District Update from State Senator Kim LaSata
State of Michigan – March 3, 2022
I wanted to take this opportunity to share some updates from the Legislature as we continue to work hard on your behalf. You can read below about efforts to support Michigan families, seniors, and small businesses, safe roads and bridges, and making sure students get the education they deserve.
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.
Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament now live
The Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament is back again for 2022! Participants can support their school at Facebook.com/SenKimLaSata and www.StateSenatorKimLaSata.com.
LaSata supports bill to cut taxes for all Michiganders
Over the last couple of weeks, the Legislature has been working on a historic tax cut plan that puts money back into the pockets of the hardworking Michiganders who earned it.
Senate Bill 768 would help Michigan families by reducing the state’s income tax to 3.9% from 4.25 % and creating a $500 tax credit for each child under the age of 19. The legislation would also increase the tax exemption for seniors up to $40,000 for individuals and $80,000 for couples and allow more seniors to qualify for the exemption by lowering the age for eligibility from 67 to 62.
Michigan residents are paying more of their income to state government than our neighbors in Indiana. In order to stay competitive, attract talent and grow our economy, we must find a way to lower the cost of living in Michigan. If signed into law, this legislation will provide meaningful relief to Michiganders across the board.
The bill has been given final approval from the Legislature and now goes to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for consideration.
Bill to help make prescription drugs more affordable signed into law
Legislation to improve access to and lower the cost of prescription drugs was recently signed into law after being approved by both chambers of the Legislature.
Public Act 11 of 2022, also known as the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Licensure and Regulation Act, will hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable and will allow pharmacies to be more competitive, provide more affordable prescription drugs to patients across Michigan, and will bring reporting and transparency to a previously unregulated process.
Michigan is one of the last states to regulate pharmacy benefit managers and it was important that we got this signed into law to protect Michigan consumers, and ultimately, help to combat the rising cost of prescription drugs.
New grant program supports struggling businesses
Last year, I supported Senate Bill 85 to create a grant program for businesses that experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. After several attempts to provide property tax relief for shuttered businesses were vetoed by the governor in 2020 and 2021, this legislation was finally signed into law.
Job providers across Southwest Michigan have suffered significant financial losses because of the executive orders issued in response to COVID-19. I am happy to see this well-deserved help reach affected businesses.
The Growing MI Business grant program is designed to help make up for some of the lost sales and earnings, and I strongly encourage those who are eligible to submit an application before the end of the month.
According to the department, eligible businesses include:
• Entertainment venues;
• Recreational facilities and public places of amusement;
• Barbers and cosmetologists;
• Exercise facilities;
• Food service establishments;
• Nursery dealers and growers;
• Athletic trainers;
• Body art facilities; and
• Hotels and bed and breakfast establishments.
Eligible businesses that were in operation on Oct. 1, 2019, may receive a grant equal to a percentage of their loss in total state sales during the pandemic. Those that were not in operation on Oct. 1, 2019, but started before June 1, 2020, may receive a grant equal to 25% of specified costs representing their financial hardship. It is important to note that applicants will be required by the state to submit certain financial and tax documents for verification.
Businesses must submit a completed online application no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 31. Grant awardees will be notified in the spring, and grant awards will be distributed by July 1, 2022.
For more information about the Growing MI Business grant program and to sign up for a free upcoming webinar, visit Michigan.gov/abr.
Growing Michigan’s workforce
I recently had a chance to speak with President and Chief Executive Officer of Cornerstone Alliance Rob Cleveland during a recent Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development hearing.
He represented Economic Development Leaders for Michigan and testified to the importance of growing regional awareness of tools that can be used to help create jobs for Michiganders.
It was great to hear Rob’s testimony and speak with him after the committee about how we can continue supporting Michigan job providers.
Curriculum transparency: Senate Bill 868, which I sponsored, would require schools to document materials used in their child’s curriculum and activities in an accessible format online for parents and the public to view.
Parents are an important part of a child’s educational journey and should have access to the material their child is learning.
Ensuring our students succeed: Legislation to create a grant program aimed at providing additional resources to students who have struggled with their education during the pandemic was recently introduced in the Senate.
Senate Bill 925 would provide eligible families with grant funding that could be spent on tutoring, summer courses, and certain educational supplies. Grants would be open to all Michigan families, with priority given to low-income students who have had more days out of the classroom because of COVID-19.
This plan would provide up to $1,500 to Michigan students whose education has been affected by pandemic closures.
LaSata praises Nottawa Road Bridge repair in St. Joseph County
The state Legislature last year approved a funding measure to address the condition of bridges across the state, and that funding is now being used for a select number of bridge projects — including one in St. Joseph County.
Last summer, I supported a measure as part of the budget process that uses federal funding to focus on bridge repairs as part of the ongoing efforts to improve Michigan’s infrastructure. The plan will streamline and save overall costs by “bundling” the bridge projects — which is when the design and construction of multiple projects around the state are contracted at the same time.
The legislation, which was later signed into law, will fund 19 current bridge projects as part of a statewide pilot program, including the Nottawa Road Bridge in St. Joseph County. It’s great to see the funding we approved in this year’s budget benefitting local communities!
The project begins Aug. 15 and will continue for 90 days. The bridge will be closed during construction and detours are expected.
This effort continues the Legislature’s commitment to fixing roads and bridges and will play a major role in making travel safer for Michigan motorists. This pilot program was launched without raising taxes or relying on borrowing from future generations.
The public can track the initiative through a newly announced online dashboard at Michigan.gov/BridgeBundling. The website will provide project updates, show completion percentages, detour routes, and other relevant information for each project.
Supporting our nation’s Vietnam veterans
Many Michigan veterans served honorably overseas and many continue to serve their communities with the same courage they did while in uniform.
We know that 7 million American men and women served during the Vietnam War era — including my dad. Unfortunately, many remained silent after returning home. Even friends and neighbors may have never have known that someone close to them is a Vietnam-era veteran.
These heroes were part of our military and are part of our nation’s history and they deserve a hero’s recognition for their service and their sacrifices they made on behalf of our country.
On March 29, please join the countless veterans, families, military organizations and advocates as we recognize Vietnam Veterans Day, where we formally thank our Vietnam veterans and give them the recognition they deserve, and that many never received.
And to all of the Vietnam veterans reading: Welcome home!
2022 LaSata Reading Challenge
Each year during the month of March, teachers and parents work to instill both the benefits and importance of reading in their children. Schools across the state plan activities for students and often host different challenges that encourage kids to open a book and enjoy the adventure.
In addition to visiting classrooms and reading to students, my office will again be participating in March is Reading Month by hosting a reading contest to encourage students across the 21st District.
From March 1 to 31, the LaSata Reading Challenge will be open to all K-8 students in Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties. This year, instead of completed books, the contest will be based on pages read.
The student who reads the most pages for the challenge will be invited to come up to the state Capitol for a day and serve alongside me as a junior senator. Additionally, the students with the three highest numbers of pages read during the month will receive a signed, framed award, and anyone who participates will get a certificate.
Students may enter the challenge at www.StateSenatorKimLaSata.com/2022-literacy-challenge/, or by sending an email to SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov with the student’s name, grade, school, parent or guardian name and phone number, and book titles with the number of pages read during the month.
As a former teacher, I was thrilled to see the number of participants in last year’s contest. I encourage all eligible students to take on the challenge and help promote the importance of reading.
My website and my Facebook are the best ways to stay current on what is happening in both our Senate district and the state’s capital.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. You may sign up to receive this newsletter also at my website.
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