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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

New state budget plan spends too much

The Michigan Legislature this week approved a new set of budget bills for the upcoming fiscal year. While I had hoped to be able to support this plan, in the end, I simply could not. The budget plan spends too much money, and could leave essential state services in a vulnerable position in the future.

The overall budget is estimated at a massive $81.7 billion. There are many specific items in the budget I support – including some of the school-related investments, such as special education – but I simply cannot endorse this overall spending level. Just a few months ago, our state budget had a surplus exceeding $9 billion. Rather than take advantage of the opportunity to pay off more debt and save more money for a rainy day, the Democratic-majority Legislature chose to spend most of this money and grow the size of government instead. State government will be adding about 700 new positions at taxpayer expense. About 93% of the surplus will be gone.

Spending every bit of money you have available and not planning for the future is a reckless strategy. No prudent person would spend like this with their own family budget. It’s also irresponsible within state government. This budget establishes programs that could be in financial jeopardy shortly after they begin if the economy worsens and revenues fall. This is not some abstract theoretical argument. In recent months, Michigan’s major tax collections have declined on a year over year basis. I question the sustainability of this plan even in a good economy, let alone one in economic contraction.

This is another step toward returning to the failed policies of the ‘Lost Decade’ of the early 2000s. Back then, imprudent budget planning contributed to cuts for schools and other services when the economy worsened. We should be taking steps to make sure our state will never have to go through that again – and I am concerned this budget will fail in that mission.

The budget bills are Senate Bill 173 and House Bill 4437.

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Proposed school bargaining changes aren’t focused on students

Michigan’s legislative Democrats have approved legislation that appears more focused on what union leaders want than what students need. I voted against House Bills 4044, 4233, 4354, 4356, and 4357.

The changes would give unions more leverage in contract negotiations with schools, and even allow schools to collect membership dues and fees on behalf of unions – which is currently prohibited by law.

I support teachers and am extremely thankful for the work they do helping our kids. And obviously, I support changes in our educational system that put students first. But this legislative package does not address true needs for students, and I cannot support the changes.

Reminder about Michigan’s new distracted driving laws

We’ve mentioned this in the newsletter before, but I wanted to remind everyone that Michigan’s new laws related to distracted driving take effect June 30.

Michigan law had already banned texting while driving. The new, expanded law includes a ban on the hand-held use of cellphones or other mobile devices in any way. If you want to use a GPS navigation device or make a phone call while driving, it must be done in “hands-free” or voice-activated mode. The only exceptions are emergency situations such as calling 911.

Drivers will not be permitted to use their hands to operate a mobile device beyond a single tap to activate a function or select a phone number, or to use the permanently installed user interfaces of technology integrated into a vehicle.

Remember fireworks safety on the Fourth of July

More than likely, you already have heard the boom and crackle of fireworks in your neighborhood this summer. It will escalate as we approach the Fourth of July.

With that in mind, here are a few fireworks safety tips:

• Always use legal fireworks and follow manufacturers’ directions.
• Use fireworks outdoors only on paved surfaces, a safe distance from structures.
• Light fireworks one at a time, then back away to a safe distance.
• Always keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of fire. Douse used fireworks in water before discarding.
• Don’t let kids use fireworks, and if you do allow older kids to use sparklers, make sure they are closely supervised. A large percentage of sparkler-related injuries happen to children under 14.
• Keep people a safe distance from fireworks.
• Keep pets in a sound-resistant room indoors if possible, especially if they have anxiety from fireworks noise. Close the curtains and turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction.

Changes to deer regulations approved

The Natural Resources Commission and Department of Natural Resources approved new deer regulations at their June 8 meeting that will be in effect for the 2023-2025 hunting seasons.

While many of the regulations remained the same, there were a few important updates made.

Updated regulations include:

• Restricted tag of the deer combo license. A four-point antler point restriction on the restricted tag of the deer combo license has been reinstated in 19 Lower Peninsula counties. All deer combo licenses in the southern Lower Peninsula counties will now have an unrestricted regular tag and a four-point restricted tag.
• Liberty Hunt. Hunters participating in the Liberty Hunt will now be allowed to harvest more than one deer. While the limit for bucks remains at one, hunters can pursue multiple antlerless deer.
• Upper Peninsula Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Zone. The zone has been removed. As a result, hunters in this area can resume baiting and feeding practices. The hunter's choice antler point regulations, which include an unrestricted tag for the deer license and point restrictions for the regular and restricted tags on the deer combo license, are now reinstated.
• Late archery season and crossbows. The proposal to allow crossbows in the late archery season in the Upper Peninsula was rejected. This includes hunters in the previous CWD Surveillance Zone where crossbow use in the late-season use was allowed.
• Antlerless harvest in northern deer management units (DMU). The proposal to reinstate antlerless harvest opportunities in several northern DMUs was rejected. The only exceptions are qualified individuals during the Liberty Hunt and through Deer Management Assistance Permits, when authorized.

For more on deer management, hunting opportunities and more, visit

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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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