Booher: DCH budget extends Healthy Kids Dental to Mecosta, Osceola and Wexford counties

LANSING?Under the budget for the Department of Community Health (DCH) finalized by the Legislature on Thursday, Medicaid-eligible children in every county in the 35th Senate District will have access to dental care, said Sen. Darwin Booher.

“Extending the effective Healthy Kids Dental program to Mecosta, Osceola and Wexford counties will help improve the health of thousands of children and reduce Medicaid costs,” said Booher, R-Evart. “The program increases access to dental care for disadvantaged and underserved children. Its proven results have been better overall health for children in the program and reduced costs for taxpayers.”

The DCH budget includes $16.7 million to expand the Healthy Kids Dental (HKD) program, with a priority on Michigan’s rural counties.

“I worked to extend this program because it is smart, efficient policy,” Booher said. “It improves the lives of thousands of Michigan children in a cost-effective manner.”

The program is a private-public partnership between the DCH and Delta Dental and provides dental benefits to Medicaid-eligible residents under the age of 21.

The Healthy Kids Dental program covers services such as X-rays, cleanings, fillings, root canals, tooth extractions and dentures. Beneficiaries receive treatment from dentists who participate with Delta Dental’s HKD program, which includes approximately 75 percent of Michigan dentists.

To find a participating dentist, residents may use Dental Dental’s HKD dentist directory.

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Booher: budget focuses on fiscal responsibility, economic recovery and public safety

LANSING?State Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, issued the following statement Thursday after the Legislature finalized a Fiscal Year 2013 budget for all state departments:

“This structurally balanced budget prioritizes support of key services like public safety while ensuring state government continues to live within its means.

“With this budget we are building on the reforms we made last year that are already creating a positive climate for creating jobs and growing the economy, which are the best solutions to Michigan’s long-term challenges.

“We are strengthening Michigan’s finances by paying down our debts and building up reserves in a rainy day fund. This budget also holds state government accountable for how it spends taxpayer dollars and improves efficiency so that we are able to get the greatest ‘value for the money.’

“I look forward to returning and completing an education budget next week that increases support for our schools, universities and community colleges. Once completed, Michigan will again have enacted a balanced, responsible budget before July, so that local governments and schools can plan accordingly.”

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Booher’s fruit crop disaster assistance resolution adopted by Michigan Senate

LANSING – The Michigan Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher urging President Barack Obama and the U.S. Agriculture secretary to begin the process of helping northwest and north central Michigan fruit growers with disaster assistance.

“A frost in early April destroyed an estimated 80 to 90 percent of Michigan’s tart cherry crop and up to 80 percent of the apple crop,” said Booher, R-Evart. “These are two of a wide variety of goods produced by Michigan’s agricultural community that have been devastated by the frost. They also represent the livelihoods of many Michigan families.”

Booher’s resolution notes that warm temperatures in early spring wreaked havoc on the state’s fruit crops, which generate more than $350 million annually. The warmth caused plants to sprout prematurely and put them at risk of damage when devastating frost occurred in early April.

According to the Cherry Marketing Institute, 2011’s tart cherry crop was about 260 pounds, and Michigan accounts for roughly 70 percent of the total U.S. crop. Due to the frost’s devastation, the National Cherry Festival reports that visitors to the July festival in Traverse City will likely eat tart cherries from other states.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers several programs to help farmers financially recover from a natural disaster,” Booher said. “This resolution calls on the president and the Agriculture secretary to begin the process to make federal assistance and low-interest loans available to these hard-hit farmers. It is about helping our local farmers as well as the thousands of Michigan families and workers who depend on these crops.”

In order for low-interest loans and other federal assistance to be available to the fruit growers, the affected fruit-growing areas must be declared disaster areas.

Senate Resolution 149 asks the president and U.S. Agriculture secretary to monitor closely the conditions of northwest and north central Michigan’s fruit crop to determine if disaster assistance is needed.

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Booher’s fruit crop disaster assistance resolution adopted by Michigan Senate

LANSING – The Michigan Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher urging President Barack Obama and the U.S. Agriculture secretary to begin the process of helping northwest and north central Michigan fruit growers with disaster assistance.

