Marleau: Thousands of miles of state trails are free this weekend

Sen. Jim Marleau

Sen. Jim Marleau

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Marleau on Tuesday reminded residents and visitors of this weekend’s free off-road vehicle event statewide.

Michigan’s second Free ORV Weekend of the year will take place this Saturday, Aug. 18 and Sunday, Aug. 19.

“With its rugged beauty and scenic trails, Michigan offers an unparalleled off-road vehicle experience,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “The Free ORV Weekend is a wonderful introduction to this exciting pastime.”

Over the weekend, neither an ORV license nor a trail permit will be required to ride the routes and trails designated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The weekend event includes nearly 3,700 miles of off-road trails and the state’s five scramble areas — St. Helen’s Motorsport Area, Black Lake Scramble Area, Silver Lake State Park, Bull Gap and The Mounds.

Marleau said all other ORV rules and laws still apply and a Recreation Passport is required where applicable.

Throughout the year, fees generated through ORV licenses and trail permits are reinvested into the ORV system. The money helps fund trail expansion, maintenance and infrastructure improvements such as bridge and culvert construction and repair, law enforcement, and the offsetting of damage created by illegal use of the trails.

Find more information, including ORV trail maps and a link to the Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws, at

Marleau encourages a safe and happy Fourth of July

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Marleau on Monday wished area residents a happy and safe Fourth of July.

“Summer memories that will last a lifetime are made on Independence Day,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “As we enjoy the day with family and friends, I encourage everyone to remember that on this day over 240 years ago the founders of our nation paid a great price to establish our freedom.”

Marleau encouraged residents to participate in Fourth of July activities, such as their local parades and picnics. He also reminded them of other traditions, such as placing American flags on the graves of veterans as a tribute to Michigan’s fallen heroes and in remembrance of the true cost of freedom.

Marleau also stressed the importance of safety during Fourth of July celebrations.

“Whenever we are celebrating, we can sometimes forget the importance of safety,” Marleau said. “Remember to protect yourself on the water, in the sun — and especially when handling fireworks.”

The lawmaker recommended residents visit for a thorough list of Fourth of July safety tips.

For a list of fireworks in Oakland County, visit

Marleau announces $6 million in road repair projects

LANSING—State Sen. Jim Marleau announced that $6 million in grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will fund several road repair projects in Oakland County.

The projects include $4 million for repairs to University Drive over I-75, $1 million for work on M-150 from M-59 to Clinton River, $600,000 to fix M-24 from Harriet Street to Davison Lake Road and $400,000 for repairs to M-150 from Tienken Road to Paint Creek.

“This is fantastic news for residents and businesses in the area,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “We all know that our roads throughout the state need work. These grants are just another step in the process of fixing them. I remain committed to finding a permanent solution to maintaining a sound infrastructure.”

The grants are part of MDOT’s Priority Road Investment Program. The total amount allocated for the program is $114,942,610. Marleau said that many of the projects would otherwise not be funded if not for the supplemental amount.

The approximately $115 million for road projects is part of more than $700 million extra general fund dollars allocated to Michigan roads.

Marleau bill would enable Michigan to opt out of Obamacare, protect health care

LANSING—State Sen. Jim Marleau introduced legislation on Thursday that would help protect the state’s high-quality health care system by enabling Michigan, not the federal government, to control how the state spends money on health care.

Senate Bill 993 would allow Michigan to enter into an interstate Health Care Compact (HCC), which would return control of health care to the states in the compact.

“Michigan must manage its own health care dollars. We lead the nation with access to high-quality health care providers and value-driven health insurance,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “By rejecting the ‘one size fits all’ approach for federal health care reform and letting states decide how to best serve their residents, the compact will allow for a more efficient and effective system.”

The HCC would be an agreement between two or more member states to restore to those states the responsibility and authority over their health care programs. The compact, which would require U.S. congressional approval, would allow a member state to suspend operation of any federal laws, rules and regulations that are inconsistent with the laws and regulations of that state.

Marleau said his measure would not include health care programs for veterans and Native Americans, which would remain with the federal government.

SB 993 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Insurance.

Sen. Marleau and guest honor Michigan’s fallen soldiers

LANSING—State Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, stands in the Senate chamber Thursday with Pat Quinn, right, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

Quinn was Marleau’s guest for the Michigan Senate’s 20th Annual Memorial Day Service.

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

Note: Click the image for a print-quality version. This photo and others are also available by clicking the Photowire link.

Sen. Marleau attends Shine the Light on Human Trafficking Day reception

LANSING—State Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, stands with Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, (left) and Michigan native and human trafficking survivor and expert Theresa Flores at a special breakfast to support Flores and organizations assisting survivors. The reception was part of the Shine the Light on Human Trafficking Day at the Capitol, hosted by Emmons.

Note: For a print-quality version of this and other Marleau photos, click the image or click the Photowire link, above.

Senate OKs Marleau’s bill to increase access to health care

LANSING—The state Senate unanimously approved measures Tuesday that would boost a statewide program that recruits medical providers to serve in underserved areas.

Sen. Jim Marleau, chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee, said Senate Bill 649, which he sponsored, and SB 648 will improve access to health care across the state.

