Sen. Stamas supports state income tax relief

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Jim Stamas on Wednesday supported passage of legislation to preserve the personal exemption on the state income tax and provide additional tax relief for Michigan families.

“This bill will provide well-earned tax relief to Michigan residents and small business owners who have worked hard to help grow our economy and create jobs,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “As a result of our efforts to improve our state, we have the ability to return to taxpayers more of their money while maintaining critical services and investment in education.”

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Trump in December 2017 simplifies the code, lowers tax rates, doubles the standard deduction and increases family tax credits. However, in streamlining the exemption process, it effectively ends the federal personal exemption. Since the state personal exemption is based on the federal return, without a revision to state law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim personal exemptions on their state taxes.

Senate Bill 748 would make the necessary changes to maintain the state personal exemption and also boost the exemption by an additional $700 to $5,000 by 2021. Currently, the state personal exemption is scheduled to increase from $4,000 to $4,300 over the next three years.

“Most Michigan taxpayers will pay less in taxes under the federal reform, and this measure will ensure that they can continue claiming the personal exemption on their state taxes and also enable them to keep more of their hard-earned money,” Stamas said. “Providing this responsible and affordable relief is another step in helping Michigan families and job providers and getting government out of the way.”

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Stamas holding office hour in Gladwin on Jan. 22

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas has announced that he will conduct an office hour in Gladwin on Monday, Jan. 22. The office hour is open to residents to express their opinions or concerns about state government or to request assistance with a state issue.

The office hour in Gladwin will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. in the small conference room at the Gladwin County District Library, 402 James Robertson Drive, Gladwin.

“I encourage anyone who needs help or wants to express a viewpoint to stop by,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “My aim is to provide the best service possible for the hardworking people of the 36th District. I am excited about continuing a regular series of office hours throughout the district and hearing directly from constituents about state and pocketbook issues.”

Stamas represents the 36th Senate District, which includes Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego and Presque Isle counties.

For more information, please contact Stamas’ office toll-free at 1-855-347-8036 or via email at SenJStamas@senate.michigan.gov. Residents unable to attend the office hour may write Stamas at Senator Jim Stamas, P. O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909.

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Stamas invites residents to Alpena town hall meeting on drinking water well testing

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Jim Stamas and Rep. Sue Allor will be attending a town hall meeting on Thursday at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) regarding recent drinking water well testing.

Last fall, the CRTC became the third military base in Michigan to test positive for perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the groundwater.

“The safety of our drinking water is critically important to all Michigan families,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “All area residents are invited to attend this town hall meeting, where officials from multiple agencies will be on hand to present the latest information and answer questions.”

The meeting will take place at the CRTC’s Collins Center Building, located at 5884 A St. in Alpena. There will be an informational open house beginning at 4:30 p.m. with the town hall program following at 6 p.m.

As with the earlier issue near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, the Alpena water problem was caused by chemicals in a firefighting material used many years ago.

“Thankfully, it appears that the preliminary results from most of the wells tested outside of the training center are below federal levels,” Stamas said. “While this is promising and potentially great news for area families, I encourage residents to come out to the town hall meeting to get the most up-to-date information.”

Residents can visit www.michigan.gov/AlpenaPFASresponse or call 1-800-662-9278 for more information.

“I want to thank state and federal officials for setting up this public town hall,” Stamas said. “As we work to provide long-term solutions, we must first ensure we are doing as much as possible to keep affected residents informed and give them options for safe and clean water.”

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**MEDIA ADVISORY** Sen. Stamas to help present check to Standish for water and sewer improvements

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas and Rep. Jason Wentworth on Monday will help present a check to the city of Standish to help provide families and businesses relief from significant water rate increases resulting from the 2009 closure of Standish Maximum Correctional Facility.

Who:
Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland;
Rep. Jason Wentworth, R-Clare;
Michigan Economic Development Corporation representatives; and
City of Standish officials.

What:
The presentation of a check to the city of Standish for water and sewer system improvements.

When:
Monday, Jan. 8 at 10:15 a.m.

Where:
Standish City Hall
399 East Beaver St.
Standish, MI

Brief:
Stamas and Wentworth have been working with local officials to find a way to help offset the cost to the city residents of the 2009 prison closure.

As part of that effort, Stamas was able to secure $1.7 million in the current state budget to help Standish with water and sewer system improvements.

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Stamas applauds two Otsego County projects in NRTF board recommendations

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas applauded the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board for including two Otsego County projects in its list of development and land acquisition recommendations for 2018.

The plan approved by the NRTF board includes $300,000 toward the Gaylord Gateway Trailhead for the Iron Belle Trail in downtown Gaylord.

“Downtown Gaylord would see the development of a trailhead 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. “Once completed, the trailhead would offer a great opportunity for families to spend time biking, hiking and even snowmobiling on the trail while also offering greater access to local businesses.”

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

The NRTF board recommendations also include $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.

“Many Michigan residents and visitors enjoy getting together and taking advantage of the outstanding recreational opportunities in our state,” Stamas said. “With excellent wildlife habitat, a cold-water trout stream and an entire lake, the Storey Lake property offers a unique chance to preserve our state’s natural resources and improve access to Michigan’s 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.

The NRTF board’s recommendations for projects in 2018 will now head to the Legislature for review as part of the budget process.

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Stamas applauds Alcona County project in NRTF board recommendations

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas applauded the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board for including an Alcona Country project in its list of development recommendations for 2018.

“Many Michigan residents and visitors enjoy getting together and taking advantage of the outstanding recreational opportunities in our state,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This project will give new and exciting kayaking and fishing options to children and adults of all ages and of all abilities. Most important, the improvements would help get people active in the outdoors and enhance the entire community.”

