Hello and welcome to the January edition of my e-newsletter!
2018 is off to a great start! This past month has been filled with community events and meetings with Allegan County residents. I’ve been able to take your concerns directly to Lansing, and I am excited to continue to do so. I’m committed to maintaining an open line of communication and encourage all residents to contact our office and share your thoughts and concerns so that I can best represent you.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions or concerns, or if I can assist you in any way.
I will be holding my next set of office hours on Friday, February 23rd. No appointment is necessary. Residents who are unable to meet during my scheduled office hours may contact my Lansing office at (855)-737-0080 or by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please stop by and say hello!
C.A.R.E.S. Taskforce unveils recommendations
I stood alongside a bipartisan group of my colleagues on the House C.A.R.E.S. taskforce and presented our recommendations to make significant improvements to Michigan’s broken mental health system. We spent five months taking part in public meetings and site visits across Michigan, reviewing areas where vulnerable residents are lacking in care and resources and collecting feedback to learn how best to deliver meaningful solutions. In particular, the panel focused on five key elements: Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety (C.A.R.E.S.).
It has been an honor to serve on this taskforce and I am excited to help deliver real solutions to those in need. To view full report, please visit House.MI.gov/CARES. Below are two pieces of legislation that I am working on as a result of this taskforce.
Psychiatric Bed Database for Mental Health Services
Many times, when an individual has a mental health crisis or is brought to the hospital by law enforcement, there are not enough psychiatric beds available to place the individual.
I introduced legislation that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to work with various stakeholders to develop and maintain a state database that contains information about the number and locations of available beds, and make this database accessible to facilities and providers.
This will help unclog hospital waiting rooms and allow us to get individuals the services they need in a more efficient and effective manner.
Michigan CARES Hotline
In addition to the psychiatric bed database, I am developing legislation that would create a crisis hotline for individuals who do not know where to turn for help.
We may only have one chance to save someone or get them the help they need. This hotline can refer the individual to local services or a health facility that has available providers to address their concerns. This will point those who have no place left to turn in the right direction and allow them to get the help or services they need.
I attended the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference which is the first review of the upcoming economic forecast. The report showed a positive trend of our state’s economic health for the coming budget process.
I am committed to making sure our state budget is fiscally responsible and ensuring every dollar we spend is used in the most effective and efficient manner. I am eager to get to work on the budget for the next fiscal year and advocating for the hardworking tax payers of Allegan County.
2018 State of the State Address
Kevin and I attended Governor Snyder’s State of the State address with our friends Whitney Draisma-Hirdes and Ryan Hirdes. The Governor spoke about many topics including investing in Michigan’s infrastructure and rural broadband service.
Drug Price Disclosure
I introduced legislation to ensure that consumers are aware of the lowest price available for their medicine. Prescription drug costs are skyrocketing and we must do everything we can to help and protect consumers.
Currently, there is a lack of transparency when it comes to Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) and the prices they negotiate. Many PBM contracts prohibit pharmacists from being up-front with customers and telling them that out-of-pocket drug costs could be cheaper than their insurance copay. This makes it difficult for consumers to save money on their prescriptions.
My bills would allow a pharmacist to provide the current selling price of a drug upon receipt of a prescription. A pharmacy or pharmacist would also be prohibited from entering into a contract that prohibits the disclosure of the current selling or cash price of a drug.
These bills will prevent consumers from being taken advantage of and help fight the rising cost of drug prices.
This past month, I voted in favor of legislation that gives Michigan families and seniors broader income tax relief. The recent federal tax overhaul inadvertently created an increase in state taxes for Michiganders. This legislation ensures that our state taxes will not be affected and even gives more tax relief to individuals and families.
One of the bills ensures Michigan taxpayers will be able to continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes after federal tax reforms signed into law last month. The bill increases the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,800 by the 2020 tax year.
The legislation also provides a tax credit for those 62 and older — $100 for single filers and $200 for joint filers – in addition to the personal exemption increase.
A third bill would allow taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax to continue to claim exemptions. The House specifically added a provision to make sure public school funding is not negatively affected by the proposal.
House Bills 5420-22 advance to the Senate for consideration.
Recently, I voted to accelerate sales tax relief for Michigan families buying motor vehicles by overriding a gubernatorial veto with my House colleagues.
The House vote means additional tax relief for people buying cars, trucks and SUVs with a trade-in. Current law calls for phasing in planned sales and use tax deductions on purchases including a trade-in through 2039. With this vote, the reductions will be fully implemented a decade earlier.
Michigan families should not have to wait until 2039 to get a tax relief. The Senate bills overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature were vetoed by the governor in July. The new law speeds reforms approved in 2013, allowing buyers to subtract the value of their trade-ins from the purchase price of a vehicle for sales tax purposes. The accelerated sales tax relief also will apply to boats and recreational vehicles bought with a trade-in.
Offering more flexibility for ice fishing
Ice shanties are placed on Michigan waterways during ice fishing season; however, current law sets precise dates by which they must be removed from specific waters. Since the weather is different every year, it is nonsensical to have precise dates rather than adjusting the dates each year based on weather conditions.
Under new legislation passed by the House, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will have the ability to adjust these dates. The bill was passed by the House and now moves to the state Senate for its consideration.
2018 Taxpayer Guides Available
2018 Taxpayer Guides (Reference for the 2017 Tax Year) are now available to order through my office. Please call my Lansing office at 517-373-0836 to request a copy today! You may also view the guide online by clicking here.
I stopped by “Coffee for Veterans” at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Allegan. I had a great time discussing important issues with some local veterans.
This past month, I had the opportunity to learn about the aggregate business with Trevor Smith.
I presented a legislative tribute to Bridge Church in Allegan for their very innovative “Bridging Babies” baby pantry. They are filling such a need for families in Allegan.
I joined the “Hungry for Christ” team of volunteers to package food donations for 15 area food pantries. Thank you for all of your hard work!
I provided a legislative update at the Taste of Lakeshore annual dinner. More than a 100 people enjoyed food from local businesses and restaurants.
My priority is always you! If you plan to visit Lansing for a conference or meeting, please contact my office in advance so I can make every effort to meet with you while you are in town.
Celebrating a Special Occasion?
My office is happy to offer legislative tributes in honor of a number of noteworthy events such as retirement, anniversaries of businesses in our community, awards and public recognitions.
STATE GOVERNMENT RESOURCES
|State Government Links
The Official State, County and City Government Website Locator: www.statelocalgov.net/state-mi.cfm
Michigan Senate website: www.senate.michigan.gov
Michigan House of Representatives website: www.house.michigan.gov
Michigan Legislative Website: www.legislature.mi.gov
Unemployment Issues: If you are having issues connecting with the state unemployment office or receiving your unemployment benefits, please feel free to contact me by calling 517-373-0836. You may also find additional helpful information at the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency website: http://www.michigan.gov/uia/0,1607,7-118-26831—,00.html
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