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Benzonia Twp. Hall Benzonia, MI Rep. Jack O’Malley began by saying that he had introduced a couple of bipartisan bills in conjunction with Rep. Leslie Love, (D) District 10, to remove taxes from college textbooks. He acknowledged this is a small move to help college students but every bit helps. He introduced another bill that purports to help Onekama remove sand drift. The village wants to remove the sand, but the DEQ says they can’t since it is part of the critical Dunes Park. They are taking testimony from citizens in an effort of get the problem solved. Jack announced that Rep. Ben Frederick, (R) District 85, has introduced a bill that would allow school districts to waive an additio

March 20th Board of Commissioners Meeting Recap

The March 20 meeting began with Bryce Hundley announcing that Gretchen Iorio, one of his constituents, would be doing the invocation. This is the first time that a layperson has asked and then been granted permission to perform the invocation. Her invocation was secular. It focused on the need for the community and the commission to show respect and to cooperate for the common good of the county… Her thoughts seemed to take hold. As the meeting progressed the tone of the proceedings appeared unusually calm and congenial. Orlando Todd, from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, attended the meeting to personally present Wendy Hirschenberger, Health Officer of the Grand Travers

Report on Coffee with Senator Curt VanderWall

Since the Senator was late, the meeting began conducted by his aide Jamie Callahan. The following issues were raised: Prison Reform Bill – Two constituents were hoping that the national bill could be adopted and utilized in the state of Michigan. As of yet the state has not dealt with it although Jamie said he would look into it. The constituents followed up hoping that the Medical Assisted Treatment part of the bill would be included to further enhance improvements made in the area of recidivism. Gas Tax - Concern was voiced regarding the governor’s $.45 tax on gas. Could we go slowly? Lots of “facts” were thrown out: 3.5 billion has been collected, much of it inexplicably diverted. The

Coffee with Senator Wayne Schmidt

Blair Township Hall Friday March 8, 2019 9:00 a,m, There were about 10 citizens in attendance. The first question asked was about the proposed 45 cent increase in the gas tax. Senator Schmidt was not encouraging about its chance of passing. He did acknowledge that it would bring in about 2.5 billion each year which is close to the projected needs. The legislature has currently about 1.2 billion marked for roads. I was unsure about whether 1.2 billion is a repeat investment in the roads for every year or a one-time catch up measure. Sen. Schmidt also mentioned that we do not have enough contractors to do all the projects so doing it methodically will improve effectiveness of spending and resu

Immigration: Northern Michigan and Beyond

Conference Report Submitted by: Linda Pepper and Sylvia McCullough Introduction The Conference began with a welcome by Alline Beutler, Site Director for the Justice for our Neighbor’s (JFON) Traverse City Office. The Conference consisted of the following presentations: Immigration 101 - Marcelo Betti, Immigration Attorney Local Stories of Immigration - Read by NMC Students Panel Discussion/Q & A Session Keynote Speaker - Susan Reed, Managing Attorney, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) Immigration 101 - Marcelo Betti, Immigration Lawyer for JFON Marcelo led off by asking “what is the purpose of immigration legislation?” Are we to be a refuge for oppressed people? Do we want diversity

The ACLU's Smart Justice Campaign

Traverse City has attracted the American Civil Liberties Union for two reasons – the need for judicial reform and the enthusiastic response of the members of the Grand Traverse community to address this need. The ACLU is introducing their Smart Justice Campaign throughout the country. In Michigan there are organizers on the ground in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Saginaw and Traverse City. The first meeting of the Traverse City Smart Justice Campaign took place Thursday, February 28, 2019. In attendance were members of several local agencies working to expose questionable prosecutorial actions and to improve our legislative processes. Others joined the committee because they have family members cur

Is Anyone Listening?

March 6th County Board of Commissioners Meeting Once again the public’s voice went unheeded as the board majority seems to relish in pushing through their agenda against any and all opposition. After the contentious invocation policy seems to have at least reduced to a simmer, another topic has taken center stage. That topic is the board attempting to change rules on the fly. Public comment was dominated by people pushing back on these rule changes. Although before animosity grew too high, the board did accomplish a few thing The meeting began with public comment which was full of people speaking out against the proposed rule changes. These rule changes would put more power into the chairper

Line 5 and Environmental Resources Update by Jim Olson, Founder of FLOW

Submitted by: Berta Meserve and Sylvia McCullough Jim Olson, founder of FLOW (For the Love of Water) gave a stirring and alarming report to the Benzie Dems and a group of concerned citizens, on Saturday, Feb 16th, 2019, on the status of Line 5 and environmental resource protection in general. Jim’s opening statement was that there is a great need to bring all water, air and natural resources in the state of Michigan under the control of rule of law. He reported that under Article 4, Sec. 52 of the Michigan Constitution it states clearly that: “The conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the

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