Inside the Senate Chamber: Part 2 – The Architecture

The Michigan Capitol has a rich architectural history. In the second part of the “Inside the Senate Chamber” series, we take an exclusive look at the architecture of the Michigan Senate chamber and the state Capitol with the Capitol Historian Valerie Martin.

Learn about the history of the building designed by Elijah Myers, the story behind the “chicken coop” carpet, and the tricks used to make the building seem taller than it is.

Our Capitol building has a rich architectural history and continues to be a source of pride for all Michigan residents. Don’t miss this exclusive look behind the scenes of the architectural history of the Michigan Capitol!

Click here to see the first “Inside the Senate Chamber” video on the portraits that hang in the Michigan Senate.

Stamas completes 2016 Heritage Route 23 Legislative Tour

Sen. Jim Stamas and several state and local officials recently completed a two-day legislative tour of Heritage Route 23.

“My goal in leading this successful tour was to bring attention to Michigan’s sunrise side and to better engage state leaders with the community on local issues critical to the region,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This hands-on tour offered us a unique chance to bring together multiple state department directors, tourism officials and economic development leaders to see what northeastern Michigan has to offer, promote tourism in the region and help improve the area economy.”

Beginning at Wheeler’s Restaurant in Standish, the tour traveled 200 miles along the U.S. 23 Heritage Route from Standish to Mackinaw City — finishing with a stop at the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum.

In addition to seeing the museum in Mackinaw City with Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, and Travel Michigan Vice President Dave Lorenz, some of the tour highlights included:

  • Visiting a Standish grain elevator and Alpena dairy farm with MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams;
  • Checking out the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse in Rogers City with DNR Director Bill Moritz;
  • Seeing the MidMichigan Medical Center in Alpena with Michigan DHHS Director Nick Lyon;
  • Attending the “Good Morning Alpena” breakfast at the Brown Trout Festival; and
  • Touring a veterans office in Rogers City with Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, chair of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee.

Also joining Stamas on the tour were Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle; Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare; Rep. Brad Jacobsen, R-Oxford; DEQ Director Keith Creagh; and numerous other officials from state and local government.

Heritage Route 23 along Lake Huron is one of Michigan’s hidden gems. Families can experience spectacular lake views, check out numerous historical and cultural sites and enjoy a wide variety of recreational opportunities — from relaxing on miles of beaches to staying at one of more than 50 area campgrounds to visiting one of many historic lighthouses.

To discover more information on Heritage Route 23, visit

Legislative Update: New laws to help families, veterans and communities

The Michigan Senate Republicans have accomplished much already in 2016 to help support our families, veterans and communities. Here are some highlights of legislation recently signed into law and previously approved laws that are going into effect in July:

Helping communities respond to disasters and emergencies
The governor has signed Senate legislation to allow the state to better respond to emergencies.

Ensuring more funds are available in the event of an emergency or natural disaster will allow the state to react fast and better protect Michigan families.

Public Act 220 of 2016, sponsored by Sen. Mike Nofs, increases the amount the state can hold in its Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund from $4.5 million to $10 million. The fund has been used to help cover the cost of response efforts in Flint and for severe storm cleanup in parts of the state when federal emergency reimbursement is not available.

Standing up for foster siblings
Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation to help ensure the best care and placement for foster children.

“I am glad to see the governor signed this legislation to help protect the cherished bond between siblings in foster care,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, sponsor of the bill. “As a foster grandparent and a former member of law enforcement, I have seen both the good and bad of family life. I’ve seen young children endure terrible situations. I’ve also seen the strength of children who overcome tough challenges and the positive impact of siblings in persevering — which is what this new law seeks to preserve.”

Public Act 191 of 2016 puts a greater emphasis on sibling placement and visitation with siblings. If siblings cannot be placed together, then a priority of sibling visitations and ongoing interaction will be arranged to ensure a sibling bond. The new law requires frequent visitations between non-custodial, biological parents and their children unless the court determines that the parenting time would be harmful to the child.

