Greetings and happy summer!
Michigan summers are always eagerly anticipated and I hope you find fun ways to enjoy this time with your friends, families, and neighbors. We have so many exciting things going on in our community these next few months, and I hope to see you around Kalamazoo County!
Here in Lansing, we have worked hard these last couple of weeks to complete a fair and balanced budget so that Michigan can continue to run as efficiently and effectively as possible. We are increasing funding for our public schools, providing support for local road projects, and improving important government services. Specifically, I was able to secure a grant of $850,000 to help combat opioid abuse right here in Kalamazoo County.
These next few weeks, I will be spending a lot of time in our neighborhoods, walking door to door, talking to you about what matters most and the issues you want me to bring back to Lansing. If I miss you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office to set up an appointment, to obtain coffee hour information, or to give your suggestions and opinions.
As we look forward to Independence Day and back on Memorial Day, it is an opportunity to appreciate this great country we live in and to reflect on the sacrifices made for us all. Along with our neighbors, our family, and our friends, we stand in thanks and appreciation of those who risk or have lost their lives for our freedoms.
Thank you for your continued participation and feedback. It is honor to represent you and our community in Lansing. Please contact my office any time at (517) 373-1774 or at BrandtIden@house.mi.gov.
In-District Coffee Hours
These events are a great way to connect with my neighbors on what matters most to them. I hope local residents will join me to share any questions or concerns they have and I look forward to seeing everyone.
Visit me at one of the upcoming coffee hours:
Monday, July 24th ** Friday, July 28th
7:00 – 8:30 a.m. 9:30am – 11:00am
Biggby Coffee Rykse’s Restaurant
6800 S. Westnedge Ave. 5924 Stadium Dr.
Portage, MI 49002 Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Friday, August 25th
9:00 – 10:30 a.m.
Portage Senior Center
320 Library Lane, Portage MI 49002
** Rep. Iden will NOT be attending this coffee hour. An office staff member will be available to take your suggestions, and opinions.
Budget passes both Legislative chambers and awaits Governor Snyder’s approval
The Legislature has again completed a budget months ahead of the constitutional deadline, allowing local governments and schools to adequately plan for the coming year. We have passed a budget that saves taxpayer dollars while still providing effective and efficient government services. Not only did we maximize our dollars for the coming year, but we have also added some additional funding to Michigan’s rainy day fund, reserved for financial emergencies.
I am proud to say that under this budget, our schools will receive the highest funding in state history. Our goal was to put more money in the classroom, which we did at about $60-$120 more per student. Specifically, I heard a lot of demand for increased funding towards at-risk student populations, so I supported an extra $120 million for next fiscal year. Further, we increased the skilled trades training budget by about one third, placing much needed focus on and support of career and technical programs.
We have also made some important improvements in the healthcare realm under this budget. We added a needed salary increase for our direct care workers, those who care for some of most vulnerable citizens. This plan also encourages a more holistic approach to healthcare by establishing pilot programs around the state that integrate behavioral, mental, and physical health. Something I am most proud of is my addition of $850,000 towards opioid research right here in Kalamazoo County, discussed in greater detail below.
I often hear concern for roads funding and funding for our natural resources; this budget accounts for both of those topics. Over $1.3 million has been dedicated for cities, villages, and county road commissions that need to complete projects around the State. Further, we have money going towards trail development, State Park repairs, invasive species initiatives, and wildlife conservation efforts.
The budget has been passed by both the House and Senate and now awaits the Governor’s final approval and signature.
Rep. Iden and Michigan Legislature Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic is a serious concern across the nation and across our state. Opioid abuse has been linked with further drug experimentation, resulting in higher rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. Thousands of people have lost friends, family members, and neighbors to this terrible addiction.
Here at the Michigan Legislature, we recognize the severity of this issue and have recently considered both a House package and a Senate package of bills aimed at addressing some of these concerns.
The House package increases access to opioid addiction treatment, strengthens the requirements of pain management facilities, permits pharmacist refusal of prescriptions in highly concerning cases, and requires providers to give additional information when prescribing opioids. The Senate bills include provisions requiring prescribers to check a database before dispensing opioids and increases penalties for those who wrongfully prescribe.
Furthermore, in the recent budget, I was able to secure an $850,000 grant to help fight opioid abuse right here in Kalamazoo County. The money is specified for a Kalamazoo Community Mental Health program that will help in identifying those with a high likelihood of opioid addiction.
“The misuse of, and addiction to, illicit opioids is a serious and challenging public health problem,” said Jeff Patton, CEO of the KCMHSAS. “We want to thank State Representative Brandt Iden for working to address such a serious public health crisis. Increased funding will help Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and partners improve access to quality treatment and pain management in the southwest Michigan region.”
