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Season's Greetings! The House and Senate have completed their work in Lansing for the year and I wanted to share with you a few of the highlights from the final weeks of session.
Ford I-275/Lotz Road ProjectI am pleased to announce that after years of seeking a federal solution to the safety issues pertaining to the Ford/I-275 interchange, we now have a state solution to the problem. The legislature has reached an agreement with the Governor to authorize the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to spend $5 million in roadway improvements in the area starting with the paving of Lotz Road. The planned upgrades will allow Lotz Rd. to be used as a means of relieving some of the pressure on Ford Rd. and lays the groundwork for further upgrades to the interchange.
Upon being elected to office in 2010, I immediately sought a seat on the Transportation Appropriations Subcommitee in order to address this issue and other transportation issues throughout the district. As vice chair of this subcommittee, I have worked with my fellow Senate members and MDOT to put in place a new appropriations bill structure that allows the legislature to prioritize safety and economic development concerns. The Ford/I-275 interchange features both of these concerns more than any other projects in the state.
This project is only the first step in fixing the most dangerous stretch of roadway in Michigan but it is a significant step. I will continue my work to secure funding for the remainder of the project in subsequent budgets. Once this project has been completed, we will move on to the next highest priority project from a safety and economic development perspective.
Education Achievement AuthorityThere has been a significant number of communications sent to my office in regard to HB 4369 from residents concerned that the bill would expand the number of schools subject to the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). It is important to note that an expansion of the number of EAA schools is exactly what would happen without HB 4369. Nine schools would have been added on December 13, 2013 if this bill was not passed. The version of the bill that was passed by the Senate would put a moratorium on any new schools being added to the EAA until July 2015. As someone who is NOT an advocate of the EAA, I voted for the amended HB 4369 in order to keep any additional schools from being added to the EAA.
Landline BillMany of you have expressed concern about the passage of SB 636 pertaining to landlines. I was opposed to the original version of this legislation; however, it was amended to ensure that consumer access to 911 and other emergency services are safeguarded by the Michigan Public Safety Commission before landline exchange service may be discontinued in any area.
My concern has always been the protection of consumer interests. Consumers can use existing phones to use the service. Upon installation of the new service, the utility provider installs a modem with battery backup that can be connected to your existing landline wiring so that you do not need to purchase a new phone.
Landlines are increasingly disappearing from homes throughout the state. The cost of maintaining the infrastructure associated with these landlines eventually finds its way into the phone bills of consumers. We should allow private industry to compete effectively and adjust to changing market conditions so long as consumers are not adversely impacted.
American Heritage ActI am pleased to announce the bipartisan passage of SB 120, SB 121 and SB 423. I introduced these bills to promote a better understanding of our system of government by our youth and a better appreciation of the sacrifices necessary to secure our rights under this system of governance.
These bills will encourage schools to ensure that K to 12 Social Studies instruction is centered upon the founding principles of the United States. Furthermore, SB 120 would prohibit censorship of any historical documents that mention God, faith or religion when they are presented to students as part of instruction. SB 121 would convert the Patriot Week observance in our schools from a resolution that is renewed annually to a statute. Patriot Week features instruction on our founding principles and on the sacrifices made by our veterans to secure these principles. SB 423 encourages instruction on the actual governing documents of our state and federal governments not simply what others say is in these documents.
In the end, all three bills passed without amendment. The bills now head to the House Education Committee for further consideration.
Patient-Centered Care SolutionFinally, many of you have been following the problematic rollout of Obamacare. The stated objectives of this law were to lower the cost of healthcare, expand access to coverage and improve the quality of care. It is clear that it has failed on all three counts. Unfortunately, the impacts of this failure go beyond the political realm as healthcare impacts each of us in a very personal way.
Many of you now find yourselves with higher premium contributions and new health plans with new doctors. In anticipation of these issues, I have been working on a free market alternative to Obamacare called the Patient-Centered Care Act. It will make quality of patient care for all citizens the first priority and expand access to quality care without expanding government assistance. This alternative promotes health plans that feature Direct Primary Care Services plus High-Deductible Health Plans within a Health Savings Account.
Healthcare decision-making is returned to doctors and patients not bureaucrats in DC. The net impact of this alternative would be truly be lower costs, expanded access to coverage, and improved quality of care. These benefits are only possible through the free market ingenuity that is the characteristic trait of America.
While these highlight some of the bigger issues to come before the Legislature recently, there were many other bills considered. To find information on a particular piece of legislation you can visit the Michigan Legislature site at: www.legislature.mi.gov. Also, please feel free to check out my webpage at www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com or follow me on Facebook via my Senator Patrick Colbeck page for more Legislative news and updates. You can also call my office toll-free at (866) 262-7307 or visit in person at one of my scheduled office hours in the district should you have any further questions.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
(517) 373-7350 | SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov