Cub Scouts celebrate Pollinator Week with Sen. Shirkey and Rep. Poleski

LANSING, Mich. — This week state Sen. Mike Shirkey and Rep. Earl Poleski joined local cub scouts to thank them for their part in bringing awareness to Pollinator Week in Michigan, which lasts June 20 – 26.

Cub Scout Pack 440 from Paragon Charter Academy recently brought attention to pollinator issues through their involvement in the Rose Parade, where they won the grand champion prize for their beehive-designed float. The float was made of 852 roses, put together by the Jackson area children and parents of Pack 440.

“We are very happy to see the work these kids put into their group, and the leadership they demonstrate for us,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “What better way to place our attention on pollinator week than by building a giant beehive! It is encouraging to see these young students put their energy into positive projects for our area.”

The cub scouts’ activities are closely related to the pollinator resolution recently adopted by the senate. Senate Resolution 189 recognizes a week in June as a time to highlight the importance of pollinators, reverse the trend of their decline, and encourage good stewardship practices of the species that pollinate the food we consume in Michigan.

Honey bee colonies in Michigan are one of the valuable resources we have, and they are a key part of ensuring the state’s continued food security.

The number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States used for honey production has decreased in recent decades, from around 4 million colonies through the 1980s to about 2.75 million today. This means projects by groups like these cub scouts are increasingly important for sharing knowledge about responsible management of the state’s pollinators.

If you know about other efforts in Branch, Hillsdale or Jackson counties to bring pollinator issues to light, you can let Sen. Shirkey know by emailing or by calling 517-373-5932.

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

Photo caption: State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake (yellow shirt) and Rep. Earl Poleski (pink shirt) joined local cub scouts from Cub Scout Pack 440 and Chairman and Bear Den Leader Crystal Jones to thank them for their part in bringing awareness to Pollinator Week in Michigan, which lasts June 20 – 26.

Shirkey bill being signed clarifies and simplifies law for active duty service members

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature has fully approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Shirkey that would ensure active duty members of the military will not lose their Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) while serving away from home.

Senate Bill 606 fixes an ambiguity in the law that sometimes inconvenienced members of the military who claimed this common residence exemption from some local property taxes.

“With this bill signed into law, members of the military will be able to claim the same exemption that non-military homeowners claim,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Ambiguity in prior law caused hassles for at least one constituent. We wrote this bill to repair that language for any servicemen claiming it in the future.”

According to former law, any homeowner claiming the Principal Residence Exemption must not only own their house, but also occupy it to keep the exemption. This has created problems for members of the military serving away from home. In one instance, a member of the military who claimed the PRE was required to participate in a lengthy hearing process to determine if his claim was valid.

The armed forces community expressed support for Shirkey’s clarifications.

“With the passage of this bill, the law now clearly states that members of the military currently serving can legally claim the PRE for their one home, even when they are away protecting citizens’ rights,” said Major General Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard.

The updated law also gives servicemen who file untimely for the PRE a way to refile by allowing the local Board of Review to consider and approve their appeals. The PRE may still only be claimed on the owner’s actual primary residence.

Once signed by the governor, these improvements go into effect for current and future active duty military personnel.