Dear Friends,

Hello and welcome to the January edition of my e-newsletter!

The New Year has begun and the 100th Michigan Legislature is preparing to begin the 2019-2010 legislative session. It has truly been an honor to serve as your State Representative. You are my first priority and I look forward to the opportunity continue to serve you this session.

In this edition of my E-Newsletter, you will find an overview of my proudest accomplishments from the past year. This includes:

  • The Kalamazoo River Greenway Project
  • Increasing access to broadband
  • Community Recycling Grants
  • Lead Paint Clean-up Grants
  • Developing a mental health hotline
  • Creating a Psychiatric Bed Registry
  • Income tax credits for stillborn children

If you ever have any questions or concerns about state government, or pending legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at (517) 373-0836 or by email marywhiteford@house.mi.gov. You are my priority and it is an honor to serve you.

 

Sincerely,

Mary Whiteford
State Representative
80th District

 

 

Monthly Coffee Hours
I will hold my next set of office hours on Monday, January 21, 2019, 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 marywhiteford@house.mi.gov. Please stop by and say hello!

 

Kalamazoo River Greenway Update
The Kalamazoo River has been a superfund site for almost 30 years. This designation has caused serious harm to the citizens of Allegan County.

As Chair of the Department of Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee, I secured a $150,000 grant for an engineering study pertaining to the Kalamazoo River Superfund site.

Throughout 2018, the Outdoor Discovery Center coordinated planning meetings to develop a Lower Kalamazoo River Greenway Master Plan. This will help unify efforts to conserve, restore, and use the Kalamazoo River for economic, recreational, and educational purposes.

The plan is complete, and will soon be available to help shepherd projects along the Kalamazoo River. Over 300 residents contributed to this plan which will be available as a guide for future projects along the River. I look forward to everyone seeing this plan and the cooperation of our community members as we start projects.

 

Broadband Update
One of the biggest concerns I hear about is a lack of access to broadband. I have been working diligently on a plan that would help bring broadband access to areas where there currently is none.

There will be a pilot grant program in 2019 to provide grants to expand broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved areas of our state.

I will continue to work on a long term grant program to help ensure that unserved areas of Allegan County and our state receive the help they need to expand broadband access.

 

$1 Million in Recycling Grants
Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, conserves natural resources, and prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect raw materials. Michigan currently only recycles about 15% of its solid waste, compared to 35% nationwide. Often, cost can be a barrier.

As Chair of the Department of Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee, I fought for $1 Million for recycling grants to increase the recycling rate in Michigan. These will ensure that there are convenient and accessible recycling options for all state residents and visitors, and help steer Michigan toward our 45% recycling rate goal by helping communities and organizations improve their recycling infrastructure.

Requests for funding are now being accepted.  The application deadline is March 1, 2019.  For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mirecycles.

 

$2 Million for Lead Remediation Grants
Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. The goal is to prevent lead exposure to children before they are harmed.

As Chair of the Department of Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee, I fought for $2 Million for grants for the remediation and redevelopment of sites contaminated by lead paint, with priority given for sites affecting families with children.

As part of this priority, the Department of Health and Human Services is developing the Childcare Lead Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to privately-owned licensed in-home childcare businesses for inspection of the presence of lead-based paint hazards, as well as the abatement of these hazards. The program will initially focus on providing services within counties designated as having the highest risk of childhood lead poisoning. This program is still under development, and I look forward to sharing more information with you as it moves forward!

 

Developing a mental health hotline
I fought for $3 million in the 2019 budget for development of a crisis hotline to connect individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to a local provider.  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 will continue to work on this important hotline to ensure access to critical mental health care is available for all of Michigan’s residents.

 

Creating a Psychiatric Bed Registry
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 for intense care in a psychiatric unit.

On December 28, 2018 Governor Rick Snyder signed my legislation that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to work with various stakeholders to develop and maintain a state registry that contains information about the number and locations of available beds, and make this database accessible to facilities and providers.

Now Public Act 657 of 2018, This registry will allow caregivers to get individuals the services they so desperately need in a more efficient and effective manner.

 

Tax exemption for parents of a stillborn child
On December 28, 2018 Governor Rick Snyder signed my legislation that allows parents of a stillborn child to qualify for a one-time tax exemption when they present a certificate of stillbirth within the same tax year from the Department of Health and Human Services. This truly bi-partisan legislation had 72 co-sponsors, including 24 Democrats, and was approved unanimously by both the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate.

Parents of a stillborn child go through a lot, financially and emotionally. This legislation will not only help with the financial costs of having a stillborn child, but also help us bring awareness to this heartbreaking issue and allow parents to recognize their child. I think any relief we can provide parents during the healing process is important. Now Public Act 589 of 2018, parents can qualify for this tax credit beginning with tax year 2019.

 

RESOURCES FOR WINTER
The winter months are challenging and difficult for many. Rising heating and electricity costs place heavy burdens on stretched budgets. Call 2-1-1 to learn more about the agencies that can help with home heating assistance. You can learn more about the Home Heating Credit at www.michigan.gov.

Constituent Connections

I was honored to help the Martin Lions Club celebrate their 65th Anniversary and present Presidential Volunteer Awards to many important members of the Lions Club! Thank you for your service!

We have so many interesting and important businesses in Allegan. I had a great time learning about the work done at Great Lakes Superior Walls.

I was glad for the chance to connect with some of our hardworking egg farmers who came to testify about their efforts to become 100% cage free!

I always love presenting State Tributes to Eagle Scouts. For his Eagle Scout project, Ryan Poe led the restoration of a 60 foot observation deck at the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland. Thank you for your leadership, Ryan!

I was also honored to present a State Tribute to Noah Festerling. For his Eagle Scout project, Noah led the building and installation of a fire pit surrounded by engraved stones for retiring flags at the Allegan American Legion Post 80. Thank you for your Leadership, Noah!

I loved having the chance to help these cub scouts with their merit badges!

I was privileged to nominate my dear friend Lisa Letts, for the 2018 Spirit of Women award, and she won! What an honor to present the award to this incredible mom, veteran, RN, and friend!

 

Visiting Lansing?

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