Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs auto no-fault reform

The cost of auto insurance is a burden for many Michigan drivers. In fact, our state has the highest average annual premium in the nation. I recently supported legislation to help lower costs and better protect Michigan insurance customers.

Senate Bill 787 would allow Michigan residents age 65 or older to have the option to choose a capped auto insurance plan that would preserve their benefits. Seniors who choose this plan would have their catastrophic claims assessment significantly reduced. Medicare would cover remaining expenses after the $50,000 limit is reached.

Fraud also drives up costs. Senate Bill 1014 would create the Michigan Automobile Insurance Fraud Authority to investigate and reduce fraud, estimated at $400 million annually. Other reforms ensure 24/7 care remains available for individuals injured in auto accidents and does not limit care provided by skilled professionals. The bills have been sent to the House for consideration.

Brandenburg: Budget reflects priorities of Michigan families

The Legislature recently finished up work on the state budget, and for the eighth consecutive year, produced a balanced budget months ahead of schedule.

The plan features key investments to education, roads, jobs and public safety, including:

  • Providing $14.8 billion for K-12 education — the most in our state’s history;
  • Investing $58 million in school safety initiatives to keep our children safe;
  • Boosting road funding by $330 million, bringing our total added investment in roads and infrastructure to $2.4 billion since 2017;
  • Adding funds to train 155 state police troopers to keep our communities safe; and
  • Providing nearly $141 million in skilled trades training to prepare workers for in-demand jobs.

The budget also funds initiatives to safeguard our most vulnerable, support our veterans and protect our Great Lakes and natural resources. At the same time, we have continued our commitment to fiscal responsibility and increased the state’s rainy day fund to $1 billion.

Fishing the Great Lakes

Many Michigan anglers have favorite fishing spots on one of the state’s beautiful inland lakes or rivers, but would also love to fish the Great Lakes.

The Department of Natural Resources has developed four “roadmaps” that serve as starting points to provide new or experienced anglers with information on many Great Lakes fishing sites and times of the year when great opportunities exist. These roadmaps focus on fishing Southeast Michigan’s Great Lakes, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.  Each was developed with the expertise of the Fisheries Division staff. Visit www.michigan.gov/fishing and click on the link to Roadmaps to Fishing Michigan’s Great Lakes to discover new fishing opportunities this summer!

Overview of Michigan forest health

Michigan’s forest land covers nearly 20 million acres, including about 4 million acres of state forest managed by the Department of Natural Resources. The 2017 Forest Health Highlights report outlines current successes and challenges facing Michigan’s forest system, including efforts to stop invasive species such as the hemlock woolly adelgid and the battle against beech bark disease. Check out the work being done to preserve and protect the state’s forests at www.michigan.gov/foresthealth.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs Senate bills to protect victims of domestic violence

Many victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking are fearful of future threats and possible harm.

I recently supported a seven-bill package that would allow victims to hide their physical addresses from their offenders. The Senate legislation would create an address confidentiality program in Michigan. This program would enable victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking to obtain a confidential address to protect themselves from their past offenders. The legal substitute address (usually a post office box) would be used in place of their physical address.

Another part of the legislation would prohibit schools from disclosing the address of a student whose parent is an address confidentiality program participant.

If this legislation is enacted, Michigan would join 37 other states in offering assistance and peace of mind to victims of abuse or assault.

Brandenburg supports legislation to improve outdoor recreational funding

Michigan’s land and water resources provide great opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure. The demand for recreational access close to home is growing in local communities across the state.

I recently supported legislation to improve funding for local outdoor recreation and increase the flexibility of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) and the Michigan State Park Endowment Fund (MSPEF). Senate Joint Resolution O (SJR O) — a proposed constitutional amendment — would allow for more money to be spent on parks, trails and other resources at the state and local levels. The proposal would modify the distribution formula of the funds to create a new local public recreation grant program and increase funding for state parks.

SJR O and other Senate bills in the package have been sent to the House for consideration. If approved, the proposal would be put on a ballot for approval by the voters.

Michigan’s Summer Free Fishing Weekend

In Michigan, you’re never more than seven miles away from “fishable” water, so you won’t have to travel far to enjoy the state’s Summer Free Fishing Weekend! The annual event will be held
June 9-10 this year.

