Schuitmaker and Colbeck push for restoration of charitable tax credits

For Immediate Release
Feb. 28, 2014

Jennifer Murray (Colbeck)
Derek Sova (Schuitmaker)

LANSING, Mich.—Sens. Patrick Colbeck and Tonya Schuitmaker have introduced legislation restoring the tax credits for donations made to some charities.

“Many of the organizations working to provide support to the neediest and most vulnerable members of our communities count on donations from generous citizens,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “When these credits were eliminated, it had a negative effect on these groups.”

Senate Bill 835, introduced by Colbeck, will allow taxpayers to receive credits for donations made to public art, radio, colleges, universities or museums. Senate Bill 836, introduced by Schuitmaker, will allow a taxpayer to claim a credit for donations made to food banks, homeless shelters and community foundations. 

“Different institutions that have relied on public funding have seen their support decline as the economy has struggled,” said Colbeck, R-Canton. “This legislation will eliminate a disincentive that may be preventing people from making a donation to a cause that’s important to them.”

The charitable tax credits were eliminated in 2011 as part of a comprehensive tax reform that sought to reduce taxes and treat taxpayers equally.

“Many of our tax dollars are spent on social programs,” Schuitmaker added. “If a taxpayer decides to contribute directly to a shelter or other community organization that is fulfilling the mission of these social programs, they shouldn’t be taxed on that contribution.”

“Between federal, state and local taxes, our citizens are taxed enough,” said Colbeck. “I have always believed that people have a right to spend their hard-earned money how they please, and if they choose to give to these worthwhile causes, government shouldn’t stand in their way.”

The credit would be worth up to 50 percent of the contributions made with a maximum credit of $100 for a single filer or $200 for a joint filer.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.


Senate passes supplemental spending bill that includes $100 million for road maintenance

LANSING—Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker announced that additional road funding is included in a supplemental appropriations bill passed by the Senate last week. 

Of the $100 million for roads included in the bill, which still needs the approval of the House of Representatives, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties would receive approximately $1.9 million for local projects. 

“This winter has been exceptionally harsh and our roads have taken a beating. As some of the ice has started to thaw, we have been left with a mess of potholes,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This money will help address some of the most pressing maintenance needs.”

Kalamazoo County would receive $838,000 with an additional $594,000 split between cities, townships and villages. Van Buren County would receive $377,000 with an additional $109,000 going to local municipalities.

The funding is designated for special winter road maintenance, which includes snow and ice removal, pot hole patching, crack sealing, emergency repairs and bridge maintenance. This one-time funding cannot be used on capital projects like reconstruction or resurfacing.

“As the Legislature continues working toward a long-term funding solution, we need to direct the resources we have available to fix the worst problems,” Schuitmaker said.

Approximately 40 percent of the money would be allocated to state trunkline funds with the remaining 60 percent distributed to counties, cities and villages. Funding would be allocated to counties, cities and villages according to the same formula used to distribute funding from the Michigan Transportation Fund.

The supplemental appropriations bill, Senate Bill 608, passed the Senate and is now awaiting action in the Michigan House Appropriations Committee.


Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker receives award from the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police

For Immediate Release:
Feb. 7, 2014

Contact: Derek Sova

LANSING, Mich.— State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker was presented Thursday with the Legislator of the Year Award for her work on behalf of the law enforcement community and crime victims at their 2014 mid-winter training conference in Grand Rapids.

“It is a privilege to partner with those responsible for keeping our communities safe,” Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, said while addressing the crowd of police chiefs from around the state.  “I am proud of the advances we have been able to make in reducing crime and helping victims.”

Throughout her time in the Legislature, Sen. Schuitmaker has been a supporter of law enforcement and an advocate for the rights of crime victims. She was a member of the Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking led by the attorney general, which recently released a report about human trafficking in Michigan. The report made recommendations on ways to combat this growing crime and emphasized the need to treat the victims who are rescued.  

Schuitmaker has sponsored legislation updating and revising the statutes governing the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, which is responsible for establishing standards for educating, employing and licensing law enforcement officers in the state. She has also been an advocate for providing better treatment to offenders suffering from mental illness.

“Our law enforcement officers have an incredibly demanding and difficult job,” said Schuitmaker. “We need to make sure they have the tools necessary to do it safely and effectively.” 

Legislation to help protect young victims passed by House

For Immediate Release                                                           
Feb. 5 2014         

Contact: Derek Sova

LANSING, Mich.—The Michigan House approved a bill package to allow parents to provide an impact statement even if the victim is older than 18 at the time of the trial. State Reps. Margaret O’Brien and Wayne Schmidt along with Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker sponsored the bill package.

The package includes House Bills 5262-63 and Senate Bill 628 that allow parents to make an impact statement at the sentencing if the crime was committed when the victim was a minor. As law currently reads, parents of victims who are no longer minors at the time of the trial are not allowed to speak at the sentencing. Each bill modifies a different section of the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim’s Rights Act.

Rep. Schmidt sponsored HB 5262 which allows parents to deliver an impact statement in cases of a juvenile committing a crime against a minor.

“We need to make sure we’re seeing the full impact of a crime at the time of sentencing an offender, especially if that crime is committed against a minor,” said Schmidt, R- Traverse City. “This legislation gives families the ability to have their voices heard on the matter, since there is an impact on the entire family in these cases.”

HB 5263 sponsored by O’Brien allows for an impact statement to be given in the case of a misdemeanor committed against a minor.  

“Crimes against children negatively impact entire families,” said O'Brien, R-Portage. “It is essential families have a voice regardless of when the crime is actually prosecuted.”

Sen. Schuitmaker’s legislation, SB 628, applies to children who were victims of a felony.

“Unfortunately, crimes against children are oftentimes not discovered and prosecuted until later on in life, but the pain these victims and their families experience never goes away,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Everyone whose lives are negatively affected by these crimes should be able to share their experience.”