Sen. Schmidt to host June coffee hours

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt will hold coffee hours with constituents throughout the 37th Senate District during the month of June.

The senator will be available to answer questions and provide information and assistance, as well as take suggestions on issues affecting communities and businesses in the district. No appointment is necessary.

For more information or to contact Schmidt, please visit SenatorWayneSchmidt.com or call 517-373-2413.

Schmidt’s June coffee hours are as follows:

Monday, June 4

1 – 2 p.m.

Garfield Township Hall

N6760 State Highway 117

Engadine

3 – 4 p.m.

Newberry Country Club

5073 M-123

Newberry

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Cup of the Day

406 Ashmun St.

Sault Ste. Marie

 

Monday, June 18

9 – 10 a.m.

Village of Kingsley Town Hall

207 S. Brownson Ave.

Kingsley

11 a.m. – noon

Elk Rapids District Library

300 Isle of Pines Drive

Elk Rapids

 

Wednesday, June 27

10 – 11 a.m.

East Jordan City Hall

201 Main St.

East Jordan

Noon – 1 p.m.

Petoskey City Hall

101 E. Lake St.

Petoskey

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Cheboygan City Hall

403 N. Huron St.

Cheboygan

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Schmidt issues statement on DNR’s emergency rule regarding anchor drops in the Straits

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, issued the following statement on Thursday after Gov. Rick Snyder announced the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would be implementing an emergency rule prohibiting the deployment of anchors in the Straits of Mackinac:

“Many in my district and throughout the state were sorely disappointed in the recent incident that resulted in severed electric cables and dents to the infamous Line 5 pipeline.

“I was pleased to hear Gov. Rick Snyder and the DNR will be pursuing an emergency ruling to temporarily mandate a no-anchor zone in the Straits.

“Previous studies have shown us that anchoring in this area has the potential to cause severe environmental damage and disrupt energy and communication services between the Upper and Lower peninsulas. The U.S. Coast Guard has advised vessels against deploying anchors in the area, though before today’s announcement, no formal rule prohibited them from doing so.

“The eastern boundary of the no-anchor zone is defined by the Mackinac Bridge. The western boundary is defined by a line beginning at the western edge of McGulpin Point in the Lower Peninsula to the western edge of an unnamed island immediately southwest of Point La Barbe in the Upper Peninsula.

“The emergency rule will remain in place for six months, with the option of an additional six-month renewal. Discussions with the U.S. Coast Guard on a permanent ruling are ongoing.

“Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful natural resources in the world. While I am thankful that no harm was done to the environment, we must ensure that an incident like the one in early April never happens again. I am happy to see the DNR acting to prohibit this from happening again by instituting this emergency ruling.

“I’d like to thank all stakeholders involved in these conversations for putting our state’s residents and our environment first. I look forward to additional discussions on how we can continue to keep our Great Lakes safe.”

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Senate holds 24th Annual Memorial Day Service

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, welcomed John West, father of Staff Sgt. Matthew West, to the Capitol for the Michigan Senate’s 24th Annual Memorial Day Service on Thursday.

West served in the U.S. Army’s 71st Explosive Ordnance Group and gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country on Aug. 30, 2010.

“This ceremony is for people like Staff Sgt. Smith,” Schmidt said. “His bravery and commitment to both his brothers and sisters in arms, as well as his country, will be forever honored by every American.”

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Editor’s note: A print-quality version of the above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting SenatorWayneSchmidt.com/photowire. Video from Thursday’s service is also available here, or on Schmidt’s website under the “Video” tab.

Photo caption: State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, stands on the Senate floor with John West, father of Staff Sgt. Matthew West, during the Michigan Senate’s 24th Annual Memorial Day Service on Thursday.

Senate approves Schmidt legislation allowing regulation of drones on Mackinac Island

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt that would allow the regulation of drones on Mackinac Island.