Anglers, both residents and nonresidents alike, can fish without a license on these two days, though all other fishing regulations still apply. Entry into state public boating access sites, state parks and recreation areas is free of charge. Visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing for more information, including details on sponsored and state park events.

In addition, the June 9-10 dates mark one of the summer’s Free ORV Weekends, a time off-road enthusiasts can ride DNR-designated routes and trails without buying an ORV license or trail permit. Find out more at www.michigan.gov/orvinfo.

2018 fuelwood permits available

Michigan households can get a start on collecting wood to heat their home or cabin during cold weather. Fuelwood permits are now available from the Department of Natural Resources for the 2018 season for use on designated state forest land.

Permits can be purchased for $20 and are valid for up to 90 days after the purchase date. A permit allows the collection of up to five standard cords of wood. Fuelwood cannot be resold or traded. For more information, including a link to FAQs and a map of fuelwood collection areas, visit www.michigan.gov/fuelwood.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg: Senate passes 2019 state budget plan

The Senate recently approved a balanced budget plan that invests in Michigan’s future. Our budget recommendations prioritize education funding and public safety and continue our commitment to fix Michigan roads, while making government more efficient with taxpayer dollars. Some of the highlights include:

  • $14.7 billion for K-12 education, the most in state history;
  • Nearly $14 million to train 180 state police troopers;
  • $10 million for a new grant program to provide mental health services to K-12 students; and
  • Almost $41 million in Going Pro skilled trades training to prepare workers for in-demand jobs.

In addition, the transportation funding in this budget, along with the recent road funding package, invests $2.1 billion more in our roads since 2017.

The Michigan Senate, House and governor’s office will iron out differences in their budget plans and produce a final state budget in the coming weeks. I will keep you posted on the progress.

Brandenburg supports bill to help prevent drunk driving

As we know, drinking and driving can have devastating results. Almost 29 people in the United States die every day in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The lives of countless other people are impacted as well.

Some parents would like to utilize technology to help prevent their young drivers from making the poor choice to drive while under the influence of alcohol. I recently supported legislation to allow for the voluntary installation of startup operated breath engine restrictor (SOBER) devices without the device sending reports to the secretary of state when used.

Currently, even when interlock devices are installed voluntarily, the installation company is required to generate a report. Senate Bill 892 would allow SOBER devices to be installed without any involvement with the government.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

Memorial Day: a time to honor our fallen

Each year a special Senate Memorial Day service pays tribute to our fallen servicemen and women. This solemn tradition ensures the legacy of their sacrifice and service is never taken for granted or forgotten. The occasion also recognizes the families of the fallen.

The Senate’s May 24, 2018 ceremony marks the 24th anniversary of this event.

Staying safe during severe weather

Spring weather can bring thunderstorms, lightning and high winds, leading to possible power shortages. The Michigan State Police offers suggestions to stay safe during a power outage, including:

  • Use only flashlights or emergency lighting; never use candles;
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep food as fresh as possible;
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics;
  • Use extreme caution when driving; and
  • Avoid carbon monoxide by not using grills, unvented gas heaters, generators or ovens in the house.

To learn more about being prepared before, during and after severe weather, visit www.michigan.gov/miready.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports bill to allow 30-day grace period for affixing license tabs

A new law will give some peace of mind to drivers who renew their vehicle registration online or by mail a little too close to the deadline.

Public Act 64 of 2018 provides a 30-day grace window to apply license plate tabs for motorists who haven’t yet received their tabs in the mail. The law doesn’t extend the time a driver has to register or renew the registration but allows drivers some flexibility in case processing or mailing delays prevent the tab from arriving in time. The secretary of state’s office notes that most law enforcement agencies can verify electronically if the vehicle plate has been renewed or is expired.

The new law takes effect June 12, 2018.

 

New laws ban possession of ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or freeze files until a sum of money — or ransom — is paid. Some high profile ransomware attacks have targeted hospitals, businesses and utilities.

While Michigan has laws that prohibit the hacking and unauthorized use of computer systems, I recently supported an effort to strengthen the law by prohibiting even the possession or distribution of the software. Under Public Acts 95 and 96 of 2018, violators will be guilty of a felony punishable by up to three years in prison. The tougher penalties will help deter and prevent the growth of this cybercrime.

