Schmidt issues statement on Army Corps of Engineers release of Soo Locks upgrade feasibility study

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, issued the following statement on Friday after the Army Corps of Engineers released the long-awaited Soo Locks upgrade feasibility study.

“It is fantastic to see continued dedication to making this essential upgrade to our state and nation.

“This study has been long-awaited by many, including myself. Since first taking office, I have advocated the importance of the locks and how crucial an upgrade is. I have hosted two tours of the locks and joined my fellow legislators in hosting a joint committee meeting between the Senate committees on Commerce, Transportation, and Economic Development and International Investment at Lake Superior State University to discuss the importance of upgrades to the aging locks.

“My colleagues and I also approved a resolution urging Congress to appropriate the necessary funds to complete the upgrades. Other Midwestern states followed our lead and passed similar resolutions as well.

“Only one of the four locks can accommodate the size of all ships currently in operation. The MacArthur Lock is only 800 feet long, leaving the Poe Lock to handle the larger ships, some of which are longer than 1,000 feet.

“Expansion of the Sabin and Davis locks would provide a secondary option should the Poe Lock go down for maintenance or any other unscheduled closure.

“If the Poe Lock were to go down, there would be no other way for these massive ships to cross. It’s been estimated that a shutdown would harshly affect Michigan’s economy — putting more than 22 percent of the state’s workers out of work. This places an enormous economic burden on one single lock. If a failure occurred, it would be an economic disaster for numerous industries throughout the U.S.

“I understand such a large undertaking takes time, but an item of such importance should be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. I look forward to future announcements as the project continues forward.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for continuing to push for these upgrades. I’d like to especially thank my colleagues who took the time to travel to the Upper Peninsula, listened to the facts and learned firsthand just how important these locks are to both the state and the nation’s economy. I’d also like to thank Congressman Jack Bergman for his continued support on the federal level. His advocacy has no doubt furthered the advancement of the cause.”

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Schmidt announces community meeting in St. Ignace to discuss U.S. 2 speed limit

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Wayne Schmidt announced on Friday he will join representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police to discuss the recent speed limit change from 55 mph to 65 mph on U.S. 2 near St. Ignace.

Who:

Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City;

Officials from the Michigan State Police; and

Officials from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

What:

A community discussion regarding the speed limit increase on U.S. 2.

When:            

Thursday, July 12 from 4 – 5:30 p.m.

Where:

St. Ignace Public Library

110 W. Spruce St.

St. Ignace

Brief:

Schmidt will join representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police, along with residents of the community, to discuss the speed limit increase from 55 mph to 65 mph on U.S. 2.

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Schmidt named Legislator of the Year by Small Business Association of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Wayne Schmidt was honored as Legislator of the Year by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) at its annual meeting in Lansing on June 21.

“Small businesses are the cornerstone of the American dream,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “I am humbled by this recognition and will continue to advocate and fight for business owners in my district and across the state.”

Schmidt was named 2018 Legislator of the Year because of his tireless efforts on behalf of the small business community and because his voting record has made him a true supporter of small business.

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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.

Photo caption: Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, accepts the Small Business Association of Michigan’s Legislator of the Year Award from President and CEO Rob Fowler at the association’s annual convention on June 21.

Father’s Day

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

The beautiful Michigan weather we have been waiting for has finally arrived. In just a few short days, we’ll formally begin the summer season, and as you make your plans to hit the lake, float the river or enjoy a backyard barbecue with your family, remember that June is also a month to celebrate dads, and to take time to remember how they improve and influence our lives.

Father’s Day is a special time for me because it allows me to spend time with my father and reflect on the impact he has had on my life. My brother and I were very fortunate growing up. My father was incredibly involved with his family, and I believe his kindness and ability to act as a friend and mentor are what shaped my brother and me into who we are today.

When my brother and I were younger, my father was a traveling salesman. He worked hard and spent many nights away from his family to support us back home and make sure we were always taken care of.

I believe his work ethic, kindness and family involvement greatly influenced the relationships I have with my boys. I was fortunate to grow up with strong family values — we were taught to respect others and both the importance and reward of a hard day’s work.

I owe a great deal of thanks to my father, not only for teaching me these critical, lifelong skills, but for helping me be a good father to my kids and inspiring my passion for helping others. I am also thankful that my father has continued his influential role as my two sons continue to grow up.

I, like many, have several childhood memories of my father. One of my most-cherished memories is going on business trips with him and visiting local bakeries. It was always a fun and exciting time to check out the local treats from various towns, villages and cities across the state. My father also enjoyed reading. He graduated with a degree in journalism, and his love for the written word was certainly passed down to me. Like him, I thoroughly enjoy the experience and knowledge that can come from a good book or publication.

