Senator discusses governor’s tax increase proposals, abortion bill.

April 26, 2019

Senator discusses governor’s tax increase proposals, abortion bill.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

HAMLIN TOWNSHIP — Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) was the keynote speaker at the Mason County Republican Committee annual Lincoln Day Dinner Thursday, April 26. VanderWall, who represents Michigan’s 35th Senate District, which includes Mason County, spoke about some of the challenges the Republican-controlled state legislator faces, especially with a Democratic governor. 

“The changeover in the administration from Gov. Snyder to Gov. Whitmer has presented numerous challenges,” VanderWall told the gathering at Lincoln Hills Golf Club. “The first, of course, is simply that it is now more difficult to get bills signed into law. But, more important and fundamental than that frustration is that a Democratic governor can threaten to undo all the progress we’ve made over eight years. A Democratic governor is a threat to return us to the lost decade of the Granholm administration. 

“With Republicans in control of the legislature, I do not think that will happen,” VanderWall said. “But it does make the need for Republicans to rally and remain strong even greater.”

VanderWall said Whitmer’s proposed budget is one of the biggest challenges the legislature faces, especially with the governor’s proposed 45-cent per gallon increase of the state fuel tax — a proposal that will have little impact on the improvement of roads in northern Michigan. 

“Senate Republicans have begun work on a departmental budget that we think will be more fiscally responsible than the governor’s,” he said. “Over the next couple of weeks we will begin passing those budgets. All budgets represent priorities for an investment in Michigan’s future. Over the last eight years, we have increased state funding for schools by $2.2 billion, and we’ve put $2.8 billion in new investment into our roads since 2017. Of course, we need to do more. With wise budgeting we can continue to support our schools and our students, fix our roads and our infrastructure, and keep Michigan on solid footing.” 

VanderWall called Whitmer’s fuel tax proposal a “nonstarter.” 

“I was hopeful the governor, in her budget recommendation, would propose some constructive solutions to fixing our roads and infrastructure. But, instead, she has recommended an extreme tax increase that would undo much of the progress we have made over the past eight years.

“The governor’s proposed tax increase would make Michigan’s gas tax the highest in the nation by far. We cannot place such a heavy burden on our hardworking taxpayers. The heartbeat of the economy here in Mason County is small business, and that is the case for the majority of Michigan’s economy as well. For the average family business owner, for small farms, for small business and the economy as a whole, the governor’s gas tax increase would be devastating. Good roads are important but we must do better than the governor’s proposal for fixing them, and senate Republicans will do better.”

VanderWall, who serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development, said he also takes issue with the governor’s tax proposal for small businesses. “She expressed a desire for business taxes to be fair, but her proposal is decidedly unfair. This tax would mean increasing taxes on small mom and pop shops that are essential to the vitality of our communities.”

VanderWall said the senate is making progress on auto insurance reform, though the governor has not. 

“It is a critical issue I had hoped the governor would address, but she has not talked much about the problem. Michigan’s exceptionally high auto insurance rates put an enormous burden on many families trying to make it from paycheck to paycheck. Although solutions have been discussed for years, we must provide relief once and for all. That is why senate Republicans’ top priority during the 100th Legislature is to significantly reduce Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation auto insurance rate. My colleague, Sen. Aric Nesbitt, has introduced Senate Bill 1 to do just that. The bill would provide relief for consumers by addressing the root causes of Michigan’s extreme car insurance rates.”

VanderWall said the bill would allow drivers over the age of 62 the option of allowing Medicare or their private lifetime benefits to cover medical costs. It would also give drivers the ability to choose an amount of coverage that suits their needs and budget. “Savings would correspond to the chosen benefit level,” he said. 

VanderWall also addressed a bill that he has written to protect unborn children against abortion. Senate Bill 165, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would protect unborn children after 20 weeks old, VanderWall said. 

“Recent studies have shown that when a baby in the womb reaches 20 weeks, pain receptors are present throughout its entire body, and an abortion causes the baby unimaginable pain. Aborting these children is a horrible act of cruelty,” the senator said. “SB 165 would prohibit all abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization — more than halfway through pregnancy — unless the abortion is judged necessary to save the life of the mother.”

SB 166 is a companion bill that would impose a criminal penalty of up to 15 years in prison against the medical provider performing the abortion, VanderWall said. “It bars any prosecution of a mother who receives an abortion after 20 weeks.” 

Sixteen states have already enacted fetal pain abortion laws similar to VanderWall’s bill, he said. “Advances in modern medicine have helped babies born 20 weeks post-fertilization survive outside the womb, so unless the mother’s life is in danger, we should be doing everything we can to protect unborn children.”

VanderWall said the bill will face a challenge at the governor’s desk, but asked that people keep her in their prayers. 

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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