“This was something that was suggested to us by the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “Members of the task force spent a great deal of time and effort studying the issue from all aspects and limiting the use of drones on Mackinac Island was one thing that gained traction.”

The task force itself was created by legislation that received final approval from the governor late last year. The task force’s primary purpose was to develop a statewide policy regarding the operation and regulation of drones.

The report made several recommendations, including the request for a state law addressing drones interfering with facilities like prisons, bridges and other tourist areas. The report specifically cites Mackinac Island as an area that should be protected because instances of drones startling horses has created a safety concern.

“Mackinac Island is a top tourist destination that draws large amounts of people,” Schmidt said. “One of the island’s top features is the prohibition of automobiles. Visitors must travel by horse, carriage, or on a bicycle. These horses typically do well around crowds of people, but anyone can see that a frightened horse mixed with a crowd of people is bad news. I think there is a valid safety concern there.”

Senate Bill 715 would codify the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force’s recommendation to allow Mackinac Island to regulate drones into state statute.

“Aircraft, including drones, falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Authority, so we had to be careful to make sure this bill was drafted very narrowly to address the safety issue at hand,” Schmidt said. “The popularity of drones has drastically increased in recent years and continues to increase as advancements in their capabilities continue. With more and more people pursuing the hobby, we need to make sure we get out in front of the issue and make sure the use of these aircraft doesn’t create a safety concern for others.”

SB 715 received bipartisan approval in the Senate and will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Editor’s note: Audio of Schmidt discussing the Senate passage of his drone legislation is available here or on his website. Click “Audio” under the “Media Center” tab.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

The school year is winding down and vacation plans are beginning to take shape as families are starting to transition into summer mode. The days are getting longer, the warm weather appears to have arrived and many people are looking to get a start on their annual Pure Michigan summer activities.

I’d like to remind people to stop for a moment and remember that May is also when we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is a special time of year. It serves as a reminder of just how important mothers are and how much they improve our lives.

A mother plays many crucial roles throughout each and every day. Our moms serve as teachers, nurses, accountants, cooks and chauffeurs, just to name a few. Being a mother is arguably one of the most difficult and thankless jobs, and though their efforts should be recognized daily, Mother’s Day serves as a time to really appreciate what our moms mean to us and how special they truly are.

When I was growing up, my mother served as a teacher in Kingsley Public Schools. My brother and I were quite fortunate to have her in our lives, and her kindness, respect for others, professionalism and positive outlook greatly influenced the course I chose in life. I owe a great deal of thanks to my mother for teaching me these critical, lifelong skills and shaping me into who I am today.

Because of the hard work, sacrifice and commitment of mothers across our state and country, the world is indeed a better place. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to remind your mom what she means to you.

For those who are fortunate enough to still have loving mothers in your lives, it is my hope that on Sunday you would take the time to visit them. For those who are separated geographically, consider a phone call, or sending a card — any effort will surely be appreciated.

Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, represents the 37th state Senate District, which includes Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Luce and Mackinac counties.

Editor’s note: Video of Schmidt discussing the importance of Mother’s Day is available here, or on his website under the “Media Center” tab.

Mackinac County to see road improvements

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — The Mackinac County Road Commission (MCRC) recently announced that the county will see a $1,010,000 investment in its roadways.

In March, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder approved using existing resources to move the $175 million boost in state and local road funding to this year. Of that money, Mackinac County was scheduled to receive approximately $240,000 and on May 1, MCRC approved a plan to triple the new road funds.

During the March 20 meeting, MCRC requested other local governmental units match the new funds by dividing up the state money by townships and requesting that each township as well as the County Board of Commissioners match up to $20,000 for a total of $60,000 in road repairs each.

“I think this was a creative and effective way to maximize the money earmarked for roads,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “The state as a whole is suffering from an aging infrastructure and northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are no different. The harsh weather we see up here has wreaked havoc on our roads in recent years and we need to make drastic improvements.”

