Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! In addition to the usual information on state news, things to do and other community information. This week’s issue overview is a recognition of Black History Month.
I have recently co-sponsored a package of bills, including House Bills 5642 and HB 5643, which would define and expand Michigan’s railroad crossing laws to include “other on-track equipment” for when a visible electronic or mechanical signal device gives a warning letting motorists know they must stop at a railroad crossing. The goal of these public safety measures is to increase protections for maintenance workers at railroad crossings when they use on-track equipment, “train like” machines that present the same dangers as a railroad train.
Genesee County Health Department announces new Dental Center
The Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) is pleased to announce a new partnership with My Community Dental Centers Inc. (MCDC) to expand access to dental care. The new dental center located at G4007 W. Court Street, 2D, in Flint will be operated by MCDC on behalf of the health department. The center will provide quality dental care to all and welcomes children and adults enrolled in Medicaid, including Healthy Kids Dental, Healthy Michigan Plan and private dental insurance. The six chair Flint dental center will be opening in early March 2018. The center will provide comprehensive dental services including oral exam/cleanings, fillings, tooth removal, partials, dentures, and other dental procedures. The organization is also pleased to offer My Dental Program (MyDP) for those without dental insurance, which provides reduced fees based on household income. An initial exam with X-rays will be $39 for new patients.
MCDC looks forward to providing a dental home to residents of Genesee County who have previously been unable to find a dentist. Studies show when your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good as well. The dental center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.– -4:30 p.m. To schedule an appointment please call (877) 313-6232 or visit the MCDC website at www.mydental.org.
Treasury: Taxpayers Can Check State Refund Status Online
As the state of Michigan enters individual income tax season, the Michigan Department of Treasury reminds taxpayers who filed a 2017 state return to check the status of their refund online by going to www.michigan.gov/wheresmyrefund.
Individuals who e-filed can check their refund status two weeks from the date confirmation was received that the state return was accepted. The status of paper-filed tax returns can be viewed from six to eight weeks after postmarking. The most up-to-date information about a taxpayer’s refund is on the “Where’s My Refund?” website. Taxpayers interested in learning the status of their refund are encouraged to use the website.
To ensure taxpayer privacy and security, the following information is required when checking the status of a refund at www.michigan.gov/wheresmyrefund:
- Social Security Number
- Tax Year
- Filing Status
- Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) or Total Household Resources (THR)
Individuals can find their AGI on line 10 of the MI-1040. Total Household Resources are found on line 33 on the MI-1040CR or line 34 on the MI-1040CR-7. For more information, please visit: www.Michigan.gov/taxes.
Treasury: Resolve to Be Ready for Tax Scams in 2018
As the state of Michigan begins a new year and the state income tax filing season approaches, the Michigan Department of Treasury is asking taxpayers to resolve to be ready for tax scams in 2018. Cybercriminals typically increase their activity in the first part of the year through phone scams and email phishing schemes. These scammers try to obtain personal information using different tricks and tactics so they can file income tax returns and claim refunds on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers. Some scammers may also allege a taxpayer owes taxes and aggressively demand payment for a quick payout.
Treasury will never:
- Initiate a phone call or email to ask for personal information.
- Call or email to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, Treasury will first send a bill through the U.S. mail to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Cybercriminals often alter caller ID numbers and emails to make it look like the state Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service or another official agency is contacting a taxpayer. Scammers may use employee titles, a person’s name, address and other personal information to sound official.
Taxpayers who have received a call or email from a scammer should report the case to the IRS through the web or by calling (800) 366-4484. To learn more about tax-related identity theft, go to www.michigan.gov/identitytheft.
Free Tax Help
Seniors and individuals with special needs may qualify for free tax preparation help from IRS-trained volunteers or Tax Counseling for the qualified preparers. For information about free tax help, go to www.michiganfreetaxhelp.org or dial 2-1-1.
To learn more about Michigan’s individual income tax or to download forms, go to www.michigan.gov/taxes. For more information about e-filing, go to www.mifastfile.org.
Michigan educators invited to register for Michigan’s Wondrous Wetlands and Waterfowl classroom program
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers free educational opportunities to help educators looking for a fun way to integrate the state's unique flora and fauna into their classroom, while still meeting required educational standards. The newest addition to the DNR’s wildlife curricula is Michigan’s Wondrous Wetlands and Waterfowl.
