Sen. Schuitmaker reacts to State of the State address

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, issued the following statement on Tuesday, in response to Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address:

“The most important thing to take away from this evening’s address is that Michigan’s comeback is very much a reality. We have had sustained population growth for six straight years and through numerous reforms, we have created a business-friendly environment that has resulted in the creation of 540,000 private-sector jobs.

“These reforms have also led to the state’s unemployment rate being cut by more than half and Michigan seeing the nation’s largest increase in manufacturing jobs.

“Now that we’ve balanced our budgets well ahead of schedule for seven years in a row and people are getting back to work, it’s time to give relief to families throughout the state. The Senate has led the charge with multiple tax reform bills that seek to provide clarity to recent action on the federal level in addition to savings for families.

“The Senate recently approved tax reforms that would restore and increase the state’s personal exemption after it was effectively eliminated by the federal government, maintain the personal exemption for cities who impose an income tax, and create a Michigan income tax credit for dependent care, such as care for children, elderly parents or disabled family members. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the governor to get these signed into law.

“Lastly, I applaud the governor for his continued focus on the public health crisis that is crippling our state. Unfortunately families from every demographic have been shattered by this tragedy. I have met with countless families that have had loved ones taken away or had their families torn apart because of addiction to prescription opioids and heroin.

“We have approved several measures in recent years that seek to combat the issue. We gave pharmacies, families of at-risk individuals, law enforcement officers and first responders the ability to carry Naloxone, a formula that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Toward the end of 2017, the Legislature also approved a package of bills that seek to keep opioids off the streets by reducing the number of opioids that can be prescribed for short-term injuries, require prescribers to check a patient’s history via the Michigan Automated Prescription System and put an end to doctor shopping.

“I am glad the governor signed these measures into law and am pleased to hear them being included in tonight’s speech. I know that mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends and other loved ones from around the state who have lost someone appreciate the governor giving the issue the attention it deserves.”

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Schuitmaker welcomes members of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan to Capitol for State of the State address

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, welcomed members of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan to the Michigan Capitol for Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.

Schuitmaker supports Senate override of Snyder veto

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker on Wednesday supported an override of Gov. Rick Snyder’s vetoes of Senate Bills 94 and 95.

“We originally approved this legislation because it would help Michigan families save money when purchasing a new vehicle,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “The governor vetoed these bills because of financial concerns and the administration and the Legislature were never able to come to a final agreement beyond that — which is why we saw today’s action.”

With approval from both the Senate and the House, the override eliminates the governor’s veto and speeds up the implementation of what has been coined “sales tax on the difference.”

As passed, SBs 94 and 95 increase the dollar amount that is excluded from taxation when a motor vehicle is traded in for a new or used vehicle. The bills increase the cap on the trade-in value from $3,500 to $4,000 beginning Jan. 1, 2018 and to $5,000 by Jan. 1, 2019. The cap then increases by $1,000 annually until the reforms are fully implemented in 2028.

For example, once fully implemented, if a car valued at $14,000 is traded in and the owner applies the trade-in value toward the purchase of a $24,000 car, the sales tax would only be applied to the $10,000 difference.

“Michigan is one of only six states — and the only Great Lakes state — that still taxes the value of trade-ins,” Schuitmaker said. “The current system goes against everything we have represented and fought for over the last eight years. This policy costs Michigan consumers more money and puts businesses at a disadvantage — it is clear that change is needed.”

Schuitmaker added that though she doesn’t take choosing to override an administrative veto lightly, it was an action she was proud to be a part of.

“Today’s action by the Senate is a full representation of our system of checks and balances,” Schuitmaker said. “I was proud to support this effort on behalf of Michigan’s taxpayers.”

The House also approved the measure Wednesday afternoon, formally completing the override process.

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Schuitmaker, Colbeck resolutions see committee approval

LANSING, Mich. — Two resolutions urging the U.S. Senate to cut funding to sanctuary cities and to pass Kate’s Law received approval from the Senate Committee on Judiciary Tuesday afternoon.

“Many citizens, including myself, cannot understand why cities are getting away with knowingly violating federal law,” said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This is purely a matter of public safety. We cannot condone welcoming people who come here illegally and providing a safe haven for them.”

Michigan Senate Concurrent Resolutions 20 and 21, sponsored by Schuitmaker and Sen. Patrick Colbeck, urge the U.S. Senate to approve Kate’s Law, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in early June. The pair of resolutions also urge the federal government to cut funding to any city that proclaims itself a sanctuary city.

