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Senator Patrick Colbeck’s Newsletter
 

SERVING THE STATE SENATE 7TH DISTRICT

HEADLINES FROM THIS EDITION

- Quality Must Guide New Road Dollars
- School Safety: Moving Past Division
- City of Wayne Nominated for Opportunity Zone Status
- Reform Needed for Grid Security & Public Health
- Holding Our State Universities Accountable
- Hepatitis A: Your Attention Matters
- April 17th Tax Filing Deadline / Alert for Preparers
- 2018 Construction Map & Work Zone Safety
- District Hours with Sen. Colbeck
- Michigan Constitution’s April Anniversary

QUALITY MUST GUIDE NEW ROAD DOLLARS

Sen. Colbeck recently voted in favor of putting more money toward roads as supplemental funding in Michigan’s 2017-18 budget. The Senator said he was pleased to vote for the increase in funding because it came out of existing revenue from previously unappropriated money that would have otherwise been misspent. He warned in a press release however that if the state continued to just spend more dollars in the same way it always has that our road problems will never truly be fixed.

“Everyone is frustrated with the state of Michigan’s roads, but part of our problem is that too many people in Lansing feel that raising more revenue is the answer," Sen. Colbeck said.  "We need to make a stand to start maintaining higher quality and longer lasting roads, or otherwise we’ll simply be forever chasing our tails when it comes to long term maintenance costs and quality.”

The extra supplemental appropriation was for an additional $175 million, which can be put to work almost immediately for roads purposes. Sen. Colbeck also voted for a proposed amendment that would have taken $275 million out of the rainy day fund and put it toward roads as well. That amendment, which would have meant $450 million in total, did not pass.

Sen. Colbeck addressed the issue by giving a floor speech in which he discussed the need for higher quality, longer-lasting roads that would save money in total life cycle costs. In addition to reducing the long-term maintenance costs, Colbeck pointed out that we also have technology to improve short-term pothole fixes so that patches would last at least 12 times longer than the current cold patch or “throw and roll” approach.

“Simple cold patch pothole fixes may keep more government workers busy but are not effective and not the way drivers want to see these getting filled. Quality roads should be a matter of public service, not a jobs program.”

In the interest of promoting higher quality roads, Colbeck also urged his colleagues to support his road construction transparency bill, Senate Bill 210. This bill would provide information needed to enforce longer-term road warranties. The bill is currently in the Senate Transportation Committee. The Senator’s past report on road quality can be found by clicking HERE.

SCHOOL SAFETY: MOVING PAST DIVISION

As both Michigan and the nation address the importance of school safety, our office has received many impassioned calls and letters from young and old alike. We have appreciated hearing from all of you. The good news is that we all have the same objective in mind – keeping our kids safe at school. Where there is division is on how best to achieve this critical goal.

We have heard many different solutions, ranging from those who wish to ban all firearms to those who would like to see state level self-defense assurances further strengthened. Sen. Colbeck’s time has been spent looking for solutions that not only satisfy the overarching objective of protecting our kids but that are also consistent with his oath to support the federal constitution and Art. I, § 6 of our state constitution. There are indeed solutions that satisfy these goals and requirements.

Along these lines, when Senator Colbeck chaired the State Police budget in 2014 he set aside $4M for safety grants to be used by schools to upgrade safety measures such as adding single points of entry, secured doorways, metal detectors and cameras. He is supportive of additional funding towards this end. Furthermore, the Senator is supportive of efforts to improve the quality of information available in the federal NICS database so that people with felonies or mental illnesses that pose physical danger to others are prohibited from purchasing firearms. While there has been much talk lately regarding new “red flag” laws, it is important to note that mechanisms already exist in Michigan for judges to be petitioned in a manner that can result in dangerous people having their firearms removed.

Another option to consider is that of School Resource Officers (SROs). SROs were stationed at many of our schools during the 1980s. SROs are not typical guards, but are sworn law enforcement officers who are responsible for providing security and crime prevention services directly in our schools. They are employed by a local police or sheriff’s agency and work closely with administrators in an effort to create a safer environment for both students and staff. Michigan’s previous poor economy was one reason these programs largely went away, but they provided true mentorships with students beyond just added security.

While we know the 7th District is strongly divided on many firearm issues, Senator Colbeck is not in favor of banning firearms or eliminating the rights of young adults aged 18-20 from being able to use a firearm. Many people this age use firearms to defend our rights by serving in the military, and the Senator feels it would be a disservice to then tell those very same people that they can’t own a firearm in defense of themselves or their families when they come back home.  Improving school safety is a paramount goal Michigan will achieve, but letting the evil actions of others take away the fundamental rights of the people to defend themselves is the type of tyranny that both our State and Federal Constitutions were designed to safeguard against.

