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01-02-2020 My View from the Capitol; Seven priests charged in clergy abuse cases in 2019; State A.G.

Looking ahead toward 2020

In 2019, Congress faced its share of challenges – that’s for certain. And as we look ahead toward 2020, we will have our plates full with unfinished business. As I mentioned last week, Cures 2.0 will be a priority for mine. This legislation will be the second effort of our historic 21st Century Cures bill. Whereas our first effort looked to speed up how we develop life-saving cures, Cures 2.0 will work on making sure these life-saving cures are more accessible to the American people. We also need to work on making prescription drug costs more affordable for all. In December, we introduced H.R. 19, legislation that includes several bipartisan provisions aimed at lowering out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and protecting innovation. And because it is bipartisan, I am confident it could pass both the House and Senate and become law quickly. Our patients need help now. In 2020, we also have to do a better job of working together. We need to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric. We need to renew respect for each other’s perspectives. The challenges we face are too great to try and solve while divided. We are Americans first, and it’s time for us to come together to tackle the issues that matter to the American people. To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Seven priests charged in clergy abuse cases in 2019; State A.G. says more to come

(Press Release) As the year draws to a close, Attorney General Dana Nessel shared an update on the clergy abuse investigation her office took over from former Attorney General Bill Schuette. “Our office has made considerable progress in this investigation,” Nessel said. “I am extremely proud of the work we have completed so far and am confident our office will continue to investigate these cases as thoroughly as possible to provide justice for victims. We fully expect several more charges will be announced – some as early as January.” Since the beginning of the investigation, more than 640 tips have been received. Based on the paper document review of only three dioceses to date – Marquette, Gaylord and Grand Rapids – the clergy abuse investigation team has already identified 552 victims who have named 270 priests as abusers. The Attorney General is estimating that at the close of the investigation there will be thousands of victims. The department has hired a victim advocate specifically to assist those who have been impacted by clergy abuse. At this time, there are 130 cases being investigated or reviewed for potential charges. Of those cases, around 50 cases have been closed based on the Statute of Limitations or the deaths of the priests involved; 45 cases are actively being investigated; 25 cases have been referred back to the Diocese for other action. So far, seven cases have been charged to date with more to follow after the first of the year. Of these seven cases, two priests – Patrick Casey and Brian Stanley – have already pleaded guilty. Additionally, 43 law enforcement officers and officials dedicated 664 hours to training in sexual assault investigations to provide comprehensive assistance to victims in the future. The Department of the Attorney General seized 1.5 million paper documents and 3.5 million electronic documents through search warrants executed in October 2018. Thirty-two volunteers have since dedicated 1,400 hours – solely on nights and weekends – to evaluate this evidence. To aid with the review of this evidence, $345,000 has been spent on managing the electronic documents. The status of the seven priests charged to date in the investigation is as follows: Joseph Baker – Trial begins February 20, 2020 in Wayne County Circuit Court. The Defendant is out on bond with a tether. Patrick Casey – Pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on October 8, 2019. Sentenced November 20, 2019 to 45 days in jail, one year of probation and is required to attend sex offender counseling. Timothy Crowley – The case was dismissed in Washtenaw County District Court. The Department of Attorney General filed an appeal December 10, 2019. Vincent DeLorenzo – This case has been reassigned to Judge Christopher Odette. A preliminary exam is yet to be scheduled in Genesee County District Court. Defendant is out on bond. Neil Kalina – A preliminary exam has now been adjourned until January 28, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. in Macomb County District Court. Bond was reduced by 50 percent by Judge Douglas Shepherd to $50,000 cash surety or 10 percent, with a tether. The defendant remains in Macomb County Jail. Brian Stanley – Pleaded guilty to one felony count of Attempted False Imprisonment; faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for January 27, 2020. Jacob Vellian – Status unchanged.

Time for some New Year’s financial resolutions

Have you thought about your New Year’s resolutions for 2020? When many of us make these promises, we focus on ways we can improve some form of our health. We vow to get more physically healthy by going to the gym, or we promise to improve our mental health by learning a new language or instrument. But it’s also important to think about our financial health – so it’s a good idea to develop some appropriate resolutions for this area, too. What kinds of financial resolutions might you make? Here are a few suggestions: Increase your retirement plan contributions. One of the best financial moves you can make is to take full advantage of your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you contribute pre-tax dollars to your plan, the more you put in, the lower your taxable income will be for the year, and your earnings can grow on a tax-deferred basis. So, if your salary goes up in 2020, increase the amount you put into to your plan. Most people don’t come close to reaching the annual contribution limit, which, in 2019, was $19,000, or $25,000 for those 50 or older. You might not reach these levels, either, but it’s certainly worthwhile to invest as much as you can possibly afford. Use “found” money wisely. During the course of the next year, you may well receive some money outside your normal paychecks, such as a bonus or a tax refund. It can be tempting to spend this money, but you may help yourself in the long run by investing it. You could use it to help fund your IRA for the year or to fill a gap in another investment account. Don’t overreact to market downturns. You’ve probably heard stories about people who lamented not getting in “on the ground floor” of what is now a mega-company. But a far more common investment mistake is overreacting to temporary market downturns by selling investments at the wrong time (when their prices are down) and staying out of the market until things calm down (and possibly missing the next rally). The financial markets always fluctuate, but if you can resolve to stay invested and follow a consistent, long-term strategy, you can avoid making some costly errors. Be financially prepared for the unexpected. Even if you’re diligent about saving and investing for your long-term goals, you can encounter obstacles along the way. And one of these roadblocks could come in the form of large, unexpected expenses, such as the sudden need for a new car or some costly medical bills. If you aren’t prepared for these costs, you might have to dip in to your long-term investments to pay for them. To prevent this from happening, you may want to keep sufficient cash, or cash equivalents, in your investment accounts. Or you might want to maintain a completely separate account as an emergency fund, with the money kept in low-risk, liquid vehicles. If possible, try to maintain at least six months’ worth of living expenses in this account. It will take some effort but following these resolutions could help you move closer to your financial goals in 2020 – and beyond. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

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