Sen. MacGregor resolution urges Washington, D.C. action on PFAS report

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor recently offered a resolution requesting the federal government release a draft toxicological report prepared by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS is a compound used in many consumer products and has been found in groundwater locally, in Kent County, and in locations throughout the state. The draft toxicological report is said to contain critical information about the potential health effects of exposure to a lower threshold of the chemicals.

“If the federal government has information about PFAS that could impact the health and well-being of residents, it must be made public immediately,” said Sen. MacGregor, R-Rockford.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 35 also urges the federal government to ensure that states receive necessary funding to carry out efforts needed to protect public health, and to follow Michigan’s example and increase coordination of federal agencies working on the issue for an effective response.

The resolution calls on the United States Environmental Protection Agency to establish a national, uniform, enforceable limit for PFAS in the environment as well.

“This resolution is about sending a message to Washington, D.C.,” Sen. MacGregor said.  “The federal government needs to get serious about protecting Michiganders from PFAS.”

The resolution was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations for consideration.

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MacGregor’s long-sought Fostering Futures tax checkoff bill headed to governor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan taxpayers would be able to donate a portion of their tax return to the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund if a bill finalized this week by the Legislature is signed into law.

Senate Bill 197, sponsored by Sen. Peter MacGregor, would add the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund to the list of organizations that taxpayers are eligible to donate to on state tax forms, known as the Michigan Voluntary Contributions Schedule.

“The Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund does a great job helping our state’s foster youth to afford college,” said Sen. MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Foster kids can face unique challenges that should not stand in the way of earning a college degree, and the fund is there to lend a helping hand so they can focus on academic achievement. My bill provides another convenient way for taxpayers to donate to this worthy cause with a simple checkoff on their tax return to the state.”

The Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund provides eligible foster youth with scholarships to assist with tuition, room and board, and other costs associated with enrollment. Scholarships are available for students enrolled in Michigan degree-granting colleges and universities. Since 2012, fundraising efforts have totaled more than $1.1 million through individual and group donations, sponsorships, ticket sales, auctions and many volunteer-based fundraising events.

According to the Department of Treasury, which oversees the program, there are approximately 13,000 children in the Michigan foster care system at any given time. A growing number of Michigan youth are reaching adult age while in foster care and have no resources to attend college when they age out of the system.

For more information about the Fostering Futures Scholarship, go to www.fosteringfutures-mi.com.

“I am happy that, after several years, we were finally able to approve this legislation to support a great cause that helps our state’s foster youth,” said Sen. MacGregor.

The senator introduced a similar bill in 2015.

SB 197 and its companion bill, SB 196, await the governor’s signature.

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Sen. Peter MacGregor comments on finalizing state’s budget

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, issued the following statement on Tuesday after the state’s fiscal year 2019 budget plan was finalized with strong bipartisan support.

“I am happy that, for the eighth year in a row we were able to come together to approve a structurally sound budget more than three months ahead of schedule. This is a fiscally responsible plan for our state that saves money and makes investments in programs and services that residents rely upon.

“Supporting our children’s education is always a top priority, and this year more is being dedicated to their schooling than ever before. We have also prioritized school safety in this budget, from security grants to boosting funding for the OK2SAY program and adding $30 million for mental health support services within schools.

MacGregor noted that the K-12 per pupil foundation allowance funding has also been increased, from between $120 and $240 per pupil. The range in funding relates to providing larger dollar increases to school districts with lower foundation allowances than to those with higher foundation allowances.

“The budget also supports programs and services for the health and wellbeing of our communities, including $9.25 million dedicated for public health departments, which could support local efforts to deal with emergent health needs, including PFAS,” said MacGregor. “I am also pleased that we are continuing efforts to invest in skilled trades training programs to prepare workers for in-demand jobs to support our growing economy.

“Additionally, the budget provides $11.9 million for the training of 155 state police troopers to protect our communities, funds to hire new conservation officers to protect our natural resources, and $2.1 million to support county veterans programs throughout the state.”

Other highlights from the fiscal year 2019 budget include:

  • $330 million more for roads and bridges, bringing the total added investment in Michigan’s roads and infrastructure to $2.4 billion in three years;
  • $115 million for the state’s “rainy day fund” which will bring the balance to $1 billion;
  • $25 million in school safety grants;
  • $25 million for environmental cleanup efforts;
  • $5.3 million for chronic wasting disease research and response, and
  • $21.5 million in constitutional revenue sharing for local governments.