The new laws take effect July 1, 2018.

 

Taxpayers can check state refund status

State and federal income tax returns are due this year on Tuesday, April 17. Taxpayers can check on the status of their state income tax refund online at www.michigan.gov/wheresmyrefund.  E-filers can check two weeks from the date the return was accepted while paper filers can check from six to eight weeks after postmarking.

To ensure privacy and security, taxpayers need to provide their Social Security number, tax year, filing status and Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) or Total Household Resources (THR). The AGI is located on line 10 of the MI-1040; THR is found on line 33 of the MI-1040CR.

The Department of Treasury reports that in 2017, 3.7 million individual tax returns provided nearly $2 billion in refunds.

 

Michigan fishing guide available

Michigan’s 2018 fishing license season kicked off on April 1 and includes some new regulation changes.  Anglers can find information on licenses, seasons, general regulations and county exceptions, and more in the 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide. The guide is available where fishing licenses are sold or online at www.michigan.gov/dnrdigests. The online version is always up to date and available to download.

Anglers can buy their fishing license in person at a local license retailer or online at www.mdnr-elicense.com. The annual fee for a resident all-species fishing license is $26; an annual senior license is available for $11 for residents 65 or older.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs school safety funding bill

Parents want to know their child will be safe and secure in school. I recently supported $18.65 million in immediate funding for school safety.

Senate Bill 601 offers $15 million for competitive grants for schools that need to make safety improvements and purchase technology and equipment.

Another $3 million in funding provides for a school safety communications system. The statewide instant notification app would be available to all Michigan schools to allow faster coordinated response time and ensure greater management of an on-going incident for all on-site staff and first responders.

 

The bill also includes an additional $650,000 to increase awareness of the OK2SAY program and add staff. This Michigan school safety program encourages students, school employees and others to confidentially “say something if you see something.”

The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Appropriations.

 

Brandenburg supports Medicaid work requirement

I recently supported legislation that would encourage people who can work to re-enter the workforce, while helping ensure a stronger safety net for those who need it.

Senate Bill 897 would require able-bodied adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who receive Medicaid health benefits to work, receive job training or go to school (or a combination of the three) for an average of 29 hours a week.

The legislation includes many important exemptions. It would not affect seniors, pregnant women, people with disabilities, caretakers of children under six, medically frail individuals and more. In addition, the reform would exempt people in counties with unemployment higher than 8.5 percent.

Michigan’s overall economy continues to grow and provides many job and career opportunities. Michigan Works! centers across the state can help people find available jobs or access training to improve their ability to get a job and better provide for their families.

The legislation has been sent to the House for consideration.

 

New law promotes road safety

A malfunctioning traffic signal can lead to confusion on the road.

I supported Senate legislation now signed into law that provides for a safe and orderly flow of traffic in this situation. Public Act 109 of 2018 requires drivers to treat an intersection with a nonworking traffic light as a four-way stop. The new law doesn’t apply to traffic signals that are only active at a certain time, such as those located in a school zone or activated by emergency vehicles.

 

Adopt-a-Highway dates

Michigan roadsides are looking a little cleaner and brighter with the start of this year’s Adopt-a-Highway program.

Volunteers pick up litter three times each year. The first pickup is underway in many parts of Michigan. Cold, snowy weather has extended the pickup date for the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula to May 13. The state’s summer pickup will take place from July 14 to 22 and a fall pickup from Sept. 22 to 30.

Sections of highway are still available for adoption. Groups are asked to adopt a section for at least two years. Signs with the group’s name are posted along the stretch of adopted highway.  For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/adoptahighway.

 

Michigan offers world class trout fishing

Michigan is a top trout fishing destination with cold, quality trout streams and hundreds of trout lakes accessible to anglers.

Michigan Trout Trails is an interactive tool to help anglers find great trout waters that are often lesser known. The web application has been updated for 2018 and features more than 300 locations covering nearly every corner of the state. Visit the site at www.michigan.gov/trouttrails.

In related news, the Department of Natural Resources has recently released a new Inland Trout Management Plan, which gives an overview of inland trout habitats in Michigan and the biology and ecology of inland trout populations. Find the report at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports consumer protection bill

This year there have already been 140 reported data breaches impacting nearly 3 million consumers. With an increase in data breaches and identify theft — even at the credit reporting agencies — consumers need to be able to safeguard their credit information.

