07-30-2020 Letters and Commentary

Mid-year review It seems like it was just yesterday I had taken my oath of office and began serving as the voice of my community in our state capitol. Despite the unprecedented setbacks of COVID-19, I’ve been able to deliver meaningful results to the hardworking people of Berrien County. The largest accomplishment by far has been the historic auto-insurance reform package. For decades, special interests have profited off our broken insurance system while Michiganders have had their wallets drained. On July 1 that finally ended. My largest personal accomplishment has been leading a 16-bill package to help Berrien County businesses grow and expand. Now law, my bills will help local brewers by allowing them to distribute more of their product without signing a contract with a distributor. This slashes red tape and allows these businesses to grow without imposing regulations at too early of a stage. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on other issues that are important to the people of Southwest Michigan. Some of this year’s highlights include: Leading our state and nation with bipartisan criminal justice reforms; protecting our great lakes, precious natural resources, and the 1,800 jobs that depend on Southwest Michigan’s sportfishing industry; defending the integrity of our elections; assisting Michigan’s professional license holders by providing a credit on the renewal of their license; opposing the dangerous and reckless policy of defunding local police departments; protecting our most vulnerable residents from the governor’s dangerous nursing home policy; and respecting your tax dollars and standing up for small businesses. Michiganders work hard for their money, and they deserve to know Lansing is investing in their priorities and helping them recover from the COVID pandemic. It’s the honor and privilege of a lifetime serving you. If there is anything I can do to be of service to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out via email at PaulineWendzel@house. mi.gov or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at www.RepWendzel.com.

Focusing on children’s eye health Sun and screens are likely two of the most impactful things on a child’s life during the summer months in Michigan. And while they are fundamentally different – one involves being outdoors and the other typically indoors – they both can play a significant role in children’s eyesight. August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, a time set aside by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) to focus on and bring awareness to youth vision. Summer in Southwest Michigan is one of the best times to call our part of the state home. Spending time outdoors in the warmth of the sun is a great time for families to get out and enjoy nature and fun activities. Though it is true that overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be damaging to our eyes, it is also true that a lack of sun exposure can have health effects. According to the AAO, some studies suggest sun exposure is necessary for normal visual development, and children who experience less sun exposure are thought to be at a higher risk for developing myopia or nearsightedness. So, telling our kids and grandkids to go play outside is in fact good for them in more ways than one. Just make sure they are wearing full spectrum, UV blocking sunglasses and sunscreen. Another, perhaps, more growing concern is the amount of time our kids are spending staring at screens. Youth are spending hours per day using phones, tablets, and computers at very close distances to their faces. AAO indicates that nearsightedness is becoming more common, and whether screen time is solely or in part contributing to increased myopia, it is important that we are ensuring kids take frequent breaks from staring at their screens. A simple recommendation is to follow the 20-20-20 rule – that every 20 minutes you put down the screen and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. In addition to these easy methods we can practice at home, it is also important that children receive eye screenings. Regular checkups can help detect any potential problems sooner, which can help provide any necessary vision correction to ensure eye health. For more information on eye health and safety or to find an ophthalmologist near you, visit https://www.aao.org/. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517)373-6960 or sending an email to senklasata@senate.mich igan.gov.

Getting to the other side of trouble When the War of 1812 began in June of that year, the future of the newly free and independent United States was cloudy. A lot was happening that threatened “the great experiment’s” survival, including troubles with both England and France. Congress had approved the building of six heavy frigates. The USS Constitution was one of the three largest, which also included the USS President, and the USS United States. “Old Ironside” left Boston Harbor in July, 1812, sailing south to join with some merchant ships. Off the coast of New Jersey, by Egg Harbor, they encountered a British squadron of five warships. Captain Isaac Hull determined that it was too one-sided, and turned to escape. Then it happened. The wind stopped – for all of them. Hull dispatched long boats to tow the Constitution. The British saw it and did likewise. Then a young lieutenant, Charles Morris, had an idea. Take the anchors out in front of the ship, and drop them far ahead. Then work the winches to pull the ship forward. It worked! It’s called kedging and is used for freeing ships from sand bars or for tight maneuvering in port. The American sailors had endured 57 hours fleeing the British by rowing and kedging. Their persistence and ingenuity won the day. Later, the Constitution would sink one of those ships that had pursu