Winter Free Fishing Weekend

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

For many northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula residents, being outdoors is a way of life — something that is passed down through generations. Whether it is hunting, hiking or fishing, among other hobbies, the love for the outdoors is a common denominator throughout my entire district.

As the winter months have closed in and that first layer of ice has frozen over the lake, anglers all over the state are preparing for one of Michigan’s most treasured pastimes: ice fishing.

Dedicated ice fishermen are a special breed in that they believe there is no other way to fish than through a hole in the ice. Some prefer a heated ice fishing shanty with all the bells and whistles, while the minimalist ice fisherman prefers nothing more than a rod, a hole and some bait. Despite their varying philosophies, they all agree that there is nothing better than reeling in their catch through a hole in the ice.

Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are home to some of the best ice fishing in the nation. There are countless lakes and ponds where fishermen can set up shop — and of course, there are the Great Lakes.

If you’re unsure whether ice fishing is for you, I encourage you to find out by giving it a try during the upcoming Winter Free Fishing Weekend. The state of Michigan hosts two annual Free Fishing Weekends: one during the summer and one during the winter. During the Free Fishing Weekends, all fishing license fees are waived, allowing residents and visitors a chance to fish on all rivers, ponds, inland lakes and the Great Lakes free of charge. Though licenses are not required, all fishing regulations will still apply during the Free Fishing Weekend.

For more information on Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend, including a list of activities across the state, visit This winter’s free fishing event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 17 and Sunday, Feb. 18.

While ice fishing is a great way to enjoy Michigan’s beautiful outdoors, it is important to remember that safety is paramount while out on the ice. Not only should you dress in several layers of loose clothing and wear mittens or gloves, a warm hat, and socks that will keep your feet warm and dry, there are several additional safety measures that must be taken when crossing the ice.

Be sure to always have life jackets or a flotation device on hand and be wary of dark spots, as they are a sign of thinning ice. Winter anglers should also be sure to carry an ice spud to test the ice thickness as they make their way out to their favorite spot. For additional ice fishing and safety tips, visit and click the “Fishing” tab on the left.

I hope anglers across Michigan have a chance to get out with family and friends and hit the ice next weekend. If you’re joined by someone experiencing their first time on the ice, do your best to make it enjoyable and help pass on this Michigan tradition to the next generation.

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.

Sen. Schmidt attends annual I-500 snowmobile race

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, joined area residents and racers from all over the United States and Canada last weekend at the annual Sault Ste. Marie International 500 snowmobile race.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the I-500.

“This annual event is a staple of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” Schmidt said. “Thousands of people travel from all over for the week-long festivities and to experience the main race on Saturday.”


Editor’s note: Print-quality versions of the photographs are available by clicking on the images or by visiting

Photo caption: Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering and chairman and spokesman for the I-500 Ric Federau look on as Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, reads a tribute prepared by the legislators recognizing the importance of the I-500 to Northern Michigan.

Photo caption: Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, stops for a photo with Lake Superior State University Interim President  Peter Mitchell and his wife Rebecca during the I-500 events leading up to the main race.


Sen. Schmidt to host February coffee hours

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

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 or call 517-373-2413.

Schmidt’s February coffee hours are as follows:

Monday, Feb. 12

10 – 11 a.m.

Elk Rapids District Library

300 Isle of Pines Drive

Elk Rapids


Noon – 1 p.m.

East Jordan City Hall

201 Main St.

East Jordan


2 – 3 p.m.

Side Door Saloon

1200 N. U.S. 31



4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

State Street Coffee Company

211 W. State St.



Friday, Feb. 16

11 a.m. – noon

Bentley’s B-M-L Cafe

62 N. State St.

St. Ignace


1 – 2 p.m.

Cup of the Day

406 Ashmun St.

Sault Ste. Marie


3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Timber Charlie’s

110 Newberry Ave.



Monday, Feb. 19

9 – 10 a.m.

Loon’s Nest

115 E. State St.

Fife Lake



Sen. Schmidt reacts to State of the State address

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, issued the following statement on Tuesday, in response to Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address:

“The biggest story of the year is Michigan’s outstanding comeback. As the governor referenced with two separate articles, one from 2009 outlining Michigan’s poor economy and one from 2017 formally declaring Michigan the nation’s comeback state, we are continuing to climb our way out of the lost decade.

