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Dear Friends,

To better serve you, I am offering this e-newsletter on what’s happening in the 30th Senate District and across our state.

I encourage you to contact me with any state issues. You can call toll-free at 855-347-8030 or email [email protected]. 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 our state forward.

Working for you,

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Mark Huizenga
State Senator

Efforts increase to stop wrong-way driving

The Michigan Department of Transportation is partnering with the Michigan State Police and the city of Grand Rapids to reduce the chances of wrong-way driving.

Detection systems will be added at interchange off-ramps along U.S. 131 between Ann Street and M-11 (28th Street) to warn drivers they are going the wrong way. A series of lights will flash on the wrong way signs, cameras will start rolling, and the authorities will be alerted. Similar systems are already in place at the northbound U.S. 131 off-ramp to Cherry Street and the northbound U.S. 131 off-ramp (Hynes Avenue) to Hall Street.

I applaud these life-saving efforts, which will go a long way toward protecting families in Grand Rapids and all across the state. During the budget process last spring, I proposed an amendment to MDOT’s fiscal year 2024 budget to add $3 million for effective measures to prevent wrong-way accidents on freeway ramps and sent a letter in June to Michigan Department of Transportation Director Brad Wieferich encouraging him to support the funding amendment.

When it comes to safety, I believe it is the duty of all public servants to work together to keep our drivers and our families safer and more secure.

My amendment followed two incidents last April in West Michigan, when a 63-year-old husband and father was killed by a wrong-way driver traveling south on U.S. 131, and then a Michigan State Police trooper was hit by oncoming traffic while trying to intervene and stop a wrong-way driver on northbound U.S. 131.

According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there were 2,008 deaths from wrong-way driving crashes on divided highways between 2015 and 2018, an average of approximately 500 deaths a year. That’s up 34% when compared to the previous four years.

A new video on MDOT’s YouTube channel shows the system currently in place on northbound US-131 at Cherry Street.

Tour of Safe Haven Ministries

I recently had the pleasure of touring Safe Haven Ministries in Grand Rapids. They provide residential and non-residential services to individuals and families who have experienced or who are experiencing domestic abuse, human trafficking, or exploitation.

This year, I was able to secure $25.8 million for victims of domestic violence and other crimes. Safe Haven Ministries also received a $250,000 grant to further expand their human trafficking program.

To learn more about this amazing organization and the work they do, click here or on the image below.

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Ottawa County road funding

Ottawa County will receive grant funding to make large-scale improvements to an important trade route that connects different industries to one another and provides easy access to I-96.

The grant funding will be used to resurface Eighth Avenue and Hayes Street from Garfield Street to the Kent County line. The project will include milling and repaving the existing road surface, widening shoulders, placing new pavement markings, and improving sidewalk ramps to meet ADA standards.

This project is a great example of the long-term investments we should be making both locally and statewide to improve efficiency and safety on our roadways. It will surely be welcomed by West Michigan businesses and motorists alike.

This route is typically used to haul lumber, automotive materials, and agricultural products and is a key logistical thoroughfare for Michigan manufacturing. The total project cost is $1,039,500 with the state of Michigan providing $375,000 and $664,500 in matching funds from the Ottawa County Road Commission.

MPSC approves Line 5 tunnel permit

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved the permit for Enbridge to build an underground tunnel for the Line 5 pipeline, a critical energy source that currently runs underneath the Straits of Mackinac. The regulatory agency found there is both a public need for the energy products Line 5 carries and to protect the Great Lakes. The commission also recognized that alternatives were both costly and high-risk.

The Great Lakes Tunnel Project, originally scheduled to begin in 2021 and be operational in 2024, is critical to ensuring energy affordability and stability in Michigan. Final approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still necessary before the project can begin.

Line 5 supplies more than half of the propane Michigan residents use to fuel their cars and heat their homes. The pipeline is also responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in downstream industries such as refineries, manufacturers, airports, and businesses, representing more than $464 million in labor income.

Home heating assistance

With colder temperatures setting in, residents may find themselves in need of help keeping the heat on this winter.

The state of Michigan offers several energy assistance programs to help eligible senior and low-income households keep utilities in service or have service restored. Immediate relief may be available through a network of nonprofit organizations and other financial assistance programs.

• Customers can contact 211 or their utility company to see what programs are available in their area. Dial 211 or go online to for information about available services.
• To apply online for Michigan Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and the State Emergency Relief (SER) program, visit the MI Bridges website.
• For assistance with county-specific programs, contact the MDHHS county office where assistance is needed.

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Avoid holiday scams

The month of December is a busy time for charitable giving as many of us consider our holiday or year-end giving. While there are many legitimate and worthy charities, it is important to be cautious and ask the right questions before making a donation. There are several tools available to help you make safe charitable donations and avoid scams this season:

• Michigan’s nonprofit organizations have partnered with the attorney general to create a guide for Giving Wisely, which outlines ways we can be sure our donations are being used as we intend.
• The attorney general’s office maintains a registry of charitable organizations in Michigan. These reports are searchable and are available online or by calling 517-373-1152.
• You can also verify an organization’s IRS 501(c)(3) status by visiting the IRS Select Check tool.

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Snowmobile season is underway

State-designated trails are open to snowmobiles Dec. 1 through March 31. Snowmobile permits for the 2023-24 season are now available. The snowmobile program is 100% funded with your trail permit dollars. A $52 snowmobile trail permit is valid for one year and covers the cost of trail grooming, signage, bridges, culverts, grading, trailhead maintenance, and more.

Snowmobile permits can be purchased:

• Online through eLicense (your sticker will be mailed to you within 7 to 10 days).
• Online with the Michigan Snowmobile ORV Association (MISORVA processes permit orders daily Monday through Friday).
• In person at one of these DNR license agents and dealers.

While riding this winter, keep the following safety tips in mind so you make it home to your family and friends. Always ride at a safe speed, on the right side of the trail and sober. Remember to anticipate and yield to trail groomers.

Michigan-grown Christmas trees

Michigan is home to more than 500 Christmas tree farms that supply nearly 2 million fresh Christmas trees to the national market annually.

With approximately 37,000 acres in commercial Christmas tree production, Michigan ranks third in the nation in the number of Christmas trees harvested, supplying approximately 2 million fresh Christmas trees to the national market each year. For every Christmas tree harvested, Michigan Christmas tree farmers plant three new trees for future harvests.

To find a Christmas tree farm or retail near you, visit the Michigan Christmas Tree Farm Directory.

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Serving the people of West Michigan is very important to me and I encourage you to contact me with any state issues. You may contact me by calling toll-free 1-855-347-8030 or emailing [email protected].

I look forward to serving you, and I encourage you to contact me if I can assist you in any way or if you have an idea to help move our state forward.

Senator Mark Huizenga
201 Townsend St., Suite #7200
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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