2016 State of the State
I was happy to have Nexteer Automotive President and Global Chief Operating Officer Laurent Bresson (left) and Saginaw Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Van Deventer (right) join me for Gov. Rick Snyder's 2016 State of the State address.
The governor devoted much of this evening's speech to the people of Flint and the ongoing water crisis. I was happy to see that his first priority was addressing the health and well-being of the community. As a grandfather of two, I cannot imagine how angry I would be if my grandchildren were put in this situation. We must end the political blame game and come together to make sure nothing like this ever plagues our state again.
I'm encouraged to see that the governor called for a commission to build a 21st century infrastructure to complete an honest assessment of where we are at currently. He also called for a strategic plan to examine future infrastructure needs in Michigan so we never have another situation like what happened in Flint again. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature and the administration to find a way to overcome this disaster and to make sure proper oversight and accountability are put in place.
We need a viable, long-term solution that ensures residents in Flint and other cities with aging infrastructure have a safe, reliable drinking source. No one should have to worry whether or not their city's water could cause irreparable damage to their child's development. If you are interested in helping with relief efforts, would like to donate water or are looking for assistance, please visit www.helpforflint.com
Detroit Public Schools and other troubled districts throughout the state also require our attention. The Legislature, the administration and all parties involved must devise a solution that provides students with a quality education that prepares them for the next level, whether it be college or career, without being overly burdensome on our larger investment in K-12 education.
Children in Detroit and children all across the state deserve a bright future without worry. Education is the cornerstone to Michigan's economic development and our impressive economic revival. Michigan is already a national leader in funding preschool and advancing STEM programs, but we still have a 19th century education system in the 21st century. I support the governor's call to create a commission for a 21st century education to evaluate what obstacles hold us back, what goals to achieve and what is the appropriate system of governance for schools in the future.
Since 2010, the state of Michigan saw the creation of roughly 420,000 jobs and 61,000 more jobs are projected to be created in 2016. As a part of this success, our state is now number one in the nation for manufacturing job growth. Additionally, Michigan's unemployment rate has fallen below five percent, marking the first time it has been below the national average in 16 years.
I am very excited to hear of the governor's plans to test new mobility technology for self-driving cars at the Willow Run research facility. If done correctly, Michigan can become a global leader in automotive research. I'll proudly be working with my colleagues in the Legislature, the administration and Michigan's congressional delegation to get this done.
Michigan has achieved great success in growing stronger and becoming more economically sound. I am confident that we can continue this positive momentum in 2016. I am ready to work with my colleagues and continue to keep the Michigan recovery going.
Hometown Tours: Fenton Winery and Brewery
I recently kicked off my first Hometown Tour of 2016 in Fenton at the Fenton Winery and Brewery
(FWB). The senator spent the afternoon with owners Matt and Ginny Sherrow, learning the ins and outs of their operation and the Michigan brewing industry.
FWB was founded as a winery in 2007 and added the brewery in 2009. Matt, an automotive engineer by trade, was inspired by the idea of entrepreneurship in graduate school and chose to pursue a new dream in brewing. Matt primarily handles the operational side of FWB, while his wife, Ginny, brings experience in small business, marketing and finance to the operation. Matt decided to forego the corporate world, and together, they decided to join the small business community.
I started these tours last year with the goal of experiencing the diversity of my district firsthand. The point is to highlight unique, hardworking folks that make a difference in their community - and Matt and Ginny most certainly meet that criteria.
After going over the fundamentals, such as supplies, methods and the equipment they would be using, Horn received the day's itinerary - which included the creation of a new label and a specially brewed collaboration project titled "Stout Senator."
During the first stage of the process, grain is added to a large tub of hot water, where it will then "steep" in the water, extracting sugars from the grain. This process is known as "mashing." Once the correct time has passed, the sugar water, known as wort, is then drained and transferred to the kettle where it will be boiled and cooled before continuing through the fermentation process. Once the wort is transferred to the kettle, only the mash remains.
While some consider mash to simply be a byproduct of the initial process, Matt and Ginny decided to use it in a more creative way. What they do is they take the grain and store it in bins and allow local poultry farmers to come pick them up and use it as feed. I thought this was a fantastic way to indirectly use their business as a way to benefit others in the community.
