Sen. MacGregor votes for Natural Resources Trust Fund grant bill that would support three Kent County projects

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor supported three area projects in the Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) bill approved by the Joint Capital Outlay Subcommittee this week.

Senate Bill 883 would authorize the NRTF to support 34 acquisition projects and 97 development projects, including three projects in Kent County. The total amount recommended for the 2018 funding cycle would be $49.9 million, which includes $21 million in recreational development and $28.9 million in land acquisition projects.

“The Natural Resources Trust Fund makes strategic investments in our communities to improve or create public outdoor recreational opportunities, and I am happy to support this year’s projects,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Kent County would receive more than $1.8 million in combined funds to support a new recreational complex in Sparta and to expand and improve River’s Edge Park and Chief Hazy Cloud Park.”

If enacted, the bill would provide funds for three projects in Kent County:

  • The Sparta Recreational Complex would receive $225,000 for a new paved parking lot, pathways and landscaping. The complex would host numerous sporting events, like little league baseball, softball, soccer and other events.
  • River’s Edge Park, in Algoma Township, would receive $127,900 to acquire an additional 3.1 acres, including 630 feet of Rogue River frontage. The land would become part of a future nature center, trails and river access proposed at the existing park.
  • Chief Hazy Cloud Park would receive more than $1.5 million to acquire 125 acres, featuring a mile and a half section of Grand River frontage. The acquisition would expand the existing Chief Hazy Cloud Park to 373 acres with three miles of river frontage.

Over the past 42 years, the NRTF has granted more than $1.1 billion to state and local governments to acquire, develop and improve public outdoor recreation opportunities in all 83 counties. The trust fund is constitutionally restricted for natural resources improvements and land acquisitions across the state.

A full list of the final Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommendations is available at www.michigan.gov/mnrtf.

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Senate budget supplemental invests more than $18 million for school safety

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Thursday approved $18.6 million in additional funding to support school safety initiatives throughout the state, said Sen. Peter MacGregor.

“I am committed to finding commonsense solutions to improve school security, preparedness training and communication to help ensure student safety,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “This additional funding will go a long way in that effort to provide school administrators and first responders the tools and resources they need to keep schools safe.”

The would make strategic investments to assess and boost school building security, expand the OK2SAY program that encourages students to confidentially report suspicious activity, and create a statewide mobile notification alert system to improve coordination and response during a potential security incident.

Senate Bill 601, a current year budget supplemental, would provide $15 million for competitive grants for schools to buy technology and equipment or conduct school assessments to enhance security. The grants would allow schools to purchase physical security equipment, public address systems, inspection and screening systems, shatterproof glass for exterior doors and windows, or a school safety assessment.

Additionally, SB 601 includes $3 million to provide for a statewide school emergency notification application, which would allow school staff and first responders to improve real time communication and coordinated response efforts. The bill would also invest $650,000 more to increase awareness of the state’s OK2SAY program and to hire more staff to better respond to potential threats.

Additionally, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, which MacGregor chairs, recently approved the creation of a Student Outreach Services grant program to help address mental health issues and improve school safety throughout the state. The new program was included in the department’s fiscal year 2019 budget recently reported by the committee.

“The Student Outreach Services grant program is part of a comprehensive effort to improve school safety throughout our state,” MacGregor said.

SB 601 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Medicaid workforce engagement plan approved by Senate

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate approved legislation on Thursday that would establish a workforce engagement plan for certain able-bodied adults receiving taxpayer-funded Medicaid, said Sen. Peter MacGregor, who voted in favor of the bill.

Senate Bill 897 would require able-bodied adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who are receiving Medicaid health benefits to work, receive job training, get an education — or a combination of any of the three — for an average of 29 hours per week.

“This is good public policy that empowers able-bodied Medicaid recipients to break the cycle of dependence and realize their full potential through meaningful employment and self-sufficiency,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “There is dignity in work, and the benefits of having a job extend beyond the paycheck — people with jobs, and their families, are healthier and happier because of it.”

The bill would not apply to seniors, pregnant women, a caretaker of a child under age 6, people with disabilities or their caregivers, the medically frail, residents under age 21 who were in foster care, caretakers of incapacitated people, individuals seeking substance use disorder treatment, those receiving unemployment benefits, ex-prisoners released in the last six months, people with medical conditions that impact their ability to work, and full-time students who are emancipated or whose parents qualify for Medicaid. Temporary “good cause” exemptions would also be afforded.

Additionally, should a county’s unemployment rate increases to 8.5 percent, its residents could meet the requirement by looking for a job. The requirement would return once the unemployment rate drops back to 5 percent or less.

“This legislation takes care to protect the safety net and ensures that those who are truly in need are receiving coverage,” MacGregor said. “Enacting this bill will also help to make sure that those resources remain available for as long as possible.”

SB 897 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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MacGregor: DHHS budget establishes Student Outreach Services grant program to improve mental health services in schools

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services approved the creation of a Student Outreach Services (SOS) grant program to help address mental health issues and improve school safety throughout the state.

