Senator Jim Stamas E-Newsletter

Serving you
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.

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State of the State address / Budget update
The governor recently gave her 2020 State of the State address and this week her budget director presented her 2021 budget plan.

Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, and I welcomed several local business leaders to the Michigan Capitol as our guests for Gov. Whitmer’s address. Dave Midkiff is operations director for Corteva Michigan, Mary Beth Heydrick is vice president of operations — Performance Materials and Coatings and Northern Americas Region at The Dow Chemical Company, Christian Velasquez is global market director at Dow, Tina Lynch is director of business development at the Midland Business Alliance, and Jon Lynch is president of Three Rivers Corporation.

The state of our state is good as the result of over eight years of hard work to build a better Michigan — turning around our economy, helping create thousands of Michigan jobs, driving down the cost of car insurance and reducing our debt.

I agree with the governor that we need to fix our roads, protect our water, prepare our students for success, ensure access to health care, and help more people participate in Michigan’s comeback. The difference lies in how we achieve those goals and how we pay for them.

Last year, we delivered a responsible budget on time that would have increased funding for roads, schools and water protection to record levels, but the governor decided to play games with nearly $1 billion in vital funding because we didn’t pass her massive $2.5 billion gas tax hike. Michigan families deserve better than that. I am ready to work with the governor to improve our state.

I am concerned about the governor’s decision to issue $3.5 billion in bonds to improve some state highways. Bonding is a financing mechanism, not a funding source. It adds to our state debt and will cost taxpayers millions of dollars to pay off — taking valuable resources from other priorities. Rather than focusing on a realistic and affordable long-term solution to improve roads across our state, her plan relies on manipulating debt to fund state highways.

As we begin this new budget cycle, I remain committed to working with the governor and our House colleagues to pass a responsible budget that improves our state for all Michigan families and job creators. My priorities continue to be to help fix our local roads, support our schools and our students, and protect our water and communities — while keeping our state on solid financial footing.

Last year, the governor walked out of the budget talks because we wanted to include a $400 million increase for local roads and bridges — funds she ultimately eliminated. I hope the governor will stay fully engaged in the budget process this time around.

Senate approves road improvement policy reforms
I recently supported important infrastructure policy reforms that would maximize road funding efficiency to ensure we use our tax dollars effectively, improve the ability of our local and state road agencies to better meet our growing infrastructure needs, protect Michigan taxpayers from waste, and ensure our roads are built to last.

Federal transportation dollars often come with burdensome requirements that can cost local agencies substantial time and money — resources better used to fix the roads. By allowing local road agencies to swap federal funds for state funds, we can help local agencies save up to 30% on their projects.

The Senate Republican road policy reforms would:
  • Maximize the use of federal transportation funding that the state receives;
  • Improve the current road warranty program to provide better value;
  • Require the state to study the feasibility of tolls on Michigan bridges or roadways;
  • Improve collaboration between the state and local roads agencies by extending local asset management horizons and ensuring Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) continues to supply long-range plans;
  • Require MDOT to develop a road construction inflation index to measure changes in cost within the highway construction industry annually; and
  • Establish a local road agency grant program to assist local agencies in funding technical engineering assistance.

SBs 515-520 and 522 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Winter free fishing weekend – Feb. 15-16
Michigan’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend is Feb. 15-16. During the weekend, all fishing license fees will be waived and vehicles will be able to enter state parks and use boating sites without a recreation passport.

Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland lakes and the Great Lakes for all species of fish, but all fishing regulations still apply.

Visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing for information on special events and activities. A state Recreation Passport will not be required at any state park or recreation area during the free fishing weekend.

Remember that ice fishing can be dangerous if people do not follow safety procedures or head out on the ice unprepared. For those who have not tried winter fishing, an Ice Fishing Basics article online features good safety advice and basics on getting started and commonly used equipment.

Bill would update the state’s agricultural disaster relief program
Last spring and fall, farms across the state suffered tremendous losses due to unpredictable weather. The agriculture industry is a vital part of Michigan’s economy, and it’s important we do everything we can to support our local farmers. That’s why I recently supported legislation to update the state’s agricultural disaster relief program to enable farmers to apply for low-interest qualified loans.

Senate Bill 693 would update the Agricultural Disaster Loan Origination Program to reflect the specific needs of the 2019 season and allow lenders to begin issuing loans to farmers who qualify. The program is a partnership between farmers and processors, private lenders, and the state to support the agriculture industry through loss of crops due to weather-related disasters.

Updating this program will give farmers the peace of mind that they can take out a loan based on their qualified losses to cover their everyday expenses — including machinery, land and infrastructure payments — rather than sell the family farm.

Recreation Passport fee increasing to $12 starting March 1
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced that the regular Recreation Passport vehicle entry fee for residents will increase from $11 to $12 as of March 1, 2020. This $1 increase is the first passport price increase since 2013.

Michigan residents who purchase a Recreation Passport can enjoy vehicle access to more than 100 state parks and recreation areas, 140 state forest campgrounds, hundreds of miles of state trails, historic sites, family-friendly events, hundreds of boating access sites, and more.

To learn more about how the passport supports, protects and provides easy, affordable access to Michigan’s great outdoors, visit www.Michigan.gov/RecreationPassport.

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Carbon monoxide poisoning prevention
Michigan’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend is Feb. 15-16. During the When winter temperatures plummet and home heating systems are running for hours, the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning increases. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room each year due to accidental CO poisoning. CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill without warning, but there are steps you can take to keep your family safe.

Installing battery-operated or battery backup CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home, having your furnace professionally inspected every year and never using a generator inside your home are a few easy ways to help keep your family safe from CO poisoning.

For more information on carbon monoxide, including signs of CO poisoning and additional tips on way to prevent CO poisoning, visit www.cdc.gov/co.

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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