Many of you have similar memories — a character trait, a specific family trip, a meaningful conversation — of your fathers. We have all been shaped in some way by our fathers and how they raised us. For those of you who are fortunate enough to still have loving fathers in your lives, it is my hope that on Father’s Day you will take the time to visit your father. Plan an activity he enjoys and make sure he knows how important he is to you.

For those who are unfortunately separated geographically, consider giving your dad a call — any measure will do and is certain to make his day. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in the 37th District.

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 Father’s Day is available here, or on his website under the “Media Center” tab.

Schmidt supports 2018-2019 fiscal year budget

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — The state Legislature on Tuesday approved two bills that will fund the state of Michigan for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

“Final passage of the two budget bills marks the eighth year in a row the Legislature has approved the state’s budget ahead of schedule,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “I commend my colleagues for putting our differences aside, negotiating hard and coming up with a product that will benefit Michigan’s hardworking taxpayers.”

Schmidt noted he was especially pleased with the commitment to our state’s education system. School Aid will see a record investment of $14.8 billion and schools will see a foundation allowance increase of between $120 and $240 per pupil.

“The vast majority of schools across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula will receive $240 per student as part of the 2X formula,” Schmidt said. “Which means more money for classrooms and students.”

The “2X” funding formula allows districts at the minimum foundation allowance to receive two times the amount of that increase. Most northern and Upper Peninsula schools are at the base amount, so $240 per student is another step in closing the gap between northern Michigan and other parts of the state.

The 2018-2019 budget also increases funding for our state’s aging roads and bridges.

“We listened to Michiganders who said roads are a priority,” Schmidt said. “Through continued commitment and prioritization, transportation funding has risen to record levels. Our roads and bridges have benefitted from an additional $2.4 billion since 2017.”

Schmidt also applauded an appropriation for a specific road funding project in his district.

The senator announced that with the help of local officials, he was able to secure an additional $300,000 to rebuild a section of Eighth St. in Traverse City.

“This major cross-town route desperately needs repairs,” Schmidt said.

The budget includes money to hire new state police troopers, more corrections workers and more conservation officers. The budget also increases revenue sharing for localities to spend on local operations, further improve sexual assault programs on our state’s campuses and boosts Pure Michigan tourism promotion funding by $1 million.

The budget also invests $58 million in school safety initiatives like OK2SAY that keep our students safe, and increases the state’s rainy day fund to $1 billion from a $1.8 billion structural deficit 8 years ago.

“I’m very glad to see this budget make it to the governor’s desk,” Schmidt said. “I applaud my colleagues for working through several challenges and coming up with a product that will benefit Michigan taxpayers. This budget ensures funding for essential services, pays down debt, invests in our future and makes sure the state lives within its means.”

The fiscal year 2018-2019 budget will now go to Gov. Rick Snyder for consideration.

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Schmidt reminds residents of Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt on Wednesday reminded residents of the upcoming opportunity to enjoy fishing Michigan’s vast waterways at no cost.

“As Michiganders, we are never too far from a body of water. Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are home to numerous world-class fishing opportunities,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “We have numerous inland lakes and ponds, endless miles of rivers and streams, and of course, three of the five Great Lakes.”

The state of Michigan hosts two free fishing weekends every year — one in the winter and one in the summer. This summer, residents will have an opportunity to enjoy the many spectacular fishing opportunities Michigan has to offer on Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10.

During these two days, residents and nonresidents alike can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply. Entry fees for state public boating access sites, state parks and recreation areas are also waived during this time.

Since 1986, Michigan has celebrated the free weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources and to give families a great chance to pass along the joy of fishing to the next generation.

“This annual fishing celebration gives Michigan anglers, and those who have never gone fishing, a chance to experience some of the world’s best fishing for free,” Schmidt said. “For many in my district, it’s just a short trip over to one of the Great Lakes. I encourage everyone to get out and keep this statewide pastime alive.”

For more information, including a list of activities across the state, visit www.Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.

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Editor’s note: Audio of Schmidt discussing the upcoming free fishing weekend is available here or on his website. Click “Audio” under the “Media Center” tab.

Schmidt visits Alcona Health Center

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, recently toured Community Health Centers of Northern Michigan – Alcona Health Center to meet staff and see firsthand the organization’s mission.

“It was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at their daily operations and how they help the local community,” Schmidt said. “I commend the organization’s dedication to ensuring residents get the care they need regardless of their financial situation.”

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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.

Photo caption: Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, stands with staff members of the Alcona Health Center as his recent tour comes to an end.