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Dear Friends,

Welcome to this month’s edition of my e-newsletter. It is an honor to serve the people of Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties as your voice in the Michigan Senate.

The goal of this e-newsletter is to help keep you informed about what’s happening in the 16th Senate District, in Lansing and across our state. I will also be sharing the latest information on my official Senate Facebook page. If you have any questions or need to get in contact with me, feel free to call my office toll-free at 855-347-8016 or via email at [email protected].

Working for you,

Joseph Bellino, Jr.
State Senator

Protecting tax relief for all taxpayers

Last week, I helped secure meaningful relief for every Michigan taxpayer by protecting an automatic state income tax rate cut. This is a victory for all Michigan families, who will soon see long-term income tax relief because Senate Republicans stood strong against a Democrat shell game.

If the Democrats’ plan had gone into effect right away, it would have stopped a tax cut for everyone in exchange for a one-time rebate too small to cover a month of gasoline for an average family.

Under a 2015 law, if revenues in Michigan’s general fund increase past a certain point, an automatic and permanent reduction to the state income tax rate is triggered. The House and Senate fiscal agencies estimate that Michigan was $700 million over the trigger’s threshold in fiscal year 2022, which would reduce the income tax rate from 4.25% to 4.05%.

If enacted by April 18, HB 4001 would have stopped that permanent cut by retroactively moving $800 million from the general fund to a new fund to provide one-time $180 rebates in 2023.

I still support increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit and ending the retirement tax, and I am disappointed the Democrats played politics with these issues by combining the EITC with a scheme to rob much-needed relief from everyone in our state and not providing relief to all seniors — and doing so with no public hearings or input.

I hope Senate Democrats will begin to work together on a bipartisan effort to provide immediate relief to all our seniors and workers.

Click here or on the image below to see my video comments on why I opposed HB 4001.

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Free tax guide available

For Michigan residents who have yet to file their taxes or who want current information on a variety of tax issues, a free tax guide is available on my Senate website.

The guide includes information on how to get help with your taxes and how to avoid common tax scams.

Taxpayers can view and download the state forms and instructions for the 2022 tax year at, and you can e-file your state returns at

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Bill would help combat youth gambling addiction

With the popularity of mobile betting apps and online sports betting now being legal in over 30 states, teenagers are having problems with gambling addiction. It has been reported that many young people don’t see gambling as risky and that the percentage of high school students with a gambling problem is double that of adults.

I recently introduced legislation with bipartisan support to head off this growing problem by acting to raise awareness among our students about the real risks of gambling.

Senate Bill 54 would require the state Department of Education to develop a grade- and age-appropriate model program of instruction on gambling addiction by July 1, 2024, and make it available to school districts and public-school academies.

Although the legal age for gambling ranges from 18 to 21 depending on the state, between 60% and 80% of high school students report having gambled for money in the past year, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. The group also said 4% to 6% of high schoolers are considered addicted to gambling.

About 5% of all young people between age 11 and 17 meet at least one of the criteria for a gambling problem, such as liking the “rush” felt when gambling, writing IOUs to stay in the game and wanting to win “the big one” so much that they keep playing even when losing a great deal.

Just as our teachers currently inform students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, we need them to also educate them about the serious consequences of gambling addiction.

Protecting cash payments for high school sporting event tickets

Last week, I introduced bipartisan legislation to protect the ability for parents and fans of Michigan high school athletics to use cash to buy tickets for sporting events.

We should be encouraging as many people as possible to support our local student athletes — not setting up needless barriers. Michigan families should not be excluded from watching their child compete or cheering on their local high school team simply because they don’t have a smartphone or a debit card, and I am happy to have bipartisan support for my bill.

Senate Bill 99 has four Democrat co-sponsors and would require public schools in Michigan that charge a fee for high school athletic events to accept cash as a form of payment.

In recent years, there has been a shift from cash to digital ticketing and payment where cell phone applications must be downloaded for a debit card or banking information to be uploaded and then scanned at the entrance of an athletic event to gain entry. And in some cases, a convenience fee is added on top of the price of admission.

This bill would not prevent schools from using digital ticketing forms of payment; it would only require schools to also allow for cash payments.

2023 Recreation Passport increase

Michigan’s state parks are largely self-supporting thanks to the Recreation Passport program. Funds derived from the purchase of a Recreation Passport go directly into maintaining and improving our state parks.

The Recreation Passport program was established by the Legislature in 2010, giving residents the opportunity to purchase a passport through the secretary of state when renewing a license plate. A Recreation Passport gives year-round access to over 100 state parks and recreation areas, more than 1,000 state-managed boating access sites, over 140 state forest campgrounds, and parking at thousands of miles of trails and other outdoor spaces.

The 2010 statute that created the program included a provision to adjust the fee based on the Consumer Price Index. This fee structure ensures the rates keep with the pace of the economy.

This month, the Recreation Passport resident vehicle fee increased from $12 to $13 and from $6 to $7 for motorcycles. This is the first such increase since 2020.

Check out the DNR’s Wildtalk Podcast

Join the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division for season six of the “Wildtalk Podcast.” New episodes are released monthly and feature DNR staff and other wildlife experts as they discuss all things Michigan wildlife. From deer, moose and elk, to birds, frogs and ticks, each episode features timely and insightful interviews and answers to listener-submitted questions.

New and past episodes can be heard online at on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

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Consumer alert!

The Michigan attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services have alerted EBT users about a phishing text message scam claiming a user’s EBT benefit card has been locked. The message includes a phone number to call for help, however responding to this message may result in the scammer having access to the card’s funds.

Always remember, Michigan agencies will NEVER:

• Call or text with threatening messages or demand immediate payment.
• Demand payment without an opportunity for appeal.
• Threaten to immediately bring in law enforcement.

For more information about how to avoid this and other government imposter scams, visit the Michigan Department of Attorney General consumer alerts page. Consumers can report suspected phishing or other consumer scams to the attorney general by completing this Consumer Complaint/Inquiry Form.

Celebrating Michigan agriculture

The agriculture industry is a critical economic driver for our state. Michigan farms contribute billions to our economy each year through products grown, harvested, processed and prepared in Michigan. Farms also employ a significant portion of the state’s workforce.

March 21 is Ag Day — an annual celebration to recognize the importance of Michigan agriculture to our economy and show our support for Michigan’s hardworking farmers, whose hard work feeds Michigan families and helps keep our grocery store shelves stocked.

One way you can show support for our local family farms is to purchase some “Made in Michigan” products.

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Senator Joseph Bellino, Jr.
5300 Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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