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.