Whitmer Makes Appointments to Boards and Commissions  

Whitmer Makes Appointments to Boards and Commissions  

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April 27, 2023

Contact: [email protected]


Governor Whitmer Makes Appointments to Boards and Commissions


LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the following appointments to the Michigan Strategic Fund Board of Directors and Michigan Indigent Defense Commission.


Michigan Strategic Fund Board of Directors


Randy Thelen, of Grand Rapids, is the president and CEO of The Right Place, Inc. He joined The Right Place in 2021, after serving as senior vice president of economic development at the Downtown Denver Partnership. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Alma College and a Master of Arts in Applied Economics from Binghamton University. Previously, he also held leadership positions at the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Lakeshore Advantage. Mr. Thelen is appointed to represent a member submitted by the Senate Majority Leader representing individuals within the private sector with experience in private equity or venture capital investments, commercial lending, or commercialization of technology, for a term commencing April 27, 2023, and expiring July 31, 2026. He is succeeding Ronald Beebe whose term has expired.


Leon Richardson, of Bloomfield Hills, is the founder, president, and CEO of the Chemico Group. For over 30 years, he has led one of the largest minority-owned chemical management and distribution companies in the United States. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran, having served as a non-commissioned officer. He attended the University of Maryland and the Detroit College of Business. Mr. Richardson is appointed to represent a member submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives representing individuals within the private sector with experience in private equity or venture capital investments, for a term commencing April 27, 2023, and expiring July 31, 2026. He is succeeding Paul Gentilozzi whose term has expired.


The Michigan Strategic Fund Board of Directors was created by Executive Order No. 2019-13. The Board’s responsibilities include approval of the use of private activity bonds, authorizing the submittal by local governments of Community Development Block Grant applications, and approval of Tool and Die Renaissance Recovery Zones.


These appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.


Michigan Indigent Defense Commission


Thomas Adams, of Detroit, is the president of Chance For Life Organization. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Tuskegee University. Mr. Adams is appointed to represent the general public for a term commencing April 27, 2023, and expiring April 1, 2027. He succeeds Nathaniel Crampton whose term has expired.


Tracey Brame, of Grand Rapids, is a licensed attorney and associate dean of experiential learning at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and her Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan. Ms. Brame is reappointed to represent members submitted by the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, for a term commencing April 27, 2023, and expiring April 1, 2027.


Andrew DeLeeuw, of Manchester, is the interim deputy county administrator for Washtenaw County. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and English from Michigan State University and his Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Mr. DeLeeuw is reappointed to represent the Michigan Association of Counties, for a term commencing April 27, 2023, and expiring April 7, 2027.


James Krizan, of Allen Park, is city manager for the City of Lincoln Park. He received his Bachelor of Social Work and his Master of Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University. Mr. Krizan is reappointed to represent the Michigan Municipal League, for a term commencing April 27, 2023, and expiring April 1, 2027.


Margaret McAvoy, of Owosso, is the president and CEO of McAvoy & Associates Consulting. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Saginaw Valley State University. Ms. McAvoy is reappointed to represent the Michigan Association of Counties, for a term commencing April 27, 2023, and expiring April 1, 2027.


Christine Green, of Ann Arbor, is partner and president of Green, Green, Adams and Kent Law Firm.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in General Studies as well as her Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan. Ms. Green is reappointed to represent the State Budget Office, for a term commencing April 27, 2023, and expiring April 1, 2027.


The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission was created as a result of efforts to improve legal representation for indigent criminal defendants. The Commission develops and oversees the implementation, enforcement, and modification of minimum standards, rules, and procedures to ensure that indigent criminal defense services providing effective assistance of counsel are delivered to all indigent adults in this state consistent with the safeguards of the United States Constitution, the State Constitution of 1963, and with the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Act.


These appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

Legislation Cutting Taxes for Michigan Families & Businesses

Legislation Cutting Taxes for Michigan Families & Businesses

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April 26, 2023

Contact: [email protected]

Gov. Whitmer Signs Legislation Cutting Taxes for Michigan Families & Businesses, Protects Children and Seniors, Keeps Communities Safe 

New delivery and installation tax cut is the fourth tax cut announced by Governor Whitmer this year.