The plan approved by the NRTF board includes $108,700 toward the development of a canoe/kayak launch, fishing platform, paved handicap-accessible parking, and signs to Alcona Township Park located at the mouth of the Black River.

“This is a great example of the positive impact the Natural Resources Trust Fund was designed to make when it was created four decades ago,” Stamas said.

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. The fund’s dollars are constitutionally restricted to recreation improvements and land acquisitions.

The NRTF board’s recommendations for projects in 2018 will now head to the Legislature for review as part of the budget process.

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Stamas applauds Montmorency County project in NRTF board recommendations

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas applauded the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board for including a Montmorency Country project in its list of land acquisition recommendations for 2018.

“Many Michigan residents and visitors enjoy getting together and taking advantage of the outstanding recreational opportunities in our state,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Acquiring this property would offer a chance to enhance area families’ and boating enthusiasts’ enjoyment of Michigan’s great outdoors, and it is a great example of a positive use of the trust fund’s constitutionally restricted resources to improve our state.”

The plan approved by the NRTF board includes $203,700 toward the acquisition of 80 acres in Montmorency County’s Rust Township for a public access site and boat launch on the west side of Fletcher’s Flood Water.

The property, currently known as Lyon’s Landing, contains 43 acres of upland, 37 acres of submerged bottom land and an existing boat launch.

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.

The NRTF board’s recommendations for projects in 2018 will now head to the Legislature for review as part of the budget process.

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Senate approves Burgess memorial highway bill

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Burgess, who was killed by an improvised explosion device in Iraq in December 2006.

“This measure is a way for us to express our appreciation for the valiant service of Lance Corporal Ryan Burgess,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Ryan was a dedicated and fearless Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedom and way of life. Honoring the courage, commitment and selflessness of heroes like Ryan Burgess helps us remember the true cost of freedom and ensure we continue to have Americans like him willing to defend it.”

Senate Bill 481 would designate a portion of US-10 from Stark Road to River Road in Sanford as the “Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Burgess Memorial Highway.”

Burgess was a graduate of Meridian High School. He served as a vehicle commander and squad leader and was serving his second tour in Iraq at the time of his death. His marksmanship skills during boot camp earned him the Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge. These skills were called upon during his tours in Iraq, as he often served as a sniper.

“Lance Corporal Burgess loved his family and his country, and the people of Sanford and the entire region were deeply saddened by his loss,” Stamas said. “This memorial highway will be a reminder to the entire community of the life of a native son who never returned home.”

Burgess’ parents, Jon and Kim Burgess, recently spoke before the Senate Transportation Committee in support of the bill, which now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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.”

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Local retirement stability bills headed to the governor

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to implement the recommendations of the governor’s bipartisan Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force is on its way to the governor’s desk, said Sen. Jim Stamas, who served on the task force.

“Our local public servants play an important role in making Michigan a great place to live, work and raise a family — providing a wide variety of local services that we use and depend on every day,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “While this legislation is a step forward toward local retirement stability, I will continue fighting to preserve and protect the promises made to our local workers and ensure they receive the retirement benefits they have earned.”

The plan would enact the recommendations of the task force, which included legislators, retirement plan experts, local government representatives and local employee union leaders.

“It is estimated that local governments in Michigan are $18.8 billion in the red on their pension and retirement health care obligations,” Stamas said. “Our goal with this legislation is to increase transparency, preserve local control and encourage local solutions. Many local governments have already taken action to address their unfunded liabilities. These proactive reforms are designed to help locals that have not taken steps to resolve their growing debt issue.”

Senate Bills 686, 688, 691, 692, 694, 696 and 699 and House Bills 5301, 5304, 5306, 5308, 5310 and 5313 would create a stress system with additional reporting and steps for local governments with unfunded liabilities to develop and implement action plans to address the community’s debt.

“The overwhelming majority of communities will not be impacted by these measures other than having to report their costs and benefits to accurately assess their retirement obligations,” Stamas said. “This increased transparency will help local governments. If a local unit is in trouble, this will let them know as early as possible — giving the community its best chance to resolve the problem before it impacts local workers or retiree benefits.

“The reforms are the result of a lot of hard work and many productive conversations with local leaders and workers, and I want to thank everyone involved for their efforts.”

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Burgess parents testify on memorial highway bill

 Stamas bill would designate ‘Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Burgess Memorial Highway’

LANSING, Mich. — The parents of Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Burgess testified on Thursday in support of Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor Burgess, who was killed by an improvised explosion device in Iraq in December 2006.

“Lance Corporal Ryan Burgess was a talented Marine and a dedicated patriot who loved his family and his country,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Burgess made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom and our way of life. The people of Sanford and the entire region were deeply saddened by his loss. This measure is a way for us to express our appreciation for his service.”

Senate Bill 481 would designate a portion of US-10 in Sanford as the “Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Burgess Memorial Highway.”

Burgess was a graduate of Meridian High School. He served as a vehicle commander and squad leader and was serving his second tour in Iraq at the time of his death. His marksmanship skills during boot camp earned him the Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge. These skills were called upon during his tours in Iraq, as he often served as a sniper.

“It is important for our country to remember and honor the courage, dedication and sacrifice of heroes like Ryan,” Stamas said. “This memorial highway will be a reminder to the entire community of the life of a native son who never returned home.”

After hearing from Jon and Kim Burgess, the Senate Transportation Committee approved the bill, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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 bridge only “when sufficient private contributions are received to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining those markers.”

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