GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow was in Grand Rapids on Sunday to speak to young farmers at DeVos Place.
Stabenow, a Democrat, spoke at the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee luncheon.
Agriculture is Michigan's second-largest industry and Stabenow is the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
Stabenow discussed the 2012 Farm Bill and the effects it will have on younger members of the agriculture community.
Stabenow also commented on last week's hearing on the Obama administration's decision that required religiously affiliated institutions to offer birth control coverage as part of their health care plans.
Last week, President Barack Obama modified the policy, saying insurance companies -- not religious organizations -- would have to pay for contraceptive costs of religious employees. But that decision didn't satisfy religious leaders who testified at an Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Thursday.
Of the 10 witnesses scheduled to testify on the first panel, none were women, causing some female committee members to walk out of the hearing.
"I was pretty shocked, actually, to see a hearing women's health care and have no women on the panel," said Stabenow. "And I think women across Michigan were shocked by that as well."
Stabenow also talked about the payroll tax cut bill that was passed Friday in both the House and Senate. She said the bill helped millions of Michigan workers and hopes the bipartisan spirit shown during the process will continue throughout the year.
Among other things, the bill allows workers to continue receiving a 2% increase in their paychecks, and allows people who are unemployed for more than six months to keep receiving jobless benefits.
Stabenow is up for re-election this November. She faces competition from, most notably, West Michigan's Pete Hoekstra.
The newly renovated Kendall Building in downtown Grand Rapids in ready to open.
The Michigan House has put off voting on legislation to hold back third-graders who aren't proficient in reading and grade public schools from A to F instead of colors.
Kent County prosecutors say they are charging a man with the sexual assault of a 77-year-old woman in her southeast Grand Rapids home.