Gary's bills that were signed into law
Rep. Gary Woronchak introduced 22 bills that were signed into law during his six years
in the state House. Here are some of the most notable Public Acts under Gary's name
Double tax exemption for seniors
Gary more than doubled the special exemption for senior citizens on state income tax returns. It was $900 before his legislation (P.A. 301 of 2000) doubled it to $1,800, and since it was indexed to inflation, the exemption for seniors rose to $1,900, before it was discontinued when Gov. Rick Snyder took office in 2011.
Savings program for college
Gary helped create the Michigan Education Savings Program, giving parents tax incentives to open special savings accounts to go toward their children's higher education. Gary's legislation (P.A. 162 of 2000) created the tax deduction for the program. By the time Gary left the Legislature because of term limits at the end of 2004, the program already had 118,325 accounts open with nearly $700 million set aside for higher education expenses. Families are still using the MESP to save for college; learn more at www.misaves.com.
Protections for senior citizens
Gary streamlined and improved the complaint process designed to protect nursing home patients by creating a standardized complaint form to be used when patients or their families have problems that are not being resolved at the nursing home level and need to be brought to the state's attention (P.A. 3 of 2003).
He gave an extra measure of security to vulnerable adults who use foster care by requiring criminal background checks on employees of adult foster care homes. His legislation (P.A. 59 of 2004) also prohibits homes from employing persons convicted of certain crimes.
Gary amended the Estates and Protected Individuals Code to require that legal guardians provide a copy of reports on their wards' estates to the ward, the ward's family and to other interested persons (P.A. 313 of 2000).
He required truth in advertising for Alzheimer's care by mandating that nursing homes that advertise they provide services for Alzheimer's patients must provide a written description of those services to prospective clients (P.A. 500 of 2000).
Consumer protection for halal foods
Gary set in place consumer protections for halal food, which is food prepared according to Islamic law. His Halal Food Act (P.A. 207 of 2002) is intended to prevent fraud in the preparation, distribution and sale of food represented as halal by making such action against state law. With this legislation, halal food is now recognized in Michigan law in the same manner that the law protects kosher food. It is the first acknowledgement of Islam in Michigan law.
Tax credit for adoption expenses
Gary created a state income tax credit for adoption expenses (P.A. 394 of 2000). In a handful of years since its inception, Michigan families got $3 million in tax credits to defer the costs of adoption. The credit was eliminated after Gov. Rick Snyder took office in 2011.
"Report card" for HMOs
Gary created the HMO Consumers Guide (P.A. 249 of 2000), which the state is required to update annually, to empower consumers with information in making health care choices. The guide contains information comparing HMOs on quality of care, finances and complaints.
Helping get rid of dangerous buildings
Gary amended the state housing law to remove some legal obstacles cities faced when attempting to get court approval for the removal of eyesore and dangerous homes and other structures. Local communities hailed the legislation (P.A. 55 of 2003) as an important tool in their fight against blight in neighborhoods.
Ending unfair tax practices
Gary closed a loophole in the Use Tax Act that the state was using to unfairly tax new residents on their cars and other property they already paid taxes on before bringing them here. (P.A. 27 of 2003) The Macomb Daily heralded the move by writing: "Thanks to state Rep. Gary Woronchak, ‘Welcome to Michigan' signs won't carry the stigma of unfair taxation of new residents."
Another loophole in the tax laws was allowing certain industrial properties to avoid paying the same property tax administration fee that homeowners pay. Gary fixed that with legislation (P.A. 157 of 2001) that made industry pay its fair share, generating about $45,000 annually to the city of Dearborn's budget alone.
Homeland security enhancements
As part of a series of bills dealing with public security in the wake of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Gary passed legislation increasing penalties for poisoning food or water supplies, as well as for hoaxes meant to frighten the public (P.A. 135 of 2002).
He also strengthened laws against false crime reports, which can be made with the intent of causing panic, by adding 9-1-1 operators to the list of persons to whom making false reports is a crime. (P.A. 104 of 2004) The law previously did not specify emergency operators, but the majority of crimes are reported to civilian employees of 9-1-1 centers. The bill was supported by the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.
Campaign finance reform
To help voters more easily see who's contributing to which candidates, Gary's legislation (P.A. 238 of 1999) required the Secretary of State to establish an electronic filing system for campaign finance reports and required candidates for state office to file electronically. His bill also increased the fines for late filing of reports.
Other important policies Gary helped introduce in Lansing
Along with introducing many important bills that have become law, Gary has co-sponsored much important legislation during his time in the House. Here are some of his key co-sponsorships.
Merit Award Scholarships
Gary co-sponsored the creation of the Michigan Merit Award Scholarship program (P.A. 94 of 1999), providing for a $2,500 college scholarship to all students who achieve certain scores on standardized tests.
Amber Alert for missing children
Michigan's Amber Alert system to notify the public and law enforcement agencies of missing or abducted children was created by P.A. 712 and 713 of 2002. Gary co-sponsored both bills.
Protecting our Great Lakes
Gary co-sponsored legislation that prohibited the controversial practice of directional drilling, otherwise known as slant drilling, for oil and gas beneath the Great Lakes (P.A. 148 of 2002).
Telling Canada to keep its trash
Although courts have ruled states cannot limit trash that comes into its landfills from other states or countries, Michigan has passed laws that attempt to slow the flow of trash by making other jurisdictions adhere to the same standards we observe for materials deposited into landfills. Gary co-sponsored the bills (P.A. 40 and 42 of 2004).