Sen. Darwin Booher re-elected Assistant Majority Caucus Whip

LANSING—The Senate Republican caucus on Thursday elected Sen. Darwin Booher to another term as Assistant Majority Caucus Whip.

“I am honored to have the trust of my colleagues to continue serving them on the Senate Republican leadership team,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I look forward to working with an outstanding caucus comprised of dedicated men and women. In my role, I will remain focused on coming together to achieve our common goal: moving Michigan forward.”

Booher was elected on Tuesday to a second term as state senator for the 35th Senate District. In addition to his current duties as assistant majority caucus whip, Booher chairs the Senate Banking & Financial Institutions Committee and serves as vice chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Prior to becoming a senator, Booher served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2005-2010 and 28 years as Osceola Township supervisor and assessor. Darwin and his wife Jan have been married for more than 50 years. They raised four children and enjoy spending time with their many grandchildren.

“We achieved much during the past four years, yet there is still work to be done,” Booher said. “We must continue to attract new jobs and investment to Michigan; prepare every student for success; and create a state government that is more efficient, effective and accountable.”

In the new Senate Republicans’ first caucus, held Thursday in Lansing, senators in the upcoming 98th Legislature also elected Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, as majority leader and Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, as majority floor leader.

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Booher re-elected vice chair of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher has been elected to serve once again as vice chair of the international Great Lakes Legislative Caucus (GLLC) in 2015-16.

The nonpartisan caucus provides a forum for the regional exchange of ideas and information on key Great Lakes issues through its mix of programming, advocacy and activities. Its goal is to strengthen the role of state and provincial legislators in the Great Lakes policymaking process.

“I am honored to continue serving as vice chair of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus as we work on issues critical to Michigan and the entire region,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I look forward to ensuring that Michigan’s interests continue to be heard on vital Great Lakes matters, such as protecting our waters and stopping invasive species like Asian carp.”

The caucus has facilitated regional discussions on passage and implementation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and pushed for federal funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an improved Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and an expedited timeline for a federal study recommending how to keep Asian carp from entering the lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System.

The caucus also maintains a legislative tracker that monitors bills being considered in state capitals and Washington, D.C.

Booher and other members of the legislative executive committee will guide caucus efforts in 2015-16. The committee is made up of the chair, the vice chair and one additional legislator from each of the eight states and two Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes Basin.

Booher has been vice chair of the caucus since 2013. Minnesota Sen. Ann Rest serves as chair of the caucus. Officers and the group’s executive committee were elected by members who attended the GLLC meeting this summer in Quebec.

The Midwestern Office of The Council of State Governments provides staffing services for the caucus, which is funded by a grant from the Joyce Foundation. CSG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving all three branches of state government.

For more information about the GLLC, visit www.greatlakeslegislators.org.

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Booher re-elected vice chair of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher has been elected to serve once again as vice chair of the international Great Lakes Legislative Caucus (GLLC) in 2015-16.

The nonpartisan caucus provides a forum for the regional exchange of ideas and information on key Great Lakes issues through its mix of programming, advocacy and activities. Its goal is to strengthen the role of state and provincial legislators in the Great Lakes policymaking process.

“I am honored to continue serving as vice chair of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus as we work on issues critical to Michigan and the entire region,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I look forward to ensuring that Michigan’s interests continue to be heard on vital Great Lakes matters, such as protecting our waters and stopping invasive species like Asian carp.”

The caucus has facilitated regional discussions on passage and implementation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and pushed for federal funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an improved Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and an expedited timeline for a federal study recommending how to keep Asian carp from entering the lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System.

The caucus also maintains a legislative tracker that monitors bills being considered in state capitals and Washington, D.C.

Booher and other members of the legislative executive committee will guide caucus efforts in 2015-16. The committee is made up of the chair, the vice chair and one additional legislator from each of the eight states and two Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes Basin.

Booher has been vice chair of the caucus since 2013. Minnesota Sen. Ann Rest serves as chair of the caucus. Officers and the group’s executive committee were elected by members who attended the GLLC meeting this summer in Quebec.

The Midwestern Office of The Council of State Governments provides staffing services for the caucus, which is funded by a grant from the Joyce Foundation. CSG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving all three branches of state government.

For more information about the GLLC, visit www.greatlakeslegislators.org.

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Booher works with Midwest state leaders on key natural resources issues

LANSING—Two natural resources policy resolutions sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher were adopted this week at the 69th Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments held in Omaha.