Michigan’s Wondrous Wetlands and Waterfowl, developed for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students, will give students and teachers an appreciation and knowledge of the vital importance of local wetland ecosystems.
In six lessons, students will expand their knowledge of Michigan’s waterfowl species, waterfowl biology and life cycles, and wetland and waterfowl management and history in Michigan. Students and teachers are encouraged to explore a local wetland, if possible, as part of this learning experience. If a field trip is not practical, a virtual field trip experience is included in the curriculum.
Educators are asked to register for this classroom program by March 30. Materials will be provided via email to eligible educators. To find out about other available wildlife curricula and resources for the classroom, visit mi.gov/wildlife and click on Teacher Resources. Explore additional DNR education and outreach opportunities and resources at mi.gov/dnreducation.
DNR seeks volunteers for annual frog and toad survey
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers throughout the state to assist with its annual frog and toad survey, an effort that helps biologists monitor frog and toad abundance and distribution in the state. Declining populations of frogs, toads and other amphibians have been documented worldwide since the 1980s. Studies suggest amphibians are disappearing due to habitat loss, pollution, disease and collection. Michigan’s is the second-longest-running such survey in the country, after Wisconsin’s.
The surveys are conducted by volunteer observers along a statewide system of permanent survey routes, each consisting of 10 wetland sites. These sites are visited three times during spring, when frogs and toads are actively breeding. Observers listen for calling frogs and toads at each site, identify the species present and make an estimate of abundance. New volunteers are needed in all parts of the state, and that the program's continued success is dependent on strong volunteer support.
Those interested in volunteering should contact Lori Sargent at (517)284-6216 or SargentL@michigan.gov.
More information on the frog and toad survey and other projects supported by the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund is available at www.michigan.gov/wildlife.
Genesee County Health Department @ Genesee-Johnson
Confused about health insurance? Not sure what programs are available in Genesee County or how to apply for those programs? The Genesee County Health Department Outreach & Enrollment staff will be at the Genesee-Johnson Library on Friday, March 9 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. to answer your questions and help you find coverage. For more information, please visit the Genesee District Library website.
Daylight Savings Time
Please remember to set your clocks forward one hour to “spring forward” on Sunday, March 11, starting at 2 a.m.
Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Prescription: Michigan’s Demographic and Economic Outlook over the Next 30 Years
On Jan. 16, I went to a talk entitled Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Prescription: Michigan’s Demographic and Economic Outlook over the Next 30 Years. Research professor Dr. George Fulton of the University of Michigan led the discussion, which also involved a study from the Michigan Department of Transportation. Dr. Fulton said that within the next 15 years, Michigan’s population should grow by 0.3 percent. In the next 30 years that number will drop by 0.2 percent. Michigan’s population will hit 10 million by 2021. This will be Michigan’s peak population.
This is a pattern of growth that began in 2012. It will result in 22 Michigan counties topping Michigan’s average population growth by 2045. This growth is partially due to more global immigration. However, our domestic population will decrease. Michigan’s senior citizen population (aged 85 and older) will increase 153 percent by 2045. This growth is because Baby Boomers will age. Michigan also has many benefits to the elderly: bodies of water, good restaurants, access to quality health care and social activities.
This aging will increase the need for Michigan workers and immigration could be a possible answer. Factors that draw immigrants into the state include: jobs, education, quality of life, and family. The most valuable areas in the next 30 years will be health care, administration, and professional fields because of population aging. Areas that will hurt will be natural resources/mining, retail, and manufacturing. Highly educated workers will be important because of the lower need for skill and manufacturing.
Population growth and jobs will go to counties that have paid attention to health care, administration, and professional fields. Counties that have a major college or university in them (Washtenaw, Kalamazoo, Ingham, Ottawa, Mecosta and Isabella) will also profit. Most losses will go to counties that are in the rural Upper Peninsula and along Lake Huron. This study is concerned about the following issues in our future economy:
- The need for Michigan workers
- How to help the older population
- How to educate future workers
- How immigration will help with the need for workers
- How to help counties that will see economic drops
Please note that this study did not take into account any future immigration or economic policies.
State Representative Pam Faris
48th House District