Senate approves Booher roadkill bill

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher’s bill to allow drivers to keep roadkill without obtaining a permit was approved Wednesday by the Michigan Senate. Residents can currently claim an animal killed by a car, but only after first obtaining a permit from law enforcement. 

“This legislation is about eliminating unnecessary red tape concerning the collection of roadkill from Michigan roadways for the benefit of everyone,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Roadkill can often sit on the road for days. Making it easier for drivers who unfortunately hit an animal to remove it will reduce the financial burden on state and local agencies and road commissions who currently pick up roadkill – saving scarce road funding dollars.”

Under Senate Bill 613, the driver hitting an animal would have first priority to claim it. For small game, drivers would have to keep a written record of information about the animal and the location.

For big game, the driver of a vehicle involved in a roadkill collision could call 911 to report the accident and state his or her intent to keep the animal; or the driver or other motorists not involved in the collision could either contact the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or local law enforcement to indicate their intent to collect the roadkill.

“While fresh roadkill like deer can be consumed, I introduced this bill at the request of several constituents who have asked to use roadkill for various purposes, such as hunting, composting or salvaging the hides,” Booher said. “This is about reducing regulations and saving taxpayer dollars.”

SB 613 has been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Michigan petitions Congress for federal balanced budget amendment

LANSING—The Michigan Legislature on Wednesday finalized a joint resolution, co-sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher, to officially petition Congress to call a constitutional convention for a federal balanced budget amendment.

“Our federal government shut down last year because Congress and the president refuse to tackle the staggering national debt or annual deficit, which are currently more than $17 trillion and $750 billion respectively,” said Booher, R-Evart. “These figures are so large that it is nearly impossible to comprehend the magnitude of the problem. To try and put it in perspective, the national debt equates to more than $55,000 per person and about $150,000 per taxpayer. Clearly, it is long overdue for the federal government to stop spending money we don’t have.”

Senate Joint Resolution V officially petitions Congress to take the necessary steps toward passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment would require an annual federal budget in which spending does not exceed existing revenues.

“It is sad and unfortunate that we need to amend the U.S. Constitution just to ensure that our elected federal officials balance the budget,” Booher said. “Northern Michigan families and job providers live within their means, and so should Congress. I co-sponsored this resolution because a balanced budget amendment will force Congress to focus on improving government efficiency, spend tax dollars wisely and hopefully begin to reduce the debt it is leaving our grandchildren.”

Twenty-two states have already approved the resolution. Once adopted by 12 more states, it becomes binding on Congress. Any balanced budget amendment proposed by the convention would still have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states before taking effect.

“The contrast between how Washington handles its budget and Michigan is striking,” Booher said. “Michigan has made the reforms and found efficiencies needed to balance a $1.5 billion deficit, begin paying down long-term state debts and still provide necessary services. Now, with our budget issues mostly behind us, we are able to focus on important priorities facing Michigan families, like investing more in our roads and local schools.”

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Booher, Casperson applaud judge’s ruling that DNR pig ban unconstitutional

LANSING?State Sens. Darwin Booher and Tom Casperson issued statements Monday after a circuit judge ruled that a ban by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on certain breeds of swine is unconstitutional.

“We applaud the ruling by Judge Thomas Solka that confirms what we have thought all along, that the DNR ban on certain breeds of pigs was arbitrary, unreasonable and unconstitutional,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “While we appreciate the court’s decision, you don’t need a law degree to know this was just wrong. 

“The DNR issued its Invasive Species Order in December 2010 and one year later issued a Declaratory Ruling outlining which pig characteristics were illegal.  Unfortunately, since that time, our constituents who raised pigs on their farms and private property were forced to either shut down their operations or fight against the state through the courts.”

Booher concurred with Casperson.

“The judge clearly recognized that the small business owners are raising domestic hogs and do not own wild or feral swine,” said Booher, R-Evart. “We congratulate our constituents for winning their day in court and for standing up against the state government’s overreach. 

“The nonsensical attack on small business owners and famers who raise swine hybrids has gone on long enough. We once again call on the DNR director and governor to rescind the Invasive Species Order to help eliminate any confusion about what pigs may be raised on private property in Michigan.”

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Sen. Booher to read to Manton Elementary School students in celebration of Reading Month

WHO: 
Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart.

WHAT:
Booher will read to four kindergarten classes at Manton Elementary School as part of “March is Reading Month.”

WHEN and WHERE:

Monday, March 24
Manton Elementary School, 105 5th St., Manton
9 to 10 a.m.

WHY:
In honor of Reading Month, Booher will be reading to elementary school students throughout the month of March.

