Oakland Press: North American International Auto Show puts strong auto sector on display

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

It has been several years now since Michigan has come out of the “Lost Decade,” in which job numbers plummeted and residents fled the state. We have now had six straight years of economic recovery, averaging more than 74,000 new jobs per year over that span. Michigan remains the Comeback State.

Historically, of course, the engine that has driven our economic success has been the auto industry.

For several decades, beginning in the early 20th century, Detroit hosted a regional auto show. In 1989, thanks to a forward-thinking group of auto dealers within the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, the show was opened to an international audience, and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) was born.

Nearly three decades later, the NAIAS has become the most prestigious auto show in the world, allowing the general public and industry experts alike access to tomorrow’s vehicles, displaying the most innovative automotive technology on the planet.

This year’s show runs from Jan. 9 through Jan. 24 at the Cobo Center.

The kickoff event known as The Gallery was held on Saturday, Jan. 9 at the MGM Grand Detroit, showcasing a nearly $7 million collection of ultra-luxury automobiles, such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Rolls Royce.

Next came three preview events: Press (11th and 12th), Industry (13th and 14th), and Charity (15th).

Finally, the NAIAS concludes with the Public Show, from Jan. 16 through Jan. 24. This part of the show allows everyone to see up close and personal the future of the industry.

During the public portion of the show, visitors are able to see the latest and future automotive technology and designs, including product demonstrations. This part of the show kicked off on Jan. 16 with the annual Auto Show 5K run, which wound its way through Detroit, along the riverfront, and across the Dequindre Cut.

Activities during the Public Show include:
•    American Red Cross Blood Drive. Both walk-ins and scheduled appointments are encouraged for the blood drive, with the final day on Jan. 23.
•    Cars on Parade. The NAIAS will feature a parade on the main show floor at 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. daily. Each parade will feature a host of ultra-luxury automobiles and local personalities from television, radio and sports.
•    MLive Day and NAIAS Photo Contest. MLive celebrated the 2016 North American International Auto Show on Jan. 16 and is holding a photo contest throughout the show.
•    Military Day. To honor those who serve our country, military personnel and veterans received a ticket discount on Jan. 19.
•    NAIAS Education Days. Held on Jan. 20 and 21, Education Days provide an opportunity for school groups of all ages to learn more about the automotive industry through tours and hands-on activities.
•    The Detroit Tigers Winter Caravan. On Jan. 22, fans of the Detroit Tigers will have the chance to see some of their favorite players, including Victor Martinez, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander.
•    WXYZ Family Day. This year’s Family Day is Jan. 22. The day will feature 7 Action News celebrity appearances, family-fun activities and musical performances.

I encourage everyone to make it down to the Cobo Center for the final days of this year’s auto show. If you do I am convinced that, like me, you will be encouraged by the health of our automotive economy and by the latest trends in the industry.

Michigan remains at the forefront of this sector of the economy. With a continued emphasis on technology development and an economic environment supportive of the industry, Michigan’s future is bright.

This column first appeared in the Oakland Press. Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is co-chairman of the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Kowall awards lapel pins to Vietnam veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, stands with Army veteran Tom Oltesvig (left), 4th degree Knights of Columbus, post commander 9914; and Air Force veteran Bob Szymanski, Knights of Columbus 8500, financial secretary. Kowall awarded the two men and several other U.S. Vietnam War veterans a Vietnam veteran lapel pin at a ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the Holy Spirit Church in Highland.

The symbolism attached to the Vietnam veteran lapel pins is significant. The pins honor all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period.

Note: For a print-quality version of this and other Kowall photos, click the image or click Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Kowall welcomes White Lake pastor to Capitol to give Senate invocation

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, welcomed Pastor Chris Todd (center) of Oxbow Baptist Church in White Lake to the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday. Pastor Todd gave the invocation before the start of the Senate session.

Note: For a print-quality version of this and other Kowall photos, click the image or click Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Sen. Mike Kowall comments on State of the State address

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, offered the following statement Tuesday after Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his 2016 State of the State address:

“I am pleased the governor addressed the Flint water crisis tonight. The safety of our residents is the top priority of government, and we must address this issue head on. We have a long way to go to solve this crisis. This is just the beginning.