The plan devised by MCRC and the participating townships was initially met with some restraint from the Mackinac County Board. However, on April 26, the board approved up to $220,000 intended to match the road commission and townships. This move turned the one-time $240,000 into $680,000 for local road improvements.

When added to the existing match program currently in place with the Mackinac County Board and townships, this equates to $1,010,000 in road improvements in Mackinac County.

“I regularly meet with constituents and hold several monthly coffee hours all over my district, and the one thing I continue to hear is that we need to fix the roads,” Schmidt said. “It’s something we are taking seriously. As you can see, local entities are getting creative and figuring out ways to stretch their dollars, and just recently the Senate approved the fiscal year 2019 budget, which when added with the recent $175 million, will equal a $2.1 billion investment in our roads since 2017.”

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Editor’s note: Audio of Schmidt discussing the Mackinac County road funding initiative is available here or on his website. Click “Audio” under the “Media Center” tab.

Senate approves fiscal year 2019 budget

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday approved a package of bills that would fund the state of Michigan for the 2019 fiscal year.

“After seven years of balanced budgets being completed ahead of schedule, we are moving to year eight with the same momentum,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “We have worked very hard in recent years to get our finances in the right place and this fiscally responsible budget will continue to help the amazing comeback that Michigan has experienced thus far.”

Schmidt noted that he was especially pleased with the commitment to our state’s education system.

“The state spends more than $14 billion annually on schools, but with growing needs comes a larger price tag,” Schmidt said. “In order to provide students with only the best educational opportunities, we have once again appropriated record amounts to the K-12 Budget. Schools will see a foundation allowance increase of between $115 and $230 per pupil — which is the largest per-pupil increase in over 10 years.”

This “2X” funding formula allows districts at the minimum foundation allowance to receive two times the amount of that increase. This means larger investments for students across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Most northern and Upper Peninsula schools are at the base amount so the $230 is another step in closing the gap between northern Michigan and southeast Michigan.

Schmidt said he was also happy to see more funding for our state’s roads.

“I have heard from folks all over my district at my coffee hours and other meetings that we need to fix the roads,” Schmidt said. “When combining this budget with the recent road funding package, the Legislature will have invested $2.1 billion in our roads since 2017.”

The 2019 budget also includes money to hire 100 new state police troopers and train 80 additional troopers, hire more corrections workers and conservation officers, increase revenue sharing for localities to spend on local operations, invest $7 million to support rural hospitals, further improve sexual assault programs on our state’s campuses and boost Pure Michigan tourism promotion funding by $1 million.

“I applaud my colleagues for approving a budget that addresses our challenges, provides essential services and makes smart investments in our future,” Schmidt said. “We were able to improve public safety and conservation efforts, increase K-12 funding, invest in our economy and increase investments in our roads, all while ensuring the state lives within its means.”

Senate Bills 850-865 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Editor’s note: Audio of Schmidt discussing the fiscal year 2019 budget is available here or on his website. Click “Audio” under the “Media Center” tab.

Upper Michigan legislators support President Trump’s call to rebuild Soo Locks

LANSING, Mich. — President Trump mentioned the Soo Locks in his address to supporters at a rally in Washington, Michigan Saturday, saying he would help get the locks fixed with support from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Thousands of Michiganders packed the warehouse building where the event was held, and thousands more stood outside in chilly weather to watch the address on an impromptu big-screen. Cheers erupted when the president mentioned he would help fix the locks.

“For decades, the federal government has acknowledged the need for restorations, and I am pleased that President Trump understands the urgency of fixing our aging infrastructure at the Soo Locks,” said Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering. “Not only are the locks an extremely important economic asset to Sault Ste. Marie and the Upper Peninsula, they are also vital to our state and national economies and significant to national security.”

The Soo locks, which connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron, have been a critical shipping connection between these bodies of water for over 160 years. The modern locks still in use, named the Poe lock and MacArthur lock, transport nearly 7,000 vessels per year carrying 75.5 million tons of cargo.

