Stamas strongly opposed to extending and expanding emergency declaration

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Wednesday announced he is opposed to expanding and extending the governor’s emergency declaration by 70 days.

“I want to thank the people working on the front lines – and those supporting them – in this unprecedented challenge fighting against COVID-19,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “However, we must balance necessary action to protect Michigan families and resolve to preserve our representative government. At some point, the people deserve to have a say in their own lives. I strongly oppose extending the declaration – especially for more than two months.

“The reality of COVID-19 in our state is changing daily, and it’s impossible to predict what sort of challenge we’ll face in a month, much less in 70 days. If a resolution comes before the Senate to extend the governor’s declaration for 70 days, I will be voting no.

“I am also very concerned about the governor’s expansion of her executive order. Her orders have already picked winners and losers in Michigan, and I’m afraid this expansion will make that worse.”

On March 10, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4, which declared a state of emergency in Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-33, an expanded declaration of emergency and disaster across the state, and requested a concurrent resolution extending the state of emergency and disaster declared in EO 2020-33 by 70 days from the date of the resolution.

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Stamas has major concerns with May election executive order

LANSING, Mich. — After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday issued Executive Order 2020-27 to allow the secretary of state to mail absentee ballot applications to all registered voters for the May 5 election instead of moving the May election to August, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“To protect the public and the integrity of our elections, the governor and the secretary of state should be taking actions to move the May elections to August.

“I am deeply concerned that the secretary of state is wasting taxpayer resources on mailing everyone an absentee ballot application, when Michigan’s residents can already make this request and consolidating the elections in August is a more efficient and safer option.

“As we face uncertain times during this public health emergency and substantial economic challenge, we need to make sure we’re focused first on using our limited taxpayer dollars on protecting the health and safety of the Michigan people.”

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Senate finalizes Stamas bill to fight coronavirus, restore more of governor’s cuts

LANSING, Mich. — After the Michigan Senate on Thursday sent the governor a $371 million budget supplemental to address the coronavirus outbreak and restore more of her fiscal year 2020 vetoes and transfers, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“This funding comes at a critical time as we work to meet new challenges facing Michigan. With the confirmation of two cases of coronavirus in Michigan, we are directing vital support to help state and local authorities combat and respond to the virus.

“While we were successful late last year in restoring some of the governor’s nearly $1.6 billion in funding vetoes and transfers, many programs started the new year without funding.

“This supplemental budget bill restores more of the governor’s punitive cuts, such as support for local hospitals, people with disabilities, job training, county fairs, agriculture and the Pure Michigan tourism promotion program. It also includes funds to address new concerns, like shoreline erosion due to historically high water levels.

“I am committed to working with the governor to enact a responsible state budget for 2021 that improves our state, meets the needs of Michigan families and avoids a repeat of last year’s reckless political games.”

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Senate approves road bonding reforms

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas’ resolution calling for fiscal responsibility in the state budget regarding transportation bonding and the amount of debt passed down to future generations.

“The Michigan Constitution clearly intends for the Legislature — the voice of the people — to be involved in transportation bonding decisions,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Michigan families need an affordable solution that fixes the roads and doesn’t saddle them with decades of debt. This resolution would clearly define the Legislature’s intent for road bonding and outline how much we’re willing to spend on debt payments.”

Senate Concurrent Resolution 22 says that the Legislature’s intent is not to increase future debt service spending above the levels authorized in fiscal year 2020 and not to authorize spending for debt service on bonds longer than 10 years.

“Last year, the governor proposed a massive $2.5 billion tax increase that would have made our gas tax the highest in the nation — and it was overwhelmingly opposed by the Michigan people,” Stamas said. “This year, just four months after she vetoed a $400 million increase to fix local roads, the governor rushed a $3.5 billion road bonding scheme — which will cost taxpayers over $5 billion to pay off.

“Bonding is a financing tool that creates debt. It’s not a long-term funding plan to fix the roads.”

Stamas also supported Senate Bill 716, sponsored by Sen. Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville, which would require the State Transportation Commission to notify the Legislature of its intent to issue over $100 million in transportation bonds at least 30 days before authorizing the bonds. The bill would then give the Legislature the ability to reject those bonds within 30 days.

SB 716 would allow the commission to issue up to $100 million in transportation bonds using the current process in order to protect the state’s ability to respond quickly to an infrastructure emergency.

“We need the governor to come to the table and work with the Legislature on a responsible plan that improves all the roads in our state. In the meantime, we need to stand up for Michigan taxpayers against the unchecked addition of more state debt,” Stamas said.

