In this E-news
College savings plan seminars in AugustThe beginning of September may bring with it an increase in the rates for purchasing a Michigan Education Trust plan, the state's version of pre-paid college tuition or a college savings plan. As parents begin to purchase supplies and clothes for their students' return to school after Labor Day, they should also consider investing in a MET plan for their child's future college education.
A MET plan allows a sponsor - such as a parent, grandparent, or any interested individual - to pre-purchase undergraduate tuition for a child residing in the state to attend any Michigan public university or college, including 28 public community colleges. MET offers payment plans over four, seven, 10 and 15 years to cover part or all of a student's college tuition. Contributions are tax-deductible and benefits may be transferred to attend an out-state school if necessary.
Perhaps the most important benefit of a MET account is that it locks in today's tuition for tomorrow's students, offering considerable savings to families. To provide potential sponsors with all the information they need to decide whether a MET plan is right for them before any possible rate increases go into effect, I am hosting two MET seminars in the Bay and Thumb region.
Monday, Aug. 6 at 6:30p.m.
Tuscola Technology Center
1401 Cleaver Road, Caro
Monday, Aug. 20 at 6:30p.m.
Bay Arenac ISD - Bay City Room
4228 Two Mile Road, Bay City
The seminar presenter will be Robin Lott, executive director of the MET program since June 1997. The public is welcome to attend either seminar at no cost. Light refreshments will be provided. RSVPs are appreciated but not required. For more information or to RSVP, call (866) 305-2131.
In a related legislative matter, earlier this summer the Senate passed legislation I sponsored to provide protections to college saving plans from creditor collection activity.
Crime Victims' Right to Know legislation introducedI recently introduced legislation in the Michigan Senate to strengthen the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victims' Rights Act.
Known as "Crime Victims' Right to Know" legislation, Senate Bill 1211 will expand the rights of crime victims by allowing them to present exhibits when testifying at parole or commutation hearings, more effectively portraying the impact of the crime on their lives.
The bill would also require that, in addition to current parole hearing notifications, victims also be notified when a prisoner has applied for reprieve, commutation or pardon; has absconded while on bail or other release; or has died while in custody. It specifies that escape or absconding notifications be provided to the victim within 24 hours, allowing them to more effectively secure themselves than under present statute.
In 1985, the State of Michigan led the nation by enacting rights for victims of violent crime. The law was named after its sponsor at the time, William Van Regenmorter, a longtime legislator and champion of crime victims' rights who passed away in June. SB 1211 builds upon this legacy by accomplishing an important part of Attorney General Bill Schuette's public safety plan. He supports the legislation, as do crime victims advocates throughout the state.
State income tax loweredGov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation that I supported reducing the income tax burden on Michigan residents.
Public Acts 223 and 224 of 2012 cut the income tax rate from 4.35 percent to 4.25 percent and increase the personal tax exemption to $3,950 effective October 1, 2012. These steps were originally slated to go into effect in 2013. The enacting bills also provide for an additional increase in the exemption to $4,000 on January 1, 2014.
I've also co-sponsored legislation, SB 906, which proposes a rollback of the income tax to 3.9% in 2017. These are important steps in providing much-needed relief to Michigan families, while continuing to make our state a better place for job creators to do business.
Work-share law provides alternative to lay-offsA new law is now in effect that provides employers with an alternative to employee layoffs by creating a voluntary work-share program, an initiative Gov. Snyder called for in his December 2011 Special Message on Talent Development.
Introduced as Senate Bill 1094, the public act encourages employers to maintain a skilled and talented work force by providing partial unemployment compensation to workers with reduced hours in times of economic hardship. It also creates a hybrid plan to benefit all parties, allowing employees to collect unemployment benefits in proportion to their reduced hours while enabling employers to retain valuable talent until circumstances change.
The voluntary initiative will help reduce permanent pink slip situations in a way that benefits both Michigan workers and job creators as we continue towards a strong economic comeback.
Bridge card abuse crackdown continuesBridge cards provide assistance for basic needs to those who truly need it. So what were they doing in casinos and prisons?
I strongly supported new laws to prohibit bridge card users from making cash withdrawals at casinos and to ban prisoners from being eligible for bridge card assistance.
According to the Department of Human Services, more than $87,000 was withdrawn from Detroit's Motor City Casino ATMs using bridge cards between July 2009 and July 2012. Public Act 197 of 2012 discourages the use of taxpayer dollars for gambling by ensuring recipients cannot access cash benefits from bridge cards at ATMs located in casinos. It also ends a problem before it grows out of control.
Public Act 281 of 2012 makes it illegal for prisoners to get bridge cards. The new law codifies current department policy to ensure that the state performs a monthly check to see if assistance applicants are incarcerated and therefore ineligible.
The new laws join legislation signed into law earlier this year to prevent large lottery winners from receiving public food assistance. These common sense measures will help reduce fraud and make sure taxpayer dollars go where they are intended to go-to those most in need.
As always, please feel free to email me or call (866) 305-2131 if I can ever be of assistance.
Pure Michigan Summer Fun
Senator Mike Green
Toll Free: (866) 305-2131 or (517) 373-1777