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Senator Mike Shirkey

News for Your Year Ahead

The new year of session is now underway, and I want to update you on legislation that moved at the end of 2015. This letter includes legislative news, a snapshot of our recent events, and our answer to a transportation-related question that we promised. We also hope you had a chance to hear the Governor’s State of the State address. In it, he said what occurred in Flint is regrettable and inexcusable. It is true that government failed at every level, and there are instructive lessons for the future.

Whenever a problem like this occurs there are three important phases of response:

1. Attack the problem with all available resources to mitigate chances for the issue to get worse. Sometimes this includes overreaction when viewed in hindsight.
2. Identify root causes (especially in processes and protocols) to stop the problem where it began, with emphasis on implementing irreversible corrective actions.
3. Restitution is done, if warranted, and safeguards set up if prolonged impacts are possible.

Each level of government must give attention to the things we do not see, like this sort of infrastructure. Thank you for staying informed on these matters as we move into 2016.

Serving with and for you,

Mike Shirkey

Michigan Legislative Highlights in 2015

Statewide

Unemployment dropped to 5 percent in September, the first time Michigan has been below the national average since August 2000. More than 400,000 new private sector jobs were added to our economy in under five years.
The Tax Foundation now ranks Michigan 14th for the most favorable business tax climate after we acted to reform our tax bureaucracy and simplified our business tax structure, paving the way for new hiring.
Reduced state-owed debts by more than $16 billion, which means improving the state’s current investments while lowering the cost of debt for future Michiganders. Well-managed state funds benefit everyone.

Economic

Workplace Fairness – Gave workers the right to choose whether to belong to a labor union or not, making Michigan the 24th Freedom-to-Work state in America. Employees can now decide how to spend their own take-home pay.
Simplified Local Standard – Passed legislation giving employees of local governments wage rules matching those that Michigan businesses already follow. This also increases the consistency between state and local wage laws, reducing waste in government.

Education

Education Facts – State spending on K-12 education has gone up more than a billion dollars over the last 5 years. More than 45 cents of every state tax dollar collected goes to K-12 education, community college and universities.
Protecting Student Privacy – Although not yet passed into law, two senate bills awaiting a house hearing would prohibit the selling of personal information from a student’s records or online school activity to for-profit businesses and marketing databases. If passed, parents would have more control over their children’s privacy. Simplified Local Standard – Passed legislation giving employees of local governments wage rules matching those that Michigan businesses already follow. This also increases the consistency between state and local wage laws, reducing waste in government.

Government Accountability, Transparency, Reform

Ended Film Credits – Saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by eliminating a costly film incentive program that paid Hollywood executives and California-based corporations but did little to boost Michigan’s economy or create permanent jobs in our state. These funds are better used where they are more needed.
Streamlined Concealed Pistol License Process – Reduced red tape by eliminating redundant licensing boards for law abiding citizens trying to obtain a license to carry concealed to protect themselves and their loved ones. Secure background checks for those purchasing remain in place in Michigan.
Eliminated a Failed Pork Program – Ended the experimental state investment fund from the last decade that failed to meet even its own objectives. Removing old programs like this saves even more taxpayer dollars without picking favorites.
Protected Faith-Based Adoption Agencies – Ensures that the convictions of our hearts in matters of faith are not overridden by the state or its agents. All children deserve a home but private organizations do not need to be told how to accomplish their goals.

16th District Update

In Jackson, the Arbor North community was gracious to host me on their in-house talk show – a wonderful experience.

In Jackson, the Arbor North community was gracious to host me on their in-house talk show – a wonderful experience.

Coldwater’s St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School was kind to invite me for a tour this month – I’m looking forward to responding to other invitations

Coldwater’s St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School was kind to invite me for a tour this month – I’m looking forward to responding to other invitations from area schools.

Business-Driven Benefits in Coldwater

Near the end of last year, it was announced that a transportation economic development grant, along with city funds, was given to improve road conditions in Coldwater because of benefits from the new pork processing facility. These new developments show that businesses drive true economic growth. The private to public investment ratio in this case is above 98-to-1, demonstrating the importance of nearby business.

The new facility in Coldwater will offer 750 new jobs, giving people nearby many new opportunities for employment. Along with these occupational advantages, anyone driving in this area will also benefit from upgrades to local roads.

The road-related improvements will include an extension to Fiske road to connect Newton and Jonesville roads. Jonesville Road will be repaved between I-69 and Gorbell Road, and so will Newtown road as far as I-69 to the upcoming Fiske Road addition. The ramps of I-69 at Jonesville Road will also get new pavement.

See the full release: http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIDOT/bulletins/123b133

Constituent Corner

At the town hall meetings in Coldwater, Hillsdale, and Jackson, our office held discussions about the transportation legislation that passed last year. We replied by email to anyone with individual questions, including some required additional research from the transportation department. Here is the response to a group question we received:

Q: How are roads and traffic safety affected by something as simple as the rumble strip?
A: The state transportation department has incorporated rumble strips into its design standards because of their benefits to driver safety. A recent study showed a statistically significant reduction of about 47 percent in all types of accidents (head-on, sideswipe opposite and run-off-the-road left) after centerline rumble strips were installed. 2,488 such accidents were found in the three years before installation of centerline rumble strips and only 1,306 in the three years after installation. The economic analysis shows equally significant results, with a cost benefit estimate of nearly $80 million over three years as a result of crash reductions from rumble strips installed in the centerline. The estimated centerline rumble strips benefit-to-cost ratios on two-lane rural highways is estimated to be between 58:1 and 18:1. This minor road design feature is not only cost-saving, but more importantly lifesaving.

If you have any further questions or would like to receive a copy of the fact sheet handed out at the town hall meetings, please email MikeShirkey@senate.mi.gov any time.

Senator Shirkey In The News

Shirkey Urges Protection of Privacy and Accurate Enforcement

Passage of "Guilty Mind" Bills Improves Criminal Intent Laws

Mens Rea Discussions (Before the Bill Became Law)

Branch County Commission Meeting Honors Veterans Who Served

H&C Burnside Senior Center Hosts Veterans Day Program

Town Hall Reviews Completed Transportation Package

Serving with and for you,

Mike Shirkey

Senator Mike Shirkey
320 Farnum Bldg.
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Visit my website at: www.senatormikeshirkey.com