District Update from State Senator Kim LaSata
State of Michigan – January 5, 2022
We are now well into 2022 and the new legislative session. Below you’ll find an update on legislative priorities, news from the district and other resources I hope you find interesting!
As always, if you have any questions or need to get in contact with me, feel free to call my office at 517-373-6960 or email me at SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov.
I look forward to hearing from you.
21st Senate District of Michigan
LaSata to host February office hours
I recently scheduled an office hour meeting for the month of February. The date, time and location are as follows:
Friday, Feb. 11
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Revive Coffee & More
636 N. St. Joseph Ave.
Berrien Springs, MI
No appointment is necessary. Please feel free to drop in to share issues that are important to you!
Carrying the momentum into 2022
It’s been a busy 2022 so far as we work to continue last year’s momentum into the new year. Below you’ll find a brief update on some of the things we have been working on in the Legislature, along with other recent news out of the state Capitol:
State of the State address
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week delivered the annual State of the State address. We’ve heard the annual call for working together for three years, but the governor’s calls for bipartisanship haven’t always matched her actions.
During her speech, the governor said she was ready to work with lawmakers to reduce tax burdens on Michigan residents. This is welcomed news. If the governor is sincere, Republicans in the Legislature are eager to discuss lowering taxes.
Republicans have long argued that Michiganders know how to spend their money better than the government does. Our responsible spending has led to the state’s budget being in a strong position. Now is the time to explore ways to let Michiganders keep more of what they earn.
Protecting Michigan taxpayers
As inflation and shortages continue to disrupt our economy, families and businesses are feeling the pinch on their pocketbooks. I co-sponsored legislation to cut income tax rates, provide a $500 per child tax credit, and lower Michigan’s business tax rate to the lowest in the Midwest to provide hardworking taxpayers and small businesses with a bit of much-deserved relief.
Senate Bill 768 was recently passed in the Senate Finance Committee despite “no” votes by every Democratric member. This legislation will help our economy bounce back to pre-pandemic levels through lower taxes, not higher spending.
Senate, House Oversight committees review Deloitte report on UIA fraud
The Senate and House Oversight committees held a joint hearing to discuss a Deloitte and Touche investigation into imposter fraud and intentional misrepresentation payments made by the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
According to the Deloitte report, the agency is alleged to have squandered up to $8.5 billion in fraudulent jobless claims throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The new report follows a recent state Office of the Auditor General audit indicating $3.9 billion had been paid out to ineligible recipients due to the agency ignoring federal rules.
There are unanswered questions that the department needs to address like who specifically was responsible for preventing fraud while this was happening or who made the decisions to roll back fraud protections. The hearings will continue until we find who was responsible for these decisions and they are held accountable for their actions.
Attracting talent and strengthening our economy
Michigan’s labor market continues to be constrained due to a number of ongoing issues, including an exodus of residents and a lack of qualified workers. I’ve proposed legislation, Senate Bills 739-741, to allow more employers, especially employers in rural areas, to participate in the Michigan New Jobs Training Program.
The Michigan New Jobs Training Program allows community colleges to provide free training for employers that are creating new jobs or expanding their operations in Michigan. The training for the newly hired workers is paid by capturing the state income tax associated with the new employees’ wages.
Individual community colleges work directly with employers and local economic development agencies to support job creation and training. I am having discussions about taking a regional approach to open up more opportunities for employers and Michigan workers as well.
Building a smarter infrastructure system
The condition of roads and bridges is something that often comes up when I speak with constituents.
In recent months, the Legislature has been working on ways we can take care of some other much-needed infrastructure repairs. In addition to the state’s roads, bridges are a critical piece of Michigan’s aging infrastructure and have been a key focus in Lansing. Senate Bill 529, which I supported, would use $1.3 billion in federal money to repair bridges in severe condition across the state.
This would not only help make necessary repairs to the state’s aging bridges, but it also would take a huge financial burden off the shoulders of local governments and road agencies.
Over 400 locally managed bridges are in critical need of repairs, including 15 in our Senate district. Instead of going to taxpayers for money, we introduced legislation that would use one-time federal funding to make meaningful repairs where they are needed.
Supporting Michigan’s Catholic schools
The state Senate recently adopted my resolution recognizing the week of Jan. 30 through Feb. 5 as Catholic Schools Week in Michigan.
Senate Resolution 103 recognizes the excellent work Michigan’s Catholic school administrators and teachers perform on a daily basis and commends Catholic schools for maintaining strict educational standards while also instilling values that help transform students into caring, compassionate adults.
Communities throughout our state are strengthened through the values taught in our Catholic schools. As a former Catholic school student, teacher and parent, I have experienced first-hand the beneficial life lessons taught in our state’s tremendous Catholic schools.
I recently had a chance to visit my alma mater, Lake Michigan Catholic, and present Principal James White with a framed copy of SR 103.
DNR accepting applications for conservation officer academy
The DNR is currently accepting applications for two conservation officer academies being offered this year.
Michigan conservation officers are fully licensed law enforcement officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens through general law enforcement and conducting lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.
Applications are due Monday, Feb. 28.
Michigan’s 21st Senate District
Michigan’s 21st Senate District includes all of Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph counties.
Senator Kim LaSata
S-310 Capitol Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Visit my website at: StateSenatorKimLaSata.com