December 22, 2015
It's been quite a year in the state Senate and it has been my absolute pleasure to serve residents of the 37th District. Michigan has overcome many challenges over the past five years, and in 2015 we continued the hard work of moving our state forward.
Over the past year we accomplished a number of meaningful and important pieces of legislation. We balanced our state budget well ahead of schedule for the fifth straight year. After nearly two decades, we approved a long-term road funding plan, and reprioritized state spending to reflect your priorities to redirect half a billion dollars to our roads and bridges. We also continued to increase funding for education and passed thoughtful legislation to ensure students are learning the fundamentals necessary for successful futures. We continued to be stewards of our Great Lakes and waterways by working to combat invasive species, and reduced bureaucracy and burdensome regulations to support our small business owners as well.
I was also pleased to have a number of bills that I sponsored signed into law, including my bill to help Michigan's wineries; and the establishment of Pedal Pubs in Michigan. My legislation to provide health benefits for families of fallen public safety officers was also approved by my Senate colleagues, as well as Billy's Law, which would help bring justice to accident victims and their families -- I am committed to getting these signed into law next year. I was also proud to have held a rare joint committee hearing in the shadow of the Soo Locks, as we urged the federal government to upgrade this economically vital part of our district, state and nation.
It has been a successful first year as your state senator, and I can't wait to continue the work of representing you in the next year. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to your families and I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.
Sen. Wayne Schmidt
Looking back at 2015
Supporting Michigan wineries I was grateful to have Marie-Chantal Dalese of the Chateau Chantal Winery join me and my staff at the signing of SB 369. Senate Bill 369
, my bill to help Michigan wineries by clarifying the companies' sales and use tax industrial processing exemption was signed by the governor on December 16.
Michigan's $300 million wine industry is among the largest in the nation and provides jobs for more than 3,000 residents. They are granted a tax exemption on processing equipment used to produce wine for wholesale, however, there was ambiguity as to whether that exemption also applied to wine sold at retail directly by the producer.
Removing this double tax burden with my new law promotes the growth of an industry that is incredibly important to the economy of our state and to thousands of hard-working families. The law also applies to microbreweries and micro-distilleries. Billy's Law
Billy's Law was passed by the Senate on October 8th to empower law enforcement to administer drug tests and obtain drug test results conducted on at-fault motorists in traffic accidents that lead to death or serious bodily injury that gives the peace officer reason to believe that death is imminent.
It changes existing Michigan law to imply consent for at-fault drivers to allow a blood or urine test be given, and would also make urine test results subject to a search warrant in addition to blood tests.
Billy's Law closes a loophole that has delayed or denied justice from crime victims and their families, and while it may not be able to deliver justice for families who have already been affected by this loophole, enacting it can ensure future criminals receive punishments that fit their crimes and help keep drugged drivers off Michigan roads.
I look forward to the House of Representatives passing Billy's Law soon. Providing Health Care Benefits for Families of Fallen Safety Officers
The Senate approved my bill to provide health coverage for surviving spouses and dependents of public safety officers who die in the line of duty.
Providing health care coverage for spouses and children of officers who die in the line of duty is a small gesture of our appreciation for their sacrifice, and will hopefully provide a big help during a difficult time.
Under Senate Bill 218, the spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers, firefighters, rescue squad members, or ambulance crew members who lose their lives as a result of their duties on the job would be provided health care coverage comparable to those of retired state police officers.
My bill is before the state House of Representatives for consideration, and it is my hope that they will pass the bill in the New Year. Governor Signs Pedal Pub Bill
Gov. Rick Snyder signed my bill on July 15 allowing pedal pub passengers to drink alcohol while onboard.
Pedal pubs are emerging as a fun and safe way to enjoy Pure Michigan. Allowing passengers to bring their own beer and wine adds to the experience and further contributes to our economy and tourism industry.
Most pedal pub businesses provide tours between restaurants and bars with passengers buying beer or wine at establishments to consume on the pedal pub between stops.
Importantly, operators of the vehicles cannot sell or be under the influence of alcohol and must have proof of liability insurance. Local governments may also prevent pedal pubs from allowing alcohol onboard. Stay up-to-date on legislation
Be sure to stay up-to-date on news from my office at my website, SenatorWayneSchmidt.com
, and for detailed information about legislation, the official Legislature website is a valuable source at legislature.michigan.gov
Also, the Citizens Guide to the Michigan Legislature is now available as a phone and tablet app for iOS and Android devices. Once installed, you'll find helpful contact information, links to senators' websites and committee listings, and other information.
Check it out!