Stamas, Howell named MTA Legislators of the Year

This release is from the Michigan Townships Association with an added photo:

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Townships Association (MTA) recognized Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland Charter Township, and Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, for their support of township government by presenting them with the MTA “Legislator of the Year” awards. Both Stamas and Howell received the prestigious award, which honors lawmakers who are instrumental in legislation impacting township government and who work diligently on townships’ behalf, today at the MTA Board of Directors meeting in Portage.

“Sen. Stamas and Rep. Gary Howell consistently put good public policy before partisan politics,” MTA Executive Director Larry Merrill said. “Both have gone above and beyond to not only listen to township input, but also taking what they’ve heard and using it to shape legislation. Their work was instrumental in the passage of key bills, from assessing reform to including township voices in the purchase of state land.”

Now in his final Senate term, Stamas is a former member of the Midland Charter Township (Midland Co.) Board of Trustees as well as the Midland County Board of Commissioners. He served three terms in the state House of Representative before he was elected to the Senate, where he currently serves as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Throughout his years in the Legislature, Stamas has played a crucial role in passing legislation impacting townships. Last year, he led the charge to reform Michigan’s assessing system, holding multiple meetings with local officials around the state, listening to their concerns and working with MTA to craft a bill that won MTA’s support. He also provided the momentum needed in the lame duck session to pass the extension and long-sought-after expansion of the pension bonding tool for local units.

“As a former township trustee who now represents 110 townships in the Senate, it’s an honor to be recognized for supporting the important role our townships play in the daily lives of millions of Michigan families,” Stamas said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Michigan Townships Association and all their members to improve our local communities and the entire state for families, workers and job creators.”

Howell, a second-term representative, has a rich history in township government, including 40 years as a township, city and village attorney and five years as a Flint Charter Township (Genesee Co.) trustee and planning commissioner. He can always be counted upon to bring the local government perspective to legislative discussions, and he’s ready and willing to work to advance the best legislation possible for township government. Since coming to Lansing, he has diligently worked with MTA and other local government organizations to support local control and provide alternatives to local preemption.

Thanks to Howell’s tireless efforts, the Legislature reached a resolution to the long-standing state land cap issue. Throughout the process, he worked to ensure that townships have a voice when state land is purchased in their jurisdictions.

“It is a high honor to be named legislator of the year by the Michigan Townships Association,” Howell said. “Having been involved in township government my entire adult life and having worked closely with this vital organization, I realize how extremely important it is to have representation in Lansing to safeguard local citizen control. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the MTA on future legislative issues. I truly hope that local government officials realize the effective work that this organization performs day by day on their behalf.”

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

Photo caption: Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, receives the Michigan Townships Association (MTA) 2019 Legislator of the Year Award from MTA Executive Director Larry Merrill at the MTA Board of Directors meeting in Portage. The award honors lawmakers who are instrumental in legislation impacting township government and who work diligently on townships’ behalf.

Senate approves Szymanski memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Szymanski, who was killed while on duty during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2014.

“This measure is a way for us to express our deep appreciation for the service and sacrifice of Lance Corporal Steven Szymanski,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Steven was a dedicated Marine who answered the call to service and made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. The purpose of creating this memorial highway is to honor the memory of a native soldier who never returned home and remind us all about the true price of freedom.”

Senate Bill 280 would designate a portion of U.S. 10 from Jefferson Avenue to Bay City Road in Midland as the “Marine Lance Corporal Steven J. Szymanski Memorial Highway.”

Szymanski was a 2008 graduate of Midland High School. After earning his associate degree in criminal justice, Szymanski enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013. He is survived by his parents, John and Dawn, and sister Ashlie.

Last week, Szymanski’s parents spoke before the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in support of the bill, which now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

SB 280 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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Stamas: Enjoy free summer fun this weekend

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Jim Stamas is reminding area families that they can enjoy some of their favorite summertime outdoor activities this Saturday and Sunday at no cost.

“The state’s annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend provides a chance for Michigan anglers, and those who have never gone fishing, to experience some of the world’s best fishing — free of charge,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to introduce the joy of fishing to children or to just get away from the stress of life and relax in the Michigan outdoors.”

On June 8-9, all fishing license fees will be waived, but all fishing regulations still apply. The state will also waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee for vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas.

“For over 30 years, the free fishing weekend has highlighted our wonderful water resources and outdoor activities,” Stamas said. “This year, Michigan families can also have fun outdoors during the first of the state’s two summer free ORV weekends.”

For more information on the free fishing weekend, including a list of activities across the state, visit www.Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.

On Saturday and Sunday, off-road enthusiasts can ride designated routes and trails without an ORV license or trail permit. Riders can find out more at www.Michigan.gov/ORVInfo.

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Szymanski parents support Stamas’ memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — The parents of Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Szymanski testified on Wednesday in support of Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor their son, who was killed while on duty during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2014.

