Stamas’ high school requirement flexibility bill sent to governor

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation to give students more flexibility to meet the state’s high school graduation requirements is on its way to the governor to be signed.

“Education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and this reform will continue to offer options for students to choose robust courses of study that can best prepare them for success,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Michigan’s economy is growing and creating jobs, yet thousands of positions remain unfilled because employers cannot find enough skilled workers.

“Allowing students to take additional applied science and math classes can help them achieve their goals and also help our state meet the growing demand for top talent.”

In 2006, Michigan adopted one of the nation’s most rigorous sets of high school graduation requirements. The Michigan Merit Curriculum requires students to complete a minimum of 18 credits in eight specific subject areas in order to receive a high school diploma.

Under current law, Michigan high school students can substitute a career-tech course or an extra arts class for one of the two required foreign language credits.

Senate Bill 175 would extend that flexibility to meet the MMC requirements until 2024.

Many education and business groups supported SB 175, including the Michigan Manufacturers Association, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Education Association, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development.

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Pettalia memorial highway bill sent to governor

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas and Rep. Sue Allor have announced that legislation to permanently honor former Rep. Peter Pettalia is on its way to the governor to be signed. Pettalia died in 2016 in an accident while traveling down to the Capitol for session.

“Representative Pettalia was a commonsense public servant who served in many roles to help improve the lives of the people in Northern Michigan,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Just as important, he was a good friend who loved life, his family, his community and the entire state.

“Pete enjoyed traveling throughout the Sunrise Side along Heritage Route 23, and naming part of that route through his home county is a fitting tribute to his life and his tremendous impact. Although Pete is missed very much, this memorial will ensure that he is never forgotten.”

Senate Bill 622 would designate the portion of U.S. 23 in Presque Isle County between Maple Drive and Misiak Highway as the “Peter A. Pettalia Memorial Highway.”

“As I travel throughout the 106th District, it still amazes me how many people knew him and have a story to share about his dedication to our state,” said Allor, R-Wolverine. “This memorial highway will honor a fun-loving family man who stepped up to serve his community and earned the respect of members in both parties.”

Stamas and Allor welcomed Pettalia’s wife Karen to the Capitol in May for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the legislation.

Pettalia served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2011 until his untimely death in September 2016. He previously served as Presque Isle Township supervisor for 16 years and as a volunteer firefighter for the East Grand Lake Fire Department for 15 years. Pettalia was a member of several Presque Isle and Alpena area organizations and enjoyed spending time with his wife Karen, two children and two granddaughters.

The bill would have no fiscal impact on the state or local government. State law requires sufficient private contributions to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining markers indicating the name of a memorial highway.

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Stamas: Budget focuses on education, safety and roads

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Tuesday supported a finalized fiscal year 2019 state budget that increases investments in key priorities, including educating Michigan students and improving the roads.

“This budget will help us continue to boost the economy, create jobs, protect our communities and provide every student with an education that prepares them for success,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “I am proud that we once again have a balanced state budget that increases funding for our schools to record levels and helps create a positive climate for innovation and job creation.

“Every school will see increased funding in this budget — with most schools receiving the largest per-pupil increase in 17 years.”

The education budget invests nearly $14.8 billion in K-12 education, which includes a foundation allowance increase of between $120 and $240 per pupil and a $1.3 billion contribution into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) to control costs, reduce debt and meet the needs of current retired teachers.

The budget also features investments in school safety initiatives, including more funding for the OK2SAY confidential tip-line program, $30 million for mental health support services in schools, and $25 million for school security improvements.

“Our schools should be safe and productive places for learning,” Stamas said. “We are investing $58 million to ensure that our schools and communities can make the critical school safety improvements necessary to keep our students and teachers safe.”

The budget for state departments and the judicial and legislative branches would increase local revenue sharing by $22.5 million, fully fund the $100 million Marshall Plan for Talent and invest $40.9 million in skilled trades training.

“We are putting $330 million more into fixing our roads, which will bring our total new investment in our roads to $2.4 billion since 2017,” Stamas said. “With this budget, we will continue to focus on a more vibrant Michigan, provide vital services and live within our means.”

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Stamas: Budget focuses on education, safety and roads – Midland

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Tuesday supported a finalized fiscal year 2019 state budget that increases investments in key priorities, including educating Michigan students and improving the roads.

