A day in the life
Over the years, I've had many people shadow me to see what a typical legislative day is like. I wanted to give everyone an idea of how I go about my day serving you in Lansing so they sent me home with a GoPro camera. I fired it up as I worked my way through Session and meetings. Watch the video below to see how I spent one October day. Hometown Tours: Michigan Sugar
The latest stop on my Hometown Tours of the 32nd District was a visit to Blumfield Township for an inside look at Michigan's sugar industry. I met Gary Reif in one of the many fields owned by Reif Farms and Gary started the tour by educating me on the anatomy of a sugar beet.
Each one of these tours is unique in many ways. As I was driving toward the location, I could see big dust clouds, several semi-trucks coming and going and a field full of massive harvesting equipment. I knew this would be a fantastic `Pure Michigan' experience. After a brief introduction to the harvesting methods and equipment, the operation moved into full swing. We boarded the harvester and were off.
Riding in the harvester was probably my favorite part. The equipment is massive; there is no other way to describe it. When I first arrived, Gary gave me a brief history lesson and mentioned he started out as a kid harvesting beets one row at a time. Now he's using a piece of equipment the size of a small house to do several rows at a time. The advances in equipment and technology are amazing.
As the harvester moves through the field, the built-in holding area fills up with beets. Tractors with large trailers then pull alongside the harvester and the beets are unloaded into the trailers. The tractors then drive the trailers full of beets over to the line of semi-trucks waiting for a load. Once the semis are loaded, they make their way to Michigan Sugar Company's scales to unload and receive a voucher based on the weight of the load.
After we finished harvesting, Gary loaded up the semi and we made our way down the street to weigh the beets we harvested. As you pull into the Blumfield scale, all you can see around you are enormous, evenly distributed piles of beets.
Once we arrived at the scales and Gary was able to unload the harvested beets, scale manager Dave Ganton gave me a brief tour and explanation of the process they use to organize, store and ship the beets to the various factories in the region. I even had the opportunity to run some of the unloading equipment as other farmers dropped off their harvest.
The quantity of beets they receive during the fall harvest really shows the strong presence Michigan has in the sugar industry. We were only there for an hour or so, and in that time around 100 trucks came and went. The most fascinating part to me was that all of these beets stay in Michigan throughout the extraction process. Some go to Caro, Croswell or Sebewaing, but most go to Bay City for processing.
I'd like to thank everyone who made this tour possible and successful," Horn said. "I want to personally thank Gary for having me out to the farm, and Dave for allowing us to take a brief tour of the Michigan Sugar Company's facilities. I owe both of them for sharing such great information about this `Pure Michigan' industry."
Blumfield Township completes the sixth stop on my Hometown Tours series. If you are interested in having me visit your community, please contact my office at (517) 373-1760, toll-free at (855) 347-8032 or by email at SenKHorn@senate.michigan.gov
. December office hours in St. Charles
My next office hours will be held Friday, December 18th from 10 a.m. - noon. at the St. Charles Public Library: 104 W. Spruce St., St Charles, MI 48655
. I'll be there to answer questions and respond to concerns any residents of the district may have. No appointment is necessary. I look forward to seeing you! Recent visit to the Soo Locks
I had the pleasure of chairing a rare joint hearing of the state Senate Commerce, Transportation, and Economic Development and International Investment committees on November 2nd. The Economic Development and International Investment Committee adopted Senate Resolution 105
to encourage the federal government to support plans to upgrade the Soo Locks. The resolution also requests the approval a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reprogramming request to fund an Economic Reevaluation Report for replacing the Davis and Sabin locks.
SR 105 highlights the necessity to upgrade the locks, particularly the smaller, 100-year-old Davis and Sabin locks. Only one of the four Soo Locks is currently large enough to accommodate the modern vessels that commonly traverse the Great Lakes. Seventy percent of cargo is carried on the large ships that can only pass through the Poe Lock. The remaining cargo goes through the smaller MacArthur Lock, while the Davis and Sabin locks are rarely used.
Approximately 10,000 vessels travel through the locks annually, carrying 80 million tons of iron ore, coal, grain, and other cargo. Nearly 80 percent of domestic iron ore, the primary material used to manufacture steel, travels from mines in the Upper Peninsula and neighboring states through the Soo Locks.
The Army Corps study would investigate the possibility of replacing the Davis and Sabin locks with a new, larger lock that can run alongside the Poe Lock. Estimates indicate such a project could cost at least $600 million, but with a new, modern lock in place, shipping between Lakes Huron and Michigan could carry on uninterrupted in the event one lock were to go down. Currently, without a second large lock, an unscheduled outage of the Poe Lock could result in the loss of more than $5 million per day.
The Soo Locks are a major factor to not only Michigan's economy but also to our state's number one trade partner, Canada. If Michigan wants its remarkable economic turnaround to continue, we need to increase access to both import and export opportunities, and a modernized Soo Locks is essential to achieving those goals and securing our economic future.
SR 105 was adopted before the full Senate on November 10th. Road plan signed into law
While I supported the plan signed into law by the governor this week, I still have some concerns that this will not raise revenue quickly enough to combat the decades of neglect. Michigan's roads and bridges have been crumbling for years, and people in my district have been consistently telling me that we need to fix this problem. The compromise the Legislature passed goes as far as it can without going back to the people. However, I do believe that with this plan we took a step in the right direction toward addressing our long-term transportation needs.
As I'm sure you are aware, the gas tax hasn't been increased since 1997, while cars are increasingly fuel efficient and costs have risen. Combining new revenue from gas and diesel taxes and increasing fees for vehicle registration along with reprioritizing current funds will guarantee $1.2 billion of revenue annually to be used exclusively for transportation purposes. This plan will cost Michiganders about $60 per driver, per year but the cost of doing nothing will result in far higher expenses down the road.
I've been a longtime advocate for reforming our warranty system and making sure we allow for more competitive bidding, and I was happy to see both of these items addressed in the package. I also supported the plan because it included a Homestead Property Tax Credit increase that will provide a little relief for our middle class families to offset the increase they'll see at the pump.
I think this is a good starting point to the solution that Michiganders want; a common sense, responsible plan that guarantees revenue raised goes to our transportation system. I was able to support a plan that balances new revenue and reprioritized spending. However, I feel we should continue to monitor the money being dedicated today to see if it is actually effective in fixing our roads.
For more information, please visit http://www.misenategop.com/fixing-mi-roads/