Increasing oversight, accountability in veterans facilities
The Michigan Senate Republicans stood up for our heroes — securing more funding to assist homeless veterans and create a new Michigan Veterans Facility Ombudsman to ensure our veterans receive the proper care they earned serving our nation.

Michigan’s military veterans have given so much in the service of our country, and an independent ombudsman will be able to identify, investigate and recommend fixes for problems at the state’s veterans homes, so we can ensure that our veterans have safe and secure places to enjoy their retirement.

Public Act 198 of 2016, sponsored by Sen. Peter MacGregor, requires that the Legislative Council appoint an ombudsman to investigate complaints filed by resident veterans, their family members or legal guardians, or a legislator and then report the findings and recommendations.

The ombudsman will investigate Michigan veterans facilities for acts or conditions that allegedly violate law or policy or that pose significant health or safety issues. The ombudsman will be able to inspect a facility at any time, on its own accord or by request, and conduct investigational hearings and subpoena individuals and documents.

Ushering in new state laws in July
Several important new laws take effect this month:

Public Act 85 of 2016, sponsored by Sen. Margaret O’Brien, establishes the CARE Act to help train and support in-home caregivers. Under the new law, hospitals are required to allow patients to designate a caregiver and develop a discharge plan to help the caregiver provide after-care assistance.

• Public Acts 87 and 88 of 2016 increase protections for pregnant women by expanding the penalties for assaulting a pregnant woman. The crime would be treated as a domestic violence crime with stricter punishment, especially for repeat offenses.

• Public Act 62 of 2016 raises public awareness about human trafficking. The law requires the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-373-7888) to be posted at rest stops and welcome centers, bus and rail stations, airports and other places in the state.

Summer in Michigan = Fairs and Festivals!

It’s summertime in Michigan. For many people, that means enjoying a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as attending a county fair or checking out a local festival.

The Michigan Senate Republicans encourage residents to have a great time with family and friends at one of the countless county fairs and local festivals happening this summer.

Numerous festivals celebrate the outstanding natural and cultural resources in Michigan that make our state such a great place to live and raise a family.

There are several popular festivals going on this weekend. For example, there’s the Brown Trout Festival in Alpena in the northeast Lower Peninsula; the Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City in mid-Michigan; and the Faster Horses country music festival at the Michigan International Speedway in southeast Michigan.

Want to go to a fair? There are several fairs opening this month throughout Michigan — including fairs in Oakland, Barry, Van Buren, Lenawee, Iosco, Schoolcraft, Ontonagon and Monroe counties.

Spending time together as a family at the fair or a festival is not just about fun and food. Children with involved parents tend to fare better in school and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

Visit to discover upcoming Michigan festivals and county fairs. On the site, residents can also click on useful links that can help you plan a Michigan vacation, including details on places to eat and stay.

Be safe, and have a wonderful time.

Horn Hometown Tour: Bavarian Inn Restaurant

Sen. Ken Horn’s latest stop on his Hometown Jobs Tour took him to his hometown of Frankenmuth for part one of a special three-part series. In this segment, Horn returned to his first job for an afternoon of serving chicken dinners at the world-famous Bavarian Inn Restaurant.

Upon arrival, Horn was greeted by Frankenmuth’s own Dorothy Zehnder, who has been with the Bavarian Inn since its formation in the 1950s.

The duo made their way back through the hectic kitchen, where Zehnder put Horn to work making sides and putting together lunch entrées. As things were ramping up for lunch, Zehnder put the senator to work on the dessert line.

Watch as Horn receives a hands-on lesson about preparing and portioning out desserts from one of the nation’s most experienced chefs.

Horn then took to the line to expedite orders with the wait staff. Dressed in his trademark lederhosen, Horn carried trays, delivered meals and met with diners to explain his hometown tours and discuss his role working under Zehnder for the day.

