Senate approves Kowall’s measure to encourage business investment, job creatio

LANSING — Legislation to ensure Michigan gets the best return on its investments has been approved by both legislative chambers and sent to the governor, said sponsor Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake.

“If we’re going to offer job providers incentives for investing in Michigan, then we need to make sure we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck possible,” said Kowall, chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee. “My measure will help guarantee that credits given to businesses result in jobs created.”

Senate Bill 855 increases the job creation requirement from 500 to 700 jobs for the state’s battery credit. The measure also includes a “claw back” provision that can recoup $65,000 for each job the taxpayer fails to create.

Currently, Townsend Energy Solutions, LLC is seeking a battery credit for plans to renovate and redevelop the Ford Wixom plant near I-96. Townsend, originally formed as Townsend Capital in 1975, is involved with Dow in the Dow Kokam joint venture. The company plans to make a $238 million capital investment in the venture.

The Wixom plant will be used to manufacture and develop automotive batteries. Townsend projects the redevelopment to directly create 875 jobs.

SB 855 now awaits Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature for passage into law.

Senate Economic Development Committee to hold a hearing on engaging Michigan’s tribes as part of “Reinventing Michigan.”

LANSING — On Wednesday, Dec. 14, the Senate Economic Development Committee will hold a hearing on engaging Michigan’s tribes as part of “Reinventing Michigan.”

Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, has indicated that Wednesday’s hearing may be the first in a series of hearings on this issue.

The following individuals are scheduled to testify:

  • Matthew Wesaw, chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi;
  • Sarah Lukin, executive director of the Native American Contractor’s Association and senior vice president for governmental affairs of the Afognak Corp.;
  • Ron Perry, executive director of the National 8(a) Association; and
  • Jon DeVore, former senior staff member to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

“Native enterprises offer a great, untapped resource to help diversify and grow Michigan’s economy,” said Kowall, chair of the panel. “Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts are awarded every year, and Michigan’s native enterprises are perfectly positioned to be competitive in landing these contracts.”

Kowall concluded, “I look forward to working with tribal leaders to develop strategies to engage their nations in the reinventing of Michigan.”

INFORMATION:

Senate Economic Development Committee
Wednesday, Dec. 14
1:30 p.m.
Farnum Building, Room 110
125 W. Allegan, Lansing, MI
 

Senate moves to ban inmates from having trophies of victims

LANSING — Michigan inmates would be banned from having trophies of their crimes under legislation approved by the Michigan Senate Thursday, said Sen. Mike Kowall.

Senate Bill 645 would prohibit prisoners from receiving or possessing any item that belongs or belonged to a victim of a crime they are incarcerated for, or any photograph, drawing or other visual image of their victim.

“Allowing prisoners to have photographs of their victims is disturbing on multiple levels,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “I can only imagine that to a victim, finding out your attacker has a picture or memento of you would feel like being victimized all over again. We must put an end to this sick behavior.”

The measure was introduced after a victim’s family discovered a Michigan Department of Corrections prisoner, convicted of a sexual offense, had pictures of his victims in his cell.

The family asked for the photographs to be removed and they were informed that the prison could not do so without a court order.

In other news, legislation designed to help provide assurances to Michigan residents with advance directives was also approved Thursday.

SB 723 would create the Peace of Mind Registry, a searchable database providing health care providers access to a patient’s advance directives from anywhere in the country.

“Establishing a central registry will help ensure that a patient’s wishes are respected,” Kowall said. “Most importantly, this registry is completely voluntary and won’t cost Michigan taxpayers a penny.”

Advance directives are legal documents allowing individuals to specify their decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time.

Currently, there is no centralized, statewide registry for patient advocate designations or other end-of-life documents that health care providers can access.

“I look forward to seeing Governor Snyder sign both of these important measures into law,” Kowall said.

SBs 645 and 723 will now advance to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Improving Michigan’s job climate

As my first year representing the people of the 15th Senate District comes to a close, I am happy to report that Michigan is better today than it was a year ago.

In the past 11 months, my fellow Senate Republicans and I have challenged the status quo with bold and decisive action. Those efforts have generated good news for our struggling state, as Michigan’s credit rating for all bonds was upgraded late this past summer to positive from stable by Fitch Ratings and the state’s General Obligation Rating was improved to “AA-.”

This upgrade means that Michigan bonds are safer, more highly valued and that we will get a better rate when borrowing money. That saves taxpayers’ money and makes Michigan more competitive relative to other states in attracting businesses that create jobs. That’s good news for job seekers.

Having our credit rating upgraded is a step in the right direction. While my legislative colleagues and I had to make tough choices so far this year, those decisions resulted in improvements in our financial position that benefit people all across the state.

Restoring Michigan’s AAA credit rating status is a long-term goal. In order to achieve that objective, we must continue working to help the state’s economy recover and budget responsibly. Going forward, I can assure you that I will focus on fiscal responsibility and doing what is best for Michigan and its residents.

In other news, this year I supported a law to crack down on unemployment fraud and ensure the stability of these vital benefits for people who truly need them. By cracking down on the cheaters who are scamming the system by collecting benefits they don’t deserve, we can help ensure that unemployment is available to individuals who really need it.

As I look ahead to the next year, I can ensure you that helping spur job growth remains at the core of our upcoming agenda. While we have already made significant reforms, there is still much to be done.

To help foster a pro-jobs environment, we are going to take a look at reforming Michigan’s personal property tax, which discourages business investment in equipment and technology. Additionally, we plan to streamline permitting and regulation, and rebuild our roads and bridges. We must invest in our state if we expect job providers to follow suit.

I consider it a true privilege and honor to be your voice in Lansing. We have made significant progress turning the state around and we are heading in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. I look forward to continuing this important work for residents of the 15th Senate District and the entire state of Michigan.

Sen. Mike Kowall represents the 15th state Senate District, which includes the townships of Commerce, Highland, Holly, Lyon, Milford, Novi, Rose, West Bloomfield and White Lake; as well as the villages of Holly, Milford and Wolverine Lake; and the cities of Novi, Northville (the Oakland County portion), Orchard Lake, South Lyon, Walled Lake and Wixom.

Kowalls call for investigation of Carrier IQ

LANSING — To help ensure the personal privacy of Michigan residents is protected, Sen. Mike Kowall and Rep. Eileen Kowall are calling for an investigation of the mobile phone application “Carrier IQ” installed on many smart phones.

Unbeknownst to most smartphone users, Carrier IQ is a piece of software installed in millions of smartphones across the world that can track websites visited, keystrokes and text message content and send it to a third party.

“Unfortunately, if you have a Nokia, Android or Blackberry phone, there is a good chance Carrier IQ is on your phone,” said Sen. Kowall, R-White Lake. “As an elected official, I feel it is my duty to defend people’s right to privacy.

The Kowalls are calling on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate whether Carrier IQ has violated federal wiretapping laws and determine if a class action lawsuit should be brought against the company. The lawmakers are also considering legislation to protect Michigan smartphone users from Carrier IQ and similar apps.

“Plain and simple, recording this type of data is a violation of a person’s right to privacy,” said Rep. Kowall, R-White Lake. “To think that this software is running on millions of phones without users knowing about it is disturbing and despicable.”

For information on how to see if Carrier IQ is installed on your smartphone, visit www.youtube.com and search for the “Carrier IQ Part 2” video.