**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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Senate approves Pettalia memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor former Rep. Peter Pettalia, who died in 2016 in an accident while traveling down to the Capitol for session.

“Representative Pettalia was a commonsense public servant who was dedicated to improving the lives of the people in Northern Michigan,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “To those of us who were blessed to know him, 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 would be a fitting tribute to his life and his tremendous impact. Although Pete is missed very much, this tribute would 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.”

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.

SB 622 now heads to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, has introduced similar legislation.

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Committee approves Stamas’ government efficiency bills

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Oversight Committee on Thursday approved Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation as part of a 12-bill package to repeal 29 obsolete, burdensome or duplicative state reports.

“This is about making state government more efficient and effective by cutting out costly and unnecessary reports,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Spending time and money on creating reports that are no longer needed and provide little value to the public or Legislature is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“The resources currently being used to do these reports could be put to better use addressing the issues facing Michigan families and businesses every day.”

Stamas introduced Senate Bill 1000, which is the most comprehensive bill in the Senate package. It would repeal 16 reporting requirements in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. One report eliminated by the bill would be a report by the Department of Natural Resources on the Recreation Bond Fund, which has been closed out and has exhausted its funds.

Stamas also sponsored SB 1003, which would repeal a requirement that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development submit an annual report on dairy producer licenses to the Legislature.

“The reports eliminated in these bills are outdated, onerous, covered by other departments, provide little benefit or feature information already available to the public online,” Stamas said.

A total of 41 reports would be repealed by the Senate bills and companion House measures.

SBs 1000-1011 now head to the full Senate for consideration.

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Sen. Stamas, Fire Chief Coughlin testify on fire safety bill

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas and Midland Fire Department Chief Chris Coughlin testified on Wednesday before the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee on Stamas’ legislation to add valuable fire safety knowledge to a state commission dealing with construction codes.

“The safety of all Michigan residents would be greatly enhanced if we made sure that someone with proper fire protection expertise was on the state’s Construction Code Commission,” Stamas said. “This legislation would require that someone on the commission has an extensive background in fire prevention and inspection.

“I want to thank Chief Coughlin for stepping forward with this idea, and I look forward to working with him and my legislative colleagues to enact this commonsense reform.”

Senate Bill 279 would require the state fire marshal’s designee on the Construction Code Commission to be certified as a fire protection specialist or as a fire inspector and plans examiner by the National Fire Protection Association.

The 17-member commission was created 1972 to assist the housing industry in improving the quality of housing for Michigan residents.

The bill was approved by the committee and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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

Senate panel OKs Stamas bill to designate part of U.S. 23 as ‘Peter A. Pettalia Memorial Highway’

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday approved Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor former Rep. Peter Pettalia, who died in 2016 in an accident while traveling down to the Capitol for session.

“Pete was a good friend and a commonsense public servant who did his best to improve the lives of the people in Northern Michigan,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “He loved his family, his friends, the local community and the entire state. Pete was passionate about life and enjoyed traveling throughout the Sunrise Side and along Heritage Route 23.

“Naming part of that route through Pete’s home county would be a fitting tribute to a life well lived and the tremendous impact he had in his community. Although he is missed by those who knew him, he will never be 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.”

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. Under state law, the Michigan Department of Transportation can place markers indicating the name of a memorial highway only “when sufficient private contributions are received to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining those markers.”

Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

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Stamas supports call to remove Gladwin County drain commissioner

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas announced on Tuesday that he supports the Gladwin County Board of Commissioners’ request that the governor remove county Drain Commissioner Robert Evans.

“I share the deep concerns of the county board and the state about the drain commissioner’s repeated failures over many years to properly maintain the county drains, protect Michigan’s waterways from soil erosion, and respond to state violations,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The drain commissioner is not doing his job and is hurting Gladwin County, its residents and our natural resources.

“For those reasons, I support the county board’s call for the governor to remove the drain commissioner from office.”

On April 24, the Gladwin County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a resolution asking Gov. Rick Snyder to remove Evans from his position.

