Stamas honors late newspaper owner and outdoor activist Harry Whiteley

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Thursday gave a memorial tribute on the Senate floor during session in honor of the life and memory of former newspaper owner and publisher and conservation activist Harry Whiteley.

“I rise today to say a special tribute to a gentleman who was just shy of his 101st birthday as he passed away on Nov. 3 — Harry Hoeft Whiteley of Rogers City,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Mr. Whiteley returned to Rogers City in 1940, immersing himself in the small-town home newspaper owned by his family. He was a lifelong civic-minded individual with many organizations. One close to his heart was conservation.

“Mr. Whiteley served 25 years on the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. Through multiple changes of partisanship, he continued to serve and brought forth a great northern passion for conservation and civic service. He certainly will be missed. We appreciate all of his service. We thank the family for their time and efforts as well, and we say, ‘Well done, sir. Rest in peace.’”

Whiteley was appointed to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission and Michigan Travel Commission by Govs. John Swainson, George Romney, Bill Milliken, Jim Blanchard and John Engler. President George H.W. Bush also appointed him to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Betty, their four children, seven grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

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Editor’s note: Video of Stamas’ tribute is available by clicking on the image above or at https://www.senatorjimstamas.com/video/.

Stamas: Governor prepares to freeze Northern Michigan families

LANSING, Mich. — After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new attempt to shut down Line 5 by revoking and ending a 1953 easement that allows Enbridge Energy to run the dual pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac, Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“The governor is choosing to side with environmental extremists over the hardworking Northern Michigan families in this irresponsible attempt to shut down Line 5. I’m most concerned about families with young children and seniors already struggling to pay the utilities and make ends meet.

“If the governor is successful in this reckless action, she will not only freeze Northern Michigan homeowners and workers, she will also freeze our entire state economy and millions of struggling families and small businesses throughout Michigan.

“In addition to affecting real people, the governor’s actions are yet another example of her go-it-alone attitude. The governor talks a lot about us being in this together, yet she repeatedly ignores the Legislature and acts unilaterally with no input or oversight from the Michigan people or their elected representatives.

“I urge the governor to reconsider these actions and to start working with us on important issues facing the good people of our state.”

Is the governor using DHHS director to suppress Michigan voters?

LANSING, Mich. — After the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on Thursday revised and extended its epidemic order to require masks in schools, require bars and restaurants to keep customer names and contact information, further limit outdoor gatherings, and move the Northern Michigan region back to Phase 4, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“I am frustrated and extremely disappointed that the governor continues to go it alone and refuses to accept the Supreme Court’s message to work together with the Legislature regarding our response to the COVID-19 outbreak. She is using every trick to keep power and keep Michigan’s families isolated.

“Michigan needs to resume life safely, but the governor and her departments’ continued use of fear tactics could impede that goal and even suppress the vote in next week’s election if voters fear it’s unsafe to go to the polls.

“The state Legislature has attempted to work with the governor to protect our people and reopen Michigan safely, but she continues act unilaterally and harm working families.

“Considering the impact of this order on the lives of Michigan families, I urge the governor and her department to immediately share with the Legislature the specific data that was used to make this new order.”

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Stamas supports COVID-19 protection measures

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas voted to send to the governor several COVID-19 protection measures in the wake of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down her coronavirus-related executive orders.

“Following the Supreme Court’s restoration of our constitutional balance of power, we must work together to protect our state and its people during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The Michigan people are struggling, and they need real leadership — not political infighting. We recently came together to resolve a historic budget deficit and pass a new balanced budget, and we must build on that partnership to find common ground on critical coronavirus protections.”

Senate Bills 886 and 911 would continue unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks for eligible workers out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 1108 would allow boards of local governments and other public entities to meet electronically for a limited time.

SB 1094 would reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing recommendations of the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. Among other things, this bill requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to implement a process to create Care and Recovery Centers within nursing homes for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

House Bill 6159 would provide liability protections for health care providers for services related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and HB 6192 would extend expiration deadlines for Michigan driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations until Dec. 31, 2020.

“These important measures will preserve critical unemployment benefits, safeguard seniors in nursing homes, protect local government officials and health care workers, and extend the deadline for people to renew their driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations,” Stamas said. “While the governor vetoed some similar efforts in the past, I hope this time she will sign these bills to help the people of Michigan during this challenging time.”

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Stamas reminds residents of Sept. 30 deadline to apply for federal flood assistance

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas is reminding mid-Michigan businesses, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters affected by historic May flooding that they have until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30 to register for federal assistance.

