Oakland Press: Tax reform provides welcome relief

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Among my many responsibilities as a state senator, one of the duties I take very seriously is my responsibility to help remove unnecessary encumbrances our government places on residents. One of these is the tax burden.

Easing the tax burden is good for Michiganders personally, and it is good for the economy, providing a stimulus to investment.

The recent federal tax reform simplifies the tax code, lowers tax rates, doubles the standard deduction and increases family tax credits — all worthy achievements. Unfortunately, the reform also effectively ended the federal personal exemption.

Since the state personal exemption is based on the federal return, without a revision to state law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim personal exemptions on their state income taxes.

Senate Republicans crafted Senate Bills 748 and 750 to address this issue. The measures, which recently passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, would ensure Michigan taxpayers can continue claiming the personal exemption on their state and city income taxes after the federal reform goes into effect.

SB 748 would gradually raise the state’s personal exemption to $4,900 by 2021, while keeping it tied to inflation. In 2018, the exemption would be $4,050. It would increase by $350 yearly through 2020 and then bump up to $4,900 in 2021.

Preserving and increasing the personal exemption is a responsible and affordable solution for Michigan taxpayers. They have earned a break helping energize our economy and creating jobs.

I urge the governor to act swiftly to sign Senate Bills 748 and 750. Michiganders deserve this relief.

This column 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.

Kowall, Colbeck present lapel pin to Vietnam veteran Robert Harris

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, and Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, on Thursday presented a Vietnam veteran lapel pin at the Michigan Capitol to U.S. Navy veteran Robert Harris, a lifetime member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

As a mechanic during the Vietnam War, Harris worked 12-hour shifts maintaining aircraft. He received a citation from the commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet because his squadron flew 2,280 combat missions during the cruise while maintaining 85 percent aircraft availability.

“Robert Harris served his nation in a faraway land with honor and distinction,” Kowall said. “Today we were able to recognize Bob’s service with this lapel pin and let him know we appreciate all he has done for his country.”

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 photo or other Kowall photos, click the image or select Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Sen. Kowall honors Novi High School volleyball champions

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall presented a Senate tribute on Thursday to the Novi High School 2017 Class A state champion girls volleyball team.

“It is a distinct privilege to honor these talented young women today,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “The Wildcats’ skill, determination and dedication earned the team their third-straight volleyball championship title. We wish the team the best of success in their future endeavors.”

Note: Click the image for a print-quality version. This and other Kowall photos are also available by selecting Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Spinal Column: Tax reform provides welcome relief

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

Among my many responsibilities as a state senator, one of the duties I take very seriously is my responsibility to help remove unnecessary encumbrances our government places on residents. One of these is the tax burden.

Easing the tax burden is good for Michiganders personally, and it is good for the economy, providing a stimulus to investment.

The recent federal tax reform simplifies the tax code, lowers tax rates, doubles the standard deduction and increases family tax credits — all worthy achievements. Unfortunately, the reform also effectively ended the federal personal exemption.

Since the state personal exemption is based on the federal return, without a revision to state law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim personal exemptions on their state income taxes.

Senate Republicans crafted Senate Bills 748 and 750 to address this issue. The measures, which recently passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, would ensure Michigan taxpayers can continue claiming the personal exemption on their state and city income taxes after the federal reform goes into effect.

SB 748 would gradually raise the state’s personal exemption to $4,900 by 2021, while keeping it tied to inflation. In 2018, the exemption would be $4,050. It would increase by $350 yearly through 2020 and then bump up to $4,900 in 2021.

Preserving and increasing the personal exemption is a responsible and affordable solution for Michigan taxpayers. They have earned a break helping energize our economy and creating jobs.

I urge the governor to act swiftly to sign Senate Bills 748 and 750. Michiganders deserve this relief.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. 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.

Save the Date: Vietnam Veterans Day event coming March 29

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Veterans’ Memorial Park Commission, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, and state Sen. Mike Kowall announced Thursday that the group will host an event in Lansing on Thursday, March 29 to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day in the state.

The event will take place beginning at 1 p.m. at Michigan Veterans’ Memorial Park, east of the Hall of Justice, between Allegan and Ottawa streets in Lansing. Overflow parking will be at the Michigan Historical Center parking lot at 702 W. Kalamazoo St., located between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Pine Street.

Master of ceremonies for the event will be retired U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard Col. Frank J. Walker, an Air Force Academy admissions liaison officer and veteran advocate.

Also attending will be Military and Veterans Affairs Director Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais.

“It is a privilege, and it is certainly time, to honor our Michigan Vietnam veterans, their families, and especially those men who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the nation and to their fellow citizens during the Vietnam War,” Vadnais said. “This day recognizes these warriors and their families for their courage, their dedication to freedom, and their commitment to a cause greater than self, and it ties them directly with their fellow warriors, those who have served in previous conflicts and those who are currently serving in the defense of our great nation.”

The event will honor families of Michigan warriors who were lost during the conflict and celebrate the revitalization of the Michigan Vietnam Monument. Kowall co-sponsored Senate Resolution 35 of 2017 to establish March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day in the state.

RSVP to Lynn O’Brien, Sen. Kowall’s director of district and veteran affairs, by email at lobrien@senate.michigan.gov or for any questions at 517-373-0563.

As part of the event, a lapel pinning ceremony will be held to honor U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location, giving long-overdue recognition to the veterans for their service and sacrifice.

“Of the 608,000 veterans living in Michigan today, over 215,000 served during the Vietnam era,” said Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director James Robert Redford. “This event, and lapel pinning ceremonies that have been held throughout our state, serve as a way for us to formally thank our cherished Vietnam veterans for answering the call to serve our country in uniform.”

Kowall has been a strong advocate for Vietnam era veterans, hosting numerous lapel pinning ceremonies throughout Michigan.

“We want to take this opportunity to thank all those who served in the Vietnam era,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “It is the least our country can do to acknowledge and pay tribute to all of those who served with honor and distinction.”

The Michigan Vietnam Monument, located within Michigan Veterans’ Memorial Park, is a solemn location recognizing Michigan residents, by county, who served in Vietnam. The monument recently underwent a revitalization project.

The Michigan Veterans Memorial Park Commission, under the direction of Chairman James F. Dunn, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient and former deputy director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, will showcase the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Timeline Replacement Project at the event.

The Vietnam War Commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense, and then formally launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war. Recognition is given to these heroes when commemorative partners hold events for the veterans and their families.

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.

Note: Click here for directions to the Michigan Vietnam Monument.