Since first taking office in the Senate in 2015, Horn has toured the 32nd Senate District performing various jobs and experiencing a diverse variety of culture throughout mid-Michigan communities.

You can check out this video and videos of previous tours by clicking here.

Michigan Women’s Spotlight: Harriet Quimby

Did you know that the first licensed female pilot in the United States, Harriet Quimby, was born in Michigan?

Born to William and Ursula Quimby on May 11, 1875 “somewhere in Michigan” near Arcadia, Harriet Quimby was a modern woman during a not-so modern era. In an age before women’s suffrage, Harriet was a pioneer in challenging the social status quo by stepping outside of traditional societal roles.

A romanticist and an adventure seeker, Harriet moved to California during her teenage years. She tried her hand in acting, journalism and eventually piloting — once her writing career gave her the freedom, financial backing and exposure to pursue her desires of travel and adventure.

While writing for Leslie’s Illustrated in New York, Harriet would go on to meet and befriend American pilot John Moisant, who she covered during New York’s Belmont Air Meet in October of 1910. Moisant, who owned a school for aviation, began teaching Harriet the finer points of flying until his tragic death only a few short months later in December 1910.

By May 1911, Harriet — who enthusiastically believed flying “looked quite easy” — had convinced her editor that Leslie’s should pay for her flying lessons and in return she would chronicle her experience for the magazine’s readers.

As a result of this agreement, Harriet would become the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license: License #37 on Aug. 1, 1911 — sanctioned by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and administered by the Aero Club of America.

In addition to becoming the first woman pilot to be licensed, Harriet also become the first woman to fly over the English Channel and today a historical marker can be found in her honor near the now-abandoned farmhouse in Arcadia Township where Quimby was born.

July is National Blueberry Month

It’s hard to beat Michigan in July. Summer is in full swing; we celebrate our nation’s independence; and it’s National Blueberry Month.

Michigan’s food and agriculture industry is a significant part of the state’s economy, yet blueberries are sometimes overshadowed by the more talked-about crops grown here.

However, don’t be fooled: blueberry production and export plays a vital role in our economy.

According to the Michigan State University Extension, Michigan blueberry growers typically produce more than 100 million pounds of 30 different blueberry varieties across more than 21,000 acres of Michigan farmland — each year!

Six hundred family farms grow, harvest, pack and process the berries — contributing more than $122 million to our state’s economy.

More than half of the harvest is packed and shipped fresh to market, while the remainder is frozen, puréed, concentrated or canned. In addition to being delicious, blueberries are also healthy. They possess some of the highest levels of antioxidants seen in fruit, are packed with key vitamins and are a good source of fiber.

National Blueberry Month helps to kick-off the blueberry harvest season, which typically runs from July through September.

Help celebrate and pick up some fresh Michigan-grown blueberries at your favorite farmers market this summer. They are good and good for you!

Have a fun and safe July 4th!

On Monday, July 4, America will be celebrating its 240th birthday.

A tired and restless Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted on July 2, 1776 to approve a resolution of independence. Two days later, the Congress adopted the official Declaration of Independence. Their actions would change the world.

In this video, Sen. John Proos recounts this courageous act of liberty and encourages families to have fun enjoying the holiday.

Many people will come together to honor America, take in Independence Day parades and fireworks displays or just gather together with friends and family for picnics or barbecues.

The Michigan Senate Republicans also encourage everyone to make the celebration a safe one.

Please keep in mind some simple fireworks and summer safety tips, such as:

• Never giving sparklers to young children and closely monitoring older children;
• Always keeping kids and pets at a safe distance from fireworks;
• Never trying to re-light or pick up fireworks that malfunction; and
• Dousing completed fireworks with plenty of water from a bucket or hose.

For more information on fireworks safety, visit

This week, and throughout the summer, remember to use sunscreen — especially on young children — and drinking plenty of water.

The Fourth of July is a joyous time to celebrate our freedoms, show our pride in our country and remember the declaration proclaimed more than two centuries ago that started it all.