CITY OF WAYNE NOMINATED
AS OPPORTUNITY ZONE

Last week Michigan sent its application to the US Treasury to designate certain areas within the state as “Opportunity Zones”. Opportunity Zones came about out of the recently enacted federal 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that also lowered personal income taxes. The program is designed to inject consistent capital investment into struggling communities that have been cut off from capital and have experienced a lack of business and job growth.

Updated maps detailing the final state nominations to the federal government are listed on MSHDA’s website, and include the City of Wayne. Sen. Colbeck wrote a letter in support of the nomination, citing the city’s solid worker base and close proximity to trucking, rail, and air freight modalities.

It is anticipated that the US Treasury will make final decisions on the nominated zones by the end of April. Guidance as to how companies can invest in selected Opportunity Zones could come as early as the end of May.

ENERGY & TELECOM SECTORS IN NEED OF REFORM TO PROTECT RATEPAYER INTERESTS AND PUBLIC SAFETY

It was a busy month in Lansing on issues pertaining to electric grid security and local control of zoning for wireless cell infrastructure and 5G equipment.

Grid security is important on both the macro and micro levels, looking at the reliability of the overall network all the way down to the ability to keep power on at specific individual homes.

Two troubling reports came out last month, one that looked at how easily our national grid could be hacked at the macro level, and the other looking at our own state cybersecurity vulnerabilities. You can read about the reports here:

http://www.senatorpatrickcolbeck.com/colbeck-cybersecurity-again-found-lacking/
At the micro level, the MPSC continues to find that DTE’s new computer system is leading to people inappropriately having their power disconnected and taking too long to get it restored. The Senator believes that high fines will be warranted, and is working towards making sure affected homeowners are compensated for outages that happened during some of our coldest winter months in years. You can read more about it here:

http://www.senatorpatrickcolbeck.com/colbeck-regarding-dte-penalties-record-fines-needed-people-must-be-compensated/

Lastly, the Senator drew attention to new legislation that moved out of the Senate and is now in the House that would make it so that local governments would not have zoning jurisdiction over where new wireless cellular equipment is located. While proponents say taking away local control is necessary for a rapid roll out of the 5G network, Sen. Colbeck said that the safety of the 5G network has not been fully evaluated and deserves higher scientific scrutiny before unchecked rapid implementation. You can read more about it here:

http://www.senatorpatrickcolbeck.com/local-control-of-telecom-equipment-placement-must-be-preserved/

Based on the input and suggestions of people who have had their power turned off or who have voiced concern over the erosion of local governmental power by executive branch fiat, Sen. Colbeck said he is researching several potential rule changes to be placed into statute to rectify the problem. In some cases, a constitutional change would be required. You can listen to several of the Senator’s floor speeches regarding executive overreach, cybersecurity, and the need for both electric and meter choice by clicking HERE .

HOLDING STATE UNIVERSITIES ACCOUNTABLE

Sen. Colbeck recently introduced a joint resolution that would bring Michigan in line with other states when it comes to the legislative oversight of our public state universities and colleges. Designated as “SJR P”, the measure is in response to a variety of issues at Michigan universities over the past several years, such as many state universities continuing to increase tuition at five times the rate of inflation, leading to increased debt loads for students.

In addition to the importance of unacceptably high overall tuition rates, Sen. Colbeck highlighted a past example regarding veteran tuition.

“Several years ago our state universities refused to grant in-state tuition to our military service members who were transferred into Michigan by the federal government. Because of the universities’ extreme level of separate autonomy, the Legislature was unable to effectively try to statutorily change things. It took several years before our military members were treated properly in these cases. It’s clear that we must take steps that allow for proper legislative oversight of these state institutions, bringing Michigan law in line with what we see in other states.”

The Senator also called attention to school policies that infringe upon the Open Meetings Act and violate First Amendment rights on campuses, adding these policies were clearly in need of legislative oversight. Yet because our state law is unique, Michigan public universities enjoy almost complete autonomy in many areas. The high level of autonomy makes them too independent from oversight by the Legislature. SJR P would ensure that the legislature is able to provide for the accountability of universities to our constitution and the fiscal constraints of our residents. You can read the full press release on SJR P by clicking HERE.

HEPATITIS A – YOUR ATTENTION MATTERS

Since 2016 there have been 789 cases of Hepatitis A in Michigan, including 635 hospitalizations and 25 deaths related to the outbreak of this highly contagious liver infection from the HAV virus. This makes our state’s recent outbreak the most deadly in the nation.

