**Photo Advisory** Schmidt sworn in as state senator for the 37th District

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt was sworn in for his second term as a state senator representing the 37th District on Wednesday during a ceremony at the state Capitol. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Stephen J. Markman administered the oath of office.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the 100th Legislature convened for its first day of business.

“We have accomplished a great deal in the last four years, and I look forward to four more successful years,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “I will work to continue responsible budgeting, improving the state’s economic climate, and fighting for Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are well-represented in legislative leadership this term. This means great things for my district.”

Schmidt was previously elected by his colleagues to be the assistant Senate majority leader. His office is now in the state Capitol building in room S-8. His office can be reached via email at SenWSchmidt@senate.michigan.gov and via phone at 517-373-2413.

Sen. Schmidt to host January coffee hours

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

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 January coffee hours are as follows:

Monday, Jan. 7

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Harbor Springs City Hall

160 Zoll St.

Harbor Springs

 

2 – 3 p.m.

Cafe Sante

1 Water St.

Boyne City

 

Saturday, Jan. 12

9 – 10 a.m.

Grand Traverse Pie Company

525 W. Front St.

Traverse City

 

Monday, Jan. 21

11 a.m. – noon

State Street Coffee Company

211 W. State St.

Cheboygan

 

3 – 4 p.m.

Cup of the Day

406 Ashmun St.

Sault Ste. Marie

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.

 

 

Funding the future

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the aging Soo Locks and what will be needed to undertake any new construction.

The locks were built between 1896 and 1943 and last upgraded in 1968. By now, most people, especially those in the shipping industry, have realized that to sustain the current economic climate, some upgrades must be made.

Each year about 10,000 ships pass through the locks, carrying with them millions of tons of iron ore, coal, grain, and other cargo. Because only one of the four current locks can accommodate the size of the larger freighters, if there were to be a failure, it would be catastrophic for the state and national economies.

This places the burden of millions of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in commerce on one single lock. If a failure were to occur, it would impact an estimated 22 percent of the state’s workforce. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed that a shutdown or failure would prove disastrous ― and as the locks continue to age, the probability of failure grows.

The plan is to build a new “super lock” that would replace the current Davis and Sabin locks, though the project has long been delayed due to a lack of federal funding.

A recent study released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers significantly improved the previous benefit-cost ratio for building a new lock, and as a result, the issue continues to gain attention. The president has routinely shown interest in this project, and in order to leverage federal funds for the project, Michigan has committed more than $50 million and is encouraging other states to make similar commitments.

On Nov. 21, the Army Corps of Engineers submitted its 2019 work plan to Congress that included more than $32 million as an initial outlay for design and construction of the super lock.

The funds will be used to initiate deepening of the upstream approach channel and to complete the design of the lock. Deepening the upstream approach channel is the first big step in construction of the lock. Depending on the level and consistency with which the project is funded, the nearly $1 billion undertaking could be completed in as few as seven years.

Multiple Great Lakes states have approved resolutions urging the federal government to appropriate the necessary funds to make the upgrades, and it is good to see action being taken. State and federal officials have done a tremendous job at keeping this issue at the forefront — the locks have received more attention in the last 12 months than in the previous 20 years.

The Soo Locks are vital to the national economy and to several state and local economies throughout the Midwest. The recent announcement of federal funding is another step closer to getting the project done. I look forward to future discussions with legislative leaders, the governor-elect’s administration and our federal counterparts on how we can bring this project to fruition.

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 reminds residents that resources are available for home heating assistance

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt on Thursday reminded residents that there may be assistance available for those struggling to keep their homes warm this winter season.

“Winters in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are notoriously harsh,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “While most of the state is just starting to experience the cold and snow, we’re several weeks into that kind of weather up north.”

The Winter Protection Plan is a deferment plan that is designed to ease the burden of high winter utility bills. It helps protect seniors and low-income gas and electric customers from service shutoffs and high utility bills from Nov. 1 to March 31. Eligible customers can avoid shutoffs while paying nothing or just a small percentage of their annual bill during the protection period.

