Senator Jim Stamas E-Newsletter

Serving you
The new year is here, and we are already hard at work to improve our state. Serving the people of the 36th Senate District is important to me, and I encourage you to contact me with any state issues. You may call toll-free at 1-855-347-8036 or email SenJStamas@senate.michigan.gov. Also, please check out my Facebook page. Let me know if I can assist you in any way or if you have an idea to help move Michigan forward.

Positive state economic and revenue outlooks
Michigan’s fiscal and economic leaders recently met for the annual January Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference to make their economic and state tax revenue projections. The good news for Michigan families, workers and job creators is that our state economy is growing and is expected to continue to grow.

With smart budgeting and positive reforms, we’ve transformed Michigan from a state with annual budget shortfalls and high unemployment to a place where workers are in demand and we can regularly increase our investments in important priorities like education.

Due to a growing economy, the consensus estimate projects Michigan will have an increase in revenue of more than $320 million this year and over $400 million in fiscal year 2021. However, this revenue boost is not a jackpot for new spending. We expect to face new budget pressures in the coming fiscal year. Additionally, we continue to talk with the governor about the political vetoes she made in critical areas such as funding for local roads and job training.

We must remain diligent in how we use taxpayer dollars to meet our challenges and continue to build a brighter future for all Michigan families.

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New interactive map for Great Lakes shipwrecks
Michigan’s cold, fresh waters are home to roughly 1,500 shipwrecks — making up one-quarter of the estimated 6,000 wrecks found throughout the Great Lakes. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has launched a new website and interactive map so the public can explore these ships.

The website features a link to the map app as well as information on underwater preserves, diving to shipwrecks, water trails and how to get involved to preserve our history.

The Michigan Shipwrecks Public Web App offers users a closer look at shipwrecks and the locations of lighthouses and boating access sites. It offers information about each ship, including the difficulty level of diving to the wreck, whether the wreck is accessible by kayak or canoe, the circumstances of the sinking, and a description of the ship — with photos and drawings (if available).

The map will be updated as more ships are discovered. Remember that Michigan law prohibits removal of any artifacts from shipwrecks. Visit and explore both the story site and public web app at Michigan.gov/ExploreShipwrecks.

Be alert for new scam using fake tax debt letters
Scam artists are constantly trying to disguise who they are and trick people into giving them money. The latest scheme uses fake government-looking letters about overdue state taxes.

According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, taxpayers are told in the fake letter to immediately contact a toll-free number to resolve a state tax debt. The letter contains publicly available information about the person’s real tax debt to trick them into believing the letter is real. It then aggressively threatens to seize a taxpayer’s assets ― including property and Social Security benefits ― if the debt is not settled.

In official state letters to taxpayers, they will outline taxpayer rights and provide several options for people to resolve outstanding debts. If you get a letter that threatens to seize your property unless you pay immediately over the phone, it’s a scam. Taxpayers who have received the fake letter or have questions about a possible tax debt can call Treasury’s Collections Service Center at 517-636-5265.

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Prepare for state tax filing season
While Michigan’s individual income tax season begins in late January, taxpayers can get a head start on viewing and downloading the state 2019 tax year forms and instructions at www.michigan.gov/taxes.

Taxpayers can e-file their state returns when tax season begins at the end of the month at www.mifastfile.org.

The Department of Treasury reports that 85% of all Michigan taxpayers choose to e-file. Tax officials also note that commonly used paper forms will continue to be available at Treasury offices and most public libraries.

Home heating help may be available
With the winter heating season in full swing, some households may struggle to pay their winter heating bills. I want to remind area families that help with home heating bills may be available.

First, if you are unable to pay your bills, please contact the utility company ASAP and explain the situation. Being proactive could help keep the heat on and save your life. The Winter Protection Plan safeguards seniors and low-income customers from service shut-offs. It allows eligible customers to avoid shut-offs while paying nothing or just a small percentage of their annual bill during the protection period. To apply, residents should contact their natural gas or utility company.

This is a deferment plan, not a financial assistance program meant to ease the burden of high winter utility bills. However, there are state programs that offer resources to assist low-income families with energy costs, including the State Emergency Relief Program, Home Heating Credit, and Weatherization Assistance Program. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/heatingassistance.

Helping secure overseas military voting
Our service men and women should have every opportunity to vote as they defend our country. That’s why I recently supported legislation that would establish a secure return process for military ballots from active duty members serving overseas, giving those serving the opportunity to vote while still protecting the security of our elections.

Senate Bill 117 and SB 297 would require the state to establish a process to allow for military members serving overseas to vote using an electronic ballot, if they are able and willing to use a U.S. Department of Defense verified electronic signature obtained through a “Common Access Card” (CAC). A CAC is a type of smart card that serves as the identification of active duty military members and as their access to computer systems or other entry points. Requiring the use of the CAC ensures that ballot information is transmitted securely and only to the intended recipient.

The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

THE 36TH DISTRICT

Senate District 36 Map

The 36th Senate District is made up of 10 counties, which includes: Presque Isle, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Oscoda, Alcona, Iosco, Arenac, Gladwin and Midland counties.

Thank you for subscribing to my electronic newsletter! I am honored to represent you in the 36th Senate District of Michigan. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Please feel free to forward this on to others who may be interested in receiving the 36th District E-news. You may sign up for it also at my website or via Facebook.

Senator Jim Stamas
100 N. Capitol Ave., Room S-324.
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Visit my website at: www.SenatorJimStamas.com

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