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 Women’s History Month.
I have recently co-sponsored HB 5708 that would create the Michigan Retirement Savings Program and provide for a retirement savings tax credit for enrollees who participate in the program. This legislation seeks to change this by creating a state-sponsored retirement system for private sector workers in Michigan who lack access to a workplace retirement plan and provide a credit for low-income individuals and families.
I have also recently co-sponsored HB 5714 today which will prohibit excessive increases in price – or price gouging – of essential consumers goods and lodging during and immediately after certain emergencies or natural disasters, and provide for penalties and remedies. This legislation would protect consumers from the bad actors who look to profit from the personal tragedies many suffer during these emergency situations.
MDOT 2018 construction map now available for download
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has posted the 2018 Paving the Way state construction map online for motorists to download. The public is encouraged to download the map and print it at home or at their nearest library or print service provider. The map is available at www.michigan.gov/mdotmaps, and will also be on display in all rest areas and Welcome Centers across the state in the coming weeks.
Among the high-impact projects featured on the map:
– I-696 reconstruction and resurfacing in Oakland and Macomb counties (projects 117 and 118 on the map),
– the two-year I-96/I-196 overpass conversion project in Grand Rapids (136),
– the two-year I-94 pavement repair project through Jackson (94),
– 3 miles of I-69 reconstruction in Flint (104),
– various I-94 resurfacing and reconstruction projects, plus bridge improvements, throughout southwest
The most up-to-date construction information for state roads is always available on the Mi Drive traffic website at www.michigan.gov/drive.
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, 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 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. To schedule an appointment, please call 877-313-6232 or visit the MCDC website at www.mydental.org.
Working Families Eligible for Homestead Property Tax Credit
Working families and individuals with a household income of $50,000 or less a year may be eligible for a Homestead Property Tax Credit, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Michigan’s Homestead Property Tax Credit can help taxpayers if they are a qualified homeowner or renter and meet certain requirements. For most people, the tax credit is based on a comparison between property taxes and total household income, with homeowners paying property taxes directly and renters paying them indirectly with their rent.
During the 2016 tax year, more than 1 million taxpayers claimed the Homestead Property Tax credit, totaling more than $532 million with an average credit at $521.
Taxpayers may claim a Homestead Property Tax Credit if ALL the following apply:
• Your homestead is in Michigan
• You were a resident of Michigan for at least six months during the year
• You own or are contracted to pay rent and occupy a Michigan homestead on which property taxes were levied
• If you own your home, your taxable value is $135,000 or less (unless unoccupied farmland)
• Your total household resources are $50,000 or less
Taxpayers who are required to file a state income tax return should claim the Homestead Property Tax Credit with their return. Taxpayers may file a Homestead Property Tax Credit claim by itself.
To learn more about the Homestead Property Tax Credit, the forms required to obtain the credit or state income taxes, go to www.michigan.gov/incometax and click on “Credits and Exemptions” at the bottom of the page.
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
•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.
My Solar School contest deadline approaches for students
The Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) announced there’s still time for Michigan students in grades six to 12 to participate in the My Solar School contest, a complete plan to install a solar system at their Michigan school. To enter, student teams must submit, by March 30, a study for installing a solar system at their school, along with a short video outlining their vision. Winning schools will be announced at the Michigan Earth Day Festival in Rochester, Mich. in April.
The contest gives students a chance to learn about solar energy and how it can lower energy bills at their school. All participants will see first-hand how renewable energy is an important part of Michigan’s energy future.”
Winning schools must match funds provided by the Michigan Energy Office (MEO) and others to move forward with their projects.
Visit the My Solar Schools website for more information. For more information about MAE, please visit www.michigan.gov/energy or sign up for its listservs to keep up on MAE matters.
Genesee County Health Department Outreach
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 Clio-Area Library Tuesday, March 20 from 10:30 am- 12:30 pm and at the Mount Morris Library on Wednesday, March 21 from 1:30 pm-3:30 pm to answer your questions and help you find coverage. For more information, please visit the Genesee District Library website.
Maple Syrup Festival
On Saturday, March 24 from 12:00pm-3:00 pm, For-Mar Nature Preserve is hosting a Maple Syrup Festival. The adventure begins at the For-Mar Visitor Center off from Genesee Rd. Guided hikes will be led back to the Sugar Shack for a firsthand look at how one of Michigan’s most historically significant natural resources, maple syrup, is made. From tapping to pancake topping, see it all. Trained For-Mar staff will be on hand to share information about winter tree ID. Closer parking will be available upon request.
Egg-stravaganza Party for Kids @ Davison Area
Children between the ages of 2-12 are invited to hippity-hop on over to this "egg-stra" special party, sponsored by the Davison Area Library Board. This event will be held at the Davison-Area Library on Saturday, March 24 from 2:00 pm-3:00 pm. To pre-register for this event, please visit the Genesee District Library website.
Women’s History Month
The month of March has been dedicated to recognizing women all over the world for their achievements and contributions. The Michigan Legislature recently passed a resolution to declare March 8, 2018, as International Women’s Day in the state of Michigan. International Women’s Day is a celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women in the past and present. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments and, more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women and our entire society.
In the US, the first official day was held in 1909 in New York. This event commemorated the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. The strike came after many women died in a tragic fire because their employer locked them in the factory. The International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union was one of the largest labor unions in the United States and one of the first U.S. unions to have a primarily female membership. At the International Women's Conference in 1910, the first International Women’s Day was officially established to promote equal rights for women. Recognition of women and their accomplishments, as well as education efforts, happen all over the globe during the month of March to recognize International Women’s Day.
The recognition of women’s history has been made possible by countless people throughout US history. The first step toward a nationally recognized celebration came in February 1980 when President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation, declaring the Week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week. As word spread rapidly across the nation, state departments of education encouraged celebrations of National Women’s History Week in classrooms. Soon, thousands of schools and communities were celebrating National Women’s History Week, supported and encouraged by resolutions from governors, city councils, school boards, and the U.S. Congress. The first nationally recognized celebration of Women’s History Month came in 2011 when President Barack Obama later proclaimed March to be Women's History Month, calling on Americans to mark International Women’s Day by reflecting on "the extraordinary accomplishments of women" in shaping the nation's history.
In our home state of Michigan, there are countless accomplishments of Michigan women to be recognized. Only four short years after women received the right to vote, Cora Reynolds Anderson of L'Anse became the first woman elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1925. Women like Anna Clemenc, who organized the 1913 miners' strike against the Calumet & Hekla Mine located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, played an instrumental role in shaping Michigan’s labor movement. The strike began July 23, 1913, and ended nine months later on April 13, 1914, resulting in better working conditions. Michigan’s women have also been active during wartime both in the civilian and military realm, whether it be in combat, or as pilots, nurses, journalists, or factory workers. During WWII efforts, over 140,000 Michigan women were employed in the defense industry; legions of “Rosie, the Riveter” women, working together in factories to create the “arsenal of democracy.” Although these are only a few accomplishments of women throughout our history, there are many more to learn about. I encourage you to participate in Women’s History Month celebrations near you or take time to learn more.
State Representative Pam Faris
48th House District