“This budget will help us continue to boost the economy, create jobs, protect our communities and provide every student with an education that prepares them for success,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “I am proud that we once again have a balanced state budget that increases funding for our schools to record levels and helps create a positive climate for innovation and job creation.

“Every school will see a significant increase in per-pupil funding in this budget, and the state will continue to invest more than $1 billion to reduce schools’ retirement costs and enable schools to direct more dollars into the classroom.”

The education budget invests nearly $14.8 billion in K-12 education, which includes a foundation allowance increase of between $120 and $240 per pupil and a $1.3 billion contribution into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System.

The budget also features investments in school safety initiatives, including more funding for the OK2SAY confidential tip-line program, $30 million for mental health support services in schools, and $25 million for school security improvements.

“Our schools should be safe and productive places for learning,” Stamas said. “We are investing $58 million to ensure that our schools and communities can make the critical school safety improvements necessary to keep our students and teachers safe.”

The budget for state departments and the judicial and legislative branches would increase local revenue sharing by $22.5 million, fully fund the $100 million Marshall Plan for Talent and invest $40.9 million in skilled trades training.

“We are putting $330 million more into fixing our roads, which will bring our total new investment in our roads to $2.4 billion since 2017,” Stamas said. “With this budget, we will continue to focus on a more vibrant Michigan, provide vital services and live within our means.”

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Stamas: Budget focuses on education, safety and roads – Gladwin

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Tuesday supported a finalized fiscal year 2019 state budget that increases investments in key priorities, including educating Michigan students and improving the roads.

“This budget will help us continue to boost the economy, create jobs, protect our communities and provide every student with an education that prepares them for success,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “I am proud that we once again have a balanced state budget that increases funding for our schools to record levels and helps create a positive climate for innovation and job creation.

“Every school will see increased funding in this budget — with most schools receiving the largest per-pupil increase in 17 years.”

The education budget invests nearly $14.8 billion in K-12 education, which includes a foundation allowance increase of between $120 and $240 per pupil and a $1.3 billion contribution into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) to control costs, reduce debt and meet the needs of current retired teachers.

The budget also features investments in school safety initiatives, including more funding for the OK2SAY confidential tip-line program, $30 million for mental health support services in schools, and $25 million for school security improvements.

“Our schools should be safe and productive places for learning,” Stamas said. “We are investing $58 million to ensure that our schools and communities can make the critical school safety improvements necessary to keep our students and teachers safe.”

The budget for state departments and the judicial and legislative branches would increase local revenue sharing by $22.5 million, fully fund the $100 million Marshall Plan for Talent and invest $40.9 million in skilled trades training.

“We are putting $330 million more into fixing our roads, which will bring our total new investment in our roads to $2.4 billion since 2017,” Stamas said. “In Gladwin County, this budget will provide $5,000 toward the Beaverton World War I monument to honor those who died protecting us, and the Beaverton Industrial Park will receive $360,000 for road renovations to help increase local opportunities for jobs and economic development.”

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Stamas supports school safety initiatives

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved comprehensive legislation designed to help keep students safe.

“We owe it to every Michigan child to help provide them with a safe and secure environment to learn and succeed,” said Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “These school safety measures would ensure that our schools and communities have the necessary resources, effective technology and proper training to best protect our students and teachers.”

Senate Bill 982 would create the Office of School Safety within the state police to update school safety practices, offer staff training and oversee use of school safety grants. SB 983 would require schools to conduct a safety assessment with local law enforcement by the 2019-20 school year — and at least every two years thereafter.

“We need to make sure that all of our schools have the enhanced security in place to protect students and teachers,” Stamas said. “Security improvements, training and preparation are all critical to protecting our schools. This package would ensure our schools have updated safety plans and that both school staff and law enforcement know what to do in an emergency.”

Additional measures in the Senate-passed school safety plan include:
• Requiring schools to anonymously report thwarted incidents of attempted acts of violence on school grounds or threats of violence made on or off school grounds;
• Developing statewide training standards for active-violence situations in schools;
• Ensuring schools work with local law enforcement on new construction or upgrades to school buildings;
• Permanently extending the OK2SAY program; and
• Requiring a school’s governing body, at least twice a year, to provide the state police with the emergency contact information of a school official who would receive information submitted through the OK2SAY hotline — and any accompanying state police analysis of a potential threat — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“In addition to these long-term solutions to protect Michigan students and teachers, the recent budget agreement invests $58 million into school safety initiatives, such as improving access to mental health programs, enhancing OK2SAY awareness and securing our schools,” Stamas said.