“I was honored to represent Michigan at the Midwestern Legislative Conference and proud that we were able to find agreement on two issues important to Northern Michigan and our entire region,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Both resolutions adopted this week are about protecting states’ rights, our economy and the rights of private land owners.”

The first of Booher’s resolutions adopted at the conference concerned a proposed rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expand the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

“In response to multiple U.S. Supreme Court decisions saying that the EPA and Army Corps over-stepped their authority, these agencies are again trying to expand environmental regulations – in clear disregard of private property rights and the law,” Booher said. “The Michigan Senate has already called on the proposed new rules to be withdrawn and now Midwestern lawmakers have encouraged the federal government to slow down and work with state governments before implementing this change.

“This is critical to Michigan jobs and agriculture industry. According to the EPA itself, these rules could lead to 1,400 more required permits and cost farmers and businesses nearly $279 million.”

Booher’s second resolution encourages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to reconsider current voluntary provisions rather than listing the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species.

“Michigan’s forests add to our excellent quality of life and help support millions of workers in our vibrant tourism and timber industries,” Booher said. “Listing this bat as endangered threatens our economy, yet the Fish and Wildlife Service cannot even determine the bat’s critical habitat or provide any evidence that forest management activities have any impact on the bats.”

The resolution urges the FWS to work with the states on conservation measures and focus resources on efforts to deal with the cause of the bat population decline, such as addressing white-nose syndrome that has killed millions of bats in the northeastern U.S.

The Council of State Governments is a regionally based, nonpartisan association of state officials that promotes excellence in state government through the exchange of insights and ideas that help shape effective public policy. The Midwest region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

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Booher announces $2 million for road repair projects in 35th Senate District

For Immediate Release
July 3, 2014

Contact: Patrick Tiedt
517-373-1725

LANSING—State Sen. Darwin Booher announced Thursday that approximately $2 million in funding has been awarded for three road projects across the 35th Senate District.

“I am pleased that northern Michigan will receive this funding to provide some needed repairs to area roadways,” said Booher, R-Evart. “The Legislature worked with the governor and MDOT to use existing state revenue to fund these projects. These dollars will be put to use immediately, while policymakers continue to review a long-term funding source for our roads.”

The projects include:
• $442,500 for M-55 from 31 Road to M-115;
• $560,000 for the I-75 business loop in Roscommon from Billman Road to the I-75 southbound ramp; and
• $1 million for Deadstream Road in Benzie County between US-131 and M-22.

Public Act 34 of 2014 provides supplemental appropriations for various state government departments covering Fiscal Year 2015. The total gross amount allocated for the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Priority Road Investment Program is $114,942,610.

Booher said many of these projects would not have been funded if not for the supplemental dollars.

“The approximately $115 million for road projects is part of more than $700 million extra general fund dollars allocated to Michigan roads,” Booher said. “During the past several years, lawmakers have made some tough decisions to balance the state’s budget and live within our means. That has helped free up existing revenue to use on our roads.”

 

Governor signs Booher bill to help improve mental health services

LANSING?Legislation sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher to help improve mental health services was signed on Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Booher’s bill, now Public Act 266 of 2014, allows community mental health (CMH) service programs to partner with health care providers such as hospitals, health systems and physician groups to better provide services to mental health patients.

“This is about better access to important care – especially in our rural areas – by permitting community mental health programs to have an active participation in the total treatment of patients,” said Booher, R-Evart. “The coordination of all essential medical and behavioral care will be done more easily and at a benefit to health care consumers and taxpayers.”

Centra Wellness Network Executive Director Chip Johnston and Benzie County Commission Chair Don Tanner both testified before the House and Senate Health Policy committees about the need to enhance mental health care services.

Under PA 266, a CMH services program will be able to partner with entities that provide and/or manage health care and rehabilitative services for purposes directly related to fulfilling the general health, welfare and service obligations of the programs.

The new law is supported by the Mental Health Association of Michigan and will go into effect in 90 days.

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Booher: Governor signs education budget with greater investment in schools

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher joined Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state lawmakers as Gov. Rick Snyder signed an education budget on Tuesday that boosts investment in all levels of education by more than $660 million.

“This education budget is part of a balanced plan that invests in key priorities while ensuring the state continues to live within its means,” said Booher, R-Evart. “With this budget, we have increased state support of K-12 education by $1.3 billion since I was elected in 2010, while the federal government has cut funding to our schools by $370 million.”