“It is importation we always remember that we enjoy the freedom we have today because of patriots like Marine Lance Corporal Szymanski,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “They answered the call to service and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our way of life. This memorial highway would be a lasting tribute of our deep appreciation for his service and his sacrifice.”

Senate Bill 280 would designate a portion of U.S. 10 from Jefferson Avenue to Bay City Road in Midland as the “Marine Lance Corporal Steven J. Szymanski Memorial Highway.”

Szymanski was a 2008 graduate of Midland High School. After earning his associate degree in criminal justice, Szymanski enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013. He is survived by his parents, John and Dawn, and sister Ashlie.

After hearing from Szymanski’s parents, the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved SB 280, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, has sponsored a similar bill in the House of Representatives.

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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Editor’s note: The above photographs are available by clicking on the images or by visiting www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Photowire.

Stamas applauds Arenac area talent innovation grant

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Wednesday applauded two Arenac County school districts that are part of a talent consortium recently awarded a Marshall Plan for Talent grant to improve the state’s talent development and education system.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent encourages education and business collaboration to create new innovative ways of learning to help prepare more students for success,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “I applaud these area schools and their community partners for earning this competitive grant, which will help encourage more students to look at in-demand careers and give them the tools necessary to have a career in these growing fields.”

The IT Competency and Career Education Venture Talent Consortium was awarded $465,385 in the latest round of Marshall Plan for Talent Innovation Grants announced by the Michigan Talent and Economic Development Department and Department of Education.

The Au Gres Sims School District and Standish-Sterling Area Schools are two of the 22 school districts and education agencies in the consortium, which covers Arenac, Bay, Gratiot, Isabella and Midland counties.

The consortium will serve 38,462 students and features six businesses, six postsecondary institutions and 11 nonprofit and other organizations.

Nearly $14 million in grants were awarded statewide. Of that amount, $6.89 million will go to purchasing state-of-the-art equipment students can use to learn with hands-on techniques, and $6.14 million will help develop world-class curricula for each consortium. The remaining funds will go toward evolving some districts to a competency-based education model and hiring career navigators who will help students explore career options and pathways while providing needed support to overwhelmed school counselors.

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Stamas applauds $1.2M area talent innovation grant

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Wednesday applauded 23 area school districts and educational agencies that are part of a talent consortium recently awarded a Marshall Plan for Talent grant to improve their area’s talent development and education system.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent encourages education and business collaboration to create new innovative ways of learning to help prepare more students for success,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “I applaud these area schools and their community partners for earning this competitive grant, which will help encourage more students to look at in-demand careers and give them the tools necessary to have a career in these growing fields.”

The Northeast Michigan Talent Alliance consortium was awarded over $1.2 million in the latest round of Marshall Plan for Talent Innovation Grants announced by the Michigan Talent and Economic Development Department and Department of Education.

It includes school districts covering Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Roscommon and Presque Isle counties as well as the Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle ESD, the COOR ISD and the Iosco RESA.

The area schools include:
• The Hale, Oscoda, Tawas and Whittemore-Prescott area schools in Iosco County;
• The Fairview Area and Mio AuSable schools in Oscoda County;
• The Gaylord Community, Johannesburg-Lewiston Area and Vanderbilt Area schools in Otsego County; and
• The Onaway Area Community, Posen Consolidated and Rogers City Area schools in Presque Isle County.

The consortium also features 13 businesses, four postsecondary institutions and five groups and other organizations.

Nearly $14 million in grants were awarded statewide. Of that amount, $6.89 million will go to purchasing state-of-the-art equipment students can use to learn with hands-on techniques, and $6.14 million will help develop world-class curricula for each consortium. The remaining funds will go toward evolving some districts to a competency-based education model and hiring career navigators who will help students explore career options and pathways while providing needed support to overwhelmed school counselors.

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Stamas applauds Midland County schools receiving talent innovation grants

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Wednesday applauded several school districts serving Midland County that are part of two talent consortiums recently awarded Marshall Plan for Talent grants to improve the state’s talent development and education system.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent encourages education and business collaboration to create new innovative ways of learning to help prepare more students for success,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “I applaud these area schools and their community partners for earning this competitive grant, which will help encourage more students to look at in-demand careers and give them the tools necessary to have a career in these growing fields.”

The IT Competency and Career Education Venture Talent Consortium was awarded $465,385 in the latest round of Marshall Plan for Talent Innovation Grants announced by the Michigan Talent and Economic Development Department and Department of Education.

The consortium will serve 38,462 students in Arenac, Bay, Gratiot, Isabella and Midland counties.

Among the 22 school districts and education agencies in the consortium are Midland Public Schools, Meridian Public Schools, Bullock Creek Schools, Breckenridge Community Schools, St. Louis Public Schools and the Midland County ESA.