“This is a solid budget that builds upon the strong financial foundation we have worked to establish to help make Michigan the best place to live, work and raise a family,” MacGregor said.

The budget bills await the governor’s signature.

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MacGregor welcomes award-winning Rockford High School marching band to Senate

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor on Tuesday presented a special tribute to members of the Rockford High School marching band on the floor of the Senate during the day’s session. The director and five of the band’s student leaders were recognized.

“It is truly a privilege to honor the students and staff of the Rockford High School marching band on the Senate floor for this well-deserved recognition,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “On behalf of the Rockford community, I congratulate this group of champions for their many accomplishments and wish them continued success in the future. Thank you for making us proud.”

Under the direction of Brian Phillips, the 326-member band had an award-winning season in 2017. The band earned several first place and grand championship titles, along with many caption awards at regional invitational events, including placing first in its flight and winning all three caption awards at the Michigan Competing Band Association State Championships. Last November, the band was one of only 10 in the country to be selected to march in the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

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Photo caption: State Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, presents a special tribute to members of the Rockford High School marching band, who were recognized for their award-winning 2017 season.

 

 

 

Senate approves school safety initiatives

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Thursday approved a plan to improve school safety initiatives throughout the state, said Sen. Peter MacGregor.

“Improving school security, preparedness and communication is vital to ensuring Michigan students have a safe place to learn,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “The bills approved by the Senate on Thursday will help ensure that safe environment by establishing a state Office of School Safety, improving the confidential OK2SAY program, and by leveraging law enforcement expertise to strengthen security in school buildings, among other important measures.”

The Senate’s school safety plan includes numerous improvements, including:

  • Requiring school officials to consult with law enforcement before constructing or renovating buildings;
  • Ensuring a school’s governing body provides the state police biannually with an emergency contact who would receive information submitted through the school safety hotline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year;
  • Creating the Office of School Safety within the state police to update school safety practices, offer training to school staff and oversee use of school safety grants;
  • Making sure school districts conduct a safety assessment with a local law enforcement agency for each school building by the 2019-2020 school year and at least every two years thereafter and require school districts to develop an emergency operations plan by Jan. 1, 2020;
  • Having schools anonymously report thwarted incidents of attempted acts of violence on school grounds or threats of violence made on or off school grounds; and
  • Developing statewide training standards for active-violence situations in schools.

The legislation is in addition to a budget agreement to dedicate $58 million toward school safety initiatives such as OK2SAY, securing schools, and mental health programs. MacGregor said he, Sen. Goeff Hansen and colleagues from the House of Representatives will be working on a sustainable school mental health initiative this summer.

OK2SAY is a student safety program that serves as an early warning system in Michigan’s schools to prevent tragedies before they occur by encouraging students to submit confidential tips to trained technicians regarding potential harm or threats.

The legislation now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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Senate reforms improve auto insurance

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, supported legislation approved on Thursday to reform auto no-fault insurance.

“Michigan’s drivers continue to pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country, in part because of our state’s auto no-fault insurance system,” Sen. MacGregor said. “Many attempts have been made over the years to reform this system, and I have been supportive of measures that would reduce costs for consumers.”

“The sensible reforms we approved today will reduce fraud and better protect insurance customers. I am hopeful these bills will lead to lasting, positive change and potentially lower rates.”

Senate Bill 1014 would create the Michigan Automobile Insurance Fraud Authority within the attorney general’s office to help investigate and reduce auto insurance fraud. The Insurance Institute of Michigan indicates auto insurance fraud in Michigan is estimated at $400 million per year.

Additionally, in Michigan, when drivers turn age 65 and go on Medicare, their auto insurance rates go up because Medicare does not coordinate with Michigan auto insurance. Michigan’s auto insurance law includes unlimited coverage for catastrophic injuries with no cap.

Under Senate Bill 787, seniors age 65 and older could have a choice to remain in the unlimited coverage system or opt out and request a cap on their auto insurance. They would also only pay a fraction of what they currently are paying into the catastrophic fund. This would bring Michigan in line with all other states and provide a more affordable option for this vulnerable population.

