Booher named to Senate Healthy Michigan Workgroup

Sen. Darwin Booher was appointed on Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, to serve on a new workgroup that is tasked with studying and offering possible legislative options on reforming Medicaid in Michigan.

“As a member of the Healthy Michigan Workgroup, I will thoroughly review this issue and report to my colleagues about how to best address health care in Michigan,” said Booher, R-Evart. “The most important part of this process will be gathering feedback from the people. As I attend district events and meetings this summer, I hope to meet and talk to constituents about their ideas, and I welcome any calls or feedback.”

The workgroup will be headed up by Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw. Joining Booher and Kahn on the panel will be Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale; Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion; Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy; and Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc.

“Contrary to recent claims, I am not on vacation simply because the Senate is not in session, just like the governor isn’t on vacation when he is attending events across Michigan or even out of the country in Israel,” Booher said. “I owe it to my constituents, my children and my grandchildren to do my due diligence before acting on any proposal with this great of a potential impact.” 

The governor, who first proposed the Medicaid expansion in February without any reforms, has since been working to promote a Medicaid reform and expansion plan approved by the state House in mid-June. 

“As a member of the budget subcommittee that handles health issues, I had more than 30 hours of meetings on the governor’s Medicaid expansion plan during the last months,” Booher said.  “The House approved a plan that contained reforms; however, having only five days to review it without even a committee hearing was insufficient. Whether we accept a health care reform proposal that uses state dollars or federal dollars, it’s all coming from the taxpayer. 

“A healthier Michigan is the goal, and I look forward to finding a solution to achieve that goal in a way that is responsible to Michigan taxpayers. It would be irresponsible to take quick action and not fully take into account the long-term effects that any changes would have on our residents and the state.”

 

Booher named to Senate Healthy Michigan Workgroup

Sen. Darwin Booher was appointed on Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, to serve on a new workgroup that is tasked with studying and offering possible legislative options on reforming Medicaid in Michigan.

“As a member of the Healthy Michigan Workgroup, I will thoroughly review this issue and report to my colleagues about how to best address health care in Michigan,” said Booher, R-Evart. “The most important part of this process will be gathering feedback from the people. As I attend district events and meetings this summer, I hope to meet and talk to constituents about their ideas, and I welcome any calls or feedback.”

The workgroup will be headed up by Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw. Joining Booher and Kahn on the panel will be Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale; Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion; Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy; and Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc.

“Contrary to recent claims, I am not on vacation simply because the Senate is not in session, just like the governor isn’t on vacation when he is attending events across Michigan or even out of the country in Israel,” Booher said. “I owe it to my constituents, my children and my grandchildren to do my due diligence before acting on any proposal with this great of a potential impact.” 

The governor, who first proposed the Medicaid expansion in February without any reforms, has since been working to promote a Medicaid reform and expansion plan approved by the state House in mid-June. 

“As a member of the budget subcommittee that handles health issues, I had more than 30 hours of meetings on the governor’s Medicaid expansion plan during the last months,” Booher said.  “The House approved a plan that contained reforms; however, having only five days to review it without even a committee hearing was insufficient. Whether we accept a health care reform proposal that uses state dollars or federal dollars, it’s all coming from the taxpayer. 

“A healthier Michigan is the goal, and I look forward to finding a solution to achieve that goal in a way that is responsible to Michigan taxpayers. It would be irresponsible to take quick action and not fully take into account the long-term effects that any changes would have on our residents and the state.”

 

Senate adopts Booher resolution urging IRS to protect community colleges from ‘Obamacare’

The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved a resolution, sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher, calling on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to ensure that the employer mandates in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) do not negatively affect Michigan’s community colleges

“This is about preserving the affordability of our community colleges by shielding them from employer mandates in Obamacare that could significantly impact their bottom line,” said Booher, chair of the community colleges budget subcommittee. “I heard from a community college official that depending on what action the IRS takes, they could see their costs increase by $3 million. This level of higher costs would force community colleges to raise tuition — directly impacting Michigan students.”

Senate Resolution 37 urges the IRS to adopt a formula for the purpose of the ACA that determines full-time employment based on an assumption that adjunct professors work one hour outside of the classroom for each hour they teach.