LANSING, Mich – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to cut taxes for Michiganders by exempting delivery and installation costs from sales tax. She also signed bills to protect Michiganders by updating Michigan’s sentencing guidelines for providing false statements on firearm sales and establish the volunteer employee criminal history system. Governor Whitmer also signed legislation to modify membership on the Michigan Strategic Fund Board. 

“I’m proud to work with legislators to lower costs for Michiganders and keep our communities safe. This legislation will help families keep more of their hard-earned money and ensure peace of mind when families entrust caregivers to look after their loved ones,” said Governor Whitmer. “These bills will also keep firearms from those who should not have them and amend the organization of the Michigan Strategic Fund to give Michigan the best opportunity to continue winning economic development projects and growing our economy. These bills are examples of the progress we can make when we all work together, in a bipartisan fashion, to get things done for Michigan. Let’s keep up the good work.” 

Governor Whitmer signed House Bills 4039, 4045, 4143, 4219 and 4253. 

“I would like to thank Governor Whitmer for signing my legislation, House Bill 4253, into law” said State Rep. Kevin Coleman (D – Westland). “This was a bipartisan bill, and I was happy to work with Rep. Outman to provide further tax relief for small businesses and Michigan consumers. Many businesses are unfamiliar with the difference between use and sales tax, and do not pay sales tax or uses tax on these transactions. Delivery and installation charges should be treated consistently, and regardless of the timing of the charge or how they are invoiced.” 

“Our retailers provide countless jobs across the state and stimulate our economy – the state is working to foster a better environment for small businesses to succeed in Michigan’s economy,” said State Rep. Pat Outman (R- Six Lakes). This plan gained bipartisan support because it’s a commonsense solution to a problem we all agree needed to be fixed.” 

House Bills 4039 and 4253   lower costs for Michiganders by exempting delivery and installation charges from the sales and use taxes. 

House Bill 4045 protects vulnerable Michiganders by establishing the volunteer employee criminal history system, which allows Michigan State Police to continue conducting background checks for individuals who are employed as caregivers of children, elderly, and other vulnerable populations. It brings Michigan into compliance with the Child Protection Improvement Act of 2017.  

“As the country is in the midst of passionate discourse around gun legislation, I am so proud to see Michigan embracing common sense legislation,” said State Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids). My bill HB 4143, which changes language to require background checks for all firearms is a key step in addressing the crisis of gun violence in our communities.” 

House Bill 4143  will protect Michigan communities by updating sentencing guidelines to comport with new universal background checks. 

“Adding members appointed by the Republican caucuses to Michigan Strategic Fund board will bring a greater level of accountability, transparency, and bipartisan oversight to Michigan’s economic development plans into the future,” said Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Township)

House Bill 4219 assists Michigan in winning economic development projects by codifying changes under Executive Reorganization Order 2019-03 to require the directors of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and Michigan Department Of Transportation or their designees from within their respective departments to serve on the board, require members to be residents of the state, establish four-year term limits, require the board president to serve as chairperson, and allow board members to elect a vice-chair from their members. 

Whitmer Leads Letter from Governors to Congressional Leadership

Whitmer Leads Letter from Governors to Congressional Leadership

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April 26, 2023

Contact: [email protected]


Gov. Whitmer Leads Letter from Governors to Congressional Leadership Against Budget Cuts to Health Care, Child Care, Job Training, Food Assistance


LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer led a group of governors to send a letter to congressional leadership opposing any cuts to health care, child care, job training, and food programs as federal budget negotiations continue. Recently, Republicans in the House of Representatives released a proposal that would gut critical programs states and local governments rely on to feed families, protect access to quality health care, empower workers with the skills they need, ensure families have a roof over their heads, and help parents go back to work with affordable child care options.


“As national leaders debate the federal budget, we governors are speaking with one voice—do not cut health care, child care, food assistance, or housing that so many of the families we serve rely on,” said Governor Whitmer. “Millions of Michiganders rely on these programs to feed their kids, keep a roof over their heads, go back to work, learn new skills, or get better when they’re hurt or sick. These vital programs are nonnegotiable. Any cuts to them would devastate working families across America and jack up their costs.”


The full text of the letter can be found here and below.


Dear Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Speaker McCarthy, and Leader Jeffries:


We write today to express our firm opposition to any efforts that would cut funding for programs that hundreds of millions of Americans pay into and rely on for their health care, retirement benefits, and more. While Congressional leaders have clarified that Medicare and Social Security will not face any cuts, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and discretionary spending – literal lifelines for millions of Americans nationwide – are on the chopping block. As Governors, we speak with one voice: any federal funding cuts or fundamental changes to the spirit and intent of these programs will have dangerous repercussions for Americans across the nation, regardless of what political party is in power at the state level.


Several high-profile members, including those holding influential committee leadership positions, have endorsed efforts to target Medicaid, which provides health care to nearly 85 million children, adults, people with disabilities, and seniors. One of these proposals includes weakening or rescinding the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion, reversing a decade’s worth of benefits to states that expanded coverage for their residents. Any effort to target this expansion could impact the 18 million Americans who have gained coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Changes to Medicaid financing – in the form of a block grant, per capita cap, or limiting how states can finance their share of Medicaid—would have the same damaging impact: states would be forced to scale back crucial benefits and services due to financial uncertainty. Of course, it is worth noting that many of these misguided efforts are happening as states are navigating the unwinding of the Medicaid Continuous Enrollment Provision to ensure that those who gained coverage over the last three years are in a position to maintain health coverage. Collectively, these proposals would shift significant costs to states and undoubtedly lessen or eliminate coverage for millions of our residents.


As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity remains an acute concern for many of our residents. Nationwide, more than 41 million Americans receive SNAP benefits, including approximately 15 million children. In March, nearly two dozen House Republicans supported legislation to expand SNAP’s existing work requirements and eliminate the federal government’s ability to waive work requirements for states in areas of high unemployment. According to estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, more than 10 million people, or one-in-four participants, would be at risk of losing food assistance under this proposal, including millions of children. These threats to SNAP come just months after a minimum of a $95 per month reduction in SNAP benefits following the conclusion of pandemic-related benefits in February. At almost the same time, another filed bill would impose work requirements for individuals seeking to remain eligible for both Medicaid and SNAP benefits. 


Last week, House Republicans released the Limit, Save, Grow Act, a plan that would return federal government spending to Fiscal Year 2022 levels and cause irreparable damage to every state. Every day, millions of Americans rely on critical programs funded by the federal budget and implemented by state and local governments for health care, child care, nutrition, housing, and so much more. According to estimates from federal departments, these proposed cuts could include:


  • Approximately 125,000 fewer job seekers would receive services and training from the workforce development system, hampering efforts to create good-paying jobs; 


  • More than 100,000 child care slots would be eliminated, prohibiting countless parents from attending school, going to work, or forcing them to pay out of pocket for child care;


  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) would have to reduce participation, denying 250,000 new moms and young children food and nutrition services, 


  • The Housing Choice Voucher program would be forced to eliminate funding for 350,000 families, putting people—including kids—out on the street.


As Governors, we are uniquely positioned to best understand the needs of our residents, and waivers represent a needed tool to meet those needs. We are united in our opposition to expanded work and work reporting requirements in any crucial safety net program, such as SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid. We urge you to work in a bipartisan manner to find a solution that preserves funding for crucial programs that benefit all of our constituents.

It’s Arbor Week! Turn over a new leaf by planting a tree

It’s Arbor Week! Turn over a new leaf by planting a tree

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It’s Arbor Week! Turn over a new leaf by planting a tree

In the forest, in your community or even in a pot on an apartment balcony – trees are important, and Arbor Day, April 28, is the day to get excited about them! We’re so serious about trees, there’s an official Arbor Week proclamation.

In this tree-themed newsletter, you’ll find ways to get involved in a statewide tree planting initiative, be inspired by a sorority’s environmental work, read fun facts about native trees and learn what to do if you spot invasive bugs.

For local Arbor Day fun, check out the Arbor Day events on our webpage.

Stories include:

We’re planting millions of trees – join in and post yours!

Mi Trees Planting map - images of laptop, tablet and phone displaying map where planted trees are loggedWant to join thousands of other Michiganders in a good cause? Plant a tree this spring!