“About half of the cargo that travels through the locks is iron ore from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. “This material is necessary for the manufacturing of cars, tools and all manner of iron and steel products that are used throughout the country. The giant ships that transport this material rely on the locks to get to the refineries. Any downtime at the locks due to maintenance can be very costly for the entire iron industry.”

Despite their economic importance to the region, major renovations to the locks have not been performed in 50 years. Longstanding plans for upgrades have been delayed because of cost and construction planning difficulties.

“For years there have been discussions about replacing the current Davis and Sabin locks with a new lock that can accommodate larger ships,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “Of the four locks, only one is large enough for today’s massive freighters to navigate. I’m happy to hear the president address the need for an upgrade, and I hope we can finally start acting on these drawn-out discussions.”

Trump lightheartedly stated that he would call the Army Corps of Engineers immediately after the rally ended, or at the latest, the day after. Infrastructure upgrades have been a consistent theme in Trump’s addresses, with roads, bridges and airports often getting mentioned as examples. However, this is the first time the president has mentioned the Soo Locks.

“I want to thank the Michigan representatives at the federal level who brought this to President Trump’s attention during his visit,” said Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain. “We’re going to continue working with stakeholders from industry and at all levels of government to see this project through to fruition. Hopefully now we’ll see a greater cooperation to finally fix up the Soo Locks.”

 

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Schmidt applauds Manthei Veneer on recent MEDC grant

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt on Monday congratulated Manthei Veneer of Petoskey for receiving a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) that will help the company expand its operations in northern Michigan.

“I am excited about this opportunity to see a great northern Michigan business grow and continue to provide good jobs here in my district,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “This grant will allow Manthei to rebuild and expand its manufacturing operations with new, state-of-the-art equipment that will greatly increase efficiency and create 35 jobs.”

Established in the Petoskey area in 1967, Manthei Veneer manufactures hardwood veneers in a wide variety of tree species and grades that are supplied to the hardwood industry. The company recently experienced a fire at its facility in Emmet County that destroyed its lathing operations.

The company has been awarded a $280,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant that will assist Manthei in expanding its facility and rebuilding the lathing operations.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $9.1 million and create 35 jobs. Michigan was chosen over two competing sites in Wisconsin.

“This is outstanding news for Emmet County and northern Michigan as a whole. With this grant, we are attracting new jobs and opportunities, while supporting a local business that has been in the Petoskey community for decades,” Schmidt said. “These grants are extremely targeted and very competitive. I applaud everyone at Manthei Veneer for their dedication to our community and the state of Michigan.”

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Sen. Schmidt to host May coffee hours

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt will hold coffee hours with constituents throughout the 37th Senate District during the month of May.

The senator will be available to answer questions and provide information and assistance, as well as take suggestions on issues affecting communities and businesses in the district. No appointment is necessary.

For more information or to contact Schmidt, please visit SenatorWayneSchmidt.com or call 517-373-2413.

Schmidt’s May coffee hours are as follows:

Friday, May 18

Noon – 1 p.m.

Bellaire Community Hall

202 N. Bridge St.

Bellaire

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Grand Traverse Pie Co.

525 W. Front St.

Traverse City

 

Saturday, May 19

11 a.m. – noon

Café Santé

1 Water St.

Boyne City

1 – 2 p.m.

Roast & Toast

309 E. Lake St.

Petoskey

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Audie’s Restaurant

314 N. Nicolet St.

Mackinaw City

 

Saturday, May 26

11 a.m. – noon

Lake Superior State University – Kenneth J. Shouldice Library, learning commons

906 Ryan Ave.

Sault Ste. Marie

2 – 3 p.m.

Zellar’s Village Inn

7552 State Highway M-123

Newberry

5 – 6 p.m.

Bentley’s B-M-L Cafe

62 N. State St.

St. Ignace

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