Welcome to my legislative newsletter!
It is truly an honor to serve you. Over the past few months, I’ve been hard at work laying the groundwork for a productive 2017-18 legislative term. I am honored to have been appointed chair of the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee, through which I take the lead on legislation to help ensure students of all ages have access to educational opportunities which lead to well paying jobs while closing the skills gap faced by companies in our state. I also serve on the Commerce and Trade, Local Government and Agriculture committees.
I believe government needs to be more accountable, and that starts by being accessible, listening to people’s concerns and answering their questions honestly. I hope you will join me at my office hours in the future You’ll find dates, times and locations listed within this update and on my website.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions or concerns, or if I can assist you in any way.
85th House District
We’re Here for You!
Office: (517) 373-0841
Visit my online office: http://www.RepFrederick.com
Mailing Address: S-1189 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909
Located on the corner of Ottawa and Capitol, across the street from the State Capitol.
Local Office Hours
My next meetings take place Monday, May 22nd, at Foster Coffee Co from 7 to 8:30 a.m., and Merrill Public Library from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Appointments are not necessary. Residents who are unable to meet during my scheduled office hours may contact my Lansing office by phone at (517) 373-0841 or email BenFrederick@house.mi.gov.
Announcing Office Staff Members
Below is a picture of my team that is hard at work serving you in both the Lansing office and in-district.
From left, Constituent relations director Ciera Love, volunteer district liaison Mark Agnew, legislative director Rachel Hoekstra and staff assistant Madi Sholtz.
March is Reading Month
In addition to improving vocabulary, reading also enhances memory and reduces stress levels. Research shows that there is a direct correlation between a student’s reading ability and their success in school. Reading is essential to everyday life, both inside and outside the classroom, that’s why each year the House observes March as “Reading Month” in the state of Michigan. I visited several schools throughout our community to read aloud to students. I hope you’ll join me in encouraging your children to read, not just this month, but every month of the year. There is never a bad time for a good book.
Increasing government transparency
The Michigan House has taken major steps to increase transparency in state government. We recently introduced legislation to subject the governor and lieutenant governor to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The legislation also creates a similar disclosure requirement for state representatives and senators called the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA). Additionally, in early January we announced that the House website now includes easily accessibly public information about House salaries, including those of representatives and staff members. We’re making government transparency a legislative priority this term because you deserve to know what goes on in your state government and how your tax dollars are being spent.
Giving students more class choice
I am co-sponsoring a merit curriculum legislative initiative to give high school students more flexibility in their education choices. High school is about preparing our kids for life after graduation, and that’s what these four bills help do. We need to give students with an aptitude for specific trades the opportunity to explore the fields that align with their future aspirations. Employers are looking right now for workers who have the training and experience, and there are tens of thousands of jobs available in our state. Local educators and parents have told me that more flexibility is needed to allow students additional space in their schedules to explore these avenues, and Dr. Kari Selleck, curriculum director at Owosso Public Schools, joined me in Lansing to speak in support of the legislation. The package passed the House with bipartisan support late last month and awaits consideration in the state senate.
The four bills in the package will:
- Allow students to fulfill a 21st Century Skills requirement by completing a combination of career/technical education (CTE) or visual/performing arts courses.
- Allow for one of two required foreign language credits to be achieved through a CTE course, computer coding or certain visual/performing arts courses.
- Allow the completion of a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration general industry or construction training program within a CTE program to fulfill a health education requirement.
- Allow for statistics to be an alternative to Algebra II as the third required math credit within current Michigan merit standards.
Protecting special-needs children
My first bill approved by the House gives the parent or guardian of a special-needs child the option to place the child’s photograph and fingerprints on file with the Michigan State Police and the national Automated Fingerprint Identification System database. That information would then be easily accessible to emergency responders in the event of a lost or missing child. Many special-needs kids are completely non-verbal, and countless others would have a hard time communicating even basic information if they found themselves in a situation where they were lost, scared and surrounded by strangers. Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Sgt. Doug Chapman joined me to speak in support of the legislation before the House Judiciary Committee. Chapman said the reforms would help officers quickly identify special-needs children and reunite them with their families. The program would be strictly voluntary, and photographs and fingerprints would be removed from the system at the request of the parent. House Bill 4137 is now under consideration in the Senate.
Enhancing worker safety, cutting costs for local businesses
Businesses hauling agricultural field drainage tubing on state highways could employ safer, more efficient truck and trailer combinations under legislation I introduced earlier this year after hearing from a local business about the issue. My bill creates an exemption for businesses hauling the drainage tubing to use vehicle combos up to 75-feet-long, versus the current 59- to 65-feet limit. Rick Lamb, plant manager at Advanced Drainage Systems in Owosso, and Justin Horvath, president and CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, joined me to provide testimony to the House Agriculture Committee on the legislation. Lamb said longer trucks would allow the company to use automatic unloading technology that enhances employee safety. The updated hauling vehicles are also less expensive to build, operate and maintain than the traditional semi-trailers the company now uses, Lamb added. The House voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill in March; it is now being considered in the Senate.
Honoring a fallen Corunna soldier
In February I introduced legislation to rename a portion of M-71 after Pfc. Shane Cantu, a Corunna native who died while serving on active duty in Afghanistan nearly five years ago. Cantu paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country, and I want to ensure his memory will live on for many years to come. It has been my honor to get to know his family in the years following his passing. In speaking with them, we agreed that given how his life touched so many people in both Owosso and Corunna, there can be no better ongoing tribute to his memory than to have the highway joining these two cities renamed in his honor. Cantu, a 2010 graduate of Corunna High School, was killed Aug. 28, 2012, when an explosive device was detonated near the compound where he was stationed as a member of the Army’s 173rd Airborne.
The bill is pending a hearing before the House Transportation Committee and I am optimistic we will see overwhelming support for this important remembrance.
Local county fair information
With the summer months fast approaching, I am pleased to share information about our local fairs in Shiawassee and Saginaw counties:
- August 1-5, Saginaw County Fair, 11350 Peet Road in Chesaning. Visit http://www.saginawcountyfair.org or call (989) 845-2143 for more information.
- August 6-12, Shiawassee County Fair, 2900 E. Hibbard Road in Corunna. Visit http://www.shiawasseefair.com or call (989) 743-3611 for more information.
Serving the people of the 85th district is very important to me, and I encourage residents to contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-0841, emailing BenFrederick@House.mi.gov or visiting my website at http://www.RepFrederick.com.
Please contact my office if I can assist you in any way, or if you have a great idea to help move our state forward.