U.S. House Resolution 3004, which is commonly referred to as Kate’s Law, increases penalties for those who are deported and caught trying to return to the U.S. The legislation is named after Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was killed by a man who had been deported numerous times, but was able to enter the U.S. again. Many attribute Steinle’s death to the city’s sanctuary city status, a term coined for cities that limit cooperation between their workers and federal officials attempting to enforce federal immigration law.

“When political considerations circumvent the rule of law, our citizens suffer — sometimes fatally, such was the case with Kate Steinle,” said Colbeck, R-Canton. “We need to restore respect for the rule of law.”

Both resolutions will now go before the full Senate for further consideration.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality photograph from Wednesday’s bill signing is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.

PHOTO CAPTION: State Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton and Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, testify before the Senate Committee on Judiciary on Senate Concurrent Resolutions 20 and 21.

Schuitmaker co-sponsors tax relief for Michigan families

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker co-sponsored legislation that would restore the Michigan personal tax exemption that was lost in the recent federal tax reform.

“This legislation would ensure the state’s personal exemption remains regardless of changes on the federal level,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Additionally, the bill increases the personal exemption amount and would put more money in the pockets of taxpayers.”

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in addition to lowering income tax rates, included a streamlined exemption process that eliminated the $4,050 personal exemption at the federal level, setting it to zero.

Senate Bill 748 makes necessary changes to maintain the state’s personal exemption and provides an increase in the state personal exemption by $500 to $4,800 by 2021, while remaining tied to inflation.

Michigan’s current state income tax law ties the state’s personal exemptions to the federal number of exemptions. Without a revision to the law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim the personal exemptions on their state taxes — which would cost state taxpayers around $1.5 billion a year.

“Not only does this plan ensure Michigan residents are able to keep this much-needed exemption, it also includes an increase in the personal exemption to $4,800 — going above and beyond the $4,500 recommendation of Gov. Rick Snyder,” Schuitmaker said.

Currently, the state’s personal tax exemption is scheduled to increase from $4,000 to $4,300 over the next three years.

“There has been a lot of uncertainty regarding the federal changes and what they might mean for Michigan residents,” Schuitmaker said. “Now that our budget has begun to stabilize and we’ve approved numerous reforms that have drastically improved the state’s financial outlook, it is time to give relief to families throughout my district and our state.”

According to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Brandenburg, the sponsor of SB 748, the committee will hold a hearing on the bill on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

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Senate adopts Schuitmaker’s ‘Human Trafficking Awareness Day’ resolution

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker designating Jan. 11, 2018 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Michigan.

“Unfortunately, due to Michigan’s geographical location, we are a hotspot for abductions and human trafficking,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Far too many women and young girls have become victims to this heinous criminal behavior.”

Schuitmaker authored Senate Resolution 117 to bring attention to the horrific trauma caused by this criminal activity and educate people on how to avoid becoming a victim. According to the U.S. Department of State, human trafficking is the fastest-growing crime in the world after drug trafficking.

In recent years, Michigan has gained national attention on both the state and federal levels as a model for passing legislation aimed at cracking down on human trafficking. Michigan was also named the most improved state in 2015 by Shared Hope International for approving these and other measures addressing sex trafficking.

“I am proud to have worked on these crucial reforms that have made Michigan safer for women. Though we are a national leader in approving policies that effectively deter abductions and human trafficking, there is much to be done.” Schuitmaker said. “I encourage all Michiganders to use this day as an opportunity to educate themselves about human trafficking and be aware of how to stay safe.”

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Sen. Schuitmaker announces January office hours

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, announced that January office hours are scheduled for the 26th Senate District.

Schuitmaker’s district director, Deb Shields, will be available to meet with constituents at the following dates, times and locations:

Monday, Jan. 22

  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

The Breakfast Place

206 N. Main St.

Lawton

Tuesday, Jan. 23

  • 10 – 11 a.m.

Mugshots Coffee House

340 Water St.

Allegan

  • Noon – 1 p.m.

Plainwell City Hall

211 N. Main St.

Plainwell

Tuesday, Jan. 30

  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Gaines Township Hall

8555 Kalamazoo Ave. SE

Gaines Township

Schuitmaker welcomes area residents to attend mobile district office hours this month hosted by District Director Deb Shields throughout Van Buren and Allegan counties, as well as Kentwood and Gaines Township.

Shields will be on hand to answer questions and respond to concerns that residents of the district may have. No appointment is necessary.

For more information, please contact Deb Shields at (269) 303-5564 or by email at DShields@senate.michigan.gov.

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