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is encouraging Michiganders to plant 50 million trees by 2030 and pin their trees’ locations on our interactive map. People have planted more than 84,000 trees already toward the goal.

The Mi Trees planting campaign is part of 1T.org, a global effort to plant more trees to help communities adapt to the world’s changing climate.

Plant your new tree with plenty of room for its roots and water it throughout the summer. Here are some more tips:

  • These tips from the Arbor Day Foundation can help you choose the right tree. Staff at your local nursery can also advise you. This planting guide can help you give your tree a good start.
  • Consider planting native trees, which provide food and cover for wildlife.
  • Water your tree daily in the first week, then about once a week afterward. Check out the Tree Owner’s Manual for more care tips.
  • Visit our interactive map and log your tree.

The DNR’s Forest Resources Division sustainably manages nearly 4 million acres of state forest land, including planting millions of trees each year.

Project Learning Tree and Alpha Kappa Alpha dive into projects to enhance the environment

A group of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. members holding seedlings, with DNR trainers, pose for a photoAlpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. members have been busy this month working on community-focused projects that support their “Enhance Our Environment” initiative. Three Michigan chapters around the state are collaborating with educational and government organizations. Among these collaborators is Project Learning Tree, a pre-K-12 environmental education program sponsored by the DNR. Together, they are galvanizing sorority members to make positive impacts on the environment while creating an inspiring ripple effect in their communities.

Earlier this month, Project Learning Tree educators joined two Michigan chapters, Alpha Rho Omega of Detroit and Eta Iota Omega of Inkster, for a “mini training.” Sorority sisters were guided through tree planting techniques and given instructions and resources to teach engaging nature activities for local grade schools.

A second group of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. members holding seedlings and DNR trainers pose for a photoAttendee Angel Squalls, an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. committee member, said, “I am a firm believer that the first step to enhancing our environment is through education and outreach, as you can’t enhance what you are unaware needs improvement. We look forward to taking back what we learned and implementing it among our community and upcoming tree plantings. Accolades to our Michigan Project Learning Tree coordinator Andrea Stay and Project W.I.L.D. facilitator Natalie Elkins for putting on a great educational workshop and Huron Pines AmeriCorps members for their assistance.”

Lansing chapter Delta Tau Omega collaborated with the City of Lansing and a fourth grade class at Pattengill Biotechnical Magnet School to celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Together, they planted an American linden to beautify the schoolyard.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was founded in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-educated women. Its mission focuses on encouraging high scholastic and ethical standards, promoting unity and friendship between women, alleviating problems concerning girls and women, maintaining a progressive interest in college life and to be of “Service to All Mankind.” Michigan is home to 31 chapters.

Michigan’s native trees are neat

Sugar maple TreeNA graphic with red, 5-pointed leaf and samara graphicDid you know? White oak trees have water-resistant properties that make them great for building boats and wine barrels. Redbud trees have tiny pink flowers that bloom before the trees even grow leaves. The mighty eastern white pine, Michigan’s state tree, can grow over 100 feet tall! Intrigued? Discover more facts about Michigan’s trees on our native tree webpage.

Watch out for bad bugs to help protect trees

A gray and black spotted lanternfly perches on a twigWhether you’re out on a trail in the woods, driving on a state forest road or in your own urban backyard, you can help keep Michigan’s trees healthy by using your powers of observation.

A sharp-eyed landowner in Oakland County spotted the first known infestation of spotted lanternfly last year. The invasive pest feeds on a variety of trees, hops and grapevines.

A thumb and finger holding a hemlock branch infested with hemlock woolly adelgidMichiganders also should be alert for signs and symptoms of the Asian longhorned beetle and hemlock wooly adelgid. The Asian longhorned beetle is an invader that kills hardwood trees, leaving telltale pencil-shaped holes. It has been found in nearby states. On the west side of the Lower Peninsula, folks need to be on the lookout for tiny cottony spots at the base of hemlock needles, a sign of the tiny, sap-sucking hemlock woolly adelgid insect.

If you see an oak tree with wilting, mottled green-and-brown leaves or leaves rapidly dropping before fall, starting near the top of the tree, it could be a sign of oak wilt. Beech trees are under duress from two diseases – beech bark disease and beech leaf disease.

