Nofs helps secure funding for MI Youth Challenge

LANSING—Legislation that provides an additional $100,000 to the Youth Challenge Program in Battle Creek has been approved by the state Senate, said Sen. Mike Nofs.

Senate amendments to House Bill 4860, which makes supplemental appropriations for Michigan’s School Aid budget, provide the much-needed funding.

Nofs has worked closely with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, since coming to the Senate last year to try and identify specific funding in the budget that could be used for this successful program.

"I am pleased that, despite a very tight budget, we were able to identify additional funding to aid this exemplary program in its mission to assist at-risk youth in getting their lives and educations back on track," said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. "I want to personally thank Sen. Jelinek and his staff for helping identify these resources."

Brigadier General Roger Allen, program director of the Youth Challenge program said the additional funding is a blessing.

“We run an extremely tight ship here, so this funding will give us the opportunity to purchase some much-needed supplies and equipment for the cadets. We certainly appreciate Sen. Nofs’ work in securing this additional funding.”

The MI Youth Challenge Academy is a quasi-military, 22-week residential geared toward Michigan’s at-risk youth, ages 16-19, who have dropped out of school or are at risk of dropping out.

The bill was returned to the state House for concurrence. 

Senate approves legislation to prevent taxpayer dollars from being withdrawn from casino ATMs

LANSING — The Michigan Senate approved legislation Tuesday that will help protect state taxpayer dollars by preventing cash assistance recipients from withdrawing funds from ATMs located in casinos.

In June, officials in California found that cash benefit assistance cards could be used to withdraw money at more than half of the state’s tribal casinos and state-licensed poker rooms.

“Taxpayer dollars issued to residents who need assistance should be used for that purpose,” said Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “While there are currently no restrictions on how the money can be spent, I think it’s reasonable to prohibit funds from being withdrawn directly from an ATM in a casino.”

Under Senate Bill 1432, recipients of cash assistance cannot receive the benefit from an ATM within a casino. The measure would require the Department of Human Services to work with other state agencies to block access to the ATMs.

As technology has changed, the way that cash assistance is provided has also been updated. Residents who receive assistance now use a “bridge card” or debit card. Food assistance recipients cannot withdraw money directly using the card, but cash assistance recipients can.

Nofs said department officials have determined that more than $87,000 in assistance funding was withdrawn from the MotorCity Casino in Detroit from September 2009 through August 2010. Numbers are not yet available for the state’s other casinos.

“I think most people would agree that gambling with taxpayer dollars isn’t an appropriate use,” Nofs said.

The legislation has been sent to the House for further consideration. 

SENATOR NOFS WARNS CALHOUN COUNTY RESIDENTS TO BE LEERY OF SCAM

Senator Nofs received the following information today from the Emmett Township Department of Public Safety:

Scam alert: attempted fraud from subjects posing as a debt collection agency seeking money from victims On Sept 15th, Emmett Township Officers were called to a residence for a report of possible fraud. During the course of the investigation, officers learned that a group of subjects appear to be targeting individuals, attempting to scam them out of thousands of dollars. The scam appears to be generated by email’s and telephone calls, informing the victims that they are attorneys with a debt collection agency and they are trying to collect for unpaid fees to specific check cash / money advancement businesses. The suspects become extremely demanding, trying to intimidate the victims into paying by threats of calling the police or lawsuits. Emmett Township Dept of Public Safety suggests that if you get suspicious calls regarding debt collection, ensure that you owe this money before giving the caller your credit card or checking account information. Also monitor your credit report for any unauthorized activities.

"Residents are especially vulnerable to scams during tough economic times," said Senator Nofs. "It is important that we educate area residents so they do not become victims of fraud. When we arm residents with knowledge of the situation at hand, they are much less likely to become victims."

Senator Nofs has also published information on how to protect your privacy from scammers. You can find that information online at http://www.MISenateGOP.com/publications/19/20100301_Nofs_IDTheft.pdf. You can also request a copy by mail by contacting Senator Nofs’ office at 517-373-2426 or ofcmnofs@senate.michigan.gov.

Senator Nofs asked residents to please contact the Emmett Township Dept of Public Safety at 269-968-9303 for more information. Residents should always contact their local law enforcement agency to report any suspected crime and dial 911 in emergencies.