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Dear Friends,

Below you will find the latest issue of my e-newsletter with updates from your state Capitol. I hope you will find the news and information helpful. Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone you feel may be interested.

As always, my staff and I are available if you have any thoughts or concerns about state government. Please feel free to contact my office at [email protected] or 517-373-7946.


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Michele Hoitenga
State Senator
36th District

Gun laws

In the wake of the Michigan State University tragedy last year, the Democrat-controlled Legislature rushed through a series of misguided laws aimed directly at the constitutional rights of gun owners in Michigan. These new regulations, including safe-storage directives, red flag laws and universal background checks, avoid addressing the issues that could actually alleviate violence and only serve to turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.

While the U.S. Constitution upholds the principle of due process, these new measures appear to sidestep it entirely. Criminals aren’t likely to play by the rules, whether it’s universal background checks or red flag laws. Furthermore, safe storage laws encroach on the private domain, suggesting government intrusion into how law-abiding gun owners store their firearms in their privately owned homes. These policies, in essence, will disproportionately impact responsible gun owners without addressing the root issues they purport to resolve.

Rather than enacting burdensome “feel-good” legislation that would have little to no effect on criminals, Michigan must enforce the laws we already have on the books. Federal law already requires all federally licensed dealers to conduct background checks on their customers upon purchase. Under existing Michigan law, law enforcement officials already could intervene if they believe an individual is a serious threat to themselves or others. The new laws do not address the mental health crisis permeating our society. They will do nothing to address surging crime rates. And they will do nothing to ensure the enforcement of our existing laws.

The following laws took effect in February of this year:

• Firearm storage: People in Michigan will now be required to keep a firearm stored or, if left unattended, unloaded and locked, either with a locking device or stored in a locked container if it is “reasonably known that a minor is or is likely to be present on the premises.” (Senate Bill 79, Senate Bill 80)
• Universal background checks: Background checks related to firearm purchases will now expand to all firearm purchases, from handguns to long guns. Previously, universal background checks were only required when purchasing a handgun in Michigan. (House Bill 4138, House Bill 4142)
• Red flag laws: Several bills were passed in Michigan to establish Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws, also known as red flag laws. Red flag laws make it easy to take away the constitutional rights of a Michigan citizen even if they haven’t been convicted or even charged with a crime. The Democrats’ bills let all sorts of people petition for the removal of someone’s guns — even an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend from decades ago. A potentially violent ex could get firearms removed from a victim’s home, making them more vulnerable to attack. (Senate Bill 83, House Bill 4146, House Bill 4147, House Bill 4148)
• Domestic violence regulations: There already is an existing federal prohibition of gun ownership for those convicted of domestic violence offenses. These measures go beyond federal statute by extending firearm bans to more individuals and expanding the scope of charges. (Senate Bill 471, Senate Bill 528, House Bill 4945)

Energy zoning

Many constituents have asked about the recently enacted energy zoning legislation, Public Acts 233 and 234, which I opposed. These laws allow the state to authorize large-scale wind and solar projects despite local objections. Not only have the Democrats forced through unrealistic laws that attempt to power Michigan’s grid on solar and wind alone, but they have done so by usurping local government control and zoning rights.

Policies implemented that encompass the voices of local taxpayers, provided they do not infringe upon constitutional rights, are the essence of local control. I acknowledge the complexities of striking a balance between protecting the rights of tax-paying property owners and the role of elected officials utilizing zoning to ensure that certain uses do not negatively impact neighboring property values. The disturbing reality is that property rights can be used at the mercy of political whims and agendas, and that is what I see happening by the Whitmer administration.

I will continue to fight for local control and to preserve the rural northern Michigan landscape that we all cherish so dearly. I will also persist in championing sensible energy policies that include reliable and affordable sources such as gas and oil.

We’ve all seen the headlines about electric vehicles stranded at charging stations during these frigid temperatures. Now, compare that to the convenience of energy for transportation in liquid form, readily available everywhere and requiring only a two-minute refueling time. Thankfully, access to such reliable energy already exists.

Gov. Whitmer’s budget plan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2025 budget proposal is short-sighted and reckless and is further proof that she is out of touch with the reality of the lives of Michigan residents.

The Michigan Constitution requires that each new budget cycle begin with a proposal from the governor to the Legislature with his or her spending plan for the next fiscal year. The plan Gov. Whitmer recently presented to the Legislature relies upon Democrats’ $700 million income tax increase, redirects $670 million from the state’s teacher retirement plan to pay for more government spending, and includes no real plan for long-term infrastructure investments.

