- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

Lansing State Journal. April 17.

Lacey was a tiny soul who inspired

The Randy Travis country tune “Three Wooden Crosses” famously notes in its chorus: “It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it’s what you leave behind you when you go.”

By that measure, 8-year-old cancer warrior Lacey Holsworth of St. Johns left behind a fortune in courage, love and inspiration.

Her generosity in sharing her short life on the public stage and joyously celebrating family, friendship and fun in the face of a brutal illness left a lasting legacy in the hearts and minds of Michiganders and millions nationally who followed her story as she followed Michigan State University’s men’s basketball team in their 2014 NCAA Tournament travels.

Greater Lansing and the MSU community memorialized Lacey in a ceremony at the Breslin Center last night (April 17). But the best way to remember Lacy is to share love, kindness and support with others who need it. If the many people Lacey’s story touched helped a little more, reached out just a few times more often, the world would be a better place in deed.


Daily Press (Escanaba). April 14.

Underage drinking a complex problem

April has been designated as Alcohol Awareness Month by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Hundreds of communities across the country will participate in this grassroots effort to highlight the dangers of underage drinking and identify workable solutions.

Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous - both to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors. Annually, over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents and thousands more are injured.

The issue of underage drinking is a complex problem and one that is best solved through a sustained and cooperative effort between parents, schools, community leaders and America’s youth. There are three areas which have proven to be effective in prevention of underage drinking; curtailing the availability of alcohol, consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations, and changing cultural misconceptions and behaviors through education.

With graduation comes celebration and parties are indeed an appropriate part of that celebration. During this time, parents are forced to make difficult choices regarding serving alcoholic beverages to minors. This can endanger the lives of the students who consume alcohol and the lives of others. It has serious potential legal consequences for the underage youth that drinks and the person that provides the alcohol for them. There are several reasons, besides the law, to take underage drinking seriously. It is not enough just to take the keys away from a youth that has been drinking. Many other consequences can occur that have nothing to do with drinking and driving. Suicide, accidental death, drowning, violent injury and alcohol overdoses, which can often result in life-changing accidents, are also serious consequences that can occur. Offering alcohol free graduation parties and monitoring the youth that attend your party will ensure the safety of our community and will send the message that it is possible to have a good time without alcohol.


Holland Sentinel. April 17.

New road funding plan doesn’t solve the problem

It took years of deterioration and the hardest winter in a generation, but Michigan legislators are finally facing up to the reality of the state’s woefully inadequate road and highway funding system. That’s good, but no one should be fooled into thinking that the new funding plan proposed in Lansing this month comes anywhere near to fixing Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure.

The plan introduced by House Speaker Jase Bolger would generate at least $456 million in additional revenue for Michigan roads every year through 2018 through a complicated set of tax shifts. Among the key points:

- The existing 19-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax and the 15-cents-a-gallon levy on diesel fuel would be repealed, and replaced with a 6 percent wholesale tax.

- The 6 percent sales tax on fuel, which now goes into the state’s general fund, would go entirely to road funding, except for the money reserved for schools and local governments.

- 1 percent of the state use tax, paid primarily by businesses, would be dedicated to road funding.

The Bolger plan has some laudable elements. It would be fairer than the existing system because it finally taxes gasoline and diesel fuel equally. Further, it would increase permit fees on overweight and oversize trucks, which do the most damage to the state’s roads. We also like the idea of requiring contractors to provide warranties of at least five years on the roads they build.

The problem is that the new funding system doesn’t go nearly far enough. Gov. Snyder has called for an additional $1.2 billion a year to bring Michigan roads and highways up to good condition; the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association pegs the annual need at an extra $2 billion. Under the Bolger plan, our roads will continue to get worse and our state will fall further behind on maintenance and upkeep, albeit at a somewhat slower rate. This treatment would slow the bleeding, but wouldn’t bring the patient back to health.

The new system doesn’t solve the problem because legislators are afraid to ask the residents and businesses of Michigan to pay anything more to improve our roads. The shift from the current flat per-gallon fuel tax to a percentage levy on the wholesale price will be a wash for motorists when gasoline sells at $3.55 a gallon (the state enjoys a net gain above that price). Most of the additional money for roads would be generated by robbing Peter to pay Paul - shifting hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that now go into the state’s general fund into transportation, in turn requiring cuts in other undetermined state programs. We’re always leery when politicians talk about using existing funds to pay for new programs without explaining what other services will suffer to pay for them.

To actually bring our roads into good condition, the state of Michigan must dig much deeper, because we have neglected our infrastructure for so long that it cannot be fixed without financial sacrifice. The Bolger plan has been well received by Gov. Snyder and other state leaders, and it may be the best we can hope for in an election year when legislators are loathe to raise taxes. Charitably speaking, it’s a step in the right direction, but we have to keep working for a true long-term solution to Michigan’s infrastructure shortfall.


The Mining Journal (Marquette). April 15.

Recycling initiative seems to be positive step

We like a plan released by Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday (April 14) designed to increase the amount of recycling that takes place in the state of Michigan.

The initiative, according to a report filed by The Associated Press, calls for doubling within two years the rate at which Michigan recycles cans, newspapers, bottles and other household refuse, currently estimated at 15 percent.

Even then, it would remain below the national average, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts at 35 percent.

The numbers are rather astounding. AP stated about $435 million worth of materials in the state that could be recycled end up in landfills each year, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

To counteract that, the plan takes a four-pronged approach:

- Collecting and analyzing data on amounts and types of materials that are recycled, and on access to recycling and residential participation rates, all of which are important to measuring progress.

- Educating the public and providing technical assistance to communities for building recycling programs.

One of three state positions created under the $1.5 million initiative will be a coordinator for outreach to locals. The others will focus on market development and public relations.

- Providing incentives and encouraging regional partnerships to increase participation in recycling and improve access. Grants will be offered to local governments that adopt ordinances or include curbside service in contracts with waste haulers.

- Stimulating markets for recycled products through measures such as using tax-exempt bonds to encourage investment in waste utilization facilities and creating a directory identifying potential buyers for recycled items.

We like this plan, in that it seems to be both business and consumer friendly.

Clearly, all of us need to recycle more. This program will facilitate that.


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