The new $10 million program was included in the department’s fiscal year 2019 budget reported by the committee on Tuesday.

“Improving school safety is a top priority of mine and ensuring effective mental health services are available in our classrooms is a key factor,” said Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford. “The SOS grant program is a small, but important part in our efforts to develop a comprehensive school safety plan for our state. I am committed to working closely with my legislative colleagues and the governor’s administration to help be a part of the overall school safety discussion.”

The SOS grant program is modeled after Kent County Intermediate School District’s Kent School Services Network, which has successfully improved the use of mental health services throughout the ISD’s 47 participating schools to better serve students where they are during their school day.

The plan would allow school districts to partner with entities and organizations in their communities — such as counties, local health departments, philanthropic agencies, and mental health service providers — to coordinate and provide responsive and effective mental health services to students and their families in public schools.

MacGregor noted the committee’s $25.1 billion Department of Health and Human Services budget recommendation — the largest of any individual budget — presents a significant savings for taxpayers compared with the department budget recommended by the governor, proposing $25 million less in spending for the fiscal year.

Other noteworthy investments in the budget included:

  • An increase of more than $1 million to the Family Support Subsidy, which provides financial assistance to families that have a child with severe developmental disabilities.
  • An additional $10 million for local public health departments.
  • Concurrence with the governor’s recommendation to annualize funding for the response to Perflouroallkyl Substances, referred to as PFAS, and an additional $50,000 for water sampling in the city of Newberry.
  • A $5 million appropriation for MiDocs, a program to improve rural access to primary care throughout the state.

The bill now advances to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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Sen. MacGregor reacts to VA funding of new Grand Rapids veterans home

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor on Monday applauded an announcement by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which formally authorized funding from its State Veterans Home Construction Grant Program for Michigan to build two new veterans homes in Grand Rapids and southeast Michigan.

“This announcement by the VA is great news, not only for our veterans and the Grand Rapids community, but for all of us who care about the men and women who served our nation in the military,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “With this action, Michigan will be able to proceed with plans to construct new, modern long-term care facilities that will be better able to meet the unique needs of our veterans in a home-like setting.”

According to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, the federal VA authorized up to $123 million for the two projects. The VA program provides up to 65 percent funding for approved projects and has authorized up to $38 million for Grand Rapids and up to $42 million for southeast Michigan. The Legislature previously approved $42 million in state funds for the projects. MVAA said it plans to begin construction in Grand Rapids in September.

MacGregor helped lead the effort in 2016 to develop the plan to modernize and expand Michigan’s state-run veterans homes. After the new Grand Rapids and southeast Michigan facilities are up and running, the plan calls for five additional homes to be built throughout the state to better serve veterans closer to where they reside.

MacGregor also sponsored state law that created the Michigan Veterans Facility Ombudsman, which was established to help identify, investigate and recommend fixes for problems that may arise at the state’s veterans homes, to help ensure veterans receive the quality care they have earned and deserve.

“I am elated that our plans to build new, modern veterans homes will finally be able to proceed,” MacGregor said. “Our veterans have given so much in the service of our country, the least we can do is to make sure they have a great place to call home.”

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Sen. MacGregor’s Safe Families legislation passes Senate

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday passed legislation spearheaded by state Sen. Peter MacGregor that will establish protections and other legal provisions so that nonprofit organizations that provide temporary child care for parents experiencing crisis can continue to operate without government interference.

Safe Families for Children (Safe Families) is a program that surrounds families experiencing crisis with a caring, compassionate community. It’s not an alternative to foster care; instead, Safe Families is a purely voluntary program meant to support a parent who may be facing unforeseen circumstances.

Safe Families is a private organization with a network of volunteers who open their homes to families in need. The program, partnered with a family service agency, temporarily places children into homes that can provide stable care and support to any child, whether the parent is hospitalized with illness, has extended travel for employment or military deployment or is in severe need for some other reason.

“Sometimes parents or guardians go through a crisis that renders them unable to provide care for a short period of time,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “In the past, extended family, neighbors, or their faith community stepped in to help families in crisis by caring for their children for short periods of time.”

“Today, sadly, many families are socially isolated, and their extended family is unavailable or unable to help. This is where Safe Families can step in and provide a safe home for these parents in crisis. The beauty of a program like Safe Families is that oftentimes the host family is able to provide mentoring long after the initial stay.”

Every volunteer host family who participates in the Safe Families program must complete mandatory training in addition to a thorough background check and home visit.

The legislation adjusts legal language to differentiate between foster care and Safe Families and protect private programs like these from government interference. MacGregor’s bill specifically would provide program safety requirements like certification, background checks and basic child care training for host families, regular home inspections, and the power for parents to delegate temporary guardianship of children.

While a process already exists for delegating power of attorney to care for a minor child, the creation of the Safe Families for Children Act will further clarify the rights of the parents in these situations.

“Programs like this not only save the state money by keeping children out of foster care, but they provide more compassionate solutions to what otherwise might become crisis situations,” MacGregor said. “No parent wants to be away from their child, but it’s comforting to know that programs like Safe Families exist should a situation arise where it is necessary.”