Download images to view this graphic.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently issued $500,000 in grant money to 25 health departments across the state in an effort to help stop its spread. There are steps you can take to protect yourself, visit Michigan’s Hepatitis A resource center by clicking HERE or by visiting www.michigan.gov/hepatitisAoutbreak.

Hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the feces (poop) of people with hepatitis A. You can get HAV by eating contaminated food or water, during sex, or just by living with an infected person. In Michigan, roughly 3% of people in documented cases have died, although not all people infected with hepatitis A experience illness. Symptoms may appear even 15-50 days after exposure and can include:

• nausea and vomiting
• belly pain
• feeling tired
• fever
• loss of appetite
• yellowing of the skin and eyes
• dark urine
• pale-colored feces (poop)
• joint pain

It is recommended to wash your hands after going to the bathroom and before preparing meals for yourself and others. Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils. Do not have sex with someone who has HAV infection or share food, drinks, or smokes with other people.

An important way to reduce the risk of getting HAV is to consider vaccination. People without healthcare coverage may qualify for free or low cost vaccines. Contact the Wayne County Health Department at (734) 727-7078 for more information.

APRIL 17th IS MICHIGAN’S TAX FILING DEADLINE

consider talking to your tax preparer about data security

Because of a Washington D.C. holiday, state and federal taxes are due this year on April 17th, effectively giving taxpayers two extra days to work on their taxes.

For more information or to get links for forms please click HERE.

Michigan Treasury is also suggesting that filers talk to their tax preparers this year to ask them to be on the alert for data theft scams. Data theft is on the rise, and tax professionals can play a role in stopping it by ensuring they have strong cybersecurity and are on the lookout for warning signs on your behalf. Consider sharing this bulletin with your preparer when you meet.

If you think you have been the victim of tax related identity theft, please contact the Michigan Treasury by clicking HERE. The IRS is also reminding taxpayers to look out for phishing emails that ask for personal data and banking info in order for a person to qualify for a fictitious "refund" that is actually part of a scam.

Sometimes potential victims are told they owe unpaid taxes and the money must be paid immediately over the phone. If a person refuses to pay on the spot, he or she is threatened with arrest. THE IRS WILL NEVER CONTACT YOU DEMANDING PAYMENT ON THE SPOT IN THIS MANNER. If you are ever in doubt, hang up and contact the IRS or Michigan Treasury directly at a reputable phone number you can find on the government’s official website. Click HERE to learn more.

2018 CONSTRUCTION MAP & WORKZONE SAFETY

The 2018 Paving the Way state construction map is now available online by clicking HERE. The map details major road repairs currently scheduled this season on state highways and trunklines, along with the construction dates, to help drivers prepare for work zones along their planned travel route.

State construction information and up-to-date traffic information is also available on the MI Drive website at www.michigan.gov/drive.

As construction season begins in earnest, early April will also see National Wok Zone Awareness Week.

Download images to view this graphic.

In Michigan, 2017 crash data from the State Police has not been finalized yet, but unofficial numbers include the following work zone related statistics that in some cases led to road worker injury or death:

Total Fatal Crashes: 20
Total Fatalities: 22 (includes drivers, workers, and pedestrians)

If these numbers hold true this would be up from 17 fatalities in 2016 and 15 deaths in 2015. Thank you for driving carefully in these areas!

DISTRICT HOURS

Don’t have time to drive to Lansing? Please click HERE to find out when and where Sen. Colbeck will be holding nearby district “office hours” that you can attend. And please note the time change for the April 20th meeting in Livonia. We hope to see you there!

MICHIGAN’S CONSTITUTION AND OATHS OF OFFICE

Download images to view this graphic.

The citizens of Michigan voted to approve a new state constitution in April of 1963. If you’ve never read the state constitution, our office can provide residents of the 7th Senate District with a free paper copy of the electronic version. You can also go online HERE to find past historical versions of our constitution as well.

Under Article 11, Sec. 1, all state legislators must swear an oath in support. Information on Oaths of Office for other elected officials can also be found by clicking HERE.

LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION ON YOUR STATE GOVERNMENT? VISIT OUR WEBSITE

www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com

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THE MICHIGAN STATE SENATE
7th DISTRICT

Michigan’s 7th Senate District
 

The 7th State Senate District proudly serves the following areas: Canton Township, city of Livonia, city or Northville & Northville Township, city of Plymouth & Plymouth Township, and the City of Wayne.

Senator Patrick Colbeck
201 Townsend St., Suite #3400
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Phone: (517) 373-7350

Email: SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov
Please include name, address, and phone number.
Our website: www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com
 

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