Pastor David Williams delivers invocation at state Capitol

LANSING, Mich.— Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, welcomed pastor David Williams from Dorr Baptist Church in Dorr to the Michigan Senate Wednesday. Williams delivered the invocation before Senate session.

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Schuitmaker kicks off March is Reading Month

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker officially began March is Reading Month with a trip to five Kentwood schools on Friday, March 6.

“Teaching our children the importance of reading at a young age is imperative,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Early childhood reading opens so many doors and can help promote long-term academic success.”

In the coming weeks, Schuitmaker will be traveling to various schools throughout Van Buren, Allegan, and Kent counties to remind students about the importance of reading.

The state of Michigan is placing a strong emphasis on improvements to third grade reading levels. This age is widely considered an important educational benchmark and is a strong indicator of a student’s future academic career.

Schuitmaker will bring several books to each classroom—The Giving Tree; Oh, the Places You’ll Go; House Mouse, Senate Mouse; and the Legend of Mackinac Island—and give students a quick lesson in voting before letting them democratically decide which book to read.

Across the country, parents, teachers, and volunteers will be implementing creative initiatives to encourage childhood reading. Early childhood reading habits can help promote enhanced memory, writing and creativity.

“While this National Reading Month is a great time to get our children into the habit of reading,” Schuitmaker said, “I hope that it does not end here. The benefits of reading will help these children for the rest of their lives.”

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Schuitmaker bills aim to reduce drunk driving offenses, protect motorists

LANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker introduced a package of bills this week to reduce drunk driving offenses. Senate Bills 174-176 would create oversight for the manufacturers of breath alcohol interlock ignition devices (BAIID).

Currently, sobriety court programs allow offenders the option to participate in a program that grants them a restricted driver’s license if their vehicle is outfitted with an interlock device. More than 8,000 of these interlock devices have been installed for drivers in the past three years alone.

Interlock devices are a type of breathalyzer installed on a vehicle’s ignition panel. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must exhale into the device. The blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured and will kill the ignition signal if the level is above the minimum threshold. The driver is also required to intermittently be tested throughout their drive.

“These interlock devices stop people from driving with alcohol in their systems, but right now we do not have enough oversight to ensure that they are being used properly,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “There is currently no certification process for the manufacturers of these devices and no state specifications for those installing and servicing the units.”

This legislation would require annual BAIID certification from the Michigan Department of State for manufacturers and increase requirements for service centers in the state.

“This really comes down to an issue of public safety,” Schuitmaker said. “Ensuring the interlock devices are properly installed and not tampered with will save lives and stop these offenders from breaking the law.”

Under the bills, installation, maintenance and removal of interlock devices would only be permitted at licensed auto repair facilities. Providing additional requirements and certification processes would increase accountability for those manufacturing, installing, and servicing these devices.

Senate Bills 174-176 have been assigned to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.