It is great to see money coming straight to Kalamazoo County for a preventative program like this and I am thankful for the lives this will save.
Rep. Iden Encourages Students as they Enter Vocational and Technical Fields
This past month, I had the amazing opportunity to give a commencement speech for the Michigan Career and Technical Institute [MCTI]. MCTI offers unique and much needed programs in vocational and technical areas including nursing assistance, automotive, machine technology, weatherization, electronics, culinary arts, landscaping, and others. MCTI students come from all over the state and are often facing serious physical, emotional, or educational challenges. Almost all of MCTI’s students are able to overcome their respective disabilities, injuries, and disorders through the commitment and creativity of MCTI’s faculty and staff. It was a true honor to celebrate with the 2017 MCTI graduates. If you would like more information on the programs at MCTI, please feel free to contact my office. We will be more than happy to assist you, and again, my congratulations to the graduates!
Rep. Iden Congratulates Portage World Champion Robotics Team
I am so incredibly proud to announce that we have the first place winners of the FIRST Robotics World Championship right here in our community! The team, Stryke Force 2767, recently competed in a competition of over 3,000 teams from all around the world in an effort to be crowned world champion. Teams were required to build a robot capable of various tasks, including placing gears on an airship.
The FIRST Robotics World Championship is the oldest and largest student robotics program in the world. It brings kids and teams together from across the globe to challenge them in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM]. How awesome that a competition like this can generate so much interest and passion for these STEM skills, which will certainly aid in the future careers of these bright students.
Congratulations, Stryke Force 2767, our Portage champions!
Rep. Iden Celebrates National Toothbrush Day
Recently, I hosted a celebration of National Toothbrush Day in Kalamazoo County. I teamed up with Delta Dental and the Dental Hygienists Association to provide interactive displays and presentations about dental hygiene to encourage kids in their practice of good oral health. We also provided free toothbrushes to all participating children. Speaking of which, don’t forget to brush AND floss tonight!
Get Out and Enjoy the Summer!
July 7 Food Truck Rally 201 Water Street
July 8 Park Bike Race WMU Business Tech & Research Park
July 8-9 4H Open Horse Show Kalamazoo County Expo Center
July 16 Vintage in the Zoo Kalamazoo Farmers Market
July 20-23 USAPA Great Lakes Regional Wings Event Center
July 21 Bronco’s Night Out Improve Night WMU Heritage Hall
July 29 Breweriana Beer Collectibles Show Radisson Plaza Hotel
August 3-5 Rib Fest Arcadia Creek Festival Place
August 8-12 County Fair Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds
August 11 Bronco’s Night Out: Movie Night WMU Heritage Hall
August 12 PalletPalooza WMU Student Rec Center
August 13 Lakeside Concert W.K. Kellogg Manor House
August 19-20 Vintage Market Kalamazoo County Expo Center
August 20 BB & Airgun Show Kalamazoo County Expo Center
August 26-27 Healthy and Fit Expo Kalamazoo County Expo Center
August 27 Mudfest Kalamazoo Nature Center
If you would like additional details about any of the above events, please contact my office at (517) 373-1774 or at BrandtIden@house.mi.gov.
We are Here for You!
Visit my online office:
N-995 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909
Located on the corner of Ottawa and Capitol, across the street from the State Capitol.
Several members of our community have received recognition over the last several weeks for their hard work and dedication in their fields. Some of this inspirational individuals include:
Appointed to the 8th Distrct
Elected “Mayor for a Day”
Received WMU’s 2017 Make
a Difference Award
Selected for the Kalamazoo
NAACP’s Humanitarian Award
Selected for the National
Center for Women &
Aspirations in Computing
Honored by the National
Center for Women &
Completed a Business
Administration degree from
the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln
Named to Cumberland Univ.
Appointed to the Road
Commission of Kalamazoo
As a team, placed 2nd in the
Federation’s National Student
Appointed to the Medical
Marijuana Licensing Board
Maushaumi Nerurkar &
Received Michigan Strategic
Named the 2017 Educator of
the Year by Michigan Lottery’s
Excellence in Education
Named to Miami Univ. Dean’s
Received Bachelor of the Arts
from Dordt College
Received Bachelor of the Arts
Received Bachelor of Business
Administration from GVSU
Received Bachelor of Science
Received Masters of Social
Work from GVSU
Received Master of Science in
Accounting from GVSU
Received Bachelor of Science
from the Univ. of Alabama
Named to Davenport Univ.
Named to Trine Univ. Dean’s
Named to Univ. of Alabama
Named to the Univ. of
Nebraska-Lincoln Dean’s List
Recognized by the Senior
Services of SW Michigan for
Champions of the FIRST
Robotics World Championship
held in St. Louis, Missouri
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