A study last year by CarInsuranceComparison.com ranked Michigan motorists as the eighth-best drivers in the country. Legislation recently passed by the Senate would help make driving on Michigan roadways even safer if signed into law. The legislation includes:
- Senate Bill 521 would require drivers to treat intersections where a traffic signal is out as a four-way stop. The bill doesn’t apply to traffic signals that are only active at certain times, such as those outside a school or fire department.
- Senate Bill 477 would require drivers to slow down and “move over” when approaching a vehicle with amber flashing lights, such as a utility or tow truck. Drivers are already required to move over if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is on the side of the road, or if unsafe to do so, pass with caution at a safe, reduced speed.
Both bills have been sent to the House for consideration.
Sen. Brandenburg supports legislation to protect local retirement benefits
In Michigan, local governments are nearly $19 billion in the red on their pension and retirement health care obligations.
I recently supported legislation to better protect the retirement benefits promised to local workers, including law enforcement and firefighters. The bills require uniform and consistent reporting by local governments with unfunded liabilities to accurately assess retirement costs and taxpayer obligations. Communities can then develop plans to get control of their debt. It’s important to ensure existing problems do not get bigger or go unaddressed.
In related news, a new website provides important financial data about Michigan’s counties, townships, cities and villages. Visit www.michigan.gov/treasury and click on MI Community Financial Dashboard to learn about a community’s revenues and expenditures, as well as long-term debt and unfunded pension liability costs.
Travelers: most rest areas open during winter
Nearly all of the state’s 78 rest areas are scheduled to remain open this winter. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will close five rest areas because of reduced use during winter months and safety concerns. The following are closed and set to reopen in April:
- Ignace Rest area on southbound 1-75 in Mackinac County
- Ludington Rest Area on northbound US-31 in Mason County
- Topinabee Rest Area on northbound 1-75 in Cheboygan County
- Hebron Rest Area on southbound 1-75 in Cheboygan County
- Hart Rest Area on southbound US-31 in Oceana County
Home heating help
As the weather turns cold, some households may have trouble paying their winter heating bills. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) urges customers to first contact their utility company if they are unable to pay their bill on time, before receiving a shut-off notice. Seniors and low-income customers may be eligible for the Winter Protection Plan, a program to protect against service shut-off and high utility payments between Nov. 1 and March 31. Contact the gas or electric company to apply. Other assistance programs are available for shut-off protection, including the State Emergency Relief program and utility help for active duty military families. For more information as well as weatherization tips, visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc and type in the keywords MPSC Be WinterWise Program.