05-09-2019 Columns

Financial gifts can brighten anyone’s Mother’s Day Mother’s Day is fast approaching. This special holiday reminds us of the joy we receive from the powerful bond between mother and child. To help mark the occasion, you may want to consider making certain financial gifts, including the following. For your mother: IRA contribution – If your mother is still working, she is eligible to contribute to an IRA, but she might not always fully fund it – so you may want to help. You can’t contribute directly to your mother’s IRA, but you can write her a check for that purpose, though, of course, she can use the money however she likes. In 2019, the contribution limit for a traditional or Roth IRA is $6,000, or $7,000 for individuals 50 or older. (A Roth IRA does have income limits that can reduce the contribution amount or eliminate it altogether.) Insurance premium – If your mother has life, disability or long-term care insurance, why not offer to pay some of the premiums this year? Long-term care premiums, in particular, can be quite costly, especially for older policyholders. Introduction to a financial professional – If your mother doesn’t already work with a financial professional, consider introducing her to yours, or to someone else who is recommended by friends or relatives. A financial advisor can help your mother move toward her retirement goals – and, at some point, also can work with legal and tax professionals to assist your mother with her estate plans. For your children: 529 plan contribution – If your children are still of school age, you may want to contribute to a college savings vehicle. One popular choice is a 529 savings plan. When you invest in this plan, your earnings can grow tax-free, provided the money is used for qualified educational expenses. (Be aware, though, that withdrawals not used for qualified education expenses may be subject to federal and state taxes, as well as an additional 10% penalty.) As the 529 plan owner, you have flexibility in using the money. For example, if you’ve designated one of your children as the 529 plan’s beneficiary, and that child decides not to pursue any higher education, you can switch the beneficiary designation to another child or to yourself. You can choose the 529 plan offered by any state, but your contributions might be tax deductible if you invest in your own state’s plan. Tax issues for 529 plans can be complex, so, before investing, consult with your tax advisor. Shares of stocks – Giving stock shares to children is a good way to help them learn some of the basics of investing. You can track the progress of their stocks with them, and even do some research together about why prices may be going up or down. By getting children involved early, you may help instill a lifelong interest in investing. Charitable gifts – Many children are now concerned about various social issues. You can help encourage this involvement – and possibly an appreciation of the value of philanthropy – by making a gift to a charitable group whose work aligns with your child’s interests. We don’t need to exchange presents on Mother’s Day to show our appreciation for one another, but certain financial gifts can help provide needed support – and even some valuable life lessons – for your loved ones. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Gone fishin’ Last week, I was pleased to join my colleagues, Representatives Jim Lilly, and Jack O’Malley, to sponsor a three-bill package to update and modernize commercial fishing regulations in Michigan for the first time in decades. Michigan has some of the most precious natural resources in the world, and it’s incredibly important that we have smart regulations in place to protect them. It’s also important that our laws are clear and draw a distinction between commercial fishing and recreational sport fishing.

Our local sport fishers contribute so much to our local communities and state as a whole. Right here in Southwest Michigan, recreational fishing supports over 1,800 jobs and has an economic output of nearly $250 million. These dollars are spent right here in our community and support a booming tourism industry that helps our community grow, prosper, and thrive. My bill is quite simple. It establishes commercial fishing statues that protect game fish such as trout and salmon, it regulates the commercial gear that is used to take fish from the Great Lakes, and it establishes penalties that will protect our sport fishing industry. My bill also requires shipments and transportation of fish to require boxes be marked plainly and clearly.

It’s been decades since our commercial fishing regulations were written, and it’s time to modernize them and bring them into the twenty-first century. This legislation will provide clear guidelines for commercial fishers, protect recreational fishing, and ensure the longevity of our natural resources in the Great Lakes. If you have any questions about my legislation, please feel free to reach out to my office at PaulineWendzel@ house.mi.gov or give me a call at 517-373-1403.

Mother’s Day This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day, and I want to dedicate my column to all moms in Southwest Michigan, whose love and dedication provide loving homes for our families and make our communities, state and nation better places to live. Like many of you, looking back and considering all that my mother has done for me over the years it hardly seems fair that we only set aside one day for our moms. Throughout our lives, these strong women selflessly sacrifice to provide, encourage, offer sympathy, give compassion, lend direction and deliver tough love, among many countless attributes.

While we may never be able to repay the debts of gratitude owed to our moms, Mother’s Day is a wonderful tradition and opportunity to serve the most important women in our lives — whether it’s our mothers, grandmothers or wives. As a mom to four children, it means a lot to me to be able to spend the day with those I love most, enjoying a beautiful Southwest Michigan spring day.

However you choose to celebrate this Mother’s Day, please join me in showing our love and appreciation, whether in person or in spirit, for all of Michigan’s great moms who have given us so much — including, above all, the gifts of life and unconditional love. Have a great Mother’s Day! I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the important issues facing Southwest Michigan. You can reach me at 517-373-6960 or SenKLaSata@Senate.


Parents who host lose the most The end of the school year brings lots of cause for celebrations: prom, graduation, parties and more. This time of year is far too often marred by the frequently fatal consequences of illegal underage drinking. One bad decision can result in tragedy for not only the young person, but for his or her family, friends, and our entire community. Sixty-five percent of teens obtain the alcohol they drink from their parents, friends’ parents, siblings, or older friends, with or without permission. The good news is that among 10-18 year olds, 65% cite their parents as the leading influence for them not to drink. The Berrien County Health Department is asking for your help in making graduation night safe for teens. Some teens falsely believe that the usual rules for safety and behavior don’t apply on graduation night. That’s why parents need to help teens make safe and healthy choices. Do not serve or allow alcohol at any party you are hosting. Know where your teenager is attending a party; verify there will be parental supervision, and that it will be alcohol-free. Make it clear to your children that you do NOT approve of them drinking alcohol. Educate them on the risks associated with underage drinking and its proven harmful effects on the brain. Students who wait until their early twenties to drink are 84% less likely to develop an addiction than those who start earlier. A minor who consumes alcohol is violating the law and risking his/her life, as well as the lives of others. An adult who provides alcohol to a minor is breaking the law and risking that child’s life. Make sure your teen has a plan for the night and that you know what it is. Do not rent houses or hotel rooms for graduates. Know who is driving – if it’s a limo, check their policy on allowing alcohol in the vehicle. For more information, visit the Berrien County Health Department online at www.bchdmi.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ bchdmi.

Let’s better protect students on our campuses Last week, I joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of colleagues to introduce the ALERT Act, legislation aimed at better protecting college students on campus. Our legislation would require university leaders to certify they have reviewed any reports of sexual abuses perpetrated by university employees. The truth is we should be doing everything we can to protect student safety on college campuses. Our students deserve nothing less. Unfortunately recent incidents on campuses across the nation demonstrate we need to do more.

This legislation is personal for a lot of us. Just down the road at Michigan State University, Larry Nassar exhibited predatory behavior that scarred the lives of hundreds of young women. It was an awful tragedy, but we are all inspired by the courage of these survivors who came forward. The bipartisan ALERT Act is an important step as we try to make sure what happened at MSU never happens again. My office has talked to universities and community colleges in my district, and they have enthusiastically embraced this legislation. Our hope is that we can advance this legislation quickly and then get it to the President’s desk to sign.

To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).