Every year, schoolchildren throughout Michigan celebrate “March is Reading Month.” The purpose is to highlight reading as a fun activity that children and parents can do together, while promoting literacy.

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Senate OKs Natural Resources Trust Fund plan

LANSING?The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that will provide funding for 76 recommended Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects throughout Michigan, said Sen. Darwin Booher, sponsor of the measure.

Senate Bill 780 authorizes the trust fund to spend $27.6 million to support 32 acquisition projects and 44 development projects. Matching funds of $18.9 million bring the total investment to more than $46.5 million.

“The trust fund is about helping to make Michigan a better place to live and raise a family,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This plan invests more than $27 million in constitutionally restricted funds for state and local projects that will improve outdoor recreational opportunities for Michigan families and tourists.”

Booher said the bill will provide more than $1.1 million in funding for four NRTF projects in the 35th Senate District.

“This plan will support four projects in Northern Michigan, representing a total investment of more than $4.4 million,” Booher said. “Families and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the result of the largest project in the area: an extensive improvement to the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. This project will give residents a better and safer experience on the trail, which connects nearly three dozen communities from Cadillac to Grand Rapids.”

SB 780 specifically provides $300,000 toward nearly $3.3 million in improvements to 40.8 miles of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park from LeRoy in Osceola County to Sand Lake in Kent County, including trail surface and bridge enhancements along the route.

Booher said the plan would also allocate $30,900 toward a $51,500 development to Sands Park in Kalkaska County. The project includes adding two accessible playgrounds to the six-acre park, which is the only public access site to Manistee Lake.

The bill also invests $800,000 for the acquisition of 240 acres along Dair Creek in Benzie County and 15 acres of Little Manistee River property in Lake County.

The trust fund is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights.

Applications for next year’s trust fund projects are being accepted until April 1.

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Booher: Cadillac chosen over Mississippi site for new investment, jobs

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher congratulated Cadillac and the Michigan Strategic Fund for securing an investment of $925,000 and the creation of 29 new jobs in Northern Michigan.

“This is outstanding news for the people of Cadillac and the entire state,” said Booher, R-Evart. “The decision by Avon Protection Systems to move all its manufacturing from its Georgia facility to Cadillac means more well-paying jobs for Michigan workers. It also illustrates the great strides we’ve made to revitalize our economy and attract new investment to our state.

“I applaud the local and state officials who worked together with the company to make this investment in Michigan a reality.”

Avon Protection Systems manufactures respiratory protection system technology specializing in military, law enforcement, firefighting and industrial markets.

As a result of choosing Cadillac over a competing site in Mississippi, the company has been awarded a $100,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The city of Cadillac has also offered support to the project in the form of a property tax abatement.

The Michigan Business Development Program is designed to provide grants, loans or other assistance for highly competitive projects that create jobs and provide investment. Grants are performance-based with preference given to eligible businesses seeking to locate or expand in Michigan rather than in another state.

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Senate approves personal property tax reform

LANSING—Legislation to eliminate the personal property tax (PPT) while providing a stable and improved revenue source to communities was approved by the Michigan Senate on Tuesday, said Sen. Darwin Booher.

“This reform is about standing up for our small businesses and our local communities,” said Booher, R-Evart.  “Phasing out the personal property tax will help create jobs by making Michigan competitive and attractive to entrepreneurs. This plan will help us achieve this goal while reimbursing local governments and schools for lost tax revenue – ensuing they have the resources necessary to maintain public safety and educate our children.”

Senate Bills 821-830 would update the personal property tax phase-out and reform approved in 2012 by increasing replacement revenue for local governments through a greater portion of the state’s 6 percent Use Tax on out-of-state purchases and imposing a statewide assessment on newly exempt businesses.

“I was proud to support a comprehensive plan to end the PPT, a punitive tax that has been costing Michigan jobs and investment for decades,” Booher said. “This reform is about rejecting the status quo that failed the state and adopting a new strategy to help energize our economy, spur job creation and protect our local communities.”

Under the 2012 legislation, only essential local public services like police and fire would have 100 percent of their revenues from the PPT replaced by the state. The new reform would reimburse all local governments 100 percent of their lost revenues beginning in 2016.

This reimbursement to local governments will be constitutionally guaranteed and not subject to an annual appropriation by the state Legislature.

SBs 821-830 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration. If the plan is approved by the House and the governor, it will go to the Michigan voters for final approval on the August ballot.

“We are taking action to help create well-paying jobs in Michigan and support our communities, but it will all be contingent on an important vote by the people this August,” Booher said.

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