Sen. Green reminds residents to vote in May 3 elections

State Sen. Mike Green today encouraged voters in the 31st Senate District to participate in upcoming elections on Tuesday, May 3. The Mayville Republican said his website now features the latest information on where to vote and a sample ballot that voters can preview.

“Elections provide the best opportunity for residents to make their voices heard in our democracy, and I encourage registered voters to participate in this civic duty,” said Green. “My website has all the details on local elections so voters can inform themselves before filling out their ballot.”

Green’s website can be accessed by directing your web browser to www.statesenatormikegreen.com.

Voters are also reminded that they will be asked to present photo ID at the polls, such as a Michigan driver's license or identification card. Any registered voter who for whatever reason is lacking an acceptable form of photo ID can still vote. They must sign an affidavit stating that they're not in possession of a photo ID. Their ballots will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.

Residents can vote between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. at their polling location.

Michigan Dept. of Agriculture & Rural Development Warns Food Establishments of Phony Inspector Scam

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD), in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the Michigan Restaurant Association, and local health departments, is warning the state’s food establishments about a scam involving fake food inspectors who are currently making the rounds in Michigan. 
Michigan restaurants have reported they have received calls from individuals claiming to be from a heath department. The callers request to schedule an inspection at the establishment, and have also requested sensitive information from the businesses. If refused, the scam artists then threaten enforcement action and fines.

“Assuring a safe food supply in all aspects of the food chain is the primary mission of MDARD and it is completely unacceptable for anyone to pose as a food safety inspector,” said Kevin Besey, MDARD’s Food and Dairy Division Acting Director. “Food establishments need to be on the look-out for these con artists to assure they aren’t taken in by the scam to protect their personal and business financial information.”

Inspections of restaurants and other food establishments are usually unannounced to ensure proper food safety measures are being followed at all times.  It is rare that a state or local health department inspector would schedule an inspection. Additionally, food establishment owners and managers should never provide confidential information, such as social security numbers, over the phone.

Here are some quick tips so you don’t fall victim to this scam:

  • Ask for identification if someone that you don’t know stops by or calls claiming to be from the local health department or MDARD.  State and local food inspectors carry official identification.
  • If the individual can not provide proper identification, do not allow the person access to your facility. Contact your food regulatory agency immediately and report it. 
  • Don’t provide sensitive or confidential information over the phone such as a social security number. State and local food inspectors would never ask for that information.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local food regulatory agency or MDARD. You can reach MDARD at 800-292-3939.

Editor’s note: an interview-style video link is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-PHadaeGHo for your use.

MDARD Unveils Online Pesticide Education Registration for Michigans 23,000 Certified Pesticide Applicators

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) today unveiled a new website – www.michigan.gov/pestexam – to make it easier and more convenient for the state’s 23,000 certified pesticide applicators to find and register for their required examinations.

“We pride ourselves on continuously finding ways to improve our customer service. The website will ease the scheduling process for Michigan’s pesticide applicators who – on average – schedule more than 7,500 exam reservations annually which was previously coordinated directly by MDARD staff,” said Keith Creagh, MDARD Director. “By working with the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, we’re able to deliver top notch, 24/7 service making it easier more convenient for businesses to interact with us.”

"This is a perfect example of how technology can be used to improve government service to better meet the needs of citizens and businesses," said David Behen, Chief Information Officer for the State of Michigan.  "It's also a testament to the great things that can be done through strong partnerships like the one we have with MDARD, and I plan to continue cultivating those partnerships at both the state and local level."

The website offers users an interactive map showing where available exam sessions are located with counties colored in green. The exam schedule varies statewide to allow applicants an opportunity to take the exam at a time and location that is closest or most convenient. Applicants can now schedule their own appointment through the self-service link at www.michigan.gov/pestexam.

It’s quick, easy, and applicants can print a confirmation from the site and receive an e-mail confirmation. The website also includes links for applicators to obtain the study materials and a frequently asked questions document.

Additionally, the site benefits Michigan 2,100 commercial pesticide application businesses as it pre-populates phone and email information for industry staff responsible for registering multiple applicators.

The Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, P.A. 451, as amended and Regulation 636, as amended, require individuals to be either a certified pesticide applicator or registered applicator to apply a pesticide for a commercial purpose or in the course of his or her employment.  A person may apply a general use pesticide for a private agricultural purpose without being a certified applicator or registered applicator. 