One way consumers can do this is to place a security freeze on their credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Once a security freeze is in place, a consumer’s credit file cannot be accessed unless the freeze is lifted. Currently, credit reporting agencies can charge a $10 fee for each freeze or unfreeze.

I recently supported legislation to allow consumers to create, temporarily lift, or remove a credit freeze for all three credit reporting agencies without paying a fee. If signed into law, House Bill 5094 will make it easier for Michigan consumers to protect themselves from fraud.

 

Brandenburg backs $175 million road funding increase

The early spring thaw has taken a toll on our roads. I recently supported a $175 million boost in funding this year to improve state and local roads and bridges throughout the state.

The money comes from existing surplus funds to accelerate road repair on top of the $600 million in additional road funding already in this year’s budget. Our roads — and Michigan motorists — need this increased investment as soon as possible.

 

Michigan high school graduation rate continues upward trend

Michigan’s statewide high school graduation rate hit 80 percent last year, the highest level in eleven years. The dropout rate declined to 8.65 for the 2016-17 school year. The numbers reflect a continued gradual increase in the graduation rate. Four-year “on-time” graduation rates are a school accountability measure adopted by the state.

Graduation and dropout rates, along with other school information, can be found at www.mischooldata.org.

 

MDOT 2018 construction map now available

The 2018 Paving the Way state construction map is now available online at www.michigan.gov/mdotmaps. The map details the major road repairs scheduled this season on state highways and trunklines, along with the construction dates to help drivers prepare for work zones along their planned travel route. State construction information and up-to-date traffic information is also available on the Mi Drive website at www.michigan.gov/drive.

 

Report fish kills online

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently developed an online form for reporting fish kills in quantities larger than 25 fish. A fish kill this size could indicate factors other than weather that warrant investigation.

The public can provide information by filling out the new Sick or Dead Aquatic Species form at www.michigan.gov/eyesinthefield. Information requested includes waterbody and location, observation details and any photos showing external disease symptoms such as bloody patches, unusual wounds or odd coloration. Most of the time, fish kills are due to natural causes such as weather. Winterkill, the most common type of fish kill, occurs in late winter but may not be seen until early spring. Fish kill is occasionally related to pollution or other non-natural causes.

Senator Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg backs effort to ensure students learn CPR

High school is a time to help prepare our students for the “real world.” Now, under Senate legislation recently signed into law, graduates will enter the workforce or attend college having learned an important lifesaving skill.

I supported Senate Bill 647 (Public Act 388 of 2016), which adds instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) as part of the state health education standards for grades 7-12. Schools are encouraged to use local law enforcement or emergency response personnel, or representatives of the Red Cross or the American Heart Association to provide the training.

The use of CPR and AEDs increases the likelihood a person will survive a cardiac arrest. If every high school student had this training before graduation, Michigan would gain 100,000 new CPR-trained individuals each year! The new law will take effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Sen. Brandenburg supports new laws to update standards for skilled trades

Skilled trade jobs are a vital part of Michigan’s economy. I supported a 10-bill package to modernize guidelines for the skilled trade professions and help encourage workers to choose a career in the trades.

The Senate legislation — now law — creates one uniform code for five trade groups, including electricians, mechanical contractors, boiler inspectors and installers, building inspectors and plumbers.  The reform establishes clear and efficient standards for the application and complaint processes and how penalties are enforced. The new law also streamlines requirements for those workers who are licensed across multiple trades.

Spring turkey hunting application period ends Feb. 1

There may be snow on the ground but it’s never too early for hunters to think spring! The spring season is the traditional time to hunt turkey.

The 2017 spring turkey season runs April 17 through May 31, with several different hunt periods to choose from. The application period is open through Feb. 1 and a $5 application may be purchased where hunting licenses are sold or online at www.mdnr-elicense.com. Drawing results are available beginning March 6 at www.michigan.gov/turkey. Access the 2017 Michigan Spring Turkey Digest at this site for more information, including details on regulations, season dates and hunt units.

State of the Great Lakes report released

The Great Lakes are Michigan’s most treasured natural resource. These magnificent lakes are central to our economy and outdoor heritage.