“Flint is like a lot of cities across the nation with an aging infrastructure. Just as in Flint, the issue of lead in pipes and potential leeching will need to be addressed in these cities. Cities with newer construction are subject to lower levels of lead. We have to keep that in mind.

“It is of paramount importance that we solve this issue for Flint, and it is critical that this doesn’t happen anywhere else here in Michigan — the state with the largest supply of freshwater in the world.

“Governor Snyder also spoke about the emergency in the Detroit Public School system. This has been a chronic problem in the city for the past 50 years. It is unacceptable for children in Detroit or anywhere else in the state to suffer under these conditions. I look forward to working with the governor and fellow lawmakers to implement bold solutions to decisively address this issue.

“The governor addressed the importance of the Soo Locks. Most people don’t understand that these locks are critical to Michigan’s economy and to supporting thousands of jobs in the state. The locks need an upgrade, and we must commit to maintaining them.

“Finally, Governor Snyder addressed the promising new technology of connected highways and autonomous vehicles. I am proud that Southeast Michigan is the epicenter of the world for this technology. Smart automotive technology uses state-of-the-art sensing, communications, and data-processing technologies to solve congestion and safety issues by making existing structures more efficient. This year I plan to introduce legislation to improve Michigan’s standing in this industry sector.

“2016 presents many challenges for those of us in state government. Also ahead of us lie great opportunities and a bright economic future. 420,000 new jobs have been created in the state. I commit to working to help solve the trials ahead and to improving opportunity for everyone in the great state of Michigan.”

Note: Audio remarks from Kowall will be available for broadcast from this website. Click on Audio under the Media Center tab, above.

Sen. Kowall welcomes SBAM chairman to the Capitol for State of the State

LANSING, Mich. — State Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, stands at the Senate rostrum with Small Business Association of Michigan Board Chairman Jerry Grubb (left). Grubb joined Kowall for Gov. Rick Snyder’s sixth State of the State address Tuesday night.

Note: For a print-quality version of this or other Kowall photos, click the image or select the Photowire link under the Media Center tab, above.

Sen. Kowall available for comments following State of the State address

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

Who:
Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake.

What:
Reaction and comments following the governor’s State of the State address.

When:
After the address, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

Where:
By phone or at:
House Appropriations Room
Third Floor
State Capitol
Lansing, MI

Brief:
Kowall will be available following the State of the State address for comments on state issues mentioned by the governor in the address.

Please call Kowall’s office at 1-517-373-1758 to schedule an interview time with the senator.

Audio remarks will be available for broadcast from this website. Click on Audio under the Media Center tab, above.

Spinal Column: Michigan’s auto sector remains strong

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

A recent economic forecast by the University of Michigan’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics provides good news regarding the state of Michigan’s economy. After coming out of the “Lost Decade,” in which jobs plummeted and residents fled, Michigan has had six straight years of economic recovery, averaging more than 74,000 new jobs per year over that span. Michigan remains the Comeback State.

Throughout Michigan’s history, the auto industry has been the leading driver of the economic health of the entire state. The auto sector continues to play a significant role in our recovery.

Here are the highlights of the auto industry for 2016 from my perspective as co-chairman of the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus.

North American International Auto Show. The NAIAS is the most significant and important automobile trade show in the world. This year’s show will run from Jan. 9 through Jan. 24.

The show includes the kickoff event known as The Gallery (held on Saturday, Jan. 9 at the MGM Grand Detroit), showcasing a nearly $7 million collection of ultra-luxury automobiles, such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Rolls Royce.

Next come the Press (11th and 12th), Industry (13th and 14th), and Charity (15th) previews. The NAIAS concludes with the Public Show, from Jan. 16 through Jan. 24. This will allow everyone to see up close and personal the future of the industry.

Renewed emphasis on smart automotive technology. Southeast Michigan has been a national leader in intelligent transportation system (ITS) technology development and testing since the 1950s. These systems use state-of-the-art sensing, communications, and data-processing technologies to solve congestion and safety issues by making existing structures more efficient. Senate Resolution 31 urges the adoption of Intelligent Transportation System technologies throughout the state and further research into vehicle communication systems.