The bill package will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 

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Sen. MacGregor continues free movie tickets for ‘12 Strong’ promotion for veterans and active military personnel

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, again offered to pay the ticket price for any veteran or active military personnel who wants to see the new film “12 Strong” at the NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford.

“I was pleased with the response from last week’s event, and it was a pleasure to meet some of our local veterans,” MacGregor said. “I’ll be covering tickets again this week in case anybody couldn’t make it the first time.”

NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford will provide a free ticket to veterans and active military members courtesy of MacGregor on Thursday, Feb. 8, for all showings. See the cinema’s website for show times. Vets and military servicemen must provide a military identification or a driver’s license with military designation to receive free entry.

“12 Strong” is an action film based on the true story of the first U.S. Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”) unit in Afghanistan who led the military response against the Taliban following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“Again, I hope everyone enjoys the movie, and if you have any veterans issues that you would like to see addressed, contact my staff at SenPMacGregor@senate.michigan.gov,” MacGregor said. “As always, thank you for your service.”

NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford is located at 11699 Northland Drive and can be reached at 616-863-0358.

 

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Reminder: Sen. MacGregor offers free movie tickets to veterans and active military personnel for ‘12 Strong’

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, will pay the ticket price for any veteran or active military personnel who wants to see the new film “12 Strong” at the NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford.

NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford will provide a free ticket to veterans and active military members courtesy of MacGregor on Thursday, Feb. 1, at the 4:25 and 7 p.m. showings. Vets and military servicemen must provide a military identification or a driver’s license with military designation to receive free entry.

NorthStar Cinemas is located at 11699 Northland Drive in Rockford and can be reached at 616-863-0358.

 

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Sen. MacGregor offers free movie tickets to veterans and active military personnel for ‘12 Strong’

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, offered to pay the ticket price for any veteran or active military personnel who wants to see the new film “12 Strong” at the NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford.

“This film is an inspiring tribute to our heroes in uniform,” MacGregor said. “I’ll cover the ticket price for any veteran or active service member who wants to see the movie and spend an evening celebrating the glory and sacrifice of the real-life men who inspired the making of the film.”

“12 Strong” is an action film based on the true story of the first U.S. Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”) unit in Afghanistan who led the military response against the Taliban following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford will provide a free ticket to veterans and active military members courtesy of MacGregor on Thursday, Feb. 1, at the 4:25 and 7 p.m. showings. Vets and military servicemen must provide a military identification or a driver’s license with military designation to receive free entry.

“Taking care of our veterans has been a major focus of my time in the Senate,” MacGregor said. “I’ve been honored to meet so many great service members at different events around the state and this is just another small way I want to show my appreciation for their patriotism and courage.”

Last year, MacGregor honored Vietnam era veterans at a lapel pinning ceremony in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war. In 2016, MacGregor helped pass legislation to modernize and improve the quality of long-term veteran care services and to establish a state Veteran’s Facility Ombudsman position to respond to veteran concerns.

“Enjoy the movie, and if you have any veterans issues that you would like to see addressed, contact my staff at SenPMacGregor@senate.michigan.gov,” MacGregor said. “As always, thank you for your service.”

NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford is located at 11699 Northland Drive and can be reached at 616-863-0358.

 

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Sen. MacGregor reacts to the 2018 State of the State address

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, issued a reaction on Tuesday following Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address.

“Governor Snyder emphasized the tremendous strides that Michigan’s Republican leadership has made to cultivate a positive business environment,” MacGregor said.

“We went from being the prime example of economic depression to the region’s economic powerhouse. Because of our smart policy decisions, more than 540,000 new jobs, many in revived manufacturing industries, are boosting wages, driving down unemployment and attracting talent to stay in and move to Michigan.

“We did all this while maintaining fiscal responsibility: paying down state debt and building a windfall rainy day fund of just under $900 million. I was particularly pleased that the governor mentioned Michigan’s agriculture and tourism industries, which not only contribute to the economic wealth of the state, but also set Michigan a rung above our neighbors.”

MacGregor also expressed his enthusiasm for Snyder’s comments on education.

“I appreciate the governor’s continued focus on investing in education and improving learning opportunities for our youth,” MacGregor said. “STEM fields and the skilled trades are increasingly important; it’s our obligation to make sure our youth are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. We have already invested $2.1 billion in education, including $96 million for skilled trades training, and we have introduced career pathway legislation to create new talent pools — but there’s still more that we can do.

“That is why I sponsored a bill that was part of a package of legislation recommended by the governor’s Career Pathways Alliance. My bill would give students clear information about the skills demanded in the marketplace and would empower administrators to guide their students to make smart educational decisions.

“Michigan, now more than ever, is a great place to live and to work. There’s still a lot to do, but there’s no question that the last seven years of Republican governance have created a tremendous turnaround for Michigan. I look forward to working with the governor in 2018 and building on our amazing successes for the good of all Michiganders.”

 

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