For details on becoming a certified pesticide applicator, visit www.michigan.gov/mda, click on Licensing, Certification, Registration, then pesticides. To schedule a pesticide applicator exam, visit www.michigan.gov/pestexam

 

Photo Advisory: Gov. Snyder signs Sen. Green’s bill to broaden jobs focus

LANSING– State Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder pose for a picture after Senate Bill 144 was signed in to law on Tuesday, April 26, 2011. The new law encourages economic growth in Michigan by broadening 21st Century Jobs Fund eligibility to include agriculture processing, information technology and any other innovative technology industry.

For a print quality version of this and other Green photos, please visit his website at www.statesenatormikegreen.com and click Photowire.

Sen. Green to host Arenac County office hours

LANSING – Senator Mike Green will hold office hours in Arenac County on Friday, May 6th from 4:00pm to 5:30pm in the Arenac County Board of Commissioners meeting room, located at 120 North Grove Street, Standish.

“It’s an honor to represent the 31st District in the Michigan Senate,” Green said.  “Office hours are just one of the ways I’m working hard on their behalf.”

“I invite everyone to attend and I look forward to meeting them.”

Green said that he will also introduce his newly-appointed district representative, James McLoskey, at the meeting.

For further information or to contact Senator Green, please visit www.statesenatormikegreen.com.  The 31st Senate district includes Arenac, Bay, Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.
 

Sen. Green to host Bay County office hours

LANSING – State Sen. Mike Green will hold office hours on May 2 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Bay County Building in the Personnel Conference Room, located at 515 Center Ave. in Bay City.

“The office hours provide an excellent opportunity for us to discuss one-on-one the challenges we face in Michigan and to offer my help in state-related matters,” said Green, R-Mayville. “I invite everyone to attend and look forward to meeting as many of the good people of the district as possible.”

Green said that he will also introduce his newly-appointed district representative, James McLoskey, at the meeting.

For further information or to contact Senator Green, please visit www.statesenatormikegreen.com.  The 31st Senate district includes Arenac, Bay, Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.
 

Gas-Saving Free Camper Storage Program Continues at Michigan State Parks

The Department of Natural Resource announced today that the gas-saving, camper storage program at select Michigan state parks and recreation areas will continue this camping season to help families offset the cost of rising gas prices and enjoy their summer vacation plans.

In 2008, the DNR announced a new gas-saving, camper storage pilot program that offered campers the opportunity to save fuel by temporarily storing their camping trailer or recreational vehicle at participating state parks or recreation areas. The pilot program was scheduled to expire in September of 2008, but with the gas prices continuing to increase each year, the program will continue into its fourth season.

“This pilot program was a huge success,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.  “Due to its overwhelming success, and numerous requests from campers and park staff to continue the program, we decided to continue to extend this program to encourage families to continue their summer vacation plans and help offset the cost of rising gas prices.”

Storage of the camping units will remain free and limited to 15 days.  Storage will only be available at participating state parks or recreation areas, and only until the park or recreation area closes for the season.

Campers wishing to take advantage of this program will need to show proof of a recent or future (within one week) camping stay at a Michigan state park or recreation area campground.

Intermittent Camping Storage, companion to the Gas Saving Storage Pilot Program, allows on-site storage of camping units in participating state parks or recreation area campgrounds.  This program has also been a success at select locations for many years.

The storage fee of $4 per night during unoccupied periods has been eliminated and the program is managed using the following criteria:

  • Free nights will only be available Sunday thru Thursday nights.
  • The full camping rate will be charged during the weekends (Friday and Saturday nights).
  • Camping units must be unplugged and unoccupied to qualify for the free nights.
  • This only applies to specific state parks and recreation areas participating in Intermittent Camping Storage.

For more information about these programs, the parks participating in these programs, and the continued opportunity to save on fuel costs, contact the DNR Parks and Recreation Division office at 517-373-9900, or visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/camperstorge.  To find out if a participating park or recreation area has space available, or to find out when they plan to close for the 2011 camping season, contact the park or recreation area.

“The Recreation Passport also makes it affordable for Michigan residents and families to continue to enjoy their summer vacation plans,” said Olson.  “At only $10 for resident motor vehicles, and $5 for resident motorcycles, Michigan residents can enjoy the outdoors at any state park or recreation area, as well as access over 1,100 boating access sites.  With a state park or recreation area within one hour of any place in Michigan, I encourage Michigan residents and visitors to GO-Get Outdoors this summer.”

