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September 2014 Archives

House Votes to Increase Veterans’ Disability Payments

Veterans receiving disability payments scored a win last week in the House of Representatives. The house cleared legislation to increase compensation benefits for disabled veterans on Tuesday.

The legislation, already passed unanimously by the Senate, now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

Veterans will see a boost in their payments starting on December 1, so that the cost-of-living increase will match the rate of Social Security benefits. Approximately 4.5 million veterans rely on disability benefits, and many of those individuals could have seen a cut to their benefits had Congress not acted.

The veterans whose disability payments are their only source of income are especially breathing a sigh of relief.

In a news cycle that has been dominated by partisanship, especially with the mid-term elections, this story is a refreshing reminder that when it comes to those who have served our country, our representatives can shed their partisan coats and come together for the greater good.
  
Read more on The Hill’s website:  

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/217975-house-clears-increase-in-veterans-disability-payments

The End is in Sight for Michigan Driver Responsibility Fees

Matt Worley, Esq.

In Michigan, many drivers feel the weight of Driver Responsibility Fees on their shoulders.

These fees are assessed by the State of Michigan to drivers who are found guilty of certain traffic misdemeanors.  These fees are assessed in addition to any fines and costs that were assessed in the district court.  The responsibility fees were created in 2003 at a time when the state was in dire financial straits as a way to generate cash flow.

Part of what makes the responsibility fees unique is the sheer size of the fee assessed.  For example, if a person pleads guilty or is found guilty of driving on a suspended license, that person is assessed $1,000 in responsibility fees – paid out over two years.  Similarly, if a person is convicted of operating while intoxicated, they are assessed a total fee of $2,000.  Other common offenses that have responsibility fees include reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and various drunk/drugged driving offenses.

The problem with these responsibility fees is that they are so large they often send the state’s poorest people in a downward financial spiral that, for many, is nearly impossible to escape from.  The responsibility fees have been called a “tax on the poorest people in the state.”

House Bill 5414, introduced by Representative Joe Haveman, aims to phase out the responsibility fees.  Under the plan, the fees will be virtually eliminated by 2018.  The bill has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in the near future.

The question remains, however, what will replace the nearly $100 million in annual revenue generated from the responsibility fees?

If you would like to know more about Michigan’s driver responsibility fees, or have other questions, contact the legal experts at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  Our team of lawyers consists of current and former prosecutors knowledgeable in both civil and criminal law.  You can reach Matthew Worley at (248) 380-0000 or online at www.fb-firm.com.  

Canton Could Save $10 Million with Joint Water Venture

Jim Fausone, managing partner of Fausone Bohn and the Chair of the Board of Water Commissioners for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), helped arrange the latest round of talks that could result in a savings of almost $10 million for Canton, Michigan.

The savings could be realized if Canton held off on a proposal to build its own water-storage facility and instead opted to lease or buy a portion of a DWSD station on the township’s north end. Rather than spending as much as $10 million to build a water tower or ground-level storage facility, Supervisor Phil LaJoy said Canton may spend as little as $1 million through the proposed joint venture.  

Fausone says that in addition to Canton trimming its costs, DWSD could offset operational costs under a long term lease.

The talks of a Canton-DWSD joint venture come on the heels of an announcement of a new regional water authority, which holds promise to address the problems that have long plagued DWSD. Under Fausone’s leadership the past several years, DWSD has already made great strides in its internal operations.

The soon-to-be Great Lakes Water Authority will build upon the progress, providing suburban customers with greater control and stability in their water rates. Though many suburban officials have long eyed DWSD with suspicion, Fausone implored local leaders to judge the department by what is happening now rather than focusing on past mistakes.

If you have environmental, municipal or water related issues, you can contact Jim Fausone at (248) 380-1818.


To read more on this story, check out the Canton Observer’s Report:

Great Lakes Coalition Celebrates 10 Years of Restoration Efforts at 2014 Conference

Ten years ago, scientists dedicated to protecting the most significant fresh water resource on Earth – our Great Lakes in Michigan – came together to start Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition (HOW). The Great Lakes Restoration Conference, celebrating a decade of HOW’s work, just wrapped up a few days ago in Grand Rapids, MI.

You can check out video clips from the conference and others about the Great Lakes at Great Lakes Now’s website here: http://www.greatlakesnow.org/glw2014/

Each year HOW has brought together a diverse group of 400-plus people from throughout the region to attend the conference. The goal: to provide a forum to discuss and learn about the importance of Great Lakes Restoration issues, allow supporters and activists to network, and develop strategies to advance federal, regional, and local restoration efforts.

This year the group also celebrated some of their more noteworthy victories, including successfully securing over $1.6 billion in federal funding to date in an effort to:

  •          Restore habitat for fish and wildlife;
  •          Clean up toxic pollution;
  •          Control invasive species;
  •          And, replace and repair aging sewage infrastructure.
You can learn more about Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition and the conference at their website: http://conference.healthylakes.org/

If you have water, environmental or wetland related issues, contact Paul Bohn or Jim Fausone at (248) 380-0000.  You can visit our website at www.fb-firm.com. 


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