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.