“A frost in early April destroyed an estimated 80 to 90 percent of Michigan’s tart cherry crop and up to 80 percent of the apple crop,” said Booher, R-Evart. “These are two of a wide variety of goods produced by Michigan’s agricultural community that have been devastated by the frost. They also represent the livelihoods of many Michigan families.”

Booher’s resolution notes that warm temperatures in early spring wreaked havoc on the state’s fruit crops, which generate more than $350 million annually. The warmth caused plants to sprout prematurely and put them at risk of damage when devastating frost occurred in early April.

According to the Cherry Marketing Institute, 2011’s tart cherry crop was about 260 pounds, and Michigan accounts for roughly 70 percent of the total U.S. crop. Due to the frost’s devastation, the National Cherry Festival reports that visitors to the July festival in Traverse City will likely eat tart cherries from other states.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers several programs to help farmers financially recover from a natural disaster,” Booher said. “This resolution calls on the president and the Agriculture secretary to begin the process to make federal assistance and low-interest loans available to these hard-hit farmers. It is about helping our local farmers as well as the thousands of Michigan families and workers who depend on these crops.”

In order for low-interest loans and other federal assistance to be available to the fruit growers, the affected fruit-growing areas must be declared disaster areas.

Senate Resolution 149 asks the president and U.S. Agriculture secretary to monitor closely the conditions of northwest and north central Michigan’s fruit crop to determine if disaster assistance is needed.

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Booher, Potvin welcome local veterans to Capitol for Senate Memorial Day service

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, and Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac (right), welcome veterans David Brickey (center left), Wayne Stevens Jr. (center) and Allan Rohen to the state Capitol for the Michigan Senate’s 18th Annual Memorial Day Service.

The veterans are members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7979 in Evart and were the honored guests of Booher on the Senate floor for the ceremony.

A print-quality photograph of Booher and Potvin welcoming the veterans is available by visiting the senator’s photowire at: www.misenategop.com/senators/photowire.asp?District=35.

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Booher, Potvin welcome local veterans to Capitol for Senate Memorial Day service

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, and Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac (right), welcome veterans David Brickey (center left), Wayne Stevens Jr. (center) and Allan Rohen to the state Capitol for the Michigan Senate’s 18th Annual Memorial Day Service.

The veterans are members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7979 in Evart and were the honored guests of Booher on the Senate floor for the ceremony.

A print-quality photograph of Booher and Potvin welcoming the veterans is available by visiting the senator’s photowire at: www.misenategop.com/senators/photowire.asp?District=35.

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Senate approves beach maintenance bill

LANSING? Legislation to clear up confusing and restrictive state regulations that limit the ability of shoreline owners to maintain their beaches was approved by the Michigan Senate on Wednesday, said co-sponsor Sen. Darwin Booher.

“This reform is about eliminating unnecessary government regulations and fees and protecting the rights of lakefront property owners to maintain their beaches, just as any other homeowners are able to do in their backyard,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This is a common-sense balance between ensuring private property rights and protecting our state’s natural resources. By enabling property owners to maintain clean and healthy beaches, we are helping combat invasive species and keeping our beautiful beaches sandy and open for use.”

Low water levels in 1999 exposed beaches across the Great Lakes, which were quickly overrun with the invasive plant phragmites and other weeds. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) policy at the time was to prevent landowners from responding by grooming their beaches to remove the plant or prevent it from growing in the first place. 

Senate Bill 1052 would eliminate certain DEQ restrictions about how beach maintenance can be done. Property owners with sandy beaches would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities.

“Michigan has a proud history of outdoor recreation and our miles of beaches play a key role in our economy and outstanding quality of life,” Booher said. “This reform is about increasing outdoor activities by removing confusing and costly restrictions that inhibit the process of preserving our beachfronts. The result of this freedom will be cleaner beaches that are safer and more enjoyable for families and tourists.”

Under SB 1052, owners of sandy beaches would not need a DEQ permit to remove vegetation and debris on the section of their beaches between the normal high-water mark and the water’s edge. Certain non-beach-grooming activities like construction projects, digging of channels or dredging below the ordinary high-water mark would still be subject to a state permit, and some restrictions will still be imposed by federal regulations.

