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Dear Friends,

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

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

Additional investment in Michigan’s future

The Legislature recently finalized two supplemental budgets to invest part of our $7 billion surplus to support economic growth, create good jobs, help our veterans and support the mental health of invaluable first responders.

Economic development is critical to our future. As our economy faces the challenges of high inflation, labor shortages and supply-chain issues, we must help our state remain competitive for long-term, high-wage jobs.

Senate Bill 844 was signed by the governor and directs over $846 million into the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund which was created in 2021 to assist the state in attracting and retaining business and development. That funding includes over $233 million already in the fund that would have lapsed on Oct. 1.

We owe a huge debt to our veterans for their service. SB 844 provides $3.4 million to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans to address costs, such as those related to transitioning members to new facilities.

Our first responders keep us safe and save lives every day. But they also experience extreme levels of stress and often witness traumatic events. SB 844 also invests $7.5 million to ensure our first responders experiencing PTSD or other mental health conditions receive the care they need.

MI Achievement Scholarship

The Michigan Legislature recently enrolled Senate Bill 842, which invests $12 million to provide literacy tutoring services and outlines eligibility for the new $250 million MI Achievement Scholarship created as part of the fiscal year 2023 budget. The bill was signed by the governor this week.

Under Michigan’s current financial aid programs, about 60,000 students receive some form of financial aid. With full implementation of the new scholarship, that number is expected to double, reaching more than 120,000 students.

The MI Achievement Scholarship will cover a maximum of $2,750 per year for up to three years at a community college; a maximum of $5,500 per year for up to five years at a public university; a maximum of $4,000 per year for five years at an independent or nonprofit college or university; and a maximum of $2,000 per year for up to two years at a qualified occupational training program or private trade school.

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.

This morning, I held office hours at New Beginnings in Grand Rapids. I will be holding district office hours on Friday, Oct. 21, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at Herman’s Boy, 220 Northland Drive NE in Rockford and on Friday, Oct. 28, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at Mr. Burger, located at 5181 Northland Drive NE in Plainfield.

Office hours are open to all residents, and no appointment is necessary. Anyone who is unable to attend the office hour may contact my office.

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Pure Michigan fall color map

Temperatures are dropping, farm stands and apple orchards are open, and the leaves are transforming from green to red, orange, and yellow.

If you are planning a tour to see the colors, check out the Pure Michigan fall color map. This interactive tool gives fall color seekers information to find the best locations for fall foliage throughout the state.

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Making pierogies before Pulaski Days

In preparation for Pulaski Days earlier this month, I visited Busia’s Catering at Eastern Avenue Hall to make pierogi. I had the privilege to learn a lot from Busia (Polish for grandma) about how to make the traditional dumpling.

Pulaski Days is held in honor of the American Revolutionary War hero and Polish immigrant Gen. Casimir Pulaski. It also is a celebration of Polish culture and Grand Rapids’ rich Polish heritage. Click here or on the image below to see a video of my visit.

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Water infrastructure funding ITA forms due Nov. 1

Communities wishing to apply for water infrastructure funds for fiscal year 2024 need to submit an Intent to Apply (ITA) form by Nov. 1, 2022.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (Clean Water SRF) is a partnership between the state and the federal government to offer low-interest loans to finance wastewater infrastructure projects, including wastewater treatment plant construction or upgrades, combined sewer overflow projects, new sewers, or other publicly owned wastewater treatment efforts.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (Drinking Water SRF) provides a similar type of funding through a federal-state partnership but for publicly-owned drinking water projects such as lead service line replacement, facilities upgrades, or other drinking water projects.

Senate Bill 565, now Public Act 53 of 2022, provides $4.7 billion of infrastructure funding, including $1.9 billion to be administered by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) through the state revolving fund (SRF) process.

In addition, we enacted PAs 132-134 this year to streamline both programs and lower the burden of the application process to get funding out more readily to communities and allow faster execution of critical infrastructure projects. The changes will directly help rural and other disadvantaged communities access the federal water infrastructure funds in PA 53.

ITA forms for the 2024 funding can be found on EGLE’s Clean Water SRF or Drinking Water SRF webpages. Each page offers details on each program and has a link to the ITA form halfway down through the page. The one form covers both programs.

Final project planning documents are due by June 1, 2023, and funding determinations will be made by October 2023.

Local resident turns 100 years old

Walker Mayor Gary Carey and I recently visited James Shellard to wish him a very happy 100th birthday and deliver a proclamation commemorating his centennial. James was born in Walker before it became a city at his family’s farm off Walker Avenue. He and his family eventually moved to his current home off 4 Mile Road in the 1960s. Throughout the last century of his life, James lived through prohibition, the moon landing, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Moreover, he watched the unfolding of World War II, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror. Although our world changed much during these 10 decades, James’ lifetime of residence in Walker shows that his love for our community has never wavered.

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Backpacks for students

An important aspect to academic success is having the necessary utensils and equipment for class every day. That’s why I was excited to partner with AT&T in giving backpacks containing school supplies to students at West Oakview Elementary School!

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Election security legislation signed

Once again, the House and Senate have passed commonsense, bipartisan election reforms. This time, the governor signed the measures into law.

House Bill 4491, now Public Act 195 of 2022, requires county clerks to update the Qualified Voter File at least once a month, and no later than the second business day of each month. It also requires the secretary of state to send an electronic notification to the proper city or township clerk notifying them of each canceled registration. The local clerk will then complete the cancellation of the voter registration.
The reform also requires the county board of canvassers to approve the containers used to transport and hold the absentee ballot secrecy envelopes and establishes a secure process for active-duty military members serving overseas to electronically return their ballot.

In 2021, the governor vetoed a similar measure, Senate Bill 277, which would have helped to ensure dead people were efficiently removed from the voter lists.

SB 8 and SB 311, now PAs 196 and 197 of 2022, will require the state to establish a process to allow for members of the U.S. armed forces, who are on active duty, absent from the U.S., and not expected to return home in time to cast their vote, to electronically return their ballot to their city or township clerk using their Common Access Card, an encrypted smart card that serves as the identification issued to active duty military members by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Don’t move firewood

October is Firewood Awareness Month. Tree-killing insects and diseases cannot move far on their own but can hide in or on wood. When infected firewood is moved, diseases or invasive pests move along with it, introducing forest pests to new areas. By choosing to buy firewood where you burn it you help prevent the spread of tree pests and diseases.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, there are 140 pests and diseases that can be moved with firewood. Some are already present in Michigan, including the spotted lanternfly and beech leaf disease, while others like the Asian longhorn beetle are infesting nearby states.

By following these simple rules, you can help prevent the spread of harmful invasive species:

• Buy firewood where you’ll burn it.
• Buy certified heat-treated firewood.
• Gather firewood on site when permitted.

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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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