The resolution also calls for more testing and operation surrounding another one of the emerging, high-tech segments of the industry: automated vehicles. Automated vehicles are capable of sensing their surroundings and navigating without human input. I sponsored a bill, now law, that puts Michigan in a position to be the leader in this sector. The law will help ensure that research and development expenditures and taxes related to automated vehicles stay in Michigan. It permits these vehicles on public Michigan roadways through the use of a “Manufacturer” license plate. This year I plan to introduce a bill to bring more autonomous vehicles to Michigan.

Alongside the blessings of increased automotive technology are risks associated with that technology. One such threat was exposed when writers of a technology magazine revealed that security experts were able to hack into a vehicle and disable some of its functions. That is why this year I will be introducing legislation that will increase the penalties for maliciously hacking into a vehicle’s computer technology. Under my bill, the penalty for such a crime will be the same as the penalty for carjacking. A serious crime such as hacking into a motor vehicle deserves serious consequences.

My measure also will make a distinction between “critical” and “noncritical” software systems, enable owners of vehicles to terminate the collection and retention of driving data under “Consumer Control” provisions, and put in place other consumer protections.

General Motors and Lyft. The San Francisco company Lyft provides ride sharing through its mobile application. General Motors recently invested a whopping $500 million in Lyft. In addition to making GM a preferred vehicle provider for Lyft, the partnership will result in a network of hubs in the United States where drivers can rent these vehicles. In addition, the companies plan to work together on developing their own autonomous vehicles.

I am encouraged by the latest trends in the automotive industry. Michigan remains at the forefront of this economy. With a continued emphasis on technology development and an economic environment supportive of the industry, Michigan’s future is bright.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is co-chairman of the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Oakland Press: Winter can be wonderful if you follow a few safety guidelines

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

As a lifelong Michigander, I enjoy experiencing all four seasons. Soon it will officially be winter, and although many people don’t appreciate our coldest season, winter brings its own blessings.

A fresh snowfall creates a beautiful landscape. Resorts and the countryside offer numerous winter recreation opportunities, from skiing to snowmobiling to ice skating and more. Reading a book by the fire while the snow falls outside is a rare comfort.

But the same snow — and cold — that provides the backdrop for winter blessings can also create some unsafe conditions. That is why I offer here some basic guidelines to keep in mind to help ensure we have a safe and enjoyable winter.

Drive safely. Winter conditions can make driving hazardous. Snow, sleet and freezing rain all pose challenges to staying safe on the road. Make sure you slow down and take extra care. The first winter weather in particular can mean danger, as drivers have not yet transitioned from their summer driving practices to account for the slicker conditions of winter.

Be careful when shoveling snow. Shoveling snow can either be a great means of exercise or a source of misery. If you have been inactive for months and head out in the morning to clear that fresh foot of snow, picking up the snow shovel could prove dangerous — even fatal — as it puts an unusual strain on the heart.

Make sure to take it easy after the first significant snowfall. And bundle up to prevent further heart strain. If you use a snow blower, make sure it is in good working order and you use it correctly.

Treat frostbite immediately. Frostbite and hypothermia are caused by too much exposure to cold, wind or moisture. Before heading outside, make sure you:
•    Check the temperature. If it is very cold, wet or windy, limit your time outdoors;
•    Put on several layers of loose clothing;
•    Wear mittens instead of gloves, if necessary;
•    Cover your head and ears with a warm hat; and
•    Wear socks that keep your feet warm and dry.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. The winter months are the most common time carbon monoxide poisoning occurs. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that is difficult to detect. It is critically important to have CO detectors in your home and to make sure working batteries are installed in them. Replace the batteries each spring and fall, when you set your clocks forward and back. In addition, never heat your home with a gas range or oven, and never run a car or truck inside an attached garage.

These safety tips have been adapted from the National Safety Council’s (NSC) “Winter Safety Tips.” For more information, visit the NSC website.

By following these basic guidelines, you can have a safe and enjoyable winter. May you get outside and enjoy Pure Michigan this winter!

This column first appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.