Some organizations are urging the IRS to use a two-to-one ratio, assuming two hours worked outside of the classroom for each hour taught.

“Under a two-to-one ratio, an adjunct professor who teaches only eight hours of classes would be considered a full-time employee,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Obamacare would then require that the colleges give them full health care benefits or pay a penalty. The one-to-one ratio is the best course of action because it better reflects an adjunct professor’s actual workload and also helps our community colleges continue to offer a quality, affordable higher education option.”

Booher said that his concern about this impact prompted him to include a boilerplate provision in the state’s community college budget that would require the colleges to estimate the financial impact of Obamacare on their institutions and to post that data on their websites.

“The people deserve to know how their tax dollars are being used,” Booher said. “That accountability includes showing the public how state and federal mandates impact the budgets of our community colleges.”

 

Booher honors Evart High School boys track team at Capitol

Sen. Darwin Booher on Wednesday welcomed the Evart High School boys track team to the Capitol, where the team was honored with a special tribute recognizing their victory at the 2013 Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association (MITCA) Division 4 Meet.

“To have won this meet once is definitely an accomplishment to recognize, but securing the title two years in a row is truly a feat to be commended, and it is with great pleasure that I honor you on behalf of a very proud community,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I also want to recognize the vital role the coaches and parents of these young men have played in making all this possible.”

Booher noted that the MITCA meet is scored in such a way that it emphasizes the depth of a lineup and the variety of talents on a team. In the meet, Evart scored a total of 1664.5 points, soundly beating out their nearest competitor, which had only 1458.5 points.

“These outstanding student-athletes exemplify teamwork and are a tremendous example to everyone of what discipline, hard work and motivation can accomplish,” Booher said. “Sports are an incredible way for young men and women to work cohesively and bond with others as a team to achieve a common goal. That is what the Evart boys track team did.”

The tribute was signed by Booher, Gov. Rick Snyder and Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, who joined Booher in honoring the team during Senate session.

Editor’s Note: Print-quality photographs are available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on “Photowire.”

Governor signs Booher private forestland management bills

Sen. Darwin Booher’s legislation to help property owners improve the management of their private forestlands was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday.

“Michigan is home to about 11 million acres of private land, but only 20 percent of that land is being actively managed,” said Booher, R-Evart. “With these reforms, we are encouraging the effective management of Michigan’s private forestlands, which could bring about tremendous opportunities for increased jobs, recreation and conservation.”

Senate Bill 56, now Public Act 45 of 2013, allows conservation districts to advise landowners about the value of managing their land for timber harvest, habitat, conservation and recreation, while PA 42 (SB 51) encourages landowners to enroll in the Qualified Forest Program and actively manage their forestland.

“This is about developing a proactive partnership between landowners, conservation districts, consulting foresters, loggers and the entire forest products industry to work toward the healthy management of our forests,” Booher said.  “It will help provide a steady, future supply of timber, providing more certainty for our mills and timber industry for their current operations and for possible expansions.”

Other highlights in the nine-bill package (Public Acts 42-50) include:

  • Transferring oversight of the Qualified Forest program, from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development;
  • Allowing buildings to be on property enrolled in the Qualified Forest program;
  • Reducing the punitive nature of the recapture penalty tax if the land is withdrawn from the program;
  • Adding forest management as a consideration under the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP);
  • Updating the Commercial Forest program to allow current enrollees to transfer to the Qualified Forest Program for one year without being penalized; and
  • Making lands eligible for the 18-mill agricultural exemption if more than half of the acreage is devoted for a combination of agricultural use and use as qualified forest land.

The Qualified Forest Program encourages private landowners to manage their land for forestry by providing a property tax reduction as an incentive. A landowner must obtain a forest management plan written by a qualified forester and meet other minimum requirements to qualify. 

Landowners who meet the qualifications must apply to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to obtain an exemption from school operating taxes.  Enrollees also gain protection from the pop-up tax upon future sale as long as the property continues to be managed under the program requirements.

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Editor’s Note: A photograph of Booher at the bill signing is available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on “Photowire.”