Camping reservations can be made on-line at www.midnrreservations.com, or by calling the central reservation system at 1-800-447-2757.  For a list of events taking place at your state parks and recreation areas, visit the Get Outdoors Calendar at www.michigan.gov/gogetoutdoors.

The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites.  This new way to fund Michigan's outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.

Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking "Yes" on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area.  To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or call 517-241-7275.

Non-resident motor vehicles must still display a valid Non-Resident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site, which can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

As Outdoor Projects Begin, MPSC Reminds Homeowners and Businesses to Call 811 Before Digging

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) reminds homeowners and businesses to call 811 before undertaking outdoor projects that require digging.

MPSC Chairman Orjiakor Isiogu joined legislators and representatives of utilities and MISS DIG, Inc. at an event at the Capitol today to highlight the importance of following safe digging practices.

April marks Safe Digging Month in Michigan. State Sen. Mike Nofs and State Rep. Ken Horn this week introduced a legislative proclamation recognizing the importance of calling 811 to have underground utilities marked before digging.

“With warmer temperatures, come outdoor projects that require digging,” said Isiogu. “A simple call to 811 beforehand can prevent injuries, damage to important infrastructure, and loss of utility service.”

Dialing 811 in Michigan connects callers to MISS DIG, a statewide, one-call center for construction safety and utility damage prevention. Once a request is received, MISS DIG contacts local utility companies, according to the location where a caller plans to dig. Utilities will send representatives to mark the approximate location of underground lines with paint and/or staking flags within three working days. The service is free.

Each year, hundreds of dig-in accidents are caused by careless digging, which results in damage to utility lines, service interruptions, property damage, financial penalties and personal injuries, according to Kathie Fournier, MISS DIG chief executive officer and executive director. “Whether you’re a homeowner or contractor, calling 811 is a very simple way to avoid some very serious consequences,” she noted.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth.

Why Wait? Buy Your 2011 Michigan Hunting and Fishing Licenses Now

 

The Department of Natural Resources reminds Michigan residents that hunting and fishing licenses for 2011 are now on sale at license retailers statewide and online at the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Hunters who want to try turkey hunting this spring are encouraged to purchase a leftover license for Hunt 234. This hunt includes all areas of the state open to spring turkey hunting, except the public lands of southern Michigan, and extends from May 2-31.  Hunt No. 234 licenses can be purchased through May 1.

Sportsmen and women who purchase four licenses — a turkey, deer, fish and small game — receive a 15 percent discount.

Anglers are reminded that Michigan now offers a three-day license, which is particularly beneficial for three-day holiday weekends, said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. A three-day fishing license is $21 for both residents and non-residents and only $9 for seniors.

Anyone 17 and older who wants to fish is required to purchase a license. Youth anglers can purchase a voluntary license for $2 (plus an additional $1 for a DNR Sportscard). Stokes said for a small investment of $2, Michigan gets a big return.

“For every license we sell, we receive about $9 back in federal funding from the Pittman Robertson Act (for game species management) or the Dingell-Johnson Act (for fisheries management),” Stokes said. “The voluntary youth license is a great investment for fisheries management in our state, and it conveys to youth anglers their important role in conservation in Michigan.”

License prices in Michigan remain unchanged from 2010.

“Hunting and fishing is an important part of Michigan’s heritage,” Stokes said. “Our work in natural resource management at the DNR would not be possible without the support of Michigan residents and visitors who purchase hunting and fishing licenses.”

For more information on Michigan hunting or fishing, go to the DNR’s website at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

2011 Tax Amnesty Period Announced

The 2011 Tax Amnesty runs from May 15, 2011 to June 30, 2011 and tens of thousands of letters will be delivered early to some taxpayers who are eligible. Many others will qualify.

A toll-free number has been established at 855-IOMITAX (466-4829).  Interested taxpayers may also email questions to amnesty@michigan.gov, which may be the quickest turnaround during peak times.

The Michigan Department of Treasury has developed forms, instructions, frequently asked questions, and other information that will be useful to taxpayers interested in tax amnesty. This information is now available at www.mitaxamnesty.org.