SCR 22 and SB 716 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Stamas introduces class-inspired bill to name the gray tree frog as the state amphibian

LANSING, Mich. — On behalf of fifth graders at Blessed Sacrament School in Midland, Sen. Jim Stamas on Thursday introduced legislation to name the gray tree frog as Michigan’s official state amphibian.

“I am working with Mr. Bevier’s fifth grade class at Blessed Sacrament to help them learn about state government,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The students were introduced by their teacher to the gray tree frog, which is common in Michigan, and they keep two of them as class pets. As they learned about the frog and state government, they discovered Michigan doesn’t have a state amphibian. When I visited their classroom, they proposed making the gray tree frog as our official state amphibian.”

At least 24 other states have a designated state amphibian. Michigan has several state symbols, including the brook trout as the state fish and the painted turtle as the state reptile.

Senate Bill 803 would designate the eastern gray tree frog, hyla versicolor, as the state amphibian.

“This will be a unique educational experience for these students about the legislative process in Michigan,” Stamas said.

SB 803 has been referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee 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.

Stamas introduces bill to effectively end Michigan’s deer baiting ban

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Thursday introduced legislation to improve the state’s efforts to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB) and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Michigan.

“I believe ending the baiting ban is an important first step in reducing the size of Michigan’s deer herd, as the size of the herd is contributing to the spread of diseases like chronic wasting disease and bovine TB,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Bovine TB is persistent in wild deer and continues to threaten the livelihoods of area dairy and cattle farmers in northeast Michigan.

“We’ve spent over $150 million since 1998 on bovine TB and still haven’t solved the problem. It’s disappointing and upsetting that state officials continue to pursue the same strategy that has failed to protect Michigan cattle farmers and failed to eliminate bovine TB in our state.”

Senate Bill 800 would reduce the penalty for violating the ban on baiting to $1.

Stamas introduced the bill following the recent announcement that bovine TB was confirmed in a medium-sized beef herd in northeast Michigan. Bovine TB is a bacterial disease that can affect all mammals, including humans. The herd is the 77th cattle herd to be identified with bovine TB in Michigan since 1998.

CWD is a contagious, neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. The fatal disease was first discovered in Michigan in a free-ranging deer in 2015. Over 80,000 deer in Michigan have been tested for CWD, and it has been confirmed in 185 deer. There is no cure, and an infected deer can live with CWD for years and spread it through contact with other animals.

“Last year we voted to end the baiting ban for the rifle deer hunting season, but the governor vetoed the legislation,” Stamas said. “If we cannot end the baiting ban, then we should take steps to make it obsolete. This is a serious issue, and the status quo isn’t working. I stand ready to work with anyone to identify a better solution to finally end these diseases in our state.”

SB 800 has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for consideration.

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Stamas introduces road bonding resolution

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Thursday introduced a resolution calling for the responsible use of the state’s transportation bonding authority and outlining the Legislature’s intent regarding future debt service payments.

“After proposing a 45-cent gas tax increase last year that the people of Michigan overwhelmingly opposed, the governor has rushed a plan to take on billions of dollars in new debt — just four months after she vetoed a $400 million increase to fix local roads,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Bonding is a financing mechanism, not a funding source. It adds to our state debt and will cost Michigan families over $5 billion to pay off.

“Instead of going it alone, it’s time for the governor to come to the table and work with the Legislature on an affordable, long-term plan that improves all the roads in our state.”

Senate Concurrent Resolution 22 says that the Legislature’s intent is not to increase future debt service spending above the levels authorized in fiscal year 2020 and not to authorize spending for debt service on bonds longer than 10 years.

“The Michigan Constitution clearly intends for the Legislature to be involved in transportation bonding decisions,” Stamas said. “This resolution is about clearly defining the Legislature’s intent for transportation bonding and outlining the amount we are willing to spend going forward on debt payments.”

SCR 22 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. If approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the resolution would be sent to the governor, the director of the Department of Transportation and the members of the State Transportation Commission.

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Stamas, Allor, MAMA announce Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport identified as top location for potential spaceport

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas and Rep. Sue Allor joined the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (MAMA) on Tuesday to announce the findings from an initial site-selection process for potential horizontal space launch sites in Michigan.

The site-selection process, which was conducted over the past eight months, identified the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport as the top candidate for a horizontal spaceport. The airport received the highest ranking because of its runway infrastructure, business capacity, operational strength and safety track record.

