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


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,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 for more information, along with maps of current activity by county.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports new law to help patients

A Michigan law recently took effect to strengthen efforts to fight the opioid epidemic.

Senate Bill 274 — now Public Act 251 — limits an acute pain prescription of an opioid to a seven-day supply within a seven-day period. Acute pain is described as pain associated with procedures or trauma, such as a sprained ankle or having wisdom teeth removed, that lasts a limited amount of time.

Statistics indicate that one in four patients who are prescribed prescription opioids long term struggle with overdose. The new law will limit exposure to potentially addictive medications and reduce the potential for overdose. Other reforms already in place require doctors to consult the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) and counsel patients on the risks of opioids before prescribing.

Brandenburg backs driver safety law

New drivers will learn the proper procedure to follow if they are pulled over during a traffic stop under legislation recently signed into law.

Public Act 276 of 2018 requires driver’s education to include information on what to do and how to interact with law enforcement during a traffic stop. The training will promote driver safety and prepare young, inexperienced drivers for a potentially stressful situation.

Free ORV Weekend

Michigan residents and out-of-state visitors can ride DNR-designated routes and trails Aug. 18-19 without an ORV license or trail permit during the second Free ORV Weekend of the year.

The weekend event includes nearly 3,700 miles of off-road trails and the state’s five scramble areas — St. Helen’s Motorsport Area, Black Lake Scramble Area, Silver Lake State Park, Bull Gap and The Mounds. All other ORV rules and laws still apply and a Recreation Passport is required where applicable. Find more information, including ORV trail maps and a link to the Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws, at

Take an Adult Fishing Day coming up

Fishing is a great way for families to spend a summer day!

The second annual Take an Adult Fishing day on Aug. 4 encourages kids and their parents to plan a fishing trip for time together in Michigan’s great outdoors. Visit to learn more about this special event and find fishing locations by searching the Family Friendly Fishing Waters website or checking out the state parks that offer instruction on how to fish through the Hook, Line and Sinker program.

Electric customers to see savings from federal tax cut

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) recently approved nearly $270 million in savings for electric customers of Consumers Energy Co. and DTE Electric Co. from the new, lower federal corporate tax rate.

The move means rate reductions for Michigan customers of nine of the 10 rate-regulated utilities impacted by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Residential bills are projected to decline by an average of $1.95 a month.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports budget funds to build police memorial
We owe so much to the police officers who put their lives on the line to serve and protect our neighborhoods and communities.

The Legislature recently allotted $1.2 million in the state budget to help build a memorial to those who have died in the line of duty. The Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Monument will pay tribute to the fallen and honor their courage, dedication and commitment to keeping Michigan safe.

The monument will be located near the Michigan Vietnam Veterans Memorial adjacent to the Hall of Justice in Lansing. More information is available at

New law to create fundraising plates for sports teams’ charities

Michigan motorists will have a new way to show their support for their favorite home state professional sports team!

Senate legislation recently signed into law directs the secretary of state’s office to develop and issue fundraising license plates recognizing the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers. Revenues from the sales of the plates will be distributed to the charitable foundations associated with the teams. The charities support various youth, educational, and healthy living causes.

The secretary of state must establish the new license plates and have them available to be issued by Aug. 1, 2019.

Hunters: Apply for fall turkey hunting and antlerless deer licenses

While spring is the traditional time to hunt wild turkey, some areas in Michigan are open to fall turkey hunting. The fall turkey license application period runs until Aug. 1. Find more information and buy an application online at

In addition, the antlerless deer license application period runs from July 15 to Aug. 15. For more details and to buy an application online, visit

Protect families and pets from rabies

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reports there has been an increase in the number of bats testing positive for rabies compared to the same time last year.

The following precautions are recommended to help protect your family and pets from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with wild animals;
  • If bitten or scratched by an animal, seek immediate medical attention and alert the local health department;
  • If you find a bat in your home, safely confine or collect it and contact your local health department to see if it should be tested for rabies, or hire a bat/wildlife removal service;
  • Vaccinate your pets against rabies; and
  • If your animal is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian.

In 2017, there were 38 cases of rabies in animals in Michigan, including 35 bats, two skunks and one cat.  More information, including a map of rabies-positive animals in Michigan, is available at

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs bills to prepare students for careers

Michigan will have more than 800,000 career openings to fill through 2024 in fields that are facing a talent shortage, such as manufacturing, information technology, health care and the professional trades.

I recently supported legislation to help ensure our students can develop the skills they need to find a high-paying, in-demand technology job in one of these career fields. Senate Bills 941 and 942 will invest $100 million in scholarships, education programs, workforce development and teacher support through partnerships with schools and businesses.

Called the “Marshall Plan for Talent,” the initiative will expand current efforts to close the talent gap and better prepare our high school students for career opportunities, college or both.

Brandenburg supports road safety bills

Now that summer weather is here, many bicyclists are sharing the road with other drivers.  I recently supported legislation to help increase safety for all motorists and cyclists on Michigan’s roads.

The legislation requires drivers to maintain a safe distance of at least three feet or, if that distance is not practical, a safe distance at a safe speed when passing bicyclists. Another provision requires driver education classroom instruction to include at least one hour of training on the laws regarding bicycles, motorcycles and other vulnerable roadway users.

Michigan bicycle fatalities doubled from 2012 to 2016, with about a quarter of the accidents occurring when the driver was passing the bicycle. If signed into law, Michigan would join nearly 40 other states with similar safe passing laws.

Fishing in Michigan

If your summer plans include taking the kids or grandkids fishing, be sure to check out the Family Friendly Fishing Waters website.

The water bodies are identified as family friendly based on ease of access, amenities (such as restrooms!) and high likelihood of success in catching fish. Other information includes driving directions, hours of operation, species of fish available, typical bait used and more. Access the site at

Anglers under age 17 may fish without a license but they are required to observe all fishing rules and regulations. A fishing license isn’t necessary to help someone under the age of 17 fish as long as the young angler is an active participant. Adults can help bait the hook, set up the fishing rod, fix tangles or snags, cast the line, land the fish and unhook the fish.

Pet-friendly parks

Many families enjoy time in the great outdoors together, including those with furry family members!

Pets are welcome on a 6-foot leash in Michigan state parks, park campgrounds, state forests and the majority of trails. In addition, pet-friendly lodging is available at several state parks. A number of parks offer sections of pet-friendly shorelines as well, although pets must be kept on a 6-foot leash even if they are in the water.

Find more information, including rules that apply at all locations, at; click Places to Go and then Parks and Recreation Areas.

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 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

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 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

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

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

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  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 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 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


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

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

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


MDOT 2018 construction map now available

The 2018 Paving the Way state construction map is now available online at 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


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 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.