In This Issue:
Michigan approves Green petition for federal balanced budget amendment!The Michigan Legislature last week approved SJR V, a resolution I sponsored officially petitioning for the states to pass a federal balanced budget amendment (BBA).
This move makes Michigan the 23rd state in the nation to approve the petition. It does not require the signature of Gov. Rick Snyder, although he fully supported the effort in his 2014 State of the State Address.
With 11 more states, it will become binding on Congress to issue the call for the states to begin the amendment process.
District Office Hours to feature special guest Senator Phil Pavlov
I will be hosting district office hours in Huron and Sanilac Counties during April with special guest Sen. Phil Pavlov, R - St. Clair Township.
District office hours are an excellent opportunity for folks to share their concerns with me on state issues and state government. This series of office hours will also provide residents of the Thumb with an opportunity to meet Sen. Phil Pavlov, one of Michigan's leaders on natural resources, education and transportation issues.
The next scheduled hours will be on Monday, April 14 at the following locations:
Sandusky City Hall, 26 West Speaker St., 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m
Bad Axe City Hall, 300 East Huron Ave.,1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.
No appointment is necessary.
Celebrating 'March is Reading Month' with area studentsDuring the month of March, I was honored to celebrate "March is Reading Month" with students throughout the 31st Senate District by reading them an entertaining children's book on the American elections process and talking with them about the importance of reading in their everyday lives.
Reading is key to a bright future and reading to children at a young age has been shown to spark an interest in learning. Family reading is also a great opportunity for parents and their children to spend time together.
During March and throughout the year, I also provide free reading bookmarks to libraries, schools, parents and students throughout the district. If you are interested in receiving bookmarks at no cost, please feel free to contact my office.
Personal property tax reform updatesThe first of a series of bipartisan bills were recently signed into law to provide more stable local government revenue for essential services as the job-killing personal property tax (PPT) is phased out.
For decades, the personal property tax served as a disincentive for businesses to locate or expand in Michigan as it was a direct tax on the value of their equipment and machinery. The tax was eliminated last session to make Michigan more competitive with other states and to encourage job creation.
The follow-up legislation provides an estimated 100 percent reimbursement to municipalities for lost PPT revenue through a portion of the state's use tax and was supported by local government, school and business organizations. The changes will require voter approval in August.
Sacrifices made by Vietnam veterans now recognizedSenate legislation has been signed by the governor allowing schools to award a high school diploma to honorably discharged veterans who served in the Vietnam War instead of completing high school.
Under the bill, an application form for the diploma would be submitted to the school district the veteran was enrolled in at the time of enlistment and could be completed by the veteran or a family member on his or her behalf.
Previously, school boards were able to award diplomas to veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict. Now, the sacrifice of so many Vietnam veterans will be properly recognized as well.
New law removes "R word" from state statutes to ensure dignityLt. Gov. Brian Calley has signed a package of bills protecting the dignity of Michigan residents with developmental disabilities by removing the terms "mentally retarded" and "mental retardation" from state law.
The measures bring Michigan statutes up to date with accepted, modern terminology and were recommended by the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission which is chaired by Calley.
Snyder signs bill legalizing short-barreled firearmsLegislation I sponsored exempting law-abiding Michigan residents from the state's ban on short-barreled rifles and shotguns is now law.
Senate Bill 610, now Public Act 63 of 2014, passed the Legislature with near unanimous support. It lifts the ban for individuals who undergoing an extensive federal application process that includes a thorough background check, fingerprinting, approval by local law enforcement, and payment of a $200 fee.
The measure brings us in line with the laws of 41 other states and ensures that law-abiding Michigan residents are able to exercise the same firearm rights and privileges afforded to their fellow citizens across the nation. Additionally, it encourages related manufacturers and retailers to consider doing business and creating jobs here.
Online Travel guide and Construction Map now available!Spring is finally here! From remote waterfalls to chic restaurants, from family-friendly parks to world class golf courses, the 2014 Pure Michigan Travel Guide has it covered! Find it online at www.michigan.org or contact my office for free print copies.
As you begin to plan your spring and summer travels, please keep in mind that road crews will be busy all over the state repairing roads and fixing potholes following the harsh winter. Remember to, "Give `em a brake!"
MDOT provides two tools especially useful in planning your travels: the online "Paving the Way" highway construction map and real-time traffic information on the Mi Drive website!
Fuelwood permits now available from the DNRWith the 2014 fuelwood season underway, Michigan residents are encouraged to apply now for permits to harvest personal-use fuelwood from designated state forest land in the northern two-thirds of the state.
Each permit costs $20 and allows for collection of up to five standard cords of wood per household for personal use only. The mail-in order forms are available online at www.michigan.gov/fuelwood.