“When we can get quality doctors and other health professionals to come and serve in areas where there’s a real need, that’s a good thing,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion.

The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program service obligations require participants to provide full-time, primary health care services at an eligible nonprofit practice site located in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years.

The obligations are part of the Michigan Essential Health Provider program, which covers loan repayments for those who have taken out a loan to attend medical school, to train to be a nurse midwife or a nurse practitioner or to train to be a physician’s assistant.

“This legislation focuses on ensuring that families, including children and expecting mothers, have access to efficient health care with a provider they know and trust,” Marleau said.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH), which administers the program, is currently limited under the program to recruiting physicians who are training in general practice, family practice, obstetrics, pediatrics, emergency medicine, internal medicine, preventive medicine, and psychiatry.

SBs 648 and 649 will make the following changes to the Michigan Essential Health Provider program:

  • Include dentists in the loan repayment program;
  • Remove the four-year limit on loan repayments;
  • Increase the maximum annual loan repayment amount to $40,000;
  • Establish a lifetime loan repayment maximum of $200,000;
  • Require an assessment of the lifetime cap;
  • Permit the DCH to give preference to physicians studying general practice, family practice, obstetrics, pediatrics or internal medicine; and
  • Include dental students in the low-income minority student grant program.

SBs 648 and 649 have been sent to the Michigan House for consideration.

Senate passes Marleau bills that would help keep auto show at Cobo Center

LANSING—The state Senate has passed legislation to support the expansion and renovation of the facility that hosts the North American International Auto Show, part of the effort to keep the event in Detroit.

Sen. Jim Marleau, sponsor of Senate Bills 711 and 735, said that in 2009 the state implemented temporary sales tax and use tax exemptions for materials being used in the renovation of Cobo Center. Those exemptions expired in January of this year, but Marleau’s bills restore them through Jan. 1, 2016.

“As anyone who has gone to the North American International Auto Show the past two weeks can tell you, we in Detroit are blessed to host this event,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “It is simply the most important automobile trade show in the world, and it plays a significant role in the economy of the region. It is essential that we do what we can to keep the show here in Detroit.”

Marleau said that without an extension of the tax exemptions, the renovation materials will be subject to the sales or use tax at the normal 6 percent rate.

“While a significant amount of work has been done at Cobo Center since the exemption was implemented in 2009, the work has not been completed,” he said. “Those working on the project have asked that the exemptions be extended an additional two years. This is a reasonable step to help ensure the success of such a critical project.”

SBs 711 and 735 passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. The bills have been sent to the Michigan House for further consideration.

Note: Click the image for a print-quality version. This photo and others are also available by clicking the Photowire link, above.

Marleau announces $5 million in road repair projects

LANSING—State Sen. Jim Marleau announced Thursday that $5 million in grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will fund road repair projects in Oakland County.

A grant of $3 million will be used to repair M-59 from Elizabeth Lake Road to State Street, a grant of $1.2 million will be used to repair Walnut Lake Road from Halsted to Franklin and an $800,000 grant will fix Orion Road from Oakland Township to Rochester Hills.

“This funding is welcome news to businesses and residents in the area,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “A solid, working infrastructure is crucial to a growing economy. I can’t wait to see these projects get underway.”

MDOT officials and legislators from across Michigan announced a series of road repair projects at locations across the state on Thursday, Marleau said.

“Three years of sound budget decisions and living within our means has made it possible to direct existing resources toward our roads,” said Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe. “There is still much more work to be done to address all of our infrastructure needs in Michigan, but this is an important part of that process.”

Lawmakers pass Marleau bills that would protect taxpayers when schools default

LANSING?The state Legislature has approved measures that would protect taxpayers and help prevent future financial judgments against school districts.

Senate Bills 442 and 443, sponsored by Sen. Jim Marleau, would require schools to notify state and local officials when they have defaulted on a contract.

The legislation passed Thursday with significant bipartisan support in both chambers. Thirty-three of the 38 senators and 77 of the 110 representatives voted yes.

Marleau’s bills were prompted by a $7.8 million court judgment against the Pontiac School District earlier this year for the district’s missed payments to Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA), the organization that administers the district’s health and related employee benefit plans.

Responsibility for paying the judgment is being passed on to taxpayers in the district.

“Years ago, we passed Proposal A to protect taxpayers from paying for school operating costs, but residents in the Pontiac School District are responsible for nearly $8 million in such costs because of this court judgment,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “My bills do what Proposal A didn’t do in this case: protect taxpayers by creating a system where we know when schools aren’t paying their bills.”

Marleau said it is too late for his measures to address the situation with Pontiac Schools. Taxpayers in the cities of Pontiac and Auburn Hills, as well as those in Orion Township, Bloomfield Township, West Bloomfield and Sylvan Lake have seen a significant increase in their tax bills.

“It’s sad that the $8 million levied against taxpayers will pay off the MESSA credit, not to fund our children’s education,” Marleau said. “MESSA spent 18 months providing a benefit our community could not afford, confident that taxpayers would foot the bill.”

SBs 442 and 443 have been sent to Gov. Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign them into law.