“This comeback is very real. Michigan’s population has grown for six straight years and for the first time since the turn of the century, more people are coming to Michigan than are leaving the state. This is magnificent news.

“Through numerous reforms over the last eight years, we have created a business-friendly environment that has resulted in the creation of 540,000 private-sector jobs. These reforms have also led to the state’s unemployment rate being cut by more than half and Michigan seeing the nation’s largest increase in manufacturing jobs.

“Because of these enacted reforms and our state’s growing financial stability, we’ve been able to balance our budgets well ahead of schedule for seven years in a row. This fiscal responsibility allows schools, local governments and other programs and agencies that rely on state funding to get their budgets done ahead of time and prepare for emergencies as well.

“Another pleasant side effect of this continued fiscal responsibility is that we are now in a position to start giving back to families throughout the state. The Senate has led the charge with multiple tax reform bills that seek to provide clarity to recent action on the federal level in addition to savings for families. Last week, the Senate approved a measure that would restore as well as increase the state’s personal exemption after it was effectively eliminated by the federal government. If signed, this will provide much-needed relief to families across the entire state.

“Continuing to keep our schools well-funded is another priority of mine and I am glad the governor mentioned it. We invest over $14 billion annually in schools. That amounts to an increase of over $2.1 billion over the last seven years. In order to keep our state’s comeback moving, we need to continue raising this number and providing our students with only the best educational opportunities.

“As the governor stated, we also need to continue working to improve our infrastructure, both above and below ground. We’ve made efforts to increase road funding, fix potholes, and begin fixing pipelines, among other issues. We can’t afford to let off the gas now. We need to continue improving our infrastructure because it is critical to our state and our state’s success.

“Lastly, like the rest of those in attendance and anyone who was watching, I was extremely touched by the story of Jeremiah Nelson. Jeremiah, who suffers from spina bifida, is truly a story of Michigan’s gumption and what we are capable of when we put our minds to accomplishing our goals. Members of the Petoskey and Central Lake robotics teams came together to build Jeremiah an electronic car that allows him to be mobile and pursue interactions with other children. This is truly a testament to the kindness and ingenuity of Michiganders. I am tremendously proud of these two communities from my district.”



Schmidt welcomes local business owner to state Capitol for 2018 State of the State address

Lansing, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, welcomed Russ Knopp to the Michigan Capitol for Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address. Knopp (right), owns Comfort Keepers in Traverse City with his wife Leslie and serves as chairman of the Small Business Association of Michigan board of directors.


Editor’s note: A print-quality version of this photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting

Sen. Schmidt available for comments following 2018 State of the State address

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Wayne Schmidt will be available for comments following the governor’s 2018 State of the State address on Tuesday.

Who: Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City.

What: Reaction and comments following the governor’s State of the State address.

When: Immediately following the address, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Where: By phone or in:
House Appropriations Room
Third floor
State Capitol

Brief: Schmidt will be available following the State of the State address for comments on state issues mentioned by the governor in the address.

Please call Connie Russell at 517-373-2413 prior to 5 p.m. on Jan. 23 to schedule an interview time with the senator.


A national destination

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

The winter season in Michigan provides unlimited opportunities for the entire family. One specific pastime, though, is a favorite in my district and throughout northern Michigan.

It is no secret that Michigan ranks among the best states in the nation for snowmobiling. Our rugged landscape and consistent snowfall draw riders from all over the country. In fact, the annual snowmobiling season provides a seasonal boom for local economies throughout my district.

I personally recommend exploring the Pure Michigan wilderness via our state’s extensive snowmobile trail system. Michigan boasts 6,400 miles of designated snowmobile trails. The groomed, interconnected trail network conquers a variety of terrains as it winds through our state forests and is sure to provide fun for the whole family.

If you’re looking to plan a snowmobile trip, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides maps in a variety of formats for the state’s designated snowmobile trails. Find information on trail maps and permits, regulations, registration and more at

While enjoying the outdoors, it is important to do so legally and remember to always put safety first. Not all roads or road shoulders have been opened to snowmobile travel, so it is best to be safe and stick to the trails and designated snowmobile routes. Be sure to dress in layers to stay warm, never ride alone and avoid crossing bodies of water. Most importantly, riders must remember that alcohol and motor vehicles never mix.

In addition to the cold weather and snow, this time of year brings another popular pastime and tradition — the Sault Ste. Marie International I-500 snowmobile race.

For decades, tens of thousands of diehard fans and enthusiasts have come to enjoy the festivities and the main event the I-500 brings. The idea was originally thought up by Sault Ste. Marie residents and would eventually take shape in the late 1960s as land was acquired and designers began creating the oval, one-mile track. This year’s race marks the event’s 50th anniversary of the 500-mile challenge.

I hope you and your family are able to get out and enjoy the Pure Michigan winter season or are able to attend this year’s I-500 festivities. This year’s I-500 celebrations begin on Monday, Jan. 29 and close with the final race on Feb. 3. For more information, please visit

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.

Schmidt supports legislation aiding Michigan families

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt supports legislation that would restore the Michigan personal tax exemption that was lost in the recent federal tax reform.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in addition to lowering income tax rates, included a streamlined exemption process that eliminated the $4,050 personal exemption at the federal level, setting it to zero.

“There has been a lot of information surrounding what the new federal tax plan is going to mean for Michigan families,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City.

Michigan’s current state income tax law ties the state’s personal exemptions to the federal number of exemptions. Without a revision to the law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim the personal exemptions on their state taxes — which would cost state taxpayers around $1.5 billion a year.

Senate Bill 748 makes necessary changes to maintain the state’s personal exemption.

“This exemption is critical to many Michigan families, and without this action, they will lose it,” Schmidt said. “This legislation would ensure the state’s personal exemption remains regardless of changes on the federal level — and will do so without affecting other important portions of the budget like school aid.”

The legislation would also provide an increase in the state personal exemption by $500 to $4,800 by 2021, while remaining tied to inflation. Currently, the state’s personal tax exemption is scheduled to increase from $4,000 to $4,300 over the next three years.

“In recent years our state budget has stabilized and we have approved several reforms aimed at improving the state’s financial outlook,” Schmidt said. “It is time to start looking at ways to give families throughout my district and our state some relief. This bill would put more money in the pockets of taxpayers where it belongs.”

According to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Brandenburg, the sponsor of SB 748, the committee will hold a hearing on the bill on Tuesday, Jan. 16.





Sen. Schmidt to host January coffee hours

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

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

“I am proud to represent the 37th District in the state Senate,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “Since taking office I have made it my duty to listen to my constituents and be sure I am representing their interests in Lansing. In 2017, I hosted monthly coffee hours in each of the eight counties in my district — totaling 96 visits. I look forward to continuing these meetings in 2018.”

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 or call 517-373-2413.

Schmidt’s January coffee hours are as follows:

Friday, Jan. 12

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Studebaker’s Restaurant and Lounge

3583 I-75 Business Spur

Sault Ste. Marie


3 – 4 p.m.

Zellar’s Village Inn

7552 State Highway M-123



5 – 6 p.m.

Kim’s Tally Ho

W17298 Main St.



Monday, Jan. 22

11 a.m. – noon

Charlevoix City Hall

210 State St.



12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

North Perk Coffee

308 Howard St.



2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Wilson’s Rivers Edge Restaurant

4208 S. Straits Highway

Indian River


Friday, Jan. 26

8 – 9 a.m.

Grand Traverse Pie Co.

525 W. Front St.

Traverse City


11 a.m. – noon

Shirley’s Café

528 S. Williams St.



Schmidt introduces legislation to address taskforce recommendations

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt recently introduced legislation that would codify some of the Michigan’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force’s recommendations into state statute.

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

“The popularity of drones has surged in recent years,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “As we’re seeing an increase in the use of drones, both commercial and recreational, it is important that we develop a consistent, statewide policy that ensures the safety of Michigan residents.”

The report made several recommendations, including the request for a state law prohibiting drones from interfering around 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 valid safety concern.

Another example references three individuals using a drone to drop contraband over a mid-Michigan prison.

The task force does specifically note, however, that the Federal Aviation Administration has final authority when it comes to regulating airspace. Because of this, the report purposely avoids calling for a ban in those places, but rather a prohibition on drones interfering in those spaces.

“It is important to note that this is not an outright ban,” Schmidt said. “This legislation simply puts consistent guidelines in place and allows local governments to restrict the use of drones when public safety or an interruption in daily operations is at stake.”

Senate Bill 715 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation.