Congratulations on 44-Years of the Glad-Peach Festival

Hundreds of people are drawn to the small town of Coloma every year for the Glad-Peach Festival. The annual celebration of one of southwest Michigan’s sweet summer fruits keeps visitors coming back by offering fun for the entire family.

It remains a stable in the region’s series of festivals, and I congratulate the organizers for 44 years of family entertainment.

This year’s festival is Aug. 5-7 and features parades, two stages of free live music, 10K and 5K runs, a carnival of rides and games, an arts and crafts show, a car show with more than 150 cars, fireworks and the famous Peach Pit Spit.

Beyond entertainment, the festival serves up some of the best food Michigan has to offer.

Thank you to the volunteers who make possible the three days of food and fun, and to the visitors who make it a success.

I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the festivities. Some highlights to remember are:

• Aug. 5: Carnival and arts show open; Prince and Princess Coronation; Youth Parade
• Aug. 6: 10K and 5K Runs and Bike events; 44th Annual Glad-Peach Festival Parade; Peach Pit Spit; Fireworks Show
• Aug. 7: Car Show; Ultimate Air Dog Competition finals.

 For more information, please visit www.colomapeachfest.com.

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DEQ Reforms Create Jobs and Clean Up Environment

Senate legislation has been introduced to reform the regulatory process within the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) dealing with leaking underground storage tanks.

I co-sponsored these reforms because they will eliminate unnecessary red tape and expedite the cleanup of these contaminated sites.

The initiatives both promote job creation and environmental protection. Cleaning these areas will protect our natural resources and prepare them for redevelopment that could revitalize our communities and create jobs.

Senate Bills 528-533 would create an independent dispute resolution process and clarify that the DEQ cannot develop regulations for cleanups that are not specified under law.

This is needed because over the last decade few of these sites have been revitalized and the department has continually changed the standards. The practice of constantly shifting the goalposts must end. It has caused tremendous uncertainty and costly setbacks.

The bills would still allow the DEQ to enact certain rules with restrictions, including requiring a cost-benefit analysis of proposed  rules and banning the adoption of standards more stringent than federal standards, unless given that authority by the Legislature.

Cleaning up these polluted sites is important, but the first order of business is to first ensure that department rules are not actually making the problem worse by standing in the way.

Bill Would Scale Back Unfair Program

Michigan’s driver responsibility fee program is an unfair system that makes it very difficult for many residents who have made a mistake to regain their license and get back to work.   Thankfully, the program would be scaled back under legislation recently approved by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 166 eliminates many of the lower level offenses that trigger a fine under current law, but it retains penalties for the most egregious traffic violations, including operating while intoxicated, hit and run accidents, fleeing and eluding police, and reckless driving. The revisions to the system are necessary because the program levies additional, over-the-top fees for violations that are already penalized. The reforms eliminate fines assessed for people accruing seven or more points on their driving record, driving without insurance or without proof of insurance, and driving without a license.

The driver responsibility fee program became law in 2003 as an alleged “quick and easy” fix to generate revenue for the state’s budget deficit.

From 2004 to 2010 the program issued more than $1.2 billion in assessments but only collected $720 million—a return of only 60 percent.

Meanwhile, the program has resulted in nearly 2.5 million license suspensions since its enactment.

It is time we stop unfairly penalizing Michigan drivers.

SB 166 is now in the state House of Representatives for consideration.