House Bill 5314, now Public Act 196 of 2014, is an education omnibus budget for K-12 education, state universities and community colleges.

“The education budget increases funding for K-12 education by roughly $550 million more than last year,” Booher said. “Closing the funding gap between school districts has been a high priority of mine. By reducing this gap through ensuring lower funded schools will see a $175 per pupil increase in the foundation allowance – more than three times larger than the highest funded districts – this is a great budget for northern Michigan schools.”

PA 196 includes an additional $65 million for early childhood education and enhances support to state universities and community colleges by $86 million and $29 million respectively.

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Editor’s Note – A print-quality photograph of Booher at the bill signing is available by visiting the senator’s website at www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.

Governor signs Booher bill to help extended care patients in rural areas

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, was joined by local and statewide health care leaders as Gov. Rick Snyder signed his legislation on Thursday to ensure that extended care patients in hospital swing beds will not be required to move mid-stay.

Rural hospitals can provide extended care services through the use of “swing beds” if a nursing home bed is not available. Swing beds are hospital beds used for services that otherwise would be provided in a nursing home.

Booher’s bill, now Public Act 165 of 2014, clarifies state law by stipulating that the nursing home bed must be available at the time a patient requires admission for extended care services. 

“Swing beds at rural hospitals are helping us meet the extended care needs of all patients, yet efforts to curb abuse of this service are having unintended consequences,” Booher said.  “Hospitals were required to transfer a patient to a nursing home bed after he or she has already been admitted into a swing bed – creating confusion for patients and families who do not understand why they have to move. This new law will help clear up the confusion and ensure decisions on where to place patients are based on their needs.”

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

Booher honors Coast Guard Auxiliary Force at Capitol

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher welcomed members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary Force to the Capitol on Thursday as he presented them with a resolution honoring their service to Michigan.

Senate Resolution 158 declares June 23, 2014 as Coast Guard Auxiliary Day in recognition of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s 75 years of dedicated service. 

“To have these great men and women visit the Capitol, not to mention present them with an honor they deserve, gives me great pride,” said Booher, R-Evart. “The Coast Guard Auxiliary members are selfless men and women who make sacrifices that all too often go unrecognized.”

The Coast Guard Auxiliary has served as the unpaid volunteer civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard since its creation by Congress on June 23, 1939.

“Auxiliary members instruct thousands of Michigan recreational boaters, as well as public and private stakeholders who live, work and play around Michigan’s waterfront, on how to properly identify and report suspicious maritime activity for the benefit of the nation’s safety and security,” Booher said. “I am pleased to recognize their 75 years of service to our state.”

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

Booher: Governor sent balanced budget prioritizing education, public safety

LANSING—The Fiscal Year 2015 budget was finalized by the Legislature on Thursday and is on its way to the governor to be signed, said Sen. Darwin Booher.

“A balanced budget is on its way to the governor’s desk that makes important investments in key priorities like public safety and education while ensuring the state continues to live within its means,” said Booher, R-Evart. “With this budget, we will have increased state support of K-12 education by $1.3 billion since I was elected in 2010, while the federal government has cut funding to our schools by $370 million.”

House Bill 5314 is an education omnibus budget for K-12 education, state universities and community colleges.

“This budget enhances our support of all levels of education by more than $660 million,” Booher said. “Funding for K-12 education is roughly $550 million more than last year. Importantly, to reduce the gap between school districts, lower funded schools will see a $175 per pupil increase in the foundation allowance – more than three times larger than the highest funded districts.

“Our universities and community colleges are preparing people for successful careers, and I am pleased that they will see increases of $86 million and $29 million respectively.”

House Bill 5313 is an omnibus budget for all the state’s principal departments and the Judicial and Legislative branches.

“This budget focuses on the critical roles that our infrastructure and local governments play in our economy and lives,” Booher said. “We are putting more resources into keeping our communities safe and investing an additional $285 million into improving our roads. Budgets are about priorities, and these budgets are about educating our children, protecting our families and continuing our economic recovery.”

HB 5313 funds 100 new state troopers, adds $94 million to the state’s rainy day fund, provides additional funding to eliminate the meals-on-wheels waiting list, increases funding for obstetric payments to rural hospitals and physicians, and increases assistance to local governments by $89 million through revenue sharing and incentives.

Booher said the increase to local governments in the 35th District also features $800,000 of new money as a result of the senator’s payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) reform bills.

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