Tuesday’s announcement at the Michigan Capitol is the next step in the process of exploring Michigan’s ability to support space-launch facilities, a command and control center to manage commercial satellite operations and a space ecosystem.

“This is an exciting next step in the process of developing Michigan’s ecosystem of space technology,” said Gavin Brown, executive director of MAMA. “While much work lies ahead, we are pleased to share these initial results from our due diligence. Such a facility would solidify Michigan’s leadership role in the aerospace and defense industry while becoming an important economic catalyst.”

In June 2019, the Michigan Legislature appropriated $2 million to assess the feasibility of developing one or more low-orbit launch sites in Michigan.

“This initial study is exciting news for the people of northern Michigan, and I look forward to what the continuing study might tell us about how our state might expand into the space sector,” said Stamas, R-Midland, who represents Oscoda. “The potential to develop a space ecosystem in Michigan complements the long tradition of excellence in automotive manufacturing in our great state.”

The Oscoda-Wurtsmith airport was among eight Michigan sites evaluated by MAMA and its spaceport expert Brian Gulliver from Kimley-Horn under the oversight of the Michigan Economic Development Association. Site submissions were evaluated on a variety of technical, economic and physical factors by MAMA and Gulliver, who has experience assisting spaceports all over the world.

Stamas said the site-selection process is an initial but important step in exploring whether Michigan can support a space ecosystem. Following Tuesday’s announcement, MAMA will continue to conduct the feasibility study that will be submitted to the MEDC by the second quarter of this year. This will include having more site-specific discussions with governmental licensing and regulatory agencies, as well as partners in the commercial sector. In addition, MAMA will continue conducting a site-selection process for a command center and vertical launch site.

“The announcement of this first important step toward Oscoda becoming the official location for a horizontal spaceport is the news we had been hoping for,” said Allor, R-Wolverine, who represents Iosco County. “Oscoda’s prime location and strong community is certainly deserving of this fantastic opportunity, and I will continue working with Senator Stamas to ensure that we do what we can in Lansing to help make this plan a reality.”

Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association is a member-supported organization that serves the interests of Michigan’s aerospace and defense manufacturing firms with a single unified voice, promoting the state of Michigan’s aerospace and defense manufacturing community within the global industry. For more information, visit www.michman.org.

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Editor’s note: Video of the announcement will be available later at www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Video.

The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Photowire.

**Media Advisory** Sen. Stamas to make key announcement regarding satellite launch facility in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Tuesday will announce the results of the site-selection process to determine the best location for a horizontal space launch facility in Michigan.

Who:
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist;
Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland;
Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine;
Gavin Brown, president of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association; and
Representatives from interested communities and locations.

What:
A press conference announcing the results of the site-selection process to determine the best location for a horizontal space launch facility in Michigan.

When:
Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 9:30 a.m.

Where:
Michigan Capitol
Room 405
Lansing

Brief:
Stamas helped finalize a $2 million supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2019 for a state grant to assess the feasibility of developing one or more low Earth orbit launch sites and command center. The project is known as the Michigan Launch Initiative and has been developed by the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association.

Michigan’s aerospace industry is robust. There are 280 companies certified as aerospace manufacturers with another 600 Michigan companies that support those companies. It’s estimated that the aerospace industry currently has a $1.2 billion impact on Michigan’s economy.

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Stamas applauds appointment of Ed Black as next circuit court judge in Alpena County

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Friday applauded Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointment of Alpena County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Black to the 26th Circuit Court. Black fills the seat vacated when Judge Michael Mack retired in January.

“Ed Black is a man of integrity who is committed to the law and the community. He is an excellent choice, and I congratulate him on his new endeavor serving the people of northern Michigan on the 26th Circuit Court,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Ed was elected three times by the people of Alpena County as their prosecutor, and he will continue to stand strong for them as a judge.”

According to the governor’s announcement, Black’s appointment is for a partial term that expires at noon on Jan. 1, 2021. If Black wishes to seek a full six-year term, he will be required to run for reelection in November 2020.

In addition to being the prosecuting attorney for Alpena County, Black is a JAG officer with the U. S. Army Reserve and a member of the Rotary Club of Alpena. He sits on the advisory board for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeast Michigan and the Alpena County Prevention Policy Board.

Black earned his Juris Doctor degree from the Michigan State University College of Law and his Bachelor of Arts from Denison University. He lives in Alpena with his wife, Meaghan, and their three children, Cooper, Andrew and Emily.

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