Gov. Whitmer likes to use the phrase bipartisanship, but that has been nonexistent here in Michigan over the past year. Of the 342 projects in last year’s budget, nearly 90% of the money was sent to areas controlled by Democrats. While the governor hands out our hard-earned tax dollars to her corporate donors, the state’s infrastructure and small businesses continue to crumble.

At the beginning of 2023, Michigan had a record $9 billion surplus. One year later, the surplus is gone. Michigan families deserve a government that effectively spends their tax dollars on roads, students, and public safety. They should not be forced to pay billions in government corporate handouts as they struggle to deal with higher grocery bills and energy prices.

Consumers dams

On Feb. 2, Consumers Energy announced its decision to issue a Request For Proposals (RFP) aiming to identify potential buyers for several of their hydroelectric dams located along the Au Sable and Manistee rivers in northern Michigan. This move follows a review of options for the future of the dams.

The RFP was opened on Feb. 15, initiating a two-stage evaluation and bidding process, expected to conclude by the end of 2024. With the dams’ operating licenses set to expire in a decade, potential future options include renewal of the licenses, transferring ownership, replacement, or removal.

Entities interested in participating can promptly register their interest and submit initial bids by March 15. Further information from Consumers Energy is available at

Stronger Borders, Safer Communities

Recently, I introduced Senate Bill 725 as part of a larger package offered by Senate Republicans to enforce U.S. immigration laws in Michigan and better protect local communities from President Joe Biden’s growing border crisis.

The sheer number of illegal migrants pouring into the country under President Biden’s open border policies has made it so every state is now a border state. The influx of migrants is stretching community resources beyond capacity — not to mention the unfathomable amounts of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs coming into our country. When the federal government fails to value the safety and security of its people, the responsibility then falls to the states. Michigan must act to protect our people.

The Republicans’ Stronger Borders, Safer Communities plan includes increased penalties for the manufacturing, delivery, or possession of fentanyl and requires every Michigan community to enforce state and federal immigration laws. My bill seeks to end the practice of so-called “sanctuary counties.” Additionally, the plan calls on the president and Congress to immediately and fully resolve the border crisis.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Michigan has five self-proclaimed sanctuary communities, including the city of Lansing along with Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, and Wayne counties.

By refusing to enforce immigration laws, these rogue communities are compromising our national security and putting the safety of Michigan residents and the financial stability of our entire state at risk. The Michigan Legislature must act in a bipartisan manner to keep our communities safe from the preventable violence and rampant drug trafficking streaming across Joe Biden’s open borders.

Lake level legislation

I voted no on Senate Bill 662, which seeks to amend the definition of a normal inland lake level and the process for financing a “normal level project,” removing voter approval for special assessment districts of $600,000 or less.

While there is a real need to address the issues caused by the impact of weather on fluctuating lake levels, this legislation goes too far by circumventing the voice of the voters living in these special assessment districts. There are many inland lake communities across northern lower Michigan and the people, not bureaucrats, should have the final say on these special tax assessments.

Upcoming in-district office hours

Office hours are open to all residents of the 36th District to express their opinions or concerns about state government or to request assistance with a state issue. No appointment is necessary.

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36th District events

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I recently attended the Northern Michigan Policy Conference in Traverse City, where I participated in a panel discussion alongside legislators from the northern region of Michigan. The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and Traverse Connect are to be commended for yet another successful policy conference that attracted a large audience.

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I had a great time at the Big Buck and Wild Game Dinner in West Branch with state Rep. Mike Hoadley. Thanks again for hosting us, Bob Griffin!

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Several legislative colleagues and I met with representatives from Consumers Energy for an update on their dams. Many of the dams facing possible closure are located in the 36th district. The meeting was informative, and Consumers has offered to participate in a similar legislative forum that will be open to citizens — a date and time for this town hall Zoom will be announced.

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Over 700 people attended the sold-out Alpena Chamber of Commerce annual banquet. I truly enjoyed chatting with so many community leaders and business owners who make Alpena such an amazing place to live. Well done, Alpena Chamber of Commerce!

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It was wonderful to enjoy another amazing Michigan Bear Hunters Association convention! I had great conversations with fellow hunters, constituents, youth hunters, DNR representatives, and fellow legislators who traveled to northern Michigan for the event. Thank you, MBHA, for your policy advocacy in Lansing and a great 2024 convention — we appreciate you!

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Students and educators from our district came to Lansing to discuss the Jobs for Michigan Graduates program and all the great work they are doing. I enjoyed my time with them all!

Helpful Links

Michigan Senate  |  Michigan House  |  Michigan Legislature

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Senator Michele Hoitengta
3400 Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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