While the wort is boiling, hops and additional ingredients can be added to enrich the flavor of the beer. From there, the nearly finished product is then transferred into holding tanks called fermenters, where yeast is added and the fermentation process is completed.
When the beer goes into the fermenter, it looks slightly cloudy. However, as the fermentation process continues, the yeast eats the sugar, creating alcohol and giving the beer a crisp, clear presentation.
What struck me the most was how consistent and routine everything was. The brewing process is incredibly scientific and timing and consistency are paramount. Any small variable can throw an entire batch, which is several hours of work and a lot of money, out the window.
It was an absolute pleasure to join the Sherrows for an afternoon at their business. I want to personally thank both Matt and Ginny for having me, and especially thank them for allowing my involvement in the making of `Stout Senator.'
"Stout Senator" will be available at FWB in mid-February. Buena Vista Drinking Water
As you may have read in the Saginaw News
residents in Buena Vista Township were recently notified that their drinking water contains a higher amount of contaminants than allowed according to standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
I want to commend Buena Vista Township Supervisor Dwayne Parker and Township Manager Dexter Mitchell and for acting quickly to notify residents of the slightly elevated level of chlorine in the drinking water, and for taking immediate steps to ensure residents are safe. With the recent events in nearby Flint, the importance of quick action and remediation when it comes to drinking water safety is paramount. Keeping residents safe and healthy must be the top priority.
Upon learning of the contamination, I spoke with Interim Director Keith Creagh of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Supervisor Parker, and will be working with the DEQ to determine appropriate steps moving forward. If it is deemed necessary for the Legislature to get involved, I will present a solution to my Senate colleagues for review. I will offer my assistance in any way necessary to ensure Buena Vista's water flow is addressed without delay. 2015 Voting Record
The Michigan Senate recorded 642 roll call votes in 2015, and I was present for each one. Of Michigan's 38 senators, 14 had perfect voting records in 2015, an increase from five senators who had perfect records in 2014.
Voting during session is one of the most significant responsibilities we have as lawmakers. The residents of my district expect me to be at work, doing my job. I've always considered it an honor and a privilege to serve in Lansing, and the people who sent me here deserve nothing less.
Last year we were faced with many difficult decisions. It was my duty as an elected official to make sure the 32nd District was represented during each of those crucial choices. Looking ahead to 2016, we must continue the path we are on and commit to doing whatever it takes to help keep Michigan on the road to prosperity.
My voting record can be verified at www.michiganvotes.org
. February Office Hours in Flushing
My next office hours will be held jointly with Representative Joe Graves on Friday, February 19th from 10 a.m. - noon at the Flushing Township Office Board Room: 6524 N. Seymour Road, Flushing, Michigan 48433
. We'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! January marks the start of new laws
Several new laws passed in 2015 take effect this month. Laws of interest to veterans, motorists and parents include:
Bills would provide law enforcement with easier access to emergency contact info
- Public Acts 144-147 of 2015 help people with disabilities-including military veterans-and their service dogs access public places like businesses and schools. Service animals are trained to provide assistance to people with disabilities, including those with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. People can voluntarily register their animals and receive a Registered Service Animal ID card for themselves and a patch for the dog's vest or harness. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/serviceanimals.
- Public Act 135 of 2015 allows drivers to show law enforcement an electronic copy of their proof of insurance on their cell phone or other mobile device. Michigan now joins 37 other states that permit motorists to use this technology.
- Public Act 165 of 2015 bans the sale, distribution and possession of powdered alcohol. With packaging and flavors that can appeal to kids, this pocket-sized product poses too great a potential for abuse, especially among teens and those too young to drink.
In an emergency, time is of the essence. I recently supported legislation to help make emergency contact information accessible to law enforcement in a timely manner. Using existing resources voluntarily provided to the Secretary of State, law enforcement personnel would be able to determine whether emergency contact information is available for an individual in an emergency situation.
The legislation could make it easier for emergency personnel to identify family members at the scene of an accident. In turn, that could allow family members to make important medical decisions in a more timely fashion. It could also offer peace of mind to families with loved ones suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's. If the legislation is signed into law, this information would be available to law enforcement by Jan. 1, 2017. Mark your calendar for winter fun!
Michigan's free fishing weekend is right around the corner! On Feb. 13 and 14, anglers can fish without a license. All state fishing regulations, except the license requirement, still apply. Visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing
for more information, including special activities around the state.