The bills now advance to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Sen. MacGregor encourages residents to take advantage of free fishing this weekend

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor reminded 28th Senate District residents that the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) biannual free fishing weekend is this Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10.

“The Great Lakes State is blessed with abundant lakes, rivers and streams that provide world-class fishing opportunities,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “I encourage west Michiganders to get out and take advantage of those opportunities this weekend with some free fishing with family and friends.”

The DNR program enables residents and nonresidents to fish without a license on these two days for all species on all waters, though all other fishing regulations still apply. Entry into state public boating access sites, state parks and recreation areas is also free of charge.

Since 1986, Michigan has celebrated the free weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources and to give families a great chance to pass along the joy of fishing to the next generation.

For more information, visit www.Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.

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MacGregor attends Senate Memorial Day Service

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday held its 24th Annual Memorial Day Service, honoring the state’s fallen military heroes.

One member was memorialized this year with a folded American flag placed in a special basket in front of the Senate rostrum.

“The Senate’s Memorial Day Service is an important, special day when we pause to remember and honor those who gave their lives for our country,” said Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford. “It is truly a privilege to be a part of this wonderful Senate tradition.”

This year’s featured guest speaker was Medal of Honor recipient, former U.S. Army combat medic James McCloughan, of South Haven. McCloughan received the medal last year for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” during a bloody, two-day battle of the Vietnam War in 1969.

A processional of honored guests, including members from veteran service organizations, the Kalamazoo Pipe Band and a color guard, filled the Senate chamber. Senators were joined at their desks by invited guests, most of whom were veterans from their districts, and by members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard, among others. A bugler closed out the ceremony with a playing of taps.

The Senate’s Memorial Day Service began in 1994 at the direction of former Senate Majority Leader and Congressman Mike Rogers.

Those interested in watching the Senate Memorial Day Service may do so at MISenate.viebit.com, where an archive will be available to stream or download.

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Sen. MacGregor welcomes State Champion Godwin Heights Marching Band to Senate

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor welcomed the 2017 Michigan State Champion Godwin Heights High School Marching Band to the Senate on Thursday. The Senator presented the band with a special tribute to mark the occasion.

“It was a pleasure to welcome the Godwin Heights High School Marching Band to the Senate,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “On behalf of my colleagues and our west Michigan community, I extend my congratulations to the band on its outstanding performance and state championship. I wish them all continued success in music, school and life.”

Under the direction of Godwin Heights High School music teacher Jake Castillo, the Fighting Wolverines marching band participated last November in the 2017 Michigan Competing Band Association’s State Championship at Ford Field in Detroit.

With a score of 91.325, Godwin Heights High School earned the top score in their flight. Additionally, the band won awards for Outstanding Visual Performance, Outstanding General Effect, and Outstanding Music Performance.

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Photo caption: Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, welcomed the 2017 Michigan State Champion Godwin Heights High School Marching Band to the Senate. Sen. MacGregor presented the band with a special tribute to mark the occasion.

Sen. MacGregor’s bills improving payment for foster care services signed at ceremony

LANSING, Mich. — A formal bill signing ceremony was held on Tuesday for Senate Bills 529 and 530, sponsored by Sen. Peter MacGregor.

The laws improve the reimbursement process from the state’s Child Care Fund, fixing slow payments to counties and nonprofit organizations that serve foster children throughout Michigan.

The Child Care Fund pays for costs associated with foster care, child welfare and juvenile justice services. Previously, the payment system consisted of a 50-50 cost sharing model between the state and counties for reimbursement of services, in which the counties would pay providers and the state would pay the counties. This system led to delayed reimbursements, among other problems.

Senate Bills 529 and 530 establish a state-pays-first model to transition from and replace the local pay and reimbursement model, to ensure prompt payments to service providers. The laws also establish an expanded list of direct costs that can be reimbursed. Additionally, the laws establish an administrative appeals process for reimbursement disputes.

“These reforms have made the system more efficient and have clarified the reimbursement process,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “I am proud of the work that has been put into this legislation over the past two years to help remedy this reimbursement issue. It is helping to ensure that our foster children receive the care they deserve.”

The bills became Public Acts 21-22 of 2018 on Feb. 14.

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Photo caption: Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, and Gov. Rick Snyder pose for a photo after the governor signed Senate Bills 529 and 530. The laws improve the payment process for services provided by organizations taking care of foster children in Michigan.