The recently released 2016 Michigan State of the Great Lakes Report takes a look at a number of important “big lake” issues, including Michigan’s water strategy, water trails recreation, water technology innovation and the blue economy. Access the document at www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/SOGL_2016_546173_7.pdf.

The Year in Review

As we look ahead to a bright new year, I would like to share a last look at some important 2016 legislative accomplishments. Please visit www.misenategop.com for information on these and other legislative efforts.

Michigan is the Comeback State!

Unemployment is 57 percent lower since most Senate Republicans began their service in January 2011. At 4.8 percent, Michigan’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average. More than 475,000 private sector jobs have been added to our economy in nearly six years.

Responsible budgeting has helped turn Michigan into a pro-jobs, pro-growth state. We have passed a balanced budget ahead of schedule for six years in a row and turned a $1.8 billion structural budget deficit into a $700 million surplus in the state’s rainy day fund!

Prioritizing education

In the last six years, Senate Republicans have put $1.7 billion more into public education. Forty-five cents of every state tax dollar goes to public education. We also took steps to better prepare our children for tomorrow by championing reforms to ensure that every third grade student is proficient at reading before advancing. Good readers make good leaders!

Honoring those who protect us

We owe so much to those who keep us safe. We secured more funding to assist homeless veterans and created a new Veterans Home Ombudsman to ensure our veterans receive the proper care they so richly deserve.

In addition, we prioritized budget funding to hire 65 new State Police Troopers and expand the Secure Cities program to fight crime and safeguard our communities.

Caring for our most vulnerable

We increased penalties for individuals who assault pregnant women as part of a sweeping domestic violence prevention package and ended the terrible practice of selling fetal remains for profit.

Moving Michigan into the future

Michigan put the world on wheels! We took the necessary steps to make Michigan the premiere site for the testing and development of autonomous vehicles to ensure we remain a leader in the mobility economy of the future.

Protecting our natural resources

Parents now have even more opportunities to share Pure Michigan with their children. We passed legislation to guarantee free access to state boat access sites and certain state parks during free fishing weekends. In addition, we expanded dark sky preserves for more late night star gazing in our great outdoors!

Brandenburg awarded for championing small business

LANSING, Mich.—The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has announced that Sen. Jack Brandenburg has received their “Guardian of Small Business” award for his perfect voting records on small-business issues.

“I’m honored that such an esteemed organization such as NFIB has recognized my record of voting in favor of the backbone of Michigan’s economy – small businesses,” said Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township. “I take many things into consideration when casting my vote for the people of the 11th District, but the well-being of small business owners is one of the most paramount.”

Session Small Business Voting Record grades lawmakers on a scale of 0 to 100 percent, with 100 percent being a perfect small-business score. A score below 70 percent is considered failing. The voting record is based on a series of votes on issues deemed important to small businesses.

“Although the voting record does not reflect all elements considered by a lawmaker when voting, it is an important guide to evaluating their attitude toward small business,” said NFIB State Director Charles Owens.

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Brandenburg: Urban Outfitters’ Kent State sweater a deplorable stunt

For Immediate Release    
Sept. 15, 2014   

Contact: Dan Papineau  
Toll-free 1-866-229-4211

LANSING, Mich.— Urban Outfitters, a clothing corporation headquartered in Philadelphia, has gone way too far with a mock-blood-stained sweatshirt that reads “Kent State University.”

This tasteless garment is a clear reference to the 1970 killing of four students protesting the Vietnam War by the Ohio National Guard at the Ohio school.

“It is my understanding that Urban Outfitters is selling a Kent State sweatshirt for $129 which features splattered blood on it to exploit the tragedy that happened at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. This is absolutely outrageous,” said Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township. “Students were killed unnecessarily that day because of a culmination of events that should have never happened.

“Being born and raised 25 miles from Kent State, I am absolutely astounded that a store like Urban Outfitters would pull such a stunt. I would like to call for a boycott of Urban Outfitters until this shirt is removed from their line. The management of Urban Outfitters should be thoroughly ashamed and embarrassed.”

While protesting the Vietnam War in 1970, four students were gunned down by Ohio National Guard troops after 67 shots were fired in 13 seconds.