Check out the Michigan Invasive Species Watch List to learn more about insects, animals and diseases to watch for.

There are a variety of ways to report what you see to help keep pests and diseases in check. Report sightings to the Michigan Invasive Species Information Network through its website or mobile app. You can also email the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development or DNR Forest Health team with suspected sightings of invasive species. Include photos if possible, and if you can, catch a bug and place it in the freezer to help with identification.

View and report oak wilt locations using our interactive oak wilt map. View and report Heterobasidion root disease locations using our interactive HRD map.

With the help of sharp eyes in the field like yours, forest health experts will be able to respond quickly to potential new threats to Michigan’s forests.

More ways to get involved

Celebrate ►

Hold a community tree celebration, do a nature-themed family activity, or find an Arbor Day event to attend!

Volunteer ►

Love Michigan’s outdoors? Give back to nature by organizing or joining an Adopt-a-Forest trash cleanup.

Explore ►

Into the woods! Visit your closest state forest to hike, camp, watch wildlife and enjoy nature under the forest canopy.

State park enhancements mean temporary closures

State park enhancements mean temporary closures

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DNR News

April 24, 2023
Contact: Kristen Bennett, 248-431-1265

DNR outlines temporary closures due to enhancement projects in state parks this spring and summer

brick building under constructionThanks to $250 million in federal relief COVID-19 funding made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, several of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ planned improvement projects at state parks are getting underway this spring and summer.

The result? Temporary closures will be in place so the DNR can address a long list of critical needs.

Because of this work, visitors will be able to enjoy new and upgraded camping amenities, park roads, electrical and water distribution systems and toilet and shower buildings, as well as visitor center enhancements and historic preservation work – all things that contribute to a better visitor experience.

“Although there may be some dust and some campgrounds and amenities may temporarily close during construction, staff is working hard to minimize the duration of any closures and the inconvenience to our guests,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation chief. “Shovels in the ground are a true testament to the historic investment being made in our state parks and recreation system, and we appreciate visitors’ patience this season.”

Stay up to date on closures

Get the latest information on closures at all DNR facilities at Michigan.gov/DNRClosures. Some of the planned state park closures include:

  • As part of an enhancement project involving two different closure timelines, Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County) is upgrading water and sewer lines and reconstructing campground roads. The entire day-use area, including roads, organizational campground and visitor center, is expected to be closed through July 7. Then, after the first phase is completed, the modern campground will tentatively close July 7 through the end of the 2023 camping season.
  • Due to reconstruction of the road where the visitor center and headquarters building are, and expansion of the Summit Peak parking lot, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County) visitor center will close May 15-Aug. 15 and Summit Peak parking lot will close Aug. 15-Oct. 15.
  • To minimize the modern campground closure timeline at Mitchell State Park (Wexford County), a new toilet and shower building and ARPA-funded campground road construction were paired. The road project includes 10 new jug fillers for campers.
  • The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and outdoor gardens in Belle Isle Park (Wayne County) have been closed since November to revitalize the upper 60 feet of the 80-foot-tall conservatory dome in one of the nation’s oldest turn-of-the-century glass houses still in existence. The outdoor gardens are slated to reopen next month, while the conservatory is set to reopen in May 2024.

Additional information on these enhancement projects, proposed ARPA funding and information on future enhancements at these parks can be found on the closures page. Other ARPA-funded projects will kick off this fall and into 2024.

Before visiting a state park, boating site or trail, it is always a good idea to check the latest closures due to weather-related events, planned improvement projects and repairs in DNR facilities around the state.

Follow ARPA-funded projects

To stay up to date on the status of ARPA-funded projects and learn more about funding and decision-making, visit Michigan.gov/StateParksProgress. There you’ll find FAQs, a photo gallery and an interactive map identifying proposed project locations, details and status of those projects.

Please note that the map is specific to ARPA-funded projects; it does not include other work happening throughout the state parks and recreation system (often funded through Recreation Passport dollars and various federal grants). The costs and timelines shown on the interactive map are estimates based on the most urgent needs, and estimates could be affected by contractor availability and supply chain challenges.

Questions on the projects? Contact Kristin Bennett at 248-431-1265 or [email protected].