Although no payments are required during the heating season, it is recommended that program participants pay something to avoid large payments when the protection period ends.

To apply, residents should contact their natural gas or utility company.

The State Emergency Relief Program offers assistance for low-income residents who may need help due to an unforeseen emergency. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/heatingassistance.

The site also includes details on the Weatherization Assistance Program — which helps provide free energy conservation services to low-income Michigan homeowners and renters — and the Home Heating Credit.

In addition to these programs, many nonprofit and community organizations also have programs to help families stay warm during the winter. Dialing 211 can connect residents with a 24-hour service that can put them in touch with agencies in their community who can help with things like utility bills and other emergencies. You can also click here for a list of energy assistance agencies by county.

“While there are several avenues to pursue for help this winter, the most important thing to do if you are unable to pay your bills is to contact the utility company and explore your options,” Schmidt said. “Taking a proactive approach could wind up saving you a lot of money and grief.”

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Sen. Schmidt to host November coffee hours

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

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 November coffee hours are as follows:

Monday, Nov. 12

8 – 9 a.m.

Cup of the Day

406 Ashmun St.

Sault Ste. Marie

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Zellar’s Village Inn

7552 State Highway M-123

Newberry

1 – 2 p.m.

White Tail Resort Restaurant

4476 U.S. 2

Moran

Wednesday, Nov. 14

11 a.m. – noon

The Thirsty Sturgeon

11900 Scott Road

Wolverine

1 – 2 p.m.

Roast & Toast

309 E. Lake St.

Petoskey

Thursday, Nov. 15

11 a.m. – noon

East Jordan City Hall

201 Main St.

East Jordan

1 – 2 p.m.

Shirley’s Cafe

528 S. Williams St.

Mancelona

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

McGee’s 72

4341 M-72

Williamsburg

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Halloween Safety

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

As the days go by, we move closer to a favorite family holiday — Halloween.

Halloween is a fun and exciting time where folks get to put their imaginations to the test. For weeks, or even months, children and parents alike have been planning and creating their costumes and coordinating trick-or-treating routes.

While Halloween provides a great deal of fun and excitement, it important to remember some basic safety tips. Following these tips will ensure that you and your family are able to celebrate to the fullest.

During the festivities, basic everyday safety can go a long way. Take a moment to remind your children of basic safety guidelines, such as not talking to or getting into a car with strangers and looking both ways before crossing a street. With that in mind, I offer some additional tips to help ensure that you are able to safely enjoy the time with friends and family.

One of the most common suggestions is to make sure your kids do not go out alone. An adult, preferably multiple adults, should always be present when a group of children is trick-or-treating.

Remember, areas that are normally quiet and safe are now filled with large numbers of strangers.

If you’re tasked with leading a convoy of anxious children, always stick to well-lit areas and walk facing traffic, staying as far off to the shoulder as possible.

It is also recommended that you attach a glow stick or reflective tape to your children’s costumes to make them more visible to drivers. Parents can exercise further precautions by making sure masks and other costume accessories do not hinder a child’s vision or movement. It is also a good practice to have at least one person in the group carrying a flashlight with fresh batteries.

For those who will be coming home from work late, or out driving Halloween evening, please use extra caution, as the movements of excited children can be unpredictable at times.

Finally, the most important and most common rule: Do not let your children eat any candy until it has been thoroughly inspected by you or another adult you know and trust.

For more suggestions, parents can visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Halloween Safety page online, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents, or www.safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips.

Stay warm, stay safe and have a happy Halloween!

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 agreement to build multi-use tunnel to replace Line 5

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, issued the following statement on Wednesday regarding the agreement in principle for a tunnel to replace Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac:

“I am pleased that the state and Enbridge have reached an agreement that will protect the Great Lakes and also ensure residents in Upper Peninsula have access to reliable and affordable propane to keep their families warm.

“Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful natural resources in the world, and we must do everything we can to protect them. The tunnel being built under this agreement will help keep our Great Lakes safe for generations to come. Importantly, the construction and maintenance of the multi-use tunnel will be paid for entirely by Enbridge and not Michigan taxpayers.”

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