PTSD, TBI, and other trauma-related conditions. A less-than-honorable discharge renders servicemembers ineligible for certain benefits, including Post-9/11 G.I. Bill educational benefits and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans. Peters’ amendment would instruct Discharge Review Boards (DRBs) to give liberal consideration to petitions for upgrades to honorable discharge if the servicemember has been diagnosed with mental trauma in connection with their service.


Tomorrow, on the final day of his #RideMI Motorcycle Tour, Senator Peters will make multiple stops in Branch County.