Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs Fostering Futures tax checkoff bills

Many teens in Michigan’s foster care system want to attend college but don’t have the resources to do so when they age out of the system. In fact, less than 10 percent who graduate from high school actually enroll in college.

I supported Senate legislation, now signed into law, to help our state’s foster youth attend college. Public Acts 252 and 253 of 2018 add a state income tax checkoff for taxpayers to contribute to the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund. This fund provides some help with college expenses such as tuition, room and board, and books based on need and any other financial aid the student is receiving.

More than $1.1 million has been raised through individual and group donations and other fundraising events since 2012.

New taxpayer donations will provide more funds and allow the program to assist more students.

 

Skilled trades get permanent funding with new law

A new law permanently puts Michigan’s popular skilled trades training program in state statute to ensure its continuation. Senate Bill 946, now Public Act 260 of 2018, also renames the program the Going Pro Talent Program.

The program provides training opportunities to in-state employers. Workforce development efforts benefit all involved — workers obtain new skills to advance their careers and employers gain qualified and highly trained employees. Since 2014, the program has provided nearly $73 million in competitive awards to more than 2,200 Michigan companies. More information is available at www.going-pro.com

 

Confidential sexual assault hotline now open

Survivors of sexual assault have an important new resource to help in the healing process. A confidential, 24-hour sexual assault hotline — 1-855-VOICES4— is now up and running to provide support and referrals.

The hotline is staffed by professional crisis counselors with specialized training in crisis intervention, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, victim’s rights, health options and Michigan law. Counselors can connect victims with sexual assault programs that offer additional counseling, advocacy and support as well as other services such as Crime Victims Compensation and the Michigan Victim Information and Notification Everyday (MI-VINE), an electronic victim notification service.

 

Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town designation

As the Trails State, Michigan offers thousands of miles of scenic outdoor adventure for hikers, bicyclists, ORV riders, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. A new Pure Michigan designation will help showcase some of the best trails across the state and their neighboring towns. More information on the new program, including the application process, criteria, frequently asked questions, a handbook and more — can be found at www.michigan.gov/dnrtrails.

 

OK2SAY school safety program

As students return to the classroom for a new school year, it’s a good time to share contact information for Michigan’s 24-hour confidential OK2SAY hotline. The student safety program encourages students to anonymously report potential threats or harm to trained technicians.

Tips can be submitted by e-mail at OK2SAY@mi.gov, by text at 652729 (OK2SAY), by phone at 1-855-565-2729 (1-8-555-OK2SAY), or online at OK2Say.com. More than 14,500 tips have been received since the program launched in 2014, including tips on bullying, self-harm, suicide threats and drugs.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

New tax checkoff to help fund World War II memorial

Michigan answered our nation’s call to duty during World War II. More than 620,000 residents served in the armed forces and countless others worked in industry as part of America’s “Arsenal of Democracy.”

Senate legislation now signed into law will help honor the Michigan residents who served in military roles and on the home front and pay tribute to the 15,458 service members who lost their lives. Public Acts 256 and 257 of 2018 add an income tax checkoff for taxpayers to contribute to the Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial Fund. The memorial, to be built with voluntary donations in Southeast Michigan, will also educate future generations about Michigan’s unique story during the Second World War.

 

Brandenburg backs new law to improve veteran services

I recently supported legislation — now signed into law — to provide Michigan veterans with better access to services and benefits.  Public Act 210 of 2018 creates a state fund to help counties establish and maintain veteran services offices. The fund will help ensure counties have the resources to provide support to our state’s veterans.

Over 600,000 veterans call Michigan home and many look to their local government for assistance in obtaining their veteran benefits.

 

Out-of-state online retailers to pay sales tax

Following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, mail order and online retailers located outside of Michigan must pay the 6 percent sales tax on taxable sales into the state. Previously, consumers were required to track and report uncollected taxes on their state income tax form.

Under the state Treasury Department’s new rule, all applicable retailers must pay state sales tax and file tax returns for taxable sales made after Sept. 30, 2018. Individuals and businesses can learn more about Michigan’s sales tax requirements at www.michigan.gov/taxes.

 

School safety grants

To help keep our children safe at school, the Michigan Legislature recently appropriated $25 million to the Michigan State Police for school safety grants. The grants are intended to improve the safety and security of school buildings through the purchase of technology and equipment, as well as by conducting school building safety assessments. Applications for the fiscal year 2018 Competitive School Safety Grant Program are due by noon on Sept. 13. Find more information, including application and instructions, at https://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-72297_34040_75045—,00.html.

 

West Nile virus case confirmed

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently confirmed the first human West Nile virus infection for 2018. The virus is carried by certain types of mosquitoes in Michigan.

Most people who become infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms. Others will have a mild illness that may include fever, headache and body aches, though some people may become more seriously ill. To help protect against mosquito bites, people should use insect repellent, drain standing water around the home and patch window screens to help keep mosquitoes outside. Last year, 40 residents were diagnosed with West Nile virus in Michigan with one death reported. Visit www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus for more information, along with maps of current activity by county.