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Saturday, January 16, 2010

letter from a fourth grader

Dear Representative Meekhof,

My name is Xavier Golden. I am a student in fourth grade in Ferry Elementary, Grand Haven.

I am concerned about the smoking problem in michigan. It is bad for the person who's smoking and for the people around the person who smokes. its bad for their health and family. so thank you for the "no smoking in public" law .

I think this is how a bill becomes a law. First the bill is made up by someone, then the person gets enough followers. They could get followers by putting up signs. Then it's brought to the House of Representatives to get enough votes to get sent to the senate, and if the senate likes it, it's passed to the governor. But the governor can veto it, but can possibly be over-ruled. Is that the process of how a bill becomes a law?

I am also am worried about the homeless. Is there anything we can do? Could we build home shelters by having the goverment buy the foreclosed houses and homeless could fix them up in exchange?

Thank you for reading this and taking your time.

Xavier Golden

P.S. this is my dads e-mail account.

P.P.S. I put this letter on my blog if you want to comment.

Rep. Meekhof wrote back! Very nice. Here is his letter:

Thanks for your email. It always makes me happy when students contact me. One of my favorite things about being a Representative is meeting with classes when they come to the Capitol and being invited to speak at schools. I think it's great that you're interested in how state government works.

You have a pretty good idea of how a bill becomes a law. Most times people don't go through all the trouble to put up signs and try to get lots of supporters, but that does happen on some big issues. There are two ways of getting a bill started that are more common. The first way starts with either me or my staff. We spend a lot of time thinking about problems that need to be solved and brainstorming ways that we could provide solutions. Sometimes we come up with a solution that we think should be law. Then I introduce it as a bill. The other common way is for someone like yourself to contact me with an idea for a bill. If I think that it's a good idea my staff and I will research it and introduce it as a bill.

Once a bill is introduced it gets assigned to a committee. Each Representative and Senator serves on several committees. The Representative that introduces the bill needs to convince the chairperson of the committee to hold a committee hearing for the bill. If a hearing does not happen, then the bill never goes any farther. If a hearing gets scheduled the bill sponsor gets several people or groups to come in and testify to the committee about why the bill should pass. The committee asks these people lots of questions. Then the committee votes on the bill. If the majority votes no then the bill doesn't go any farther, if they vote yes it goes to the next step. After this you had it exactly right. It goes to the full House, then to the Senate, then to the Governor.

I am also concerned about the homeless. Right now the state has a whole department that focuses on providing housing for people who can't afford it. The Federal government does as well. I do not think that it would be a good idea for the state to buy foreclosed homes for the homeless. This is for two primary reasons. First, there are several charities that already do this. They do a great job getting volunteers to help, and raising money to buy the foreclosed homes. If the state got involved in the same area it would be much more expensive. Charities are some of the most efficient organizations around, while, unfortunately, the state does not have a reputation for efficiency. The Government does help these charities with their efforts by providing tax deductions for people who donate to charities. This helps the charities raise money. The second reason I don't think the state should be involved is the cost. The state budget seems to always have a deficit because the economy is so bad. The state is collecting less in taxes because people are out of work and spending less money. If the state would start a new program that bought homes it would be very expensive. We would either have to cut spending in other important areas or raise taxes. Cutting more spending would be difficult since no one wants to see more cuts to schools, local governments, or human services, but raising taxes is also dangerous because it often causes businesses to close or move out of the state.

Thanks again for writing me. Please feel free to email again if you have any more questions!


Arlan Meekhof
State Representative
89th District
Phone: 1-888-238-1008
Fax: 517-373-9830

1 comment:

  1. Quite nice of Mr. Meekhof to respond so thoroughly.