In This E-News:
Personal Income Strongest in More than a DecadeMichigan has good reason to be optimistic about our economy and yet another study proves it.
Figures recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) show that in 2011 personal income in our state grew at the strongest rate in more than a decade, higher than the national average and the best among the Great Lakes states. Overall, it ranks 15th best among all states. 2011 marks only the second time since 1995 that Michigan's annual growth rate has exceeded the national rate. The BEA data follows Wednesday's reported decline in Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, the state's seventh consecutive monthly decline and the lowest rate in nearly four years.
This good news should encourage all of us that Michigan's reinvention is on track and that we're headed towards nothing less than Number One!
Michigan Agriculture: A Cornerstone of Economic StrengthAs agriculture production kicks into gear, I am reminded of how Michigan farmers and agri-businesses have helped drive our state forward in so many ways. Over the past decade, for example, Michigan's ag industry has experienced sustained and impressive growth, contributing over $73 billion a year to our economy.
Strong agriculture means a strong Michigan and a better quality of life for all of us. That's why I am committed to supporting a business-friendly environment where farmers and agri-businesses, like all others, can thrive.
I was recently honored by the Michigan Future Farmers of America (FFA) Association at their 84th State FFA Convention for my support of the agricultural industry. FFA is a diverse organization with chapters in rural, urban, and suburban schools alike. It's mission is to develop the next generation of leaders in business, agriculture and public policy. Like the agricultural industry in Michigan, membership in the state FFA continues to grow.
To learn more about how I'm working to pass on Michigan's strong agriculture legacy to these future leaders and their generation, please read my Agriculture News.
Autism Insurance Reform Offers Hope to Michigan FamiliesAutism spectrum disorders are a signature away from being covered by health insurance plans in Michigan, after a bipartisan package of bills were recently passed by wide margins in the Legislature and sent to the governor. The package includes Senate Bill 414, which I sponsored.
Michigan will now join 29 other states in extending health insurance coverage to the treatment of autism spectrum disorders - diagnosed in over 15,000 children in the state. One in 88 children are diagnosed with a form of autism, more commonly diagnosed than juvenile diabetes, cancer and AIDS combined, all of which currently are covered under Michigan law.
The early diagnosis and treatment of autistic disorders results in 50 percent of patients recovering typical functions, helping them to live to their fullest potential. Early intervention also reduces the need for K-12 special education services, saving schools an estimated $200,000 per child. It is estimated that without medical treatment, the average societal cost of caring for one person with autism is $3.7 million, often paid for by taxpayer dollars.
I look forward to this legislation being signed into law, improving the lives of so many Michigan families and children. To learn more about autism and the recent insurance reform, please visit Lt. Governor Brian Calley’s Autism Insurance Reform website.
Safety Net Preserved for Those in Need, Not Lottery WinnersIndividuals who have won the lottery should not be taking public food assistance from others who are in need. An end to this abuse is also a signature away from becoming law with the passage of legislation on its way to the governor.
Senate Bill 711 requires the Michigan Lottery to notify the Department of Human Services (DHS) of the name of a winner of $1,000 or more within seven days. SB 712, which I sponsored, will require DHS to apply an asset test when determining eligibility for food aid. Lottery and other gambling winnings will be included in that asset test.
The reforms were prompted by news reports in 2011 regarding a Bay County man who was still using food aid nearly a year after winning a $2 million jackpot on "Make Me Rich." The man admitted to using a Bridge Card at area stores and claimed state officials allowed him to do so. It was also discovered in March that a 24-year-old Lincoln Park woman, who won a $1 million lottery jackpot on the same lottery game show, was receiving $200 per week in food assistance. Both winners have since been dropped from the food assistance program.
While our economic future looks brighter each day, families can be more confident that a helping hand will always be there during a time of need.
Office HoursI am pleased to announce office hours in the district for the month of April. Office hours provide you with the opportunity to meet with me or a member of my staff to discuss your concerns or request assistance with a state agency. No appointment is needed and I hope to see you there!
Friday, April 13, 2012
11 am - 1 pm
Pere Marquette Depot
1000 Adams Street