Making it easier to give back

By Sen. Joe Hune
22nd Senate District

Recently, the Michigan Senate approved legislation that would encourage charitable giving by simplifying state income tax requirements for certain trusts and annuities.

Michigan residents should be encouraged to give back to their communities through charitable giving. Instead, the current process makes it more complex and costly. People shouldn’t have to jump through hoops just to make a donation.

Senate Bill 1104 would exempt Michigan charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts from the obligation to withhold Michigan Income Tax. Such trusts allow the donor to give money to a charitable organization but receive a small recurring payment back, usually monthly, from the receiving organization.

This commonsense reform would have no effect on the taxability of Michigan income. In fact, SB 1104 is expected to save the Michigan Department of Treasury more than $1 million in programming costs. Additionally, this measure will merely clarify how non-taxable charitable income is treated and make the process easier to understand.

SB 1104 also simplifies and streamlines withholding requirements for smaller taxpayers who are generally taxed as individuals despite being organized as partnerships or limited liability corporations.

This type of charitable annuity income is not taxable, meaning that eventually the money is refunded to donors when they file their tax return. If this proposal is signed into law, this type of income would be exempt from withholding – eliminating the headache of Michigan residents having to wait for a refund of money that should not have been taken from them to begin with.

The measure is currently being considered by my colleagues in the House of Representatives.

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Sen. Joe Hune is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.

Hune: Senate approves measure to close loophole on synthetic drugs

LANSING Legislation designed to provide prosecutors and law enforcement officials with the tools necessary to address the growing issues surrounding synthetic drugs was approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate.

“The measure we passed today will close a loophole and help ensure that these synthetic drugs are illegal,” said Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg. “I supported this important piece of legislation to help protect residents across the state from these dangerous substances.”

Senate Bill 1082 would update Michigan’s law that lists prohibited chemical compounds typically used by synthetic drug manufacturers and further empower local law enforcement to keep up with the ever-changing nature of these dangerous, addictive drugs.

The measure was sponsored to target synthetic drugs that are similar to “K2” and “bath salts,” which were previously banned but have had their chemicals altered to escape the penalties.

“While many particular synthetic drugs are already illegal under Michigan law, the manufacturers of these dangerous drugs simply change the chemical makeup of their compounds in order to skirt the state law,” Hune said. “We need this proposed law on the books as soon as possible.”

If signed into law, SB 1082 would update the list of schedule-1 controlled substances to include any synthetic chemical compound that mimics the effect of naturally occurring cannabinoids – which are found in cannabis, which is more commonly known as marijuana.

By classifying these synthetic drugs as schedule-1 substances, it means that anyone caught possessing them would face a felony charge punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Additionally, anyone caught using one of these controlled substances could be found guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of $1,000.

Furthermore, individuals who manufacture, create, deliver or possess with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance would be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years and a fine of up to $10,000.

SB 1082 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Sen. Hune, guests remember Michigan’s fallen soldiers

LANSING — State Sen. Joe Hune (center) stands with Leroy Langlois (from left), Kurt Pochert, Dwight Sachau, Butch Ogden, Stan Cooke and Douglas Kuhn, all former servicemen from the 22nd Senate District.

The men were Hune’s guests for the Michigan Senate’s 18th Annual Memorial Day Service.

Michigan’s military heroes who defended freedom and sacrificed their lives in the past year in the war on terror were honored during the special ceremony.

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Free fishing!

By Sen. Joe Hune

22nd Senate District

Every year, I look forward to the weather warming up enough so I can grab my tackle box and go fishing. To help spread my love for fishing and encourage other Michigan residents to pick up a fishing pole, I want to remind you about the annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 9-10.

Both residents and non-residents alike can fish without a license that particular weekend, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

Since 1986, Michigan has annually celebrated the Summer Free Fishing Weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources and the sheer fun of fishing. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing go hand in hand.

To encourage involvement in Free Fishing Weekends, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations, including constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others.

For more information on what is sure to be a fun-filled weekend, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

This is a great way for everyone to experience the fun of fishing for free. I encourage every resident of the 22nd Senate District to mark their calendar for June 9 and 10 to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.

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Sen. Joe Hune is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.

Memorial Day

By Sen. Joe Hune
22nd Senate District

Memorial Day is a solemn occasion for us to remember the brave men and women in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.

Originally called “Decoration Day,” Memorial Day is set aside as a time of remembrance for those who gave their lives in defense of our nation. We started commemorating this holiday shortly after the Civil War by decorating the graves of the war dead. Surprisingly, Memorial Day didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971.

While many people will use the holiday to spend time with friends and family and unofficially welcome summer by barbecuing in the backyard, this Memorial Day I urge you to remember those who died for our country.

You can observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials, proudly flying the American flag at half-staff until noon on your front porch, or thanking a veteran for their service.

In recognition of the sacrifices our enlisted men and women make to protect our freedom, this year federal parks officials announced that beginning Armed Forces Day (May 19), all active duty service members will be able to get a free annual pass granting them and their dependents access to more than 2,000 sites across the country, including national parks and forests.

