Rep. Lasinski’s Capitol and Community Updates 2-24-17

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hello Friend,

Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Our coffee hours have been drawing such large crowds that I am working to schedule coffees in all of our communities over the next six weeks. Our next coffee hour will be in Chelsea. Included below is information about the upcoming coffee hour, community events and an update on what I’ve been doing in Lansing. As always, please feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or ideas about legislation. You can contact me and my staff at (517) 373-0828, by email at DonnaLasinski@house.mi.gov or by visiting my website at RepLasinski.com.

Coffee Hour

Please join me for my next coffee hour to discuss what’s happening in Lansing and in Washtenaw County:

Saturday, March 4, from 10-11 a.m.

McKune Room at the Chelsea District Library

221 S. Main St., Chelsea

Don’t worry if you can’t make it — this email list will keep you up-to-date on future coffee hours. And of course, always feel free to call or email my office to ask questions or voice an opinion.

What to do in HD 52

Saline’s Winter Indoor Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Liberty School, 7265 Saline Ann Arbor Road. Visit the growers-only market to find produce, flowers and specialty items from maple syrup to baked goods to eggs.

Can’t make it this Saturday? The farmers market will be held at this location every Saturday through the end of April for you to visit and enjoy.

Legislative/Issue Update

House Bill 4001: Income Tax Repeal/Reduction

The Michigan House of Representatives recently voted on House Bill 4001, which in its original form would have cut Michigan’s income tax rate from 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent and then reduced the rate by 0.1 percentage points annually until it was zero. At 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 23, HB 4001 was amended to reduce the income tax rate from 4.25 percent to 4.15 percent in 2018 and to 4.05 percent in 2019, but the rate would not have continued to decrease if the Budget Stabilization Fund held less than $1 billion. With the amendment, if the Budget Stabilization Fund held the appropriate balance, the income tax rate would be limited to falling to 3.9 percent. This amendment would still create a $780 million hole in the state’s budget in year three of the plan, and more than $1 billion in subsequent years. I joined the majority of my colleagues in the Michigan House of Representatives to successfully turn down HB 4001 in a vote of 52 in favor to 55 opposed.

I know that our community values the hard-earned dollars we bring home to our families. We also need high-quality schools, passable roads and affordable college for our children, businesses and families. I heard from constituents at a rate of 25 to 1 who were opposed to rolling back the income tax.

Residents like you of the 52nd House District can’t see how we can cut $700 million without a plan on where the cuts will come from, and still have the promised successful schools and roads we need for our businesses to grow and our families to be safe driving on. We don’t see $700 million to cut from public safety. That’s why I voted no on HB 4001 and in support of our promise to improve our roads, fund our schools and secure our infrastructure.

Restoring Oversight for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Earlier this month, I co-sponsored four bills that would restore Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) citizen oversight commissions for air and water quality. These commissions were eliminated by executive order, against the majority of the representatives in the House, in 1991. The Flint water crisis is a prime example of a failure of the MDEQ that might have been prevented had the citizen oversight commissions still been in place. 

The bill package I co-sponsored would establish an MDEQ Air Pollution Control Commission (House Bill 4200), an Oil and Gas Commission (House Bill 4202) and a Water Resources Commission (House Bill 4214). Additionally, it would give the Water Resources Commission supervisory authority over the Safe Drinking Water Act (House Bill 4201). These commissions would formally reinstate the channels for citizens to communicate directly regarding their concerns with the MDEQ — from pollution to regulation to decision making.  If passed, they will serve to increase accountability and create more rigorous and thorough department processes in order to better protect our communities. To read the bills, please visit legislature.mi.gov.

Helpful State Resources

Michigan Education Trust

Trying to save for your child’s or employee’s higher education? Try looking into the Michigan Education Trust. The 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan allows parents, grandparents, businesses and others to prepay undergraduate tuition at today’s rates. MET contracts are easy to set up, easy to use and, most importantly, they make it easy to save for college. Every payment you make is deductible on your Michigan income tax form, and when you use your savings to pay for college, those earnings are exempt from federal and state income taxes, too. For more information, go to www.SETwithMET.com, call toll-free (800) MET-4-KID or (517) 335-4767.

Tax Preparation

This information is provided by the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate within the Michigan Department of Treasury.

  • Free tax preparation
    • Volunteers from local community organizations help prepare basic tax returns for the elderly and for low- to middle-income constituents (approximately $53,000 and below). This service is available through the following main resources. Contact these organizations for their days and hours of operation and locations:
      • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) at (800) 906-9887.
  • Internet self-service is the quickest and easiest way to check on a Michigan income tax refund and to contact Treasury with questions. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you.
  • Did you receive an “Identity Confirmation Quiz” letter concerning your Michigan income tax return?

I hope you’ve found this information useful. Please contact my office if we can be of any assistance.