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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

Bills would streamline permitting process, cut red tape

Rep. William Bruck and I recently introduced identical bills in both chambers of the Legislature to streamline the state’s permitting process. Cutting unnecessary and burdensome red tape regarding state permits would make the process more user-friendly and help foster a better business climate to make our state more attractive to job creators.

This legislation would ease bureaucratic barriers to growth and ensure Michigan residents and businesses get their permits processed in a timely manner — or receive a refund on their application and permit fees.

According to Site Selection magazine, in 2022, the ease of permitting and regulatory procedures ranked fifth among the most important location criteria — behind workforce skills and development, local and state taxes, and transportation infrastructure.

Senate Bill 557 and House Bill 5094 would facilitate the streamlined processing of applications for state permits and establish certain time frames for processing applications for state permits. The measures would also provide for the refund or waiver of application fees if permits are not processed within the applicable time frames.

Governor signs confusing new food tax laws

Despite opposition from me and all my fellow Senate Republicans, legislative Democrats have made sweeping changes to the way certain foods are taxed in the state of Michigan.

I happen to think there’s no good time for a tax hike, but Democrats choosing this moment to raise food taxes has to take the cake for worst possible timing. Inflation has made putting food on the kitchen table more expensive than it’s been in decades — and yet Lansing Democrats think now is a good time to make it even more expensive?

Public Acts 141 and 142 amend Michigan tax law to expand sales and use taxes on prepared food. The bills add definitions of the terms “food sold with eating utensils provided by the seller” and “food sold in an unheated state by weight or volume as a single item” as they relate to the definition of “prepared food” and the exemption of the sale or purchase of food or food ingredients.

Under these new laws, items such as unsweetened iced tea will be taxed, but not sweet tea. Prepackaged candy is untaxed, but prepackaged chips and nuts are taxed.

These changes are unnecessarily complicated, confusing, contradictory, convoluted and costly. They’re basically everything except common sense. Click here or on the image below to see my opposition comments on the Senate floor.

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District office hours on Oct. 16

My aim is to provide the best service possible for the hardworking people of Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties, and I plan on regularly holding in-person office hours throughout the district to hear directly from constituents in one-on-one discussions.

On Monday, Oct. 16, I will be available to meet with constituents from 2 to 3 p.m. at Morenci City Hall, 118 Orchard St. in Morenci, and 4 to 5 p.m. at the Wright Waldron Municipal Building, 112 E. Center St. in Waldron.

These meetings give local residents a chance to express their opinions or concerns about state government or to request assistance with a variety of state issues. No appointment is necessary.

Residents who are unable to attend the office hours may contact my office toll-free at 855-347-8016 or via email at [email protected].

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Report your deer harvest online

All harvested deer must be reported within 72 hours or before transferring possession of the deer to another person, a processor or taxidermist. The easiest way to report a harvest is by downloading the Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app.

A successful harvest can also be reported online. Visit on a computer or mobile device to go directly to the reporting page, enter the kill tag license number and date of birth to begin the report.

For more information on harvest reporting, contact a local DNR customer service center or the main Wildlife Division line at 517-284-WILD (9453) during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Opposed to Senate Democrats’ irresponsible energy mandate

The Senate Committee on Energy and Technology continued testimony on a package of bills aimed at overhauling Michigan’s energy policy with overreaching green energy mandates.

The plan, modeled after the failed California-style Green New Deal, is about more government mandates and more government control of people’s lives that results in less reliable energy and less money in people’s pockets.

Michigan deserves realistic solutions. I’m more likely to be the next starting quarterback for the New York Jets than we are to achieve a 100% carbon-free energy mandate without natural gas or nuclear by 2040.

An effective and affordable energy grid uses a wide variety of sustainable sources, but this plan prioritizes Washington talking points over the lives and livelihoods of Michigan families. The Senate Democrats’ irresponsible endeavor threatens our entire economy and burdens struggling families and job providers with higher costs.

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Invasive plants found in Michigan

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has confirmed two small populations of the aquatic invasive hydrilla plant in residential ponds in southwest Michigan.

The invasive hydrilla, considered one of the world's most invasive aquatic plants, was discovered during routine monitoring following treatment for another invasive plant, parrot feather. Both species are included in Michigan’s invasive species watch list.

While hydrilla can be treated with herbicide, the plant can be difficult to eradicate, making early detection very important. Michigan’s Invasive Species Program relies on reports from the public to help in early detection and response efforts.

To help identify hydrilla, look for long, slender stems floating near the water surface and check for these characteristics:

• Pointed, bright green leaves about five-eighths of an inch long with small teeth on the edges.
• Leaves growing around the stem, generally in whorls of five, but they can range from four to eight.
• Tiny, floating white flowers visible in late summer to fall.
• Small, white to yellowish, potato-like tubers attached to the roots.

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Any suspicious aquatic plants should be reported as soon as possible to [email protected]. Include close-up photos and provide the location of the detection in your report. For more information about identifying or reporting invasive aquatic plants, visit

Building Healthy Communities in three area schools

Three area schools have been chosen to participate in the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) program by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM).

Having a healthy state and economy starts with having healthy kids. This program is about helping prevent childhood obesity, reduce chronic disease, and improve academic achievement and mental health. I salute Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for this proactive initiative and for including three schools from Monroe, Dundee and Blissfield in the program this school year.

In total, 148 Michigan schools will receive BHC programing, with 74% of those schools being low-income, under-resourced communities in areas of great need.

Schools could apply for one of three BHC program options for the 2023-24 school year, including:

• Reducing Health Disparities in Elementary Schools (grades K-5).
• Engaging Middle Schools Through Project Healthy Schools (grades 6-8).
• Step Up for School Wellness (grades K-12).

St. Mary Campus of the Monroe Catholic Elementary Schools and Dundee Elementary School will receive Step Up for School Wellness programming, and Blissfield Middle School opted for the Engaging Middle Schools Through Project Healthy Schools program.

Grant opportunities available for Michigan schools

Learning to read is fundamental to every child’s education. It has been shown, time and again, that students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade will continue to struggle academically.

The fiscal year 2024 budget has several early literacy grant opportunities for Michigan’s public schools to provide additional support for students struggling to learn to read, including:

• $42 million for early literacy coaches at intermediate school districts. These coaches will assist teachers in developing and implementing literacy instructional strategies for pre-K to third grade students to help ensure they are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. These grants are intended to increase the number of literacy coaches available to Michigan students.
• $19.9 million for districts to use for additional instructional time. These grants are intended to aid districts in providing additional instructional time to pre-K to fifth grade students who have been identified as needing additional support toward reading at grade level by the end of third grade.

The application period for both grants will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 27. For applications, background information and information on other literacy grant opportunities, visit the MDE Early Literacy website.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

These days, we use the internet for everything from shopping to work and school to socializing, making it more important than ever to take steps to protect ourselves and our families online.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It is the perfect time to review online safety procedures and be sure you are doing all you can to protect yourself against identity theft and other online threats. Michigan’s cybersecurity website is a great resource for Michigan residents, businesses, and students.

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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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