Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Read on for legislative updates and things to do this month, along with other community information.
I recently co-sponsored several pieces of legislation. Please see short summaries of each below:
- A package of bills to increase tax equality in Michigan by cutting taxes for 95 percent of Michigan families and asking the top 1 percent to contribute the same share of their income as everyone else. Michigan’s tax code is rigged against the poor and middle class – the less you make, the higher share of your income in state and local taxes you contribute. When you add up all of our state and local taxes (property, sales, excise, income, user fees, etc.), the bottom 80 percent of families, those making $102,000 a year or less, contribute 9.2 percent to 9.5 percent of their income, while the top 1 percent contribute only 5.9 percent.
- House Bill 4207, a bill to direct at least 5 percent of community revitalization incentives within the Michigan Strategic Fund toward facilitating development of grocery stores within our urban areas. This will not take away from other uses of the dollars as there has been enough in the fund each year to cover this cost.
- A bill that would require employers to provide paid sick leave annually to their employees. Paid sick leave would accrue in one hour increments for every 30 hours worked. The minimum standard would be different for small businesses (40 hours) and all other employees (72 hours). Paid sick leave could be used to recover from sickness, receive medical treatment, or care for a loved one or a newborn child. Currently, the United States is the only first-world country that does not require paid sick leave, and it’s time for that to change in Michigan.
Legislator for the Day
This week, I had the pleasure of welcoming 7-year-old Lily Surface and her mother, Amy Surface, to join me in Lansing for a day. Lily, a student from Davison Central Elementary, was the winner of the fall coloring contest that our office hosted. She was able to learn what my typical day as a state representative consists of, as well as take a tour of the Capitol building and have the chance to be introduced and recognized on the House Floor. I enjoyed seeing her enthusiasm when learning about the process of state government and the importance of civic engagement. The optimism and inquisitiveness that Lily showed during her day in Lansing was yet another reason that I am proud to represent Michigan’s 48th House District.
The Michigan Department of the Treasury has released helpful information about this year’s tax season. First, volunteers from local community organizations help prepare basic tax returns for the elderly and for low- to moderate-income people (about $53,000 and below). This service is available through the following main resources. Contact these organizations for their days/hours of operation and location(s):
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) at (800) 906-9887.
- AARP at (888) 227-7669 or visit their website.
Additionally, internet self-service is the quickest and easiest way to check on a Michigan income tax refund 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as well as to contact Treasury Department with questions. All you need is a copy of your income tax return that you are inquiring about so that you can provide answers to verification questions. This information can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/taxes/0,4676,7-238-43513_74865—,00.html.
Free Dental Cleaning
Valley Area Agency on Aging (VAAA) received $1,500 from a nonprofit foundation to improve oral health for Michigan seniors residing in Genesee County and the city of Flint. Valley Area Agency on Aging has partnered with the Mott Community College Department of Dental Hygiene to provide free oral health cleanings to local seniors. Dental health cleanings will be performed by second-year dental hygiene students at Mott Community College Dental Clinic, under the close supervision of licensed dentists and dental hygienists. Mott Community College Dental Clinic is located at 1401 East Court Street in Flint. Please call (810) 762-0317 to schedule an appointment.
DNR’s “Report All Poaching” Hotline Now Accepts Text Messages
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is making it easier for citizens to report fish and game violations through the convenience of text messaging.
The Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline, (800) 292-7800, now accepts text messages in addition to telephone calls. Text messages may include photos. The RAP hotline is a toll-free, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week number that enables citizens to report violations of fish and game laws, as well as other natural resource-related laws. It is operated by DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. The DNR also offers a web-based reporting form. Upon receiving a text, the RAP system immediately replies with a message stating that a dispatcher soon will be in touch with the complainant. A link to the RAP webpage is included. A dispatcher will begin a conversation with the complainant via text, collecting information just as dispatchers would do during a phone call. Complainants wanting to speak to a dispatcher can request a return phone call or call the RAP hotline.
Free Preschool Enrollment Kick-off at Flint Children’s Museum
The Genesee Intermediate School District is offering a free preschool enrollment kick-off at Flint Children’s Museum on March 5 from noon to 5 p.m. 591-KIDS staff will be on hand to share information about all of the high-quality Genesee County preschool programs available for children ages 3 to 4, and to assist parents in determining eligibility for free preschool programs. These programs will include Great Start Readiness Programs (GSRP), GISD and GCCARD Head Start Programs, Early On and SKIP. Child Care Network will also be available to discuss tuition based programming. Children are welcome to enjoy a snack, participate in small activities, and explore, learn and play in the museum.
For more information, please call (810) 591-KIDS or visit www.geneseepreschool.org. The museum will be open free to the public that day to support families interested in free preschool programs based on qualifications.
“The peninsula of Michigan, lying between the lake of the same name on the west, and Huron on the east, is one of the greatest beauties of the kind in America, if not the world.” – C. Colton, Tour of the American Lakes, 1833.
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can be of any assistance.
State Representative Pam Faris
48th House District