“In the wake of unimaginable flooding, we were blessed to have many people, organizations and businesses step up to help affected residents,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Although many area families and businesses are still struggling to recover, there is still time to register for federal assistance — but the application deadline is quickly approaching.”

The federal assistance includes grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Anyone in Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland and Saginaw counties with physical damages due to the severe storms and flooding on May 16-22 can and should apply by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or through the FEMA app.

The SBA has also opened a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center to help survivors apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via the SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov. There are virtual customer support representatives available to assist applicants with completing the online application.

Grants from FEMA can be used to help make homes safe, sanitary and functional and also provide rental assistance to people until they can return to their homes. In addition to helping small businesses, the SBA offers low-interest loans for both economic injury for lost rental income and for physical disaster damage.

According to the SBA, as of Sept. 27, they have approved 458 disaster loans totaling $31.3 million. As of Sept. 24, FEMA has approved over $24.7 million in disaster grant assistance in the five counties and more than $26.8 million in claims through the National Flood Insurance Program.

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Legislature approves FY 2021 state budget; Plan includes programs to reduce spread of TB in deer

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature on Wednesday finalized a fiscal year 2021 budget plan that balances the state’s deficit and increases investments in important priorities like K-12 education.

“In the face of unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, we worked together to pass a state budget that funds key priorities and balances the deficit — without raising taxes,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “This budget increases funding for our K-12 schools, helps fix our roads, protects hardworking taxpayers, is accountable to Michigan families, and helps us build a healthy economy that benefits everyone.”

Senate Bill 927, sponsored by Stamas, is an education omnibus budget featuring a $65 per student increase in state aid payments for all schools in addition to restoring the $175 per pupil reduction made to balance the FY 2020 budget. It also includes an additional $66 million for growing schools, $37 million for student mental health support and $3 million more for early childhood literacy.

House Bill 5396 is a general omnibus budget that increases local revenue sharing and fully funds the 2015 plan to help fix the state’s roads. It includes $20 million to ensure nursing homes have adequate personal protective equipment to protect staff and residents, $7 million to graduate at least 50 new state troopers and maintain trooper strength, $26 million for the Going Pro program to help train employees, and $30 million for Michigan Reconnect to help people complete an associate degree or skills certificate.

The budget invests $15 million in the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, deposits $35 million in the state’s rainy day fund, and provides $1.5 million for rural jobs and investments.

“We are protecting our seniors in nursing homes from COVID-19 and protecting those who protect us — our local police, firefighters and other first responders,” Stamas said. “Due to the governor’s extended shutdown of our economy, thousands of Michigan residents remain out of work. This budget also makes significant investments to help them get back on their feet.”

HB 5396 also includes $145,800 in additional funding for the Northern Lower Michigan Deer Private Land Assistance Network Program and $505,000 to replace revenue lost through a discounted antlerless deer license in Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda, and Presque Isle counties.

“Bovine tuberculosis an ongoing problem in northern Michigan, and it’s largely spread by infected deer,” Stamas said. “In an effort to help reduce the spread of bovine TB by deer in northern Michigan, we’re allowing for the sale of discounted doe permits in the areas most impacted by the disease and supporting partnerships to manage deer habitat on private land to naturally encourage deer away from farm fields and livestock.”

The budget bills now head to the governor for consideration. Michigan’s 2021 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

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

Legislature approves FY 2021 state budget with flooding recovery funding

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature on Wednesday finalized a fiscal year 2021 budget plan that balances the state’s deficit and increases investments in important priorities like K-12 education and flooding recovery.

“In the face of unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, we worked together to pass a state budget that funds key priorities and balances the deficit — without raising taxes,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “This budget increases funding for our K-12 schools, helps fix our roads, protects hardworking taxpayers, is accountable to Michigan families, and helps us build a healthy economy that benefits everyone.

“We are also providing $15.5 million to help mid-Michigan communities clean up failed dams and begin the process to restore the lakes to pre-flood conditions.”

Senate Bill 927, sponsored by Stamas, is an education omnibus budget featuring a $65 per student increase in state aid payments for all schools in addition to restoring the $175 per pupil reduction made to balance the FY 2020 budget. It also includes an additional $66 million for growing schools, $37 million for student mental health support and $3 million more for early childhood literacy.

House Bill 5396 is a general omnibus budget that increases local revenue sharing and includes $20 million to ensure nursing homes have adequate personal protective equipment to protect staff and residents, $7 million to graduate at least 50 new state troopers and maintain trooper strength, $26 million for the Going Pro program to help train employees, and $30 million for Michigan Reconnect to help people complete an associate degree or skills certificate.

It also invests $15 million in the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, deposits $35 million in the state’s rainy day fund, and fully funds the 2015 plan to help fix the state’s roads.

