District 9 News & Updates

State Senator Paul Wojno

Dear Friends, 

It’s my great privilege to work hard for you in Lansing. Together, let’s continue to make our community the best it can be. 

Featured in this newsletter: 

  • State investigating deadly dog virus in Northern Michigan 
  • Reminder: Mackinac Bridge closed for annual Labor Day walk 
  • Governor Whitmer proposes suspension of sales tax on school supplies 
  • Michiganders may qualify to have student loans forgiven 
  • Enroll your four-year-old kids in a free preschool program  

If you have any questions, want to comment on pending legislation, or resolve any issues in state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office by phone at (517) 373-8360 or by email at SenPWojno@senate.michigan.gov


Warmest regards, 

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Paul Wojno
State Senator
District 9


STATE INVESTIGATING DEADLY DOG VIRUS IN NORTHERN MICHIGAN 

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced its updated findings that the “mysterious” illness that has killed more than 30 dogs in Northern Michigan — and left others with severe illness — is canine parvovirus. 

Canine parvovirus is a severe and highly contagious disease in dogs. Symptoms include: 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Bloody stool 
  • Vomiting 
  • Lethargy 

While it is believed that the virus started in Otsego County — which includes places like Gaylord — it has been spreading. Otsego County is just south of popular destinations like Cheboygan and Mackinaw City, and northeast of Traverse City, Kalkaska, and the like. Veterinarians are stressing the importance of keeping your dog up to date on their vaccines, as dogs who have been contracting this virus have become very sick and even dying within two or three days. 

Further, the affected dogs did not have a history of complete vaccination, MDARD indicated

Veterinarians are also encouraging people who may be bringing their dogs with them to consider avoiding dog parks or other dogs in general, as well as spaces where many dogs may have defecated, given early analysis suggesting this highly transmissible illness is being spread through dog-to-dog contact or feces. It may also be worth considering keeping your dog home with a trusted caretaker instead of bringing them with you. 


REMINDER: MACKINAC BRIDGE CLOSED FOR ANNUAL LABOR DAY WALK 

The annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk is quickly approaching, so if you have plans to travel to the area, there are some things to know first. 

Most importantly, the bridge will be closed to public traffic between 6:30 a.m. and noon on Monday, September 5. One lane will be open for emergency vehicles only. 

For the most updated information, or if you’re interested in walking, please visit their website


GOVERNOR WHITMER PROPOSES SUSPENSION OF SALES TAX ON SCHOOL SUPPLIES 

Following the passage of a historic, bipartisan budget earlier this summer, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently proposed suspending the Michigan sales tax on school supplies, part of her MI Back to School Plan to help families save money as they prepare for the school year. The plan will save Michigan families money immediately, equip kids with the tools they need to succeed, and help educators save on classroom expenses. 

A Deloitte report found that parents and families expect to spend up to $661 per child on school supplies this year, as opposed to $612 per child last year. To address this growing problem, 19 other states are suspending state sales taxes on everything from clothing to computers to lower costs for families as they look ahead to the school year. Under this plan, Michigan would join those states to deliver meaningful savings for families gearing up for the school year. 


AN ESTIMATED 148,000 MICHIGANDERS MAY QUALIFY TO HAVE STUDENT LOANS FORGIVEN 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is encouraging Michiganders working in public service to review the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program to see if they qualify for federal student loan relief no later than Oct. 31, 2022. Thousands have already utilized the program to pay off their debt, and an estimated 148,000 more Michiganders may be eligible due to the recent PSLF waiver. 

According to the Office of Federal Student Aid’s June report, so far more than 6,000 Michiganders have taken advantage of the PSLF waiver and have had $358 million in loans forgiven.  

The recent changes to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program allow previously ineligible borrowers — those with a non-Direct loan, who are not enrolled in an income driven repayment plan, who have missed a repayment, or made a partial repayment in the past — to receive credit toward loan forgiveness for the years they worked in government or a qualifying nonprofit. 

To apply for the PSLF waiver, borrowers should:   

  • Visit studentaid.gov/pslf/employer-search/search-tool to verify their employer qualifies for PSLF.     
  • Submit a certified copy of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification form to the U.S. Department of Education before Oct. 31.     

If borrowers have questions regarding their individual situation, they can visit studentaid.gov/pslf or call FedLoan Servicing at 1-855-265-4038. 


THERE IS STILL TIME TO ENROLL FOUR-YEAR-OLD KIDS IN FREE PRESCHOOL PROGRAM

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Education are encouraging parents of four-year-old children across Michigan to contact their local school districts or visit GreatStarttoQuality.org to explore getting their children enrolled in a Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) — Michigan’s nationally recognized, state-funded preschool for four-year-olds. 

Children who attend a GSRP are more likely to enter school ready to learn, read by third grade, and graduate from high school on time.  

Parents can apply for GSRP’s 2022-2023 program year now! Parents can search for local GSRP programs through Michigan’s Great Start to Quality website or apply directly through their local intermediate school district here.  

GSRP eligibility is primarily determined based on family household income (a family of four earning up to $69,375 a year is eligible). However, other factors such as a diagnosed disability, parent education, and primary home language other than English may also be considered. The program is offered as part-day and full-day with childcare before and after school available in many areas. Some programs also offer transportation to families. 

As an elected representative, I believe in being readily available and transparent because my office is your office.

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