This is my final newsletter for 2016, and what a year it has been. Your state Senate has worked hard on your behalf this year to ensure state government is efficient and effective, approving another budget ahead of schedule that protects and invests our most important priorities without increasing taxes. We also approved key legislation that builds upon our previous work to make Michigan the best place to work, live and raise a family. It is an honor to serve as your state senator and look forward to continuing our positive momentum into 2017. I hope you all have a wondrous Christmas and blessed New Year.
-Wayne Coffee hours: Highlighting our district
One of the great benefits of my job is the opportunity I have to get out and visit so many people in the eight counties that comprise the 37th District. It has been my goal to each month hold one coffee hour meeting in each county, and this year I’m proud to say I will have held 101 coffee hour meetings by the end of December. I enjoy every minute of these meetings, sharing coffee and discussing important state and local issues with our constituents. My remaining coffee hours for December are listed below. Stay tuned for even more next year! 2016 Legislative Look-back
Michigan continues its economic resurgence after the lost decade. Since December 2010, more than 475,000 private sector jobs have been created and, this year, the state unemployment rate reached its lowest point in 15 years. This past summer a balanced budget was approved ahead of schedule for the sixth consecutive year. We continue to provide for our schools. This year’s budget added a more than $260 million increase for local schools and paid down more than $1 billion in school retirement costs to help put additional resources into the classroom.
Several bills that I sponsored were approved by the Legislature and some signed into law:
• Senate Bill 218, now Public Act 284 of 2016, provides medical benefits to surviving family members of law enforcement officers, corrections officers, firefighters, rescue squad members, or ambulance crew members. The bill expands on current benefits to include 60 months of health care in addition to an existing one-time payment of $25,000. The law was retroactive to Oct. 1, 2015.
Honored by Michigan Sheriff’s Association and Michigan Fraternal Order of Police as Legislator of the Year
• Senate Bill 523, now Public Act 247 of 2016, amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to require a general recognition effort of Native American heritage and allows the state Department of Natural Resources to provide signage and recognition of places along trails in the Pure Michigan Trails network.
• Senate Bill 958, which is on its way to the governor, would make it easier to transport participants of the annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge walk, by waiving bus service licensure and fee mandates when the busses are used to go to and from special events that are of statewide significance.
• Senate Bills 908-13, also on their way to the governor, would streamline existing laws governing the state’s brownfield redevelopment program to bring consistency and efficiency to the program while ensuring environmental protection and encouraging economic growth.
• Senate Bills 1073-1075, which await signature, would require the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to provide smartphone applications that display base hunting, waterfowl and all-species fishing licenses for customers by March 1, 2018.
In October I was honored as Legislator of the Year by the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association during its Fall Professional Development Conference, and this month I received the same honor from the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police.
I am truly honored to have received this recognition from such respected groups within the law enforcement community. It is a testament to the hard work of my staff and my colleagues to approve legislation that helps protect the men and women in blue who serve to protect us each day. Budget supplemental includes $1 million for Mackinac Island State Park
The Legislature finalized a supplemental to the state’s Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget that included $1 million for improvements at Mackinac Island State Park.
I am pleased that we were able to approve this important bill to provide these additional funds to make needed improvements at Fort Mackinac. Mackinac Island, and Fort Mackinac, are Michigan treasures, and these updates will go a long way toward improving the experience for visitors and workers alike. Natural Resources Trust Fund grant recommendations could bring millions to upper Michigan
Grant recommendations announced recently by the Natural Resources Trust Fund board could bring millions for numerous recreational development and land acquisition projects in the 37th Senate District.
The total recommended investment for communities in Schmidt’s district surpasses $7 million. The board’s overall recommendations total more than $47.6 million for projects statewide in 2017, including $19.9 million in recreational development and $27.7 million in land acquisition projects.
The Natural Resources Trust Fund provides valuable support to numerous projects across upper Michigan. If approved, these additional funds will help to provide welcome improvements so that residents and visitors will be able to better enjoy natural resources in our part of the state.