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Calley: Roads, taxes, mental health among 2018 issues

The Hastings Banner - 1/11/2018

State Rep. Julie Calley, R-Portland, recently reviewed the progress she and her colleagues have made this legislative term on issues that matter most to the people of Barry and Ionia counties.

"I've listened to what people have to say," Calley said in a press release. "They want support for our local communities, they want our roads fixed, more career training opportunities for our young people, help for opioid addicts and those dealing with mental health challenges. We're making changes in all of these arenas, and I'm proud to support those measures."

From a budget standpoint, the Michigan Legislature continues to pay down state debt while road funding is at an all-time high. She noted that 2018 will be the first full year of increased road funding, and she anticipates more improvement, as a result.

Calley also emphasized that an increased Homestead Tax Credit was included within the road funding laws passed a few years ago. Beginning in 2018, the maximum credit is increased from $1,200 to $1,500. The qualifying household income cap is changed from $50,000 to $60,000.

Calley said the Legislature passed many bills in 2017 promoting skilled trades.

"Technical careers are in high demand, and it is essential to create an atmosphere for students in those fields to be successful," she said.

Calley said she supported legislation that would have cut the cost of auto insurance premiums. The bill was 10 votes short of passing in the House, but Calley said she is hopeful the conversation will continue in the next term.

"Michigan has the highest auto insurance rates in the country, and I think that's unfair to our residents. At the very least, I would like to see anti-fraud bills passed in the coming year," Calley said. "Our community members have made it clear that they want relief when it comes to auto insurance."

The first-term legislator also emphasized the importance of repealing Michigan's driver responsibility fees, which often result in the loss of transportation to and from employment. The fees were enacted in 2003 during former Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration in the hopes it would deter drivers who repeatedly violate traffic safety laws. In November, the House overwhelmingly supported the package of bills that would end the fees.

Calley said she anticipates legislation clarifying Michigan's income tax this year. New language is needed because of federal changes recently signed into law. The removal of the federal personal exemption would cause an unintended increase to Michiganders on their state income tax returns.

"I am confident this correction will be addressed early this year. Our residents deserve assurance that legislators are not interested in raising their income taxes."

Also in the year ahead, Calley said she looks forward to reviewing proposed legislation from the House bipartisan mental health task force, which spent several months touring the state to host meetings where members could hear from mental and behavioral health specialists.

"I want to focus on a better Michigan for all of our residents, including those who are differently abled," she said.

"There's still much to be done," Calley concluded, "but we're off to a good start for the people of Michigan. I look forward to the opportunity to serve our communities in 2018."


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