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Dear Friends,

To better serve you, I am offering this e-newsletter on what’s happening in our community and across our state.

The weather is warming up, and soon summer will be here. May is a great time of year, and I hope all of the hardworking moms in West Michigan had a very Happy Mother’s Day. Your selfless dedication is very much appreciated.

We also recently celebrated the National Day of Prayer, which asks people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation,” and National Nurses Day, which offers us a time to thank all nurses for their commitment to their communities and to public health.

I encourage you to contact me with any state issues. You may call toll-free at 1-855-347-8028 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

Senate passes FY23 state budget plan

The Michigan Senate has passed a fiscal year 2023 state budget that prioritizes taxpayers and education. The plan includes an increase in per-student funding and in local revenue sharing, pays down debt and sets aside $2 billion to lower taxes.

Senate Bill 832 would invest $17.9 billion in K-12 education, a total increase of $938 million. The 2022 state budget made history by closing the per-pupil foundation allowance gap between schools. This year, the Senate plan would use $630.5 million to increase the minimum foundation allowance by another $450 to $9,150 per student and includes an additional $70 million to help address learning loss due to the governor’s COVID-19 shutdowns.

SB 842 would provide a nearly $996 million increase for higher education, including $581 million to pay off MPSERS unfunded liabilities for universities still in the retirement system and $361 million for a new Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which would cover up to $3,000 annually at a community college or $6,000 annually at a university. Students could use the scholarship at public or private colleges, community colleges and qualified private training institutions.

The total $74.2 billion state budget plan includes:

• $55 million for the Going Pro program to provide grants to support employee training.
• $40 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to assist people seeking an associate degree or trade certificate.
• $41.7 million to improve access to dentists for low-income families.
• $414.5 million to maintain the wage increase for direct-care workers instituted last year.
• Nearly $2 billion in local government transportation funding to help fix local roads.

Our plan also prioritizes an increase in revenue sharing for local governments and additional resources to train and hire 170 new Michigan State Police troopers and an additional 800 corrections officers. It also provides a $1 million increase for Secondary Road Patrol grants that help support emergency response and traffic enforcement on local county roads.

SBs 827-843 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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District office hours

I am holding in-person office hours throughout the district on a regular basis because hearing directly from the people about the issues they are facing is an important part of representing everyone in West Michigan. These meetings give local residents a chance to express their viewpoints about what needs to be done and offer help to people dealing with a variety of state issues.

In May, I will be meeting residents on Friday, May 13 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at New Beginnings, 4735 Lake Michigan Drive NW in Grand Rapids, on Friday, May 20 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at Herman’s Boy, 220 Northland Drive NE in Rockford, and on Friday, May 27 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at Mr. Burger, 5181 Northland Drive NE in Plainfield.

My last office hour in April went great. Thank you to Gretchen Zuiderveen for visiting me, along with all other guests who stopped by throughout the month. I’m dedicated to being accessible, transparent, and accountable to constituents!

Office hours are open to all residents and no appointment is necessary. Space is limited at some locations. Anyone who is unable to attend the office hours may contact my office.

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Honoring retiring president of Calvin University

Last month, I surprised Calvin University President Michael Le Roy during a meeting with the school’s Board of Trustees to deliver a special tribute honoring his steadfast commitment to the Calvin community.

As a Calvin alum, I applaud Le Roy’s collaborative leadership, willingness to listen to various viewpoints on any given matter, and commitment to students.

The tribute was signed by me, Sens. Aric Nesbitt and Winnie Brinks, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The tribute says, “That it is with a deep appreciation that we honor Dr. Michael Le Roy upon the occasion of his retirement after a decade of serving as president of Calvin University. As Dr. Le Roy transitions into this next phase of his life, we add our voice of thanks to those of the professors, administrators, students, parents, and alumni throughout the Calvin community for a job well done.”

Dr. Le Roy is widely regarded by Calvin parents and alumni as a kind and genuine man and he will be missed.

Natural resources funding bill heads to full Senate

The people of Michigan created the Natural Resources Trust Fund to invest constitutionally restricted funds into vibrant parks and recreational resources to enhance their quality of life and their access to our great outdoors.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved my legislation to support $84.6 million in park and trail developments and acquisitions across Michigan. It now heads to the full Senate.

Senate Bill 1028 would authorize the NRTF to use $45.6 million in restricted funds to support 22 acquisition projects and 95 development projects. Matching funds of $39 million would bring the total investment to $84.6 million.

My bill would provide over $4 million in trust fund grants to help West Michigan communities make over $14.3 million in total improvements to public outdoor spaces. These exciting local projects illustrate the reason for the trust fund by supporting the expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities for families throughout our region.

Kent County projects include a total of $900,000 in grants toward the $3.96 million development of 4,464 feet of the nonmotorized Rivers Edge Trail from Ann Street to Leonard Street in Grand Rapids with river frontage along the east bank of the Grand River. The three segments include street underpasses, a universally accessible 12-foot wide shared-use trail, river access, LED lighting, seating and signage. Ultimately, the trail will connect downtown Grand Rapids to the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park.

Other grants in the bill for trail projects in Kent and Ottawa counties include:

• $300,000 toward a $1.4 million development of 2.1 miles of the River Valley Rail-Trail through the city of Lowell, including a pedestrian bridge across the Grand River. This trail is part of the 125-mile Fred Meijer Mid-West Regional Trail network.
• $300,000 toward a $1.5 million project to construct an Iron Belle-North Country Trail connector at Luton Park in Cannon Township along with a trail map, bike fix station, benches, rain garden and bike racks.
• $300,000 for a $3.5 million development of a 2.3-mile segment of the Idema Explorers Trail that will provide the final nonmotorized connection between the existing trail and Grand Haven — completing a 13-mile path from the Grand Haven Pier to Riverside Park.

SB 1028 also features NRTF grants for five park improvements in Kent and Ottawa counties, including:

• $214,100 for the $428,200 development of East Paris Park in Kentwood to renovate the existing bituminous trails, which will be replaced with an 8-foot wide limestone path to provide an accessible surface that can easily be repaired when roots appear. The project also provides a trail map kiosk, LED lighting, benches, bike racks, grills, picnic tables, serving tables, and a reading trail.
• $231,300 toward $462,600 of improvements to the Buck Creek Trailhead at Mill Race Park in Grandville, including adding a pavilion, interpretive signage, “naturescape” playground, a trail loop with a bridge over Buck Creek, native plantings, and parking.
• $300,000 toward a $604,600 development of the Grand Rogue Park in Plainfield Charter Township at the confluence of the Rogue and Grand rivers to add the first water access at the site via a dock, kayak launch, and observation deck. It also includes a pavilion, a road and parking lot, and improvements to the existing play equipment, benches, picnic tables, grills, bike racks, and signage.
• $237,000 toward a $474,000 project to renovate the restroom facility at Ottawa County’s Kirk Park and install a new accessible playground and trailhead amenities for three key regional trails.
• $152,600 toward a $305,200 development of the newly established 10.4-acre Buttermilk Creek Park natural area in Hudsonville to provide a public restroom building, rain garden, and parking lot. These amenities will serve both the park and the Buttermilk Trail, which is the public pathway system the city has been constructing over the past 10 years to enhance walkability and connectivity within the city and surrounding townships.

Kent County has two land acquisition projects included in the bill, including:

• $1.12 million toward the $1.6 million purchase of 106 acres adjacent to Townsend Park, bringing it to regional park status with a proposed total of 250 acres. The property would add bird watching opportunities and access to Bear Creek for fishing. The conceptual planning envisions three miles of trails, connection to the existing park, parking for the trail system, and a pavilion featuring unobstructed views of the landscape.
• $44,800 toward the $89,600 acquisition of 0.77 of an acre in the Plaza Roosevelt area of Grand Rapids for the purpose of developing a public park to serve nearby residents and children attending a school immediately adjacent to the new park.

Local road and bridge improvements

There are several road construction projects scheduled for West Michigan this year, but two are particularly noteworthy.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is investing approximately $6 million to resurface 4.5 miles of I-96 from east of Bristol Avenue to West River Drive in the city of Walker. Work also includes bridge improvements on the eastbound I-96 ramp to southbound US-131 over West River Drive and the Marquette Railroad.

Lane closures, traffic shifts and ramp closures will be in effect throughout the project. The eastbound I-96 ramp to southbound US-131 is scheduled to be closed through Aug. 15. Traffic will be detoured to northbound US-131, then West River Drive to southbound US-131. An alternative detour is to head east on I-96 to Plainfield Avenue, then westbound I-96 to southbound US-131.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-September.

Then, starting in October, part of a $100 million project to replace the eastbound and westbound I-196 bridges over the Grand River at Market Avenue will close eastbound I-196 at Market Avenue for nearly two years. During the closure, which will last until July 2024, eastbound I-196 traffic will still be able to exit at Market Avenue. Traffic will also still be able to enter eastbound I-196 at the next on-ramps at Lake Michigan Drive as well as First Street. The suggested detour will take eastbound I-196 traffic onto eastbound M-6 and then northbound U.S. 131.

After the eastbound bridge replacement is done, MDOT will begin the replacement of the westbound I-196 bridge. That project is expected to be completed in late 2025.

Know the signs of a stroke

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Anyone can have a stroke at any age, but almost three-quarters of all strokes happen in people over age 65. Because early treatment is crucial to help minimize the lasting effects of a stroke, knowing the signs or symptoms is important.

A stroke is treatable if you act F.A.S.T.! The warning signs of a stroke are Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 911. By being aware of these signs, you can help save a life.

The American Heart Association urges people to lower their risk of heart disease and stroke by taking steps to manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat better, lose weight and stop smoking.

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Purchase your ORV License and Trail Permit

Now that spring has arrived in Michigan, it is time to get outdoors and hit the trails. Michigan ORV licenses and trail permits are valid for one year, beginning April 1 through March 31 of the following year.

An ORV license is not required to operate on private lands, but a license will gain you access to ride on eligible county roads, frozen surfaces of public waters, state forest roads (open to ORV use) and eligible national forest roads. The cost of an ORV license is $26.

An ORV trail permit is required when operating on state-designated ORV trails and scramble areas. ORV trail permits are not valid as a stand-alone license; an ORV license must also be purchased. ORV licenses and trail permits can be purchased online through eLicense (sent through the U.S. mail and will take approximately 7-10 business days) or in person at a number of DNR license agents and dealers.

Military Appreciation Month

This month we show our appreciation for the sacrifices and successes of the brave men and women of our nation’s armed forces, who stand ready to defend our freedoms and way of life.

As you may know, my son Blake is a lance corporal in the Marines. His mother and I are tremendously proud of his service. I encourage everyone to take time this month to express your gratitude for the servicemen and women who are dedicated to protecting us and liberty throughout the world.

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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 1-855-347-8028 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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