“We are protecting our seniors in nursing homes from COVID-19 and protecting those who protect us — our local police, firefighters and other first responders,” Stamas said. “Due to the governor’s extended shutdown of our economy, thousands of Michigan residents remain out of work. This budget also makes significant investments to help them get back on their feet.”

The budget bills now head to the governor for consideration. Michigan’s 2021 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

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

Legislature approves FY 2021 state budget

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature on Wednesday finalized a fiscal year 2021 budget plan that balances the state’s deficit and increases investments in important priorities like K-12 education and public safety.

“In the face of unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, we worked together to pass a state budget that funds key priorities and balances the deficit — without raising taxes,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “This budget increases funding for our K-12 schools, helps fix our roads, protects hardworking taxpayers, is accountable to Michigan families, and helps us build a healthy economy that benefits everyone. It also proves that during national division, we can unite to solve our problems and improve our state.”

Senate Bill 927, sponsored by Stamas, is an education omnibus budget featuring a $65 per student increase in state aid payments for all schools in addition to restoring the $175 per pupil reduction made to balance the FY 2020 budget. It also includes an additional $66 million for growing schools, $37 million for student mental health support and $3 million more for early childhood literacy.

House Bill 5396 is a general omnibus budget that increases local revenue sharing and includes $20 million to ensure nursing homes have adequate personal protective equipment to protect staff and residents, $7 million to graduate at least 50 new state troopers and maintain trooper strength, $26 million for the Going Pro program to help train employees, and $30 million for Michigan Reconnect to help people complete an associate degree or skills certificate.

It also invests $15 million in the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, deposits $35 million in the state’s rainy day fund, and fully funds the 2015 plan to help fix the state’s roads.

“We are protecting our seniors in nursing homes from COVID-19 and protecting those who protect us — our local police, firefighters and other first responders,” Stamas said. “Due to the governor’s extended shutdown of our economy, thousands of Michigan residents remain out of work. This budget also makes significant investments to help them get back on their feet.”

The budget bills now head to the governor for consideration. Michigan’s 2021 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

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

Governor signs Stamas high school flexibility bill

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed Sen. Jim Stamas’ bill to ensure students will have flexibility in meeting the state’s high school graduation requirements.

“Now more than ever, it’s clear that education is not a one-size-fits-all process for our students,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This reform ensures that Michigan’s current and future high school students will have flexibility in choosing the best course of study for them to learn, graduate and prepare for successful careers.”

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

Under a Stamas bill signed in 2018, high school students can substitute a career-tech course or an arts class for the second required foreign language credit to meet the MMC requirements until 2024. Senate Bill 171 removes the sunset, making the flexibility permanent.

“Enabling students to count an additional applied career and technology class toward their graduation can allow them to try new and interesting areas of study and help meet our economy’s growing demand for skilled talent,” Stamas said.

Many education and business groups supported SB 171, including the Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Education Association, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and Michigan Manufacturers Association.

“Farmers understand the rigor and intensity that happens in a career and technical education or FFA program,” said Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski. “We applaud the leadership of Sen. Stamas, who helped ensure students now and into the future have the flexibility to enroll in a CTE program while meeting their curriculum requirements.”

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Leaders announce FY 2021 budget agreement

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Shane Hernandez and State Budget Director Chris Kolb on Monday announced they have reached agreement on the spending parameters for the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget.

“This has been a year unlike any other,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The unprecedented challenges Michigan has faced meant that working together — Republicans and Democrats and the Legislature and the Administration — was absolutely essential. This agreement means a fiscally-responsible budget will be in place in time for the new fiscal year.”

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy and budget, the agreement prioritizes education by ensuring no reduction in funding to K-12 public schools. It also stipulates no cuts to revenue sharing for local governments.

“Even in these most challenging of times, we are coming together to protect the top priorities of Michiganders – including students and schools, and the essential local services people in communities across the state rely on every day,” Hernandez said. “We must proceed wisely and cautiously because the economic and budgetary ramifications of COVID-19 are far from over. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year must be sound and sustainable so we are ready for what lies ahead.”

House and Senate subcommittee chairs will now work with state departments and the State Budget Office to resolve the details of each budget. Final legislative action will occur on all budget bills next week.

“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our state budget, and by quickly working together since receiving the August revenue estimates we’ve been able to build a budget framework that reflects a bipartisan commitment to moving our state forward,” said State Budget Director Chris Kolb. “These targets will provide critical funding for our key priorities such as education, health care and skills training, and I appreciate the partnership I’ve had with both Sen. Stamas and Rep. Hernandez.”

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