OK2SAY enables students to report tips by phone, text message, and email, and through a website or an app. In 2017, the program received 4,605 tips, an increase of 37 percent from 2016.

SBs 957-959, 982-983 and 990-991 were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Sen. Stamas supports auto insurance reform

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Jim Stamas on Thursday voted for Senate reforms to the Michigan auto no-fault insurance law to help improve the system and reduce costs for drivers in the state.

“Michigan drivers are paying the nation’s highest car insurance rates — costs that are increasingly putting a strain on family budgets and our economy,” said Stamas, R-Midland.

In a July 2017 report by insure.com, Michigan was named the most expensive state for car insurance for the fourth consecutive year. Michigan’s average premium is $2,394, which is over 80 percent more than the national average of $1,318.

“The high cost of auto insurance is one of the top issues I hear about from area residents,” Stamas said. “I supported this first step in making long-overdue reform to our no-fault auto insurance system in a continuing effort to provide much-needed relief to Michigan drivers.”

Senate Bill 1014 would make reforms to Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law to help reduce costs and better protect customers in the state. It would create a new authority within the attorney general’s office to help investigate and reduce auto insurance fraud and cap benefits for people who have never paid into the no-fault system.

SB 787 would allow Michigan residents age 65 or older the option to choose a capped auto-insurance policy. Seniors who opt for the limited coverage would see their catastrophic claims assessment drastically reduced. Medicare would cover remaining medical expenses after the $50,000 limit is reached.

“This reform would help provide lower-cost options for our seniors,” Stamas said. “Many seniors worked hard to build our state and now struggle with unaffordable car insurance rates. This plan would allow them to choose a policy that works best for them — while still ensuring they have medical coverage if they have an accident.

“My goal is to achieve positive reform that recognizes the burdensome car insurance costs facing Michigan families, and I look forward to talking with the people of the 36th District about how to finally address this growing issue.”

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Stamas, Allor, Karen Pettalia speak on memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland; Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine; and Karen Pettalia on Tuesday spoke before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in support of Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor Pettalia’s late husband, former Rep. Peter Pettalia, who died in 2016 in an accident while traveling down to the Capitol for session.

Senate Bill 622 would designate the portion of U.S. 23 in Presque Isle County between Maple Drive and Misiak Highway as the “Peter A. Pettalia Memorial Highway.” Rep. Pettalia served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2011 until his untimely death in September 2016. Allor has introduced similar legislation in the House.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the above image or by visiting www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Photowire.

**PHOTO ADVISORY** Stamas welcomes Szymanski family for Senate’s Memorial Day Service

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, welcomed John and Dawn Szymanski to the state Capitol on Thursday for the Michigan Senate’s 24th Annual Memorial Day Service, which honored Michigan’s fallen soldiers.

The Szymanskis are the parents of Marine Lance Cpl. Steven J. Szymanski of Midland, who was killed in the line of duty at Fort Bragg in 2014. Stamas, a U.S. Army veteran, read the name of the Michigan resident killed in action during the previous 12 months.

Stamas also welcomed the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan John Burgess of Sanford for the service.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the above image or by visiting www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Photowire.

Stamas bill would improve property tax assessment system

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Wednesday introduced legislation to improve the quality and consistency of property assessments in Michigan while preserving local control.

“As a former township and county official, I know the importance of having an accurate assessment system, and I look forward to working with those in the field to get it right for the long-term benefit of both taxpayers and our communities,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The goal is to ensure accurate, uniform and equitable assessments throughout the state and maintain local decisions on how to best perform assessing duties. This is just the start of the process.”

Senate Bill 1025 would establish statewide assessing quality standards and provide training to increase the pool of advanced-level and master-level assessors. Local governments could meet the standards on their own or in conjunction with other local governments.

“Everyone from homeowners to small businesses and from local governments to schools depends on a fair and effective assessment system,” Stamas said. “This legislation would make significant improvements to the current system by implementing best practices and standards.”

State Treasurer Nick Khouri said, “I thank Senator Stamas for taking up this important topic and introducing his bill. Restoring taxpayer faith in the property tax system continues Michigan’s comeback in an increasingly competitive marketplace. I look forward to working with our legislative and local government partners as we develop a framework that results in accurate property tax assessments statewide.”

SB 1025 has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

Rep. Jim Lower, R-Cedar Lake, has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

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