Hello and welcome to the November edition of my e-newsletter for 2017!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 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.
District Office Hours
My next set of in-district office hours are Friday, December 15th at the following locations and times:
Salem Township Hall
3003 142nd Ave Burnips, MI 49314
9:30am – 10:30am
Allegan District Library
331 Hubbard St Allegan, MI 49010
11:30am – 12:30pm
Otsego City Hall
117 E. Orleans, Otsego, MI 49078
1:30pm – 2:30pm
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!
Click the link above to view a video of some quick safety tips for hunting season this year.
A bipartisan bill package to put an end to driver responsibility fees and forgive outstanding debt in Michigan was passed by the House. The fees resulted from legislation passed by a previous administration in 2003 scrambling to fill a hole in the state budget. Instead of responsibly budgeting available funds, the Legislature established the burdensome fees that have left many Michiganders at or near the poverty level.
Fees range from $100 for having seven or more points on one’s license to $500 for two years for drunken driving offenses, to a $1,000 fee for each of two years for the most serious driving offenses causing injury or death while driving. Those fees are on top of normal fines and court costs imposed by judges.
These fees don’t make anyone a better driver. They simply force people to live under a cloud of debt relying heavily on public assistance. It’s a nonsensical law that never should have been enacted.
Under the newly passed legislation, the fees will end Oct. 1, 2018 and all outstanding debt will be forgiven.
The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.
Rep. Whiteford remains committed to reforming auto insurance
This month, I voted in favor of reforming Michigan’s auto insurance system. House Bill 5013 was not approved by the Michigan House of Representatives. Since I began my term as a State Representative, the most common complaint I have heard is the high cost of auto insurance.
Currently, Michigan has the highest auto insurance rates in the nation. Michigan’s costs are so high largely because it’s the only state mandating unlimited lifetime health care coverage through car insurance. House Bill 5013 allows those catastrophically injured in the past to keep their benefits, while drivers who want to continue buying unlimited medical coverage for the future may do so. The plan also allows a more affordable option.
Approving this bill would have been an important step in delivering these much-needed changes. I remain committed to finding solutions for the residents of Allegan County.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law my legislation allowing intermediate school districts (ISDs) to hire the best teachers for specialized programs. House Bill 4166 removes the requirement that ISDs give preference to certain educators.
Every special education child has different needs and administrators face challenges in finding the right teachers for the right students. This is about giving ISDs a say for their own students, not forcing them to follow a regulation which had little to do with classroom quality.
House Bill 4166 is now Public Act 159 of 2017.
Kalamazoo River Planning Grant
The Kalamazoo River has been a superfund site for almost 30 years. This designation has caused irreparable harm to the citizens of Allegan County.
As Chair of the Department of Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee, I was able to secure $150,000 of the Clean Michigan Initiative contaminated sediments funding. This money is to be used for an engineering study pertaining to the Kalamazoo River Superfund site and would allow the study to be conducted by a private engineering firm.
My goal is to create a long term plan for the Kalamazoo River throughout Allegan County. This plan can include recreational opportunities for residents. We are in the beginning stages of mapping out a plan utilizing the Outdoor Discovery Center, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Natural Resources, local municipalities and public input.
I look forward to keeping everyone updated on this process.
Protecting tax dollars from political recount requests
Michigan taxpayers shouldn’t be obligated to foot the bill for recounts in elections that are not closely contested. It happened in 2016 when a presidential candidate requested a statewide recount despite losing by more than 2 million votes in Michigan, incurring millions of dollars in fees at taxpayers’ expense. We must update our laws to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Senate Bill 290 requires candidates who lose by a significant number of votes to pay an increased fee if they request a recount. A $250 per-precinct fee would be applied when the number of votes separating the winning candidate and the petitioner is more than 75 votes or 5 percent of the total number of votes cast in the race, whichever is greater.
House Bill 5012 clarifies a candidate claiming to be “aggrieved” for the purpose of seeking a recount must be able to allege a good-faith belief that, if not for fraud or mistake, they would have had a reasonable chance of winning the election.
While everyone has the right to request a recount, something must be done to ensure taxpayer dollars are protected when the outcome of the election is clear and a recount is unnecessary. That is why I voted in favor of this bill.
House Bill 5012 is currently before the Senate Committee on Elections and Government reform for further consideration.
Increasing penalties for convicted child abusers
All forms of repeated child abuse should be treated with increasing penalties. Legislation recently approved by the House Law and Justice Committee would protect children from criminals with multiple abuse violations.
The bill strengthens penalties starting with a second conviction, expanding possible prison time up to five years for a third-degree offense and two years for a fourth-degree violation, rather than two-year and one-year sentences for respective convictions as required by current law.
Under the proposed legislation, any prior child abuse conviction – regardless of degree – counts as a repeat violation and qualifies for harsher sentencing.
Regardless of the offense, abusive acts cause potentially lifelong detriments to children. This legislation gives our law enforcement and prosecutors another method to defend our kids.
The bills advance to the full House for further consideration.
This past month we celebrated Veterans Day. I want to make sure all of our veterans have access to the benefits they deserve. The Michigan Veterans Resource Center provides one-stop access for veterans and their families. You can visit the center online at www.michiganveterans.com or call 1-800-642-4838. Click this link for a quick video on this valuable resource.
I had the opportunity to provide a legislative update at the Allegan County Cities, Townships and Villages meeting with Senator Tonya Schuitmaker and Congressman Fred Upton. We had a great turnout and I enjoyed answering questions from our local officials!
It was such a great surprise to see Linnay and Bob Moore from Hamilton at the Capitol! They were celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary. Congratulations!
This past month, I attended the LAUP (Latin Americans United for Progress Annual Gala at the Laketown Conference Center. Our guests were our friends Leo and Susie Hernandez.
I was honored to give an update at the Michigan Osteopathic Association’s Annual Scientific Convention on my initiatives on mental reform health and join a panel to answer participants’ questions. I appreciated expanding my base of professional resources on this important issue.
Veterans day was filled with many wonderful community events. Thank you to all those who have served and continue to serve our great nation!
I presented Micky Bittner a legislative tribute to show appreciation for all of his hard work and commitment to our community.
I was able to join Holland Mayor Nancy De Boer and the great people of Holland at this years’ Christmas tree lighting!
My family and I had so much fun attending the Glenn Festival of Lights. Thank you to all of the great volunteers including the Ganges Fire Department for helping to keep everyone safe!
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. I invited the Kaylor family to the Capitol and honored them with a legislative tribute for their work in raising awareness for lung cancer.
It was great to see Scott Stevenson and Brendt Sheridan at the Capitol this past month. They are both local firefighters and stopped by to discuss some important issues.
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.
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