Schuitmaker encourages residents to attend MDOT discussion on I-94 BL speed limit changes

LANSING―Kalamazoo area residents interested in discussing proposed speed limit changes along the I-94 Business Loop are encouraged to participate in a March 30 open house at the city commission chambers inside Kalamazoo City Hall, said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton.

Officials from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will hold the event from 6 to 7 p.m. in partnership with the Michigan State Police (MSP).

The plan includes raising current speed limits 5 mph along segments of Stadium Drive and M-96/King Highway. Current speed limits range from 30-40 mph, and the new speed limits will range from 30-45 mph. A detailed breakdown of the plan will be available at the meeting.

The proposed corrections are a result of a regular 10-year review of speed limits performed by MSP. The department said it reviews speed limits on state trunklines regularly and works in conjunction with MDOT to correct speed limits.

For more information on the project, visit the list of statewide lane closures at: www.michigan.gov/drive. 

Schuitmaker Photo Advisory: Senator welcomes Scouts to Capitol

LANSING―State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, welcomed Portage-based Boy Scout Troop 244 to the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. Sujay M. Dewan is pictured speaking to the senators during session.

For a print quality version of this and other photos, please visit www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com and click the Photowire link.
 

Sen. Schuitmaker, AT&T Deliver Free Phone Cards to Michigan Active Duty Military Families

LANSING—Military families from southwest Michigan will stay better connected with their loved ones stationed overseas thanks to 100 free phone cards made available to the Jackson Armory by AT&T and announced today by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker. The Jackson Armory serves military families in Kalamazoo as well as Branch, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Jackson, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties.

“We can never thank our military families enough for the sacrifices they make to keep our nation safe,” said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Helping them stay in touch through AT&T’s great calling card program is a small but well deserved token of our appreciation.”

In total, 1,000 phone cards were presented to active duty members of the military and their families today at armories across Michigan.

“Families across the state will stay better connected with their loved ones serving our nation overseas thanks to these phone cards,” said Family Assistance Coordinator Justin Dyess from Michigan’s Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing. “We are grateful to lawmakers and companies like AT&T for their continuing support of our armed forces.”

Since the onset of hostilities in the Middle East, AT&T has donated more than $6 million in prepaid phone cards to our troops.

“For those of us at home, it’s impossible to imagine the reality faced by our troops each day. Helping them stay in touch with their families is just a small way of saying ‘thank you’ for all they do,” said AT&T President Jim Murray. “These AT&T phone cards will keep them connected no matter where overseas they’re serving, from Kuwait to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Calling cards were presented this week to Camp Grayling as well as Michigan armories in Grand Ledge, Jackson, Ishpeming, Sault Ste. Marie, Taylor and Wyoming.

Schuitmaker resolution urges ban of dangerous bath salts

LANSING―A resolution introduced in the Michigan Senate on Tuesday urges the U.S. Congress and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to make it illegal to possess, use, or sell the drugs commonly contained in so-called bath salts.

Senate Resolution 24, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, calls for the ban to rid Michigan communities of the dangerous chemicals MDVP (methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and mephedrone, which are primary components of the currently over-the-counter “designer drugs” referred to as tranquility, zoom, ivory wave, red dove, and vanilla sky.

“These bath salts and similar products are very dangerous substances that are too easily coming into the hands of our youth and have the potential to disrupt our communities,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “For the health and well-being of our children, I strongly urge our leaders in Washington to take action against these dangerous chemicals.”

The bath salts, also sometimes referred to as plant food, cause effects in the body similar to those caused by cocaine and methamphetamines, including hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal tendencies. Reports indicate hospital emergency departments in Michigan have seen an increase of cases related to the use of bath salts in recent months. Reports indicate that many people treated in emergency departments have been young adults in their 20s and 30s.  The Michigan Department of Community Health has already made steps to get the drugs off store shelves.

SR 24 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

To read the resolution in its entirety, please visit the lawmaker's website.

Schuitmaker encourages residents to take advantage of upcoming tax amnesty period

LANSING―Kalamazoo area residents who owe back taxes to the state will be able to pay them without penalty during an upcoming tax amnesty period, said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker.

The tax amnesty program will be available to eligible taxpayers between May 15, 2011 and June 30, 2011 and will be administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury. The department is currently developing forms, instructions, frequently asked questions, and other information that useful to taxpayers, which the department said will be made available at www.mitaxamnesty.com.

“This is an excellent opportunity for residents who owe back taxes to pay up without facing the penalties that they would ordinarily incur,” said Schuitmaker, a Lawton Republican. “This is a benefit to taxpayers and to Michigan as a whole, and I encourage all those who are eligible to participate.”

Key points of the tax amnesty program are:

  • All penalties will be waived, but interest charges will not be waived;
  • Payment of the total amount owed (no installment agreements), including interest, must be postmarked by midnight on June 30, 2011 in order to qualify for amnesty;
  • All state taxes administered under the Revenue Act (PA 122 of 1941) are eligible for amnesty including, Income Tax, Michigan Business Tax, Single Business Tax, Sales and Use Tax, Withholding Tax, Tobacco Taxes, and Motor Fuel Taxes; and
  • Only taxes for return periods ending on or before December 31, 2009 are eligible.

Schuitmaker also reminded residents about the department's unclaimed property database.

“Recent legislation revised the period to claim property from five years to three years before it is transferred to the state permanently,” Schuitmaker said. “If residents think they might have unclaimed property, I would encourage them to check the Department of Treasury's website as soon as possible.”

The state Department of Treasury has millions of dollars in lost or forgotten assets from dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, valuables left in safe deposit boxes and stock certificates. Because these properties were considered abandoned and unclaimed by the bank or company entrusted with them, they are turned over to the state, as required by law. The department is the custodian of these assets and returns them to their owners (or the owners' heirs) when they are rightfully claimed.

For more information about this and other issues, visit the lawmaker's website at www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com.