While the pass is not available to veterans and retirees, many of these individuals are eligible for other discounted passes, such as the Senior Pass, granting lifetime access to U.S. citizens ages 62 and up for $10, and the Access Pass, granting free lifetime access for permanently disabled U.S. citizens.

For more information on the free annual pass, please visit: www.store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html.

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Sen. Joe Hune is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.

Celebrating the journey

By Sen. Joe Hune
22nd Senate District

Did you know that May 13 through 19 is National Nursing Home Week? This year, the theme is “Celebrating the Journey,” because, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

According to the American Health Care Association, National Nursing Home Week spotlights nursing home residents and staff and encourages all to celebrate those who make a positive difference in their lives every day.

To celebrate, skilled nursing care centers across the country will host events to honor the lives and milestones of the people they care for and the staff who serve them.

I encourage you to participate and celebrate the journey by visiting loved ones, friends and neighbors who may be living in a nursing home the week of May 13. If you are unable to visit in person, consider making a phone call, mailing a greeting card or letter, sending flowers, or emailing. A simple kindness like this could make someone’s day.

To learn more about National Nursing Home Week, visit www.nnhw.org.

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Sen. Joe Hune is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.

Michigan Senate approves PPT reform

LANSING — Legislation to reduce the personal property tax for Michigan businesses was approved by the Michigan Senate Thursday, said co-sponsor Sen. Joe Hune.

“Enacting these reforms will help boost the state’s economy by making it possible for job providers to grow and offer more jobs to our hard-working residents,” Hune said. “We need to keep Michigan on the right path to getting back to work, and these measures will help ensure just that.”

The eight-bill package would alter the personal property tax in the following ways:

· Effective Dec. 31, 2012 any commercial or industrial business that has personal property valued at $40,000 or less will not pay taxes and will not file a return. This would eliminate 75 to 80 percent of returns that currently need to be filed.

· Effective Dec. 31, 2015 all eligible industrial personal property bought after Dec. 31, 2011 will not be taxable.

· Effective Dec. 31, 2015 any eligible personal property that is 10 years old will no longer be taxed. This will continue each year until all property is tax exempt.

“Between 2000 and 2012, Michigan lost nearly half of its manufacturing jobs,” Hune said. “Michigan is one of only two states in the Great Lakes Region that still relies on the personal property tax, which puts our state at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states.”

According to Hune, eliminating the personal property tax is the right thing to do, because job providers shouldn’t be penalized for expanding or investing in their business

Senate Bills 1065 through 1072 now advance to the Michigan House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Enjoy Michigan’s free fishing weekend June 9-10

LANSING — Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, is reminding residents to take advantage of the annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 9-10.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, both residents and non-residents alike can fish without a license that particular weekend, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

“That weekend is a great way for everyone to experience the fun of fishing for free,” Hune said. “I encourage every resident of the 22nd Senate District to mark their calendar for June 9 and 10 to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Since 1986, Michigan has annually celebrated the Summer Free Fishing Weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources and the sheer fun of fishing. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing go hand in hand.

“This summer’s Free Fishing Weekend is a great way to get outdoors and experience some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “Fishing is such an affordable activity – anyone can pursue it – so get out this June and try it yourself, for free!”

To encourage involvement in Free Fishing Weekends, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations, including constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others.

There’s still plenty of time for communities to plan their own Free Fishing Weekend events, or to find an activity occurring nearby. Visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing for all things related to this unique weekend, including help on event planning and promotion, a registration form for official events, and a chart identifying activity locations.

The DNR 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.

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Farmers markets: local gems

By Sen. Joe Hune
22nd Senate District

One of my favorite things about spring is the return of great gems like local farmers markets. Shopping at farmers markets is a great way to find fresh, local produce and support hard-working farmers at the same time.

Below you can find information on all the fantastic famers markets in our area that operate May through October each year.

Right here in Fowlerville, we have the Fowlerville Farmers Market, which operates every Wednesday from 2 to 7 p.m. in the 200 block of West Grand River in the Downtown Development Authority’s new parking lot next to the hardware store.

On Saturdays you can stop by the Downtown Brighton Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the municipal parking lot at city hall.

Also on Saturdays, you can shop till you drop at the Hartland Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Old Hartland High School parking lot on M-59, west of Target.

The Howell Sundays Farmers Market of course is open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the corner of State Street and Clinton Street in historic Downtown Howell,next to the Livingston County Courthouse.

If you feel like traveling outside of Livingston County and seeing what other nearby farmers markets have to offer, I encourage you to explore the following locations:

  • The Laingsburg Farmers Market in downtown Laingsburg from 4 p.m. to dusk every Wednesday.
  • Weather permitting, the Durand Union Station Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday at 200 S. Railroad Dr.
  • The Downtown Owosso Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday at 301 W. Main St.

I hope you take advantage of the warming weather and visit one of these great farmers markets to pick up some fresh produce and support your local economy. I know I plan on it!

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Sen. Joe Hune is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.