Sen. Brandenburg backs Michigan first-time home buyer savings program
To ensure Michigan is an attractive place to work and live, it’s important that housing is affordable for the next generation of homebuyers.
I recently supported legislation that would help residents save enough money to buy their first house. Senate Bill 511 creates a first-time homebuyer savings plan. Funds in the account could be used toward a down payment or allowable closing costs. Senate Bill 512 provides an income tax deduction of up to $5,000 for a single return and $10,000 for a joint return for contributions and interest earned.
The legislation provides a great incentive to encourage young people and new families to stay and settle in our state. The bills have been sent to the House for consideration.
Sen. Brandenburg supports new laws to improve unemployment benefits system
The Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan package of bills — now signed into law — to reform and improve Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
The reforms help fix problems created by the automated fraud system in which more than 37,000 people were wrongly accused of fraud and lost their benefits from 2013 to 2015. The agency has required human review in making a fraud determination since August 2015. Under the new laws, claimants accused of fraud will also have access to an advocacy program for better representation.
The changes also create a new process to handle potential identity theft claims, an ever-increasing problem. Among other provisions, this measure allows benefits to stop when the agency receives an affidavit from a person with a stolen identity and establishes a position similar to an “inspector general” to investigate fraud and make recommendations to improve integrity and accountability within the program.
Public Acts 225-232 of 2017 received the support of business and labor groups, as well as the state unemployment agency.
Many forest roads in northern Lower Peninsula open to ORV use
More than 6,300 miles of roads in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula state forest system are now open to off-road vehicles, while about 1,200 miles of road remain closed. The plan balances motorized recreational access with resource protection and safety. Signs will be installed on roads closed to ORV use as soon as possible, depending on ground conditions. Riders should check DNR maps at www.michigan.gov/forestroads to make sure roads are authorized for ORV use.
Roads in the state forest system in the Upper Peninsula are also open to ORV riders; those in the southern Lower Peninsula will open Jan. 1, 2019.
Stay winter ready
Winter weather can be challenging in Michigan! If the power goes out, water and gas may not be available. A fully stocked preparedness kit can be helpful during an emergency or disaster. According to the Michigan State Police, a household kit should contain — at a minimum — food, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, clothing and a blanket.
Find a recommended checklist of emergency kit items, a pet preparedness kit checklist and many other resources at www.michigan.gov/miready.