Dear Friends,

 

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

 

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.

 

Sincerely,

I will be holding my next set of office hours on Friday, March 16th. 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!

 

March is Reading Month!

Did you know that in addition to improving vocabulary, reading enhances memory and reduces stress levels? Difficulty with reading can lead to difficulty with all school work. That’s why it’s so important to encourage our children to read, especially this month.

Research shows that children who learn to read by third grade have more success in school. Reading is essential to everyday life, both inside and outside of the classroom, and is a cornerstone to building productive, contributing citizens.

To observe March is Reading Month, I will visit schools throughout Allegan County. If you would like me to visit your school, please contact my Lansing office. I’m honored to have the opportunity to encourage reading to many of my youngest constituents.

I hope you’ll join me in encouraging your children and grandchildren to read, not just this month, but every month of the year. Reading allows children to expand their minds beyond what is happening around them and see the many possibilities that exist.

More funding for state and local road repairs, without raising taxes.

 

I was pleased to support the unanimous passage of a plan to provide $175 million in additional road repair funding.

This proposal is in addition to the road funding plan from two years ago, bringing in more money for road repairs in the upcoming budget year.

In addition to state projects, this bill includes money for county, city and village roads throughout the state. Estimated local allocations include Allegan County ($981,455) and the cities of Allegan ($39,803), Douglas ($13,675), Fennville ($10,203), Holland ($277,833), Hopkins ($5,605), Martin ($4,249), Otsego ($30,312), Plainwell ($28,330), Saugatuck ($9,540) and South Haven ($41,315).

The money is left over from a previous state government budget cycle and is already available, meaning no budget cuts or additional fees or taxes are required for the investment.

House Bill 4321 advances to the Senate for further consideration.

Eliminating driver responsibility fees

I was proud to vote to end outrageous driver responsibility fees and forgive debts associated with the failed program.

The fees were originally enacted by a previous administration to fill a budget shortfall but resulted in financial hardships for families across the state. Some 300,000 Michigan drivers were obligated to pay the fees, which did nothing to improve their driving skills, the original purpose of the fees.

The bill package ends the fees on Oct. 1 and forgives all outstanding debt. The legislation also creates a grace period from enactment of the bill through Dec. 31 that enables people to get their driver’s licenses back without paying a $125 restoration fee. People on monthly payment plans will receive immediate forgiveness, and others may participate in workplace development training programs to regain their driver’s licenses prior to Oct. 1.

Cutting taxes for Michigan residents

With strong bipartisan support, we passed a plan to continue and increase personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on state income taxes, potentially saving families hundreds of dollars.

 

The bills ensure Michigan taxpayers will be able to continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes, a necessary step after federal tax reforms signed into law in December. The measure also increases the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,900 by the 2021 tax year.

 

The technical fix related to the recent federal tax reforms saves $170 per person per year – or $680 for a family of four – on state income taxes. The plan to raise the personal exemption to $4,900 provides a total of $272 in annual tax relief for a family of four.

The legislation also allows taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax to continue to claim exemptions.

The plan now moves to the governor’s desk to be considered for state law.

Fur Harvesting Opportunities

Hunting Seasons

  • Coyote hunting season is open year-round statewide. (Michigan residents can hunt coyote with a base license.)

Trapping Seasons 

  • Raccoon trapping season is open through March 31.
  • Beaver and otter trapping season in Units A* and B is open through April 15 and in Unit C through March 31.*Beaver and otter trapping season in Unit A extends through Apr. 30 on designated trout streams; see page 52 of the Hunting and Trapping Digest for more details.

Opossum, weasels and skunks can be taken year-round with a valid license.

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.

 

The House Health Policy Committee unanimously approved my 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 allow us to get individuals the services they need in a more efficient and effective manner. House Bill 5439 now waits to be considered by the full House of Representatives.

 

Constituent Connections

I sent a State of Michigan flag to Allegan County resident, 1st Lt. Auston Marineau. Now it’s hanging in his office overseas. Thank you for your service to our country!

I had the pleasure of attending the annual Allegan Chamber of Commerce “Evening of Recognition” dinner. Congratulations to all of the members honored for their contributions to our community!

I presented a legislative tribute to Bryan Andrews, Allegan County’s newest Eagle Scout. His older brother, Ben, is also an Eagle Scout, and received Bryan’s mentor award!

While visiting Trevor Smith at his aggregate business in Allegan, he brought up a very valid issue regarding aggregates and Michigan roads. This past month, he came to Lansing and explained his industry experiences to Rep. Triston Cole, Chair of the Transportation Committee, Rep. Hernandez, Chair of the Transportation Budget, and MDOT staff. Thanks for all you do Trevor!

I joined Scott Corbin, Director of Allegan County Emergency Management, Commissioner Dean Kapenga and Sheriff Frank Baker as they recognized Allegan County emergency volunteers at the annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner. I presented a legislative tribute to the Eagle Award recipient, James Warfield. We are blessed to have so many selfless professionals here for our residents during difficult times.

While in Hopkins, I noticed this beautiful handmade wooden flag. When I asked Char more about it, I learned about her son Nick, a young man who recently returned home after selflessly serving our country for 6 years in the military. It now has a beautiful spot in our office in Lansing!

I welcomed four students from Hamilton and Allegan to the Capitol! Ally, Jamie, Kory and Jase won my summer reading contest. They “introduced” legislation to have chocolate cookies for lunch at school and an amendment was made to include milk with that cookie. Their bill had unanimous support! Our state is in great hands with these future lawmakers!

I was invited to Hillside Young Adult Campus in Otsego. These brave young adults told me about some of the challenges they face. Thank you for spending time with me!

I presented a legislative tribute to Judge Kevin Cronin in honor of his retirement. Congratulations to Kevin and his wife Eileen!

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

Thank you for subscribing to my electronic newsletter! I am honored to represent you in the 80th House District of Michigan.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Please feel free to forward this on to others who may be interested in receiving the 80th District E-news.

If you would like to unsubscribe from this e-newsletter, please send an email to marywhiteford@house.mi.gov with the word “Unsubscribe” in the subject line.

 

 

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