The resolution said that the cost and expense of rectifying the damage done to the drain system of Gladwin County by the action or non-action of the county drain commissioner continue to accrue.

The request followed a civil suit on April 13 by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) against Evans for nearly $11 billion.

The suit alleges that Evans repeatedly violated environmental regulations since 2012, including failing to protect surface water and prevent soil erosion and sedimentation.

“Removing a duly elected officer is a rare and serious step, but this is an unprecedented and serious dereliction of duty that cannot be tolerated,” Stamas said.

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Midland’s Bristol joins Stamas for bill signing ceremony

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas and Diane Bristol of Midland joined Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday for a bill signing ceremony of Stamas’ legislation to allow collection agencies to hire in-house attorneys to collect debts owned by the employer.

“Forcing collection agencies to hire third-party attorneys instead of hiring their own in-house counsel is antiquated, inefficient and unnecessarily raises costs,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Allowing agencies to hire in-house attorneys will reduce the likelihood of improper acts by third parties and ensure the agencies have better control over the process.”

Senate Bill 385, now Public Act 197 of 2017, allows collection agencies to hire in-house attorneys to collect debts owned by the employer. Lawyers can work for collection agencies as in-house counsel for compliance and human resource matters. The bill was officially signed on Dec. 28 during the holiday break.

“Prior to this reform, Michigan was one of only two states with this prohibition,” Stamas said. “Now, each Michigan business can determine for themselves if it is better to use third-party attorneys or hire in-house counsel.”

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

**PHOTO ADVISORY** Burgess family joins Stamas for memorial highway bill signing ceremony

LANSING, Mich. — Jon and Kim Burgess joined Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Township (left), Rep. Roger Hauck, R-Union Township (center left), and Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday for a bill signing ceremony for Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor their son, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Burgess.

Senate Bill 481, now Public Act 52 of 2018, designates a portion of US-10 from N. Stark Road to N.W. River Road in Sanford as the “Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Burgess Memorial Highway.”

Burgess was a graduate of Meridian High School and served as a vehicle commander and squad leader. He was serving his second tour in Iraq when he was killed by an improvised explosive device in December 2006. His marksmanship skills during boot camp earned him the Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge. These skills were called upon during his tours in Iraq, where he often served as a sniper.

The bill was officially signed on March 8 and will go into effect next month.

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

Stamas supports two Otsego County projects in NRTF bill

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Thursday supported approval of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects for 2018, including two Otsego County projects.

Senate Bill 883 would authorize the trust fund to use $49.9 million in restricted funds to support 34 acquisition projects and 97 development projects. Matching funds of $45 million would bring the total investment to more than $94.9 million.

“This bill would invest $300,000 from the trust fund to help develop a trailhead in downtown Gaylord along the Iron Belle Trail, which will eventually allow outdoor enthusiasts to travel on a safe and continuous path from Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The trailhead would provide families with better access to biking, hiking and even snowmobiling on the trail and offer greater opportunities to support local businesses.”

The trailhead would include parking, a restroom, a bike rack, picnic tables, lighting and landscaping. The Iron Belle Trail will connect to the Otsego County Trail and the North Central State Trail.

SB 883 also includes $912,500 for the Department of Natural Resources to acquire 2,100 acres that would provide a connection between the Pigeon River Country State Forest and extensive state forest land west of I-75.

“Getting together and enjoying time with family and friends in the outdoors is one of the things that makes Michigan such a great place to live,” Stamas said. “The Storey Lake property has excellent wildlife habitat, a cold-water trout stream and an entire lake — offering us a unique chance to preserve our natural resources and improve access to our great outdoors.”

The property contains habitat for elk, black bear and white-tailed deer and over one mile of the Stewart Creek corridor. It is also directly adjacent to the North Central State Trail. While mostly in Otsego County, about 160 acres of the property are in Cheboygan County.

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. The trust fund is constitutionally restricted for natural resources improvements and land acquisitions across the state.

SB 883 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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