SB 1052 now advances to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Senate approves beach maintenance bill

LANSING? Legislation to clear up confusing and restrictive state regulations that limit the ability of shoreline owners to maintain their beaches was approved by the Michigan Senate on Wednesday, said co-sponsor Sen. Darwin Booher.

“This reform is about eliminating unnecessary government regulations and fees and protecting the rights of lakefront property owners to maintain their beaches, just as any other homeowners are able to do in their backyard,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This is a common-sense balance between ensuring private property rights and protecting our state’s natural resources. By enabling property owners to maintain clean and healthy beaches, we are helping combat invasive species and keeping our beautiful beaches sandy and open for use.”

Low water levels in 1999 exposed beaches across the Great Lakes, which were quickly overrun with the invasive plant phragmites and other weeds. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) policy at the time was to prevent landowners from responding by grooming their beaches to remove the plant or prevent it from growing in the first place. 

Senate Bill 1052 would eliminate certain DEQ restrictions about how beach maintenance can be done. Property owners with sandy beaches would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities.

“Michigan has a proud history of outdoor recreation and our miles of beaches play a key role in our economy and outstanding quality of life,” Booher said. “This reform is about increasing outdoor activities by removing confusing and costly restrictions that inhibit the process of preserving our beachfronts. The result of this freedom will be cleaner beaches that are safer and more enjoyable for families and tourists.”

Under SB 1052, owners of sandy beaches would not need a DEQ permit to remove vegetation and debris on the section of their beaches between the normal high-water mark and the water’s edge. Certain non-beach-grooming activities like construction projects, digging of channels or dredging below the ordinary high-water mark would still be subject to a state permit, and some restrictions will still be imposed by federal regulations.

SB 1052 now advances to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Booher welcomes Pastor Presley to state Capitol

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, welcomes Pastor Josh Presley (right) and his family to the Michigan Senate. Presley is the lead pastor at Colonville Bible Church in Clare and delivered the invocation before Senate session.

A print-quality photograph of Sen. Booher with Pastor Presley and his family is available by visiting the senator’s photowire at http://www.misenategop.com/senators/photowire.asp?District=35.

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Senate approves reform of job-killing personal property tax

LANSING— Legislation to eliminate the personal property tax (PPT) for Michigan small businesses was approved by the Michigan Senate on Thursday, said Sen. Darwin Booher.

“This reform is about helping to create jobs by making Michigan competitive and attractive to entrepreneurs,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy, creating more than 70 percent of all Michigan jobs. This reform is focused first on spurring small business growth and job creation. That is why the first reform to take effect will be to eliminate this tax on small commercial businesses, like restaurants and mom-and-pop stores.”

Beginning in 2013, Senate Bill 1070 would exempt all industrial and commercial businesses from having to pay the tax or file a return as long as their personal property has a taxable-value of less than $40,000. Booher noted that this is not to be confused with real estate property taxes, but addresses personal property taxes businesses pay year after year on items like equipment, office furniture and supplies.

“This is also about fairness for Michigan’s small businesses,” Booher said. “The vast majority of those affected by this reform are the locally owned small businesses that stayed in Michigan and sacrificed to make ends meet and keep the doors open. These family operations are not eligible for any breaks and currently pay the full burden of the PPT.”

According to the Anderson Economic Group, in 2013 state and local governments will save more than $12 million in costs under the small business exemption in SB 1070.

“Exempting these small businesses will reduce the number of personal property tax fillings by up to 80 percent,” Booher said. “That means less paperwork for job providers and less administrative costs for local governments. Businesses and state and local units will eventually save more than $200 million each year in compliance costs as a result of this reform. That is $200 million in bureaucratic paperwork that could be used to expand a business or be invested in local priorities like road maintenance or public safety improvements.”

The remaining bills in the personal property tax reform package deal with phasing out industrial and manufacturing personal property starting in 2016 and replacing lost tax revenue to local governments. Senate Bill 1072 would create a personal property reimbursement fund, to be funded from increased state revenues due to the expiration of tax credits. If the state fails to deliver on replacement revenue for local governments, the reform is automatically repealed.

“This reform is designed to help boost economic growth and job creation,” Booher said. “This is about rejecting the status quo that failed the state for a decade and adopting a new strategy to help energize our economy and spur job creation.”

SBs 1065-1072 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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