Please remember that a fun Independence Day celebration starts with making sure that it’s a safe one.

2016 accomplishments – First 6 months

As June comes to a close, it’s a great time to look back at the achievements we’ve made so far in 2016.

For starters, let’s remember how far we’ve come. Under Republican leadership, Michigan has added more than 450,000 private sector jobs and our state unemployment rate dropped below the national average for the first time since August 2000.

In fact, at 4.7 percent, Michigan’s unemployment rate has been cut in half since January 2011, is at its lowest rate in 15 years, and is more than 10 points lower than it was in June 2009.

It’s no surprise then, that the PEW Charitable Trusts declared Michigan as “maybe the biggest success story” in the nation.

Let’s look at what we’ve accomplished in the first six months of 2016…

For the sixth year in the row, the Senate Republicans passed a fiscally responsible budget months ahead of schedule that maintains our positive momentum, ensures we live within our means and continues our unwavering support of public education.

We have always led the fight for greater funding for our local schools and more choice in education.

In fact, Michigan is investing more this year on K-12 education than ever in state history. The finalized Fiscal Year 2017 budget directs more than $14 billion to education — increasing support by more than $260 million and paying down more than $1 billion in school retirement costs, which will help schools put additional dollars into the classroom.

Senate Republicans acted promptly to the Flint water crisis and appropriated more than $211 million in much needed emergency relief to address the immediate health needs of the people of Flint, as well as putting another $74.6 million in the new budget.

We believe in the sanctity of life. It’s a tragedy when a child dies, and no one should profit from the trafficking of human fetal remains. We put an end to that horrific practice in 2016 with the signing of Senate Bills 564 and 565.

In 2016, we stood up for our heroes — securing more funding to assist homeless veterans and create a new Veterans Home Ombudsman to ensure our veterans receive the proper care they earned serving our nation.

We also helped encourage more parents to take their children outdoors, by guaranteeing free access to state boating access sites and certain state parks during the state’s two free fishing weekends.

While we accomplished much already in 2016, the Michigan Senate Republicans remain committed to working tirelessly to build upon these successes and continue to improve our state for future generations.

Keeping Michigan families safe online

As technology continues to advance, it is having an ever-increasing impact on our daily lives. The way we access and share information is becoming more streamlined and instantaneous than ever.

While these advances, especially in mobile devices, allow us to significantly improve efficiency and organization throughout the day, it is important to be aware of the various security breaches that could compromise our privacy.

Each year, June is recognized as National Internet Safety Month as a means to spread awareness of the various ways you can keep yourself and your family safe online. As kids will be more active on their phones and social media making plans to enjoy the warm weather, it is the perfect time to talk to your family about staying safe online and learning new ways to protect your identity and information.

One of the best ways to stay safe online is by simply exercising good judgment. Keep your password updated regularly, and do not share it with anyone. Don’t click on links that are unfamiliar or open emails from an unknown sender. Scammers often create official-looking emails to persuade people to click a link that will download harmful software.

Having security software on all internet-connected devices and keeping it up to date is also of the utmost importance. These programs can prevent, contain and even eliminate malware, spyware and other malicious software that infects your device and tries to access your personal information.

Another way to keep your young children safe online is by using the state-operated child protection registry. The Michigan Child Protection Registry is a service that families can sign up for at no cost. It blocks adult-oriented material from reaching a child’s email inbox, cell phone or instant messenger ID. To sign up or see more information on this service, visit

The internet has allowed society to advance more rapidly than ever imaginable. Humanity has an infinite amount of wisdom right at the end of their fingertips. We can now sync calendars and photo albums to multiple devices, pay bills and do a virtually unlimited amount of other things via an internet connection. This month, help older family members set up safety measures on their computers, and take the time to ensure your children are safe when using social media.

The internet is an invaluable asset. When used safely, it can be enjoyed by everyone.