Hansen welcomes champion angler and Bassmaster CEO to CapitalLate last month, I hosted world-class angler Kevin VanDam, Bassmaster CEO Bruce Akin and other Bassmaster officials at the Capital late last month. The group was in Lansing to meet with Gov. Snyder, other lawmakers and administration officials about establishing a partnership with the Pure Michigan campaign.
VanDam is Kalamazoo native, a four time winner of the Bassmaster Classic and winner of seven Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year titles, and numerous other awards during his career.
In September, the Bassmaster 2013 Elite Series Toyota All-Start Week and Evan Williams Bourbon Championship were held on Muskegon Lake and White Lake in Muskegon. The event brought 14 of the top professional anglers from around the nation to Michigan to compete in this three-day tournament.
Muskegon is just one of hundreds of areas across Michigan that has world-class fishing. The tournament was a wonderful opportunity to showcase Pure Michigan to anglers from all over the world. I look forward to similar events coming to Michigan in the future.
We were so fortunate to have Kevin VanDam & Bassmaster officials come back to Michigan to discuss ways of furthering the partnership between Bassmaster and the state of the Michigan.
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Fruitport Township ProjectI sincerely appreciated Governor Snyder recently honoring my request to ask that he permit the U.S. Department of Interior to begin a review of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians' Fee to Trust Application for a casino to be built in Fruitport Township (Muskegon County).
I met with the Governor multiple times about this project and made him aware of the significant local support, the economic development benefits, its positive impact on Muskegon County and the region. This action begins the first part of an information gathering process of a project that could result in significant job creation, new tax base and additional spin-off economic activity for Muskegon County and the surrounding region.
I appreciate the tribe's willingness to partner in the renewed growth of Muskegon County by investing in its future. A significant amount of work has already been done by Muskegon County leaders who desire that this project be a part of their overall economic recovery strategy. Given the consensus of support for the project, I requested that the Governor support this first step and allow the approval process to begin.
MDOT agrees to ease traffic concern in NewaygoI was recently contacted by a homeowner concerned with the proximity of their driveway along M-37 to where this road merges into two-way traffic north of the City of Newaygo. Numerous incidents have involved vehicles completing their traffic shift at the very end of the merge which is in the same location as this driveway.
I asked the Michigan Department of Transportation to address this traffic hazard and they've agreed to move the merging point to just beyond Resurrection Life Church and create a left hand turn lane at Evergreen Drive. I'm appreciative of MDOT working to mitigate future incidents and ensure the safety of our motorists and those that reside along these roadways.
Update on Medicaid policy for lactation servicesGreat news! After working with the Muskegon County Breastfeeding Coalition to improve the health of newborns & increase awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding, the Michigan Department of Community Health agreed to my request and is proposing that Medicaid-eligible mothers in MI should have access to lactation consultation services.
Earlier this year, I was invited to meet with members of the Muskegon County Breastfeeding Coalition. During our meeting members of the coalition shared their concerns about insufficient coverage for lactation services and equipment for mothers enrolled in the state's Medicaid program. The coalition was concerned that families in Muskegon County covered by Michigan's Medicaid program are missing out on key services that would encourage more mothers to choose breastfeeding.
I've spent several months working with the MDCH to explore a number of possible solutions and to bring awareness to the issue in our area and discuss possible solutions. It is so important that those who choose to breastfeed have access to the services they need to do so. I look forward to continuing to work with MDCH to ensure that mothers who choose to breastfeed have access to the services they need to do so.
Sales Tax on the DifferenceSenate Bill 89 and House Bill 4234 were recently signed into law and will begin to save consumer valuable tax dollars beginning this year. When a car or boat owner trades in their used boat or vehicle towards the purchase of a newer one, the buyer is forced to pay sales tax on the total price of the new vehicle or boat, rather than the reduced price they are paying minus the value of their trade-in vehicle. Trailers typically used for camping are included in the definition.
The maximum trade-in value for determining sales tax will now start at $2,000 on December 15, 2013 and increase by $500 on January 1, 2015 and an additional $500 each year. For example, an owner trades in their $2,000 used car to purchase a $5,000 newer model. Instead of paying $300 in sales tax on that purchase the owner pays $180 instead - a savings of $120. This savings will grow by $30 each year.
Michigan was the only Great Lakes state and one of only six states nationwide that taxed the value of trade-in purchases. The "sales tax on the difference" reform will provide welcome savings for Michigan consumers and help our local dealers better compete with out-of-state sellers.
Hansen pharmacy bill moves to House floorLegislation I've sponsored (SB 373) was recently approved by the House Health Policy Committee and is another step closer to allowing for new approaches to the way medical prescriptions are delivered. Senate Bill 373 would enable pharmacies to conduct pilot projects that could utilize new or expanded technology or processes to provide patients with better pharmacy products in a more efficient manner and that also ensures patient safety & the valuable pharmacist-patient relationship.
Authorizing pilot projects gives pharmacies the ability to explore innovative ideas on a small scale under controlled conditions. If these ideas are successful, they could then be offered across Michigan.
Hansen bill preserves funding for our state's Area Agencies on AgingEarlier this week, the Senate Insurance Committee reported my legislation, SB 642, that amends the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act to require the State Treasurer to transfer to the Senior Care Respite Fund certain funds that escheat to the State from uncashed benefit checks written by a nonprofit mutual disability insurer.
The Act governs procedures by which abandoned property escheats to the State. Generally, the Treasurer must transfer escheated funds into the General Fund. Among other things, this Act authorizes a process for the transfer of unclaimed claim payments (escheats) to the senior care respite fund created in the Older Michiganians Act (1981 PA 180).
Generally, when property goes unclaimed by a rightful owner for two to three years, that property becomes subject to the state's custody. No later than three years after the property becomes subject to state custody, the state will sell the property. The proceeds of these sales are then credited to the General Fund, except in cases where unclaimed property results from a transaction with BCBSM. In those cases involving BCBSM, the proceeds from the unclaimed property have historically been credited to the Senior Respite Care Fund.
SB 642 ensures that proceeds from unclaimed property held by BCBSM as a mutual disability insurer to this fund will be directed to the Senior Care Respite Fund.
This fund distributes escheated funds to Area Agencies on Aging across the state. The fund allows family caregivers a break in their care giving responsibilities, often extending the family's ability to provide care and avoiding nursing home admission. They provide supervision, socialization, and assistance to persons with cognitive or physical impairments during the absence of the caregiver. Respite care can be provided in home (the provider goes to the consumer's house) or in the community (the consumer attends an adult day care program).
Michigan State Loan Repayment ProgramIncreasing access to primary care physicians for west Michigan residents is critically important to ensuring the availability of health care services. I recently co-sponsored Senate Bill 648 which would make further changes to Michigan's State Loan Repayment Program. This program currently helps employers recruit and retain primary medical, dental and mental healthcare providers by providing loan repayment to those entering into a Health Professional Shortage Area at non-for-profit health clinics.
SB 648 would increase the amount of loan repayment assistance that primary care physicians could receive. These types of programs are vital to encouraging physicians to practice in underserved areas of this state.
Highlights from Senator Hansen's Recent ScheduleI continue to be honored to represent the constituents of the 34th district. I've had the opportunity to recently visit with many different groups and participate in various district events taking place in our communities.
Senator Goeff Hansen