Beaverton Rural Schools, Coleman Community Schools and the Midland County ESA are partners in the Coleman Regional Career Competency and Talent Pipeline Consortium, which was awarded a $469,886 grant.

It features 16 area business, postsecondary and community partners, including Corteva Agriscience.

Nearly $14 million in grants were awarded statewide. Of that amount, $6.89 million will go to purchasing state-of-the-art equipment students can use to learn with hands-on techniques, and $6.14 million will help develop world-class curricula for each consortium. The remaining funds will go toward evolving some districts to a competency-based education model and hiring career navigators who will help students explore career options and pathways while providing needed support to overwhelmed school counselors.

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Stamas applauds Onaway on MDOT local road work grant

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Friday applauded the city of Onaway for receiving a new small town road funding grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

“Quality roads are critical to a community’s economy, its families and its local businesses — regardless of the town’s size,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Last year, we created a new initiative to help support some of our state’s most-urgent road projects in our small communities.

“This grant will help Onaway make important road safety improvements while we continue to work on increasing local road funding and addressing our state’s long-term road-funding needs.”

Onaway is one of 23 villages and cities in Michigan with populations of less than 10,000 awarded grants — ranging from $24,000 to $250,000 for road resurfacing, culvert replacement, pavement crack sealing and shoulder paving — through the new Community Service Infrastructure Fund (CSIF) program.

The $61,468 project in Onaway will receive $30,734 from the state and the same amount in local matching funds for work on South Lynn Street and South Veterans Drive.

The Transportation Economic Development Fund Category B, or the CSIF, provides up to $3 million per year in grants for road improvements in cities and villages with populations of up to 10,000 people.

According to MDOT, successful projects were selected, in part, because they are paired with planned infrastructure work, coordinated with other road agencies, focused on extending the useful life of the road, and lacked other funding sources. For more information about the program, visit www.Michigan.gov/TEDF.

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Stamas applauds Beaverton on local MDOT grant

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Friday applauded the city of Beaverton for receiving a new small town road funding grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

“Quality roads are critical to a community’s economy, its families and its local businesses — regardless of the town’s size,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Last year, we created a new initiative to help support some of our state’s most-urgent road projects in our small communities.

“This grant will help Beaverton make important road safety improvements while we continue to work on increasing local road funding and addressing our state’s long-term road-funding needs.”

Beaverton is one of 23 villages and cities in Michigan with populations of less than 10,000 awarded grants — ranging from $24,000 to $250,000 for road resurfacing, culvert replacement, pavement crack sealing and shoulder paving — through the new Community Service Infrastructure Fund (CSIF) program.

The $905,300 project in Beaverton will receive $250,000 from the state and $655,300 in local matching funds for work on Saginaw Street.

The Transportation Economic Development Fund Category B, or the CSIF, provides up to $3 million per year in grants for road improvements in cities and villages with populations of up to 10,000 people.

According to MDOT, successful projects were selected, in part, because they are paired with planned infrastructure work, coordinated with other road agencies, focused on extending the useful life of the road, and lacked other funding sources. For more information about the program, visit www.Michigan.gov/TEDF.

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Stamas supports historic auto insurance reform

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Friday voted to send the governor a bipartisan agreement to guarantee lower auto insurance rates for Michigan drivers.

“I have long supported reforms to reduce Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation car insurance rates, which are having a tremendous impact on family budgets throughout our state,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This historic and bipartisan reform guarantees lower car insurance rates for Michigan drivers while ensuring that accident victims still receive the medical care they need.

“Senate Bill 1 cracks down on fraud and lawsuit abuse, includes cost containments, gives drivers the ability to choose the auto insurance coverage that best meets their needs and budget — for the first time in almost five decades — and cuts the announced $220 annual Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association fee by $180 per vehicle for all options other than unlimited coverage.”

According to an October 2018 report, Michigan drivers pay the highest auto insurance rates in the country — 83% higher than the national average.

SB 1 would require auto insurers to offer Michigan drivers five new personal injury protection (PIP) coverage options with guaranteed PIP rate reductions:
• A PIP opt-out option for drivers with qualified health coverage, such as employer health insurance or Medicare — 100% PIP reduction.
• A $50,000 coverage option for Medicaid-eligible drivers — at least 45% PIP reduction.
• A $250,000 coverage option — minimum 35% PIP reduction.
• A $500,000 coverage option — minimum 20% PIP reduction.
• An unlimited option like what is currently required — at least 10% PIP reduction.

SB 1 would also ban the use of several nondriving factors in setting insurance rates and reduce fraud and conflicts of interest in the auto insurance system.

People already receiving care through the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association will continue to get lifetime care under their current unlimited benefit policy as promised.

“We made it a top priority to enact a real solution that reduces the burdensome cost of car insurance facing Michigan families,” Stamas said. “With this agreement between the Legislature and the governor, we will deliver much-needed relief to drivers in our state.”

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