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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

Stronger Borders, Safer Communities

The Biden administration’s failure to enforce immigration policies has allowed fentanyl to saturate our communities and claimed the lives of too many Americans.

This issue is deeply personal to me. I have known six people who have died of a fentanyl overdose. This unprecedented border crisis is endangering all our communities, and we need immediate action to keep our state and our country safe.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I introduced Senate Resolution 98, which mirrors a bipartisan resolution recently approved by Congress urging the Biden administration to utilize its existing resources to resolve the border crisis and protect all Americans. If Congress can address this in a bipartisan manner, then surely the Michigan Senate can do the same.

I even sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks encouraging her to hold a hearing on this resolution addressing the escalating border crisis and its impact on local communities in Michigan and throughout the country.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, illicit fentanyl is primarily manufactured and smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico. In 2023, more than 27,000 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the border — an 860% increase compared to 2019.

SR 98 denounces the open-border policies of the Biden administration, condemns the resulting national security and public safety crisis, and urges the president to reverse his failed open-border policies.

It is part of the Strong Borders, Safe Communities plan, which also includes legislation to increase penalties for the creation, manufacturing, delivery, or possession of fentanyl and to require every Michigan community to enforce state and federal immigration laws.

Click here or on the image below to watch a short update I recorded from the Senate floor on the failure to secure the border and protect our communities.

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100% pro-small business voting record

I was one of the key lawmakers recently recognized by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) at its Leadership Council winter event at Heritage Hall for work last year to reduce the tax burden on small businesses, promote economic growth through redevelopment of brownfield sites, and oppose other measures that stifle the relationship between employers and employees.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities. As a former small business owner, it means a lot to be recognized by other small business owners. I look forward to continuing to work with the association and our local job providers as we fight for pro-growth policies that boost our economy and support family-run small businesses.

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Updated Michigan fishing regulations

The 2024 Michigan fishing guide is now available. New regulations went into effect on April 1. The fishing guide is a one-stop resource for current rules, regulations, and license information. An all-species fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 17 to fish in Michigan’s lakes or rivers. Annual and short-term licenses are available online at or at participating retailers. License fees are waived for Michigan residents who are veterans with 100% disability or active-duty military.

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NFL Draft in Detroit

The NFL Draft is coming to Detroit! For the first time, the city of Detroit and the Detroit Lions will be hosting the 2024 NFL Draft. The event will take place April 25-27 in the downtown area at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza.

The three-day event is free to attend but does require registration. The NFL Draft Experience will have interactive games, photo opportunities at exhibits, including the Vince Lombardi Trophy, free player autograph sessions and appearances, and more! To register, visit or download the NFL OnePass App.

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ORV and trail permits

The 2024-25 ORV season began April 1 and runs through March 31, 2025.

In Michigan, an ORV license is required to ride eligible county roads, frozen surfaces of public waters, state forest roads (open to ORV use) and eligible national forest roads. An ORV trail permit is required in addition to an ORV license when operating on state-designated ORV trails and scramble areas.

ORV licenses and trail permits are each valid for one year and grant the holder access to 4,000 miles of state-designated ORV trails and scramble areas, eligible county or national forest roads, state forest roads, and more.

ORV licenses and trail permits can be purchased:

• Online through eLicense.
• In person at a number of DNR license agents and dealers.

MI Brighter Future

Despite record funding for schools, Michigan students continue to fall behind their peers in other states. Rather than acknowledge that our students are struggling, Lansing Democrats have spent the last year lowering the standards for both students and teachers.

Senate Republicans have a plan to improve childhood learning and support teachers in the state’s K-12 schools. The MI Brighter Future plan includes measures to help students gain access to additional resources and learning opportunities, require proven training methods for educators, give parents more control over their child’s progress, reinstate accountability in teacher evaluations, and provide for performance-based bonuses.

The four pillars of the MI Brighter Future plan are:

• Set the bar high. Our plan strengthens key provisions of the third-grade reading law, requires student progress to be part of every teacher’s evaluation process, and restores the A-F grading scale that makes it easy for parents to understand how their child’s school is doing.
• Attract good teachers to where they’re needed most. Our plan would provide bonuses to highly effective teachers who take positions in schools where they can have the biggest impact.
• Give every kid a chance. No student should ever be left behind because of their means or their ZIP code. Our Student Opportunity Scholarships would help families afford educational assistance for their children, like tutoring. Our reading scholarships would help with the cost of summer or after-school reading programs.
• Stress the basics. Reading is the foundation of a successful education, yet too many schools have gone away from teaching the basics and reading scores have plummeted. Our plan will ensure teachers are trained in proven phonics-based reading methods that have worked for decades.

April is National Donate Life Month

Each year, National Donate Life Month brings attention to the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation. With more than 100,000 patients in the U.S. waiting for a transplant, it is more important than ever for everyone to register as a donor. One donor can save up to eight lives, restore sight to two people through cornea donation, and heal more than 75 others through tissue donation.

In 2023, Michigan became the first state to allow residents to register organ donors on their state income tax return. Public Acts 101 and 102 of 2023 allow an individual to become an organ donor by simply checking the box on their state income tax form.

In addition to marking their income tax form, Michigan residents can register as an organ donor online or at their local secretary of state’s office. For more information about organ donation and the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, visit

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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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