Schuitmaker introduces package to define, combat truancy

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Lansing, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker on Thursday introduced a four-bill package to reform Michigan’s truancy laws.

“This package reforming Michigan’s truancy laws would create an environment for our students to succeed,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “In the Legislature, we are constantly working to make our schools better for students, and this package is about making sure we keep students in school.”

Senate Bills 405-408 would require schools to investigate non-attendance; require attendance officers to notify parents if a student is truant or chronically absent; and increase reporting requirements for schools, including reports for suspensions and disciplinary absences.

Schuitmaker said one key aspect of the legislation is the establishment of statewide definitions for the terms truant, chronