Sen. Schmidt set to host April coffee hours

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

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

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.

Sen. Schmidt’s April coffee hours are as follows:

Monday, April 3
10 – 11 a.m.
East Jordan City Hall
201 Main St.
East Jordan

Noon – 1 p.m.
Moka
102 N. Bridge St.
Bellaire

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Grand Traverse Pie Co.
525 W. Front St.
Traverse City

Thursday, April 6
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
The Thirsty Sturgeon
11900 Scott Road
Wolverine

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Roast & Toast
309 E. Lake St.
Petoskey

Thursday, April 13
11 a.m. – noon
Timber Charlie’s
110 Newberry Ave.
Newberry

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Cup of the Day
406 Ashmun St.
Sault Ste. Marie

4 – 5 p.m.
Driftwood Restaurant
590 N. State St.
St. Ignace

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Infrastructure is king; let’s not undermine it

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

After eight months of fact-finding, the commission created by Gov. Rick Snyder to study Michigan’s infrastructure systems recently presented its findings. Thirty-nine percent of our roads and 27 percent of our bridges are structurally deficient. Aging water and sewer infrastructure systems also led to closures at nearly 25 percent of Michigan beaches due to contamination in 2015. The list goes on.

While these infrastructure problems are deeply serious, they should not be unexpected. Michigan ranks near the bottom of states investing in infrastructure. According to the report, “…maintenance has been deferred for decades, leaving us in a state of disrepair.”

As our state and federal elected officials, including me, identify ways to address these spending shortfalls, we should consider and learn from infrastructure success stories. Freight railroads — and their efficient, world-renowned 140,000-mile network — are a prime example of how private investments can generate innumerable public benefits.

Trains help to power the economy, hauling 40 percent of intercity freight and one-third of U.S. imports. They connect Detroit’s auto manufacturers to markets near and far, they provide businesses in Northern Michigan, Traverse City, Saginaw, the Upper Peninsula and elsewhere with the raw materials needed for production, and they deliver for consumers every day.

And this success story — rail’s productivity, efficiency — is born of a deep commitment to infrastructure investment. Freight rail companies have put a collective $600 billion into building, maintaining and expanding the national rail network since 1980. Over the last five years they’ve spent $26 billion annually, some 40 cents of every dollar earned. These investments generated $274 billion in economic activity and nearly $33 billion in total tax revenues in 2014, according to a Towson University study.

But prior to 1980, the freight rail network had a lot in common with Michigan’s current failing infrastructure systems. Government intrusion into the railroad business — rate and schedule controls, for example — had driven many rail carriers into bankruptcy. Deferred maintenance was similarly the rule of the day, as most companies were not earning enough to reinvest into the maintenance of their lines.

The Staggers Rail Act of 1980 reversed this faltering course for freight railroads. The legislation provided a balanced regulatory framework for carriers, allowing them to run like businesses without the government intruding in day-to-day operations.

While the economic deregulation of railroads has resulted in increased productivity, lower shipping rates and huge safety gains in the intervening years, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) recently proposed a set of rules that would undermine the whole system. The STB, which provides economic oversight to freight railroads, is considering something called “forced access,” which would require rail companies to open their lines to competitors — at rates and schedules determined by the government.

This raises a number of red flags. As discussed, infrastructure investment is crucial — for our citizens, businesses, and the economy. Reregulation would fly in the face of this assessment, ultimately undermining railroads’ ability to invest in their infrastructure. We saw rail infrastructure fall apart in the pre-Staggers era, and there’s no reason to think there would be a different outcome today.

In fact, one estimate says government-mandated rail traffic controls could jeopardize $8 billion in rail revenues, undermining the ability of railroads to invest back into track and equipment, and impact an estimated 7.5 million carloads of traffic.

Today, when we know that Michigan must spend $4 billion more annually on infrastructure to make up for our current gap, we must embrace the pieces of our infrastructure system that work. Private freight rail spending not only works for Michigan, it powers the national economy and provides an excellent “user-pay” example to emulate. Let’s not hamper rail’s private spending with new regulations.

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Sen. Schmidt set 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 this month.

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.

Sen. Schmidt’s January coffee hours are as follows:

Friday, Jan. 20
9-10 a.m.
Café Santé
1 Water St.
Boyne City

11 a.m. – noon
Shirley’s Café
528 S. Williams St.
Mancelona

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Bayview Inn
5074 U.S. 31
Traverse City

Monday, Jan. 23
11 a.m. – noon
Zellar’s Village Inn
7552 State Highway M-123
Newberry

2 – 3 p.m.
Cup of the Day
406 Ashmun St.
Sault Ste. Marie

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Driftwood Motel
590 N. State St.
St. Ignace

Friday, Jan. 27
11 a.m. – noon
The Thirsty Sturgeon
11900 Scott Road
Wolverine

1 – 2 p.m.
Side Door Saloon
1200 U.S. 31
Petoskey

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Sen. Schmidt to host February coffee hours

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

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.

Sen. Schmidt’s February coffee hours are as follows:

Monday, Feb. 13
10 – 11 a.m.
Superior Coffee
2611 Ashmun St.
Sault Ste. Marie

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Timber Charlie’s
101 Newberry Ave.
Newberry

3 – 4 p.m.
Bentley’s B-N-L Café
62 N. State St.
St. Ignace

Monday, Feb. 20
10 – 11 a.m.
State Street Coffee Company
211 W. State St.
Cheboygan

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Petoskey District Library
500 E. Mitchell St.
Petoskey

Friday, Feb. 24
11 a.m. – noon
Loon’s Nest
115 E. State St.
Fife Lake

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Moka
102 N. Bridge St.
Bellaire

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Charlevoix Public Library
220 W. Clinton St.
Charlevoix

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Schmidt to host March coffee hours

LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Wayne Schmidt will host coffee hours in each of the 37th Senate District’s eight counties this month, the senator announced on Tuesday.

Residents are welcome to join the senator for an informal discussion on current legislation, issues or ideas they may have with the senator without an appointment.

For those unable to attend, Schmidt encourages contacting his office for information or to schedule a meeting. The office may be reached by phone toll-free at 855-347-8037, via email at SenWSchmidt@senate.michigan.gov, or by U.S. Mail at Senator Wayne Schmidt, P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536.

Schmidt’s March coffee hours are as follows:

Friday, March 3
Noon – 1 p.m.
Café Sante
1 Water St.
Boyne City

Monday, March 6
11 a.m. – noon
Zellar’s Village Inn
7552 State Highway M-123
Newberry

4 – 5 p.m.
Dancing Crane Coffee House
12072 W. Lakeshore Dr.
Brimley

Monday, March 20
9 – 10 a.m.
Shirley’s Café
528 S. Williams St.
Mancelona

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Grand Traverse Pie Co.
525 W. Front St.
Traverse City

Friday, March 24
10 – 11 a.m.
Mackinac Grille
251 S. State St.
St. Ignace

Noon – 1 p.m.
Mix and Mingle Bakery
334 N. Main St.
Cheboygan

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Side Door Saloon
1200 N. U.S. 31
Petoskey

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Elk Rapids to receive blight elimination grant

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt applauded recent action by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) to help the city of Elk Rapids renovate historic downtown buildings.

The Community Development Block Grant of $213,340 will be used for blight elimination needed to renovate four historic structures in downtown Elk Rapids.

“I appreciate the continued support of the Michigan Strategic Fund to help restore and revitalize northern Michigan communities,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City.

According to the MSF, the buildings suffer from physical and structural deterioration, and the grant money will help restore the historic buildings, which will help brighten the community and potentially attract jobs and visitors to the area.

The MSF, in cooperation with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, administers the economic and community development portions of the program, which is a federal grant program utilizing funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Sen. Schmidt introduces bill to combat credit card fraud

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — Michiganders could shop more securely at gas stations throughout the state if legislation introduced Thursday by state Sen. Wayne Schmidt becomes law.

Senate Bill 228 seeks to combat the increasing threat of credit card skimming devices by requiring all gas stations in Michigan to improve security measures at the pump.

Under the bill, filling stations would have the option of installing any of the following on individual pumps: tamper proof security tape with logo; a device to render the pump or scanning device inoperable with unauthorized access; encryption of credit card information; or any other security measure approved by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

“Identity theft is on the rise, and credit card skimming devices are a primary way criminals obtain individuals’ information,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. Approximately 70 credit card skimmers were found and removed from gas pumps in Michigan in just the last year, according to MDARD. “Many gas stations throughout the state have been proactive in taking steps to improve security at their pumps, which has helped protect customers. With my bill, we are officially putting these criminals on notice that, for them, Michigan is not open for business.”

Electronic skimming devices are typically installed in seconds, hidden inside of gas pumps, and are used to copy the credit and debit information of customers for criminal use. Most pumps have a universal master key that criminals can easily obtain to gain entry, install the device, and then return later to retrieve the stolen information.

The legislation was introduced during Consumer Protection Week, a time to highlight consumer rights and help consumers learn more about making informed buying decisions, including how to recognize, guard against, and report scams and fraud.

SB 228 was referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee for consideration.

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