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Dear Friends:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and provide updates about what is going on at Michigan’s Capitol.

I am the state senator for the 18th District – covering all of Barry County and parts of Allegan, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent and Ionia counties. Please feel free to contact me with any issues related to state government at [email protected], or by calling 517-373-1734 (toll-free at 855-347-8018).


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Thomas Albert
State Senator

Latest efforts to oppose corporate welfare and Marshall megasite

I continue to oppose the Ford electric vehicle battery plant proposed for the Marshall area. Last week, I introduced new legislation to continue fighting this project and the state program that has allowed corporate welfare to escalate out of control in Michigan.

Highlights of my plan include:

Repealing the SOAR Fund: Eliminates the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund because the program is not working as intended and is failing taxpayers (Senate Bills 520, 521 and 522).
Saving taxpayer money: Eliminates the corporate income tax earmark of up to $500 million a year for the SOAR Fund, returning the money to the general fund (Senate Bills 523 and 524).
Restoring accountability: Bans elected state and local officials from signing non-disclosure agreements related to economic development projects using public funds and requires monitoring of SOAR projects through the Economic Development Incentive Evaluation Act. The Incentive Evaluation Act was created by legislation I sponsored in 2018 to independently examine whether specific economic development programs are worth the cost to taxpayers (Senate Bills 525 and 526).

I supported SOAR when it was created in 2021. It was intended to promote top-quality investments while increasing transparency and improving communication with lawmakers — but that is not what has happened. It has actually made things worse, leading to non-transparent deals that are too expensive to ever provide an adequate return on investment for taxpayers. I now believe the program should be disbanded.

SOAR started with an overall $1 billion investment, and the first projects approved were largely related to brownfield or already existing manufacturing sites. SOAR-related allocations have since doubled, and Democrats have approved corporate income tax designations that will increase program funding even more. Some projects have excessive costs, target greenfields and have ties to unfriendly foreign nations.

The state has approved roughly $1.8 billion in public incentives for the Marshall project alone — or more than $700,000 for each direct job that would be created at the factory. Land has been bought and some of it cleared, only to have Ford announce recently that the project is paused and no final determination on whether it will proceed has been made. It’s even more evidence that the SOAR process puts the cart before the horse.

You can read more about my proposals to eliminate SOAR here or watch my speech about it on the Senate floor here.

Also last week, I signed onto a letter asking the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for more information about how tax dollars are being spent at the Marshall site. The MEDC responded this week, indicating that more than $448 million in total funding so far has been awarded to the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance for site preparation. The MEDC says the state has not yet provided any funding directly to Ford for this project.

Bureaucratic price control board unlikely to lower prescription drug costs

There is no question that many prescription drugs cost too much — in Michigan and across the nation. We need real solutions that will improve access to vital medications and make them more affordable. Unfortunately, a plan advanced by Democrats in the Michigan Senate this week is unlikely to help.

The legislation would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board comprised of five unelected appointees selected by the governor. Similar boards have been created in a few other states, with no evidence they’ve done anything to actually lower costs. Price controls are not a solution — in fact, they often restrict access by leading to supply shortages of essential products. If prices are set inaccurately, this legislation could actually prompt manufacturers to stop making some medicines and reduce their ability to research others.

I voted against this legislation because centralized planning and price-fixing boards do not work. The proposals are contained in Senate Bills 483, 484 and 485.

Requiring more transparency and disclosure from elected officials

In the 2022 election, Michigan voters approved Proposal 1— a constitutional amendment that will require state legislators and other elected state officers to file annual financial disclosure reports. It is aimed at preventing conflicts of interest and increasing transparency for the residents and taxpayers of Michigan.

The Legislature is required to enact measures accomplishing this provision by the end of this year, and disclosure filings are scheduled to begin in 2024. If the Legislature does not act by Dec. 31, the Michigan Constitution says a resident of the state may initiate a legal action to enforce its requirements. Obviously, it should never come to that. The Legislature must act on this soon and provide the transparency Michigan voters demand. I am committed to getting this done.

An update on legislative redistricting

Many Michiganders are still growing accustomed to the new boundary maps for their state legislative districts. It is important to note that some of these maps — which took effect for the 2022 election — are still facing legal challenges. Specifically, a trial related to nine new legislative maps in the Metro Detroit area is scheduled to begin in federal court in early November.

Four of these maps are for the Senate and five are for the House. They were drawn by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The essential question is whether these new districts violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act is designed to allow racial minorities the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice and that is at the heart of this case.

In their order advancing this case to trial, the three-judge panel cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that found Alabama’s congressional maps violated the federal Voting Rights Act. If the court finds the maps violate the federal law, the maps would have to be redrawn.

Fall in Pure Michigan

Once again, it is fall in Michigan. Mornings are chilly, the sun is setting a little earlier, and the trees are changing color.

To find peak color throughout the state, check out the Pure Michigan fall color map. The Peak Color Report provides weekly updates as the vibrant colors of fall roll across the state, along with travel and activity ideas for exploring Michigan this fall.

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Nominate the next Michigan Teacher of the Year

Michigan teachers often do not receive the recognition they deserve.

Each year, the Michigan Department of Education accepts nominations for Michigan Teacher of the Year and Regional Teachers of the Year to recognize teachers who have shown leadership and dedication to the teaching profession. The Michigan Teacher of the Year serves as a representative and advocate for Michigan's more than 80,000 teachers and works with the other nine fellow Regional Teachers of the Year to make up the Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council. Regional Teachers of the Year, who are selected from across 10 regions of Michigan, meet regularly to provide their expertise and offer input on proposed state and department initiatives. The Michigan Teacher of the Year also attends the State Board of Education meetings as a non-voting member and serves as Michigan’s applicant for National Teacher of the Year.

Nominations for the 2024-25 Michigan Teacher of the Year are open from now until Oct. 16. For more information about the program or to nominate a teacher, visit the Michigan Department of Education’s Michigan Teacher of the Year page. Nominations can also be made using the online form.

Michigan's 18th Senate District

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Senator Thomas A. Albert
4500 Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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