First term accomplishments

The last four years have truly been a blessing. I am honored to have been chosen to represent the 37th district in the state Senate.

When I was in the House, Michigan was facing some tough, uncertain times. Folks were losing their jobs, families were struggling and people were leaving the state in search of a better life elsewhere.

When I came to the Senate, we were in the middle of a resurgence, and I have joined my colleagues in working to continue that momentum. The Legislature has approved numerous economic measures, like income tax reform, providing incentives for redevelopment of abandoned sites in downtown areas, bringing technology companies to our state, and several other reforms, but it all started with responsible budgeting.

Every year since 2010, the Legislature has approved a fiscally responsible budget, on time, well before the start of the fiscal year. I am proud to have been a part of that in both the House and the Senate.

The budget process is where much of my pride lies. My colleagues and I have heard Michiganders loud and clear: The roads need to be fixed. We have drastically increased road funding in recent years, and I am proud to have fought to bring as much of that money as possible home to Northern Michigan and the U.P.

I also fought for increases in school aid funding. Many of the schools in my Senate district qualify for “2X” funding, and I have been there to ensure we see every dime of it. The “2X” funding formula allows districts at the minimum foundation allowance to receive two times the amount of the increase in per-pupil funding. Simply put, this means more money in the classrooms of Northern Michigan and U.P. Schools.

We have also taken on some emotionally tough issues. The Legislature has worked to combat the opioid epidemic that is gripping our state, especially in my district. We have drastically ramped up efforts and established several partnerships to aid in the fight. Legislative reforms include allowing naloxone to be carried by first responders and family members of an at-risk individual. We have also gone after doctors and pharmacies who don’t do their due diligence when prescribing or filling certain prescription medicines. We’ve also upgraded the state’s prescription tracking system and lowered the number of prescription pills people can be prescribed at once.

And finally, something most people in my district have known to be a necessity for years: upgrading the Soo Locks. The Soo Locks are pivotal not only to Michigan’s success, but to the success of the Midwest and to the United States as a whole. Countless economies across the state rely on the cargo that makes its way through the locks daily, and if one lock were to fail, the economy would screech to a halt.

Thanks to many of my colleagues, and local and federal counterparts, the project has been getting the attention it deserves. Recent announcements from the federal government have improved the cost benefit ratio of the project, as well as the feasibility of such an undertaking. Michigan has committed more than $50 million and is encouraging other states to do the same.  On Nov. 21, the Army Corps of Engineers submitted its 2019 work plan to Congress, which included more than $32 million as an initial outlay for design and construction of the super lock. We are now looking at the first steps of the project and will continue moving forward.

This is just a short list. There are countless other measures that I am proud to have sponsored or stood behind. I am proud of the work we did banning drones in hazardous places; improving protections at the gas pump and giving law enforcement additional tools to go after criminals who try to use credit card skimmers; improving access to medical care; and several other reforms.

What is most important to me is the trust you have placed in me to represent you in the state Senate. The people are the heart of government, and I am blessed to have been put in this position. Serving those who elected me is always the first goal. To ensure I am in tune with the folks I represent, I host several monthly coffee hours to sit and discuss the issues with people. Folks come from all around to share their concerns or to offer opinions or suggestions, and that is the true driving force behind an effective government.

I have hosted 324 coffee hours in every corner of the district since 2014, and I can assure you, I will continue that pace moving into the new term. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you.

I would like to thank all who supported me and placed their trust in me to do the job for a second term. I am excited to see what new challenges will come in the 100th Legislature. I look forward to continuing Michigan’s comeback and making our state better for residents and future generations.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senate sends Schmidt health care licensing legislation to governor’s desk

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday voted to approve legislation that would allow an adult foster care facility to be licensed as a substance use disorder facility as well.

“People who are treated for mental health needs may also suffer from substance abuse issues, and vice versa,” said the sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “This legislation would remove an existing barrier and make access to the necessary care much easier for patients.”

Adult foster care homes provide care, protection and supervision for individuals who are mentally ill, developmentally disabled, physically handicapped, aged, and those who cannot live alone, while substance use disorder programs offer prevention services, treatment, and rehabilitation services to individuals dealing with alcohol or drug addiction. Both fields require state licensure.

However, under current law, the two fields of treatment require separate licensing and neither facility can offer the care of the other. That means someone needing treatment in both areas must receive treatment for mental health in one facility and travel to another facility that specializes in substance abuse to receive additional treatment.

Senate Bill 962 acknowledges the common concurrence between mental health and substance abuse, and it would allow certain facilities to be licensed in both fields. This would allow for treatment of a substance use disorder and mental health issue to be treated at a single facility.

In order to do so, a facility must be licensed as both a substance use disorder program and an adult foster care facility and approved as a co-occurring enhanced crisis residential program — a program approved by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services for providing short-term intensive mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

“I think this will be a great improvement to patient care and make it easier for people who are suffering from a mental health issue or an addiction to find the treatment they need,” Schmidt said. “Allowing facilities to offer treatment for both mental health and substance abuse will eliminate patients being forced to choose between their health care needs.”

The Senate accepted House changes made to SB 962 and now the legislation will go to the desk of Gov. Rick Snyder for final approval.

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Senate approves Line 5 utility tunnel legislation

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday voted to move forward with legislation allowing construction of a utility tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Senate Bill 1197 would establish the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA), which would be responsible for acquiring, constructing, maintaining, and operating the new utility tunnel.

“The pipeline is needed,” said state Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “This is the best way to keep the Great Lakes safe while also ensuring residents are able to get the supplies they need. Many residents in my district rely on propane from Line 5 to heat their homes and businesses.”

The original version of the bill tasked the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) with responsibility for the tunnel and Schmidt said his constituents, including current and former members of the MBA, were not pleased.

“My office has gotten several calls about this. I have discussed this issue at length with folks in my district. The overall message was clear that the bill as it stood was not an ideal situation,” said Schmidt. “To remedy this, I offered an amendment to the legislation that would instead create a new authority responsible solely for the tunnel’s construction, maintenance and operation.”

The amended version of the legislation gives the three-member board of the MSCA the responsibility of overseeing the tunnel’s construction and daily operation once completed. Members are appointed to six-year terms by the governor.

“Many people that I have spoken with are relieved with the direction that we decided to go with this bill,” Schmidt said. “I think this was a tremendous example of our system of government at work. People came out, voiced their opinions, held discussions, and in the end, we were able to listen to folks and reach a compromise that is in the best interest of our state.”

SB 1197 will now go to the Michigan House of Representatives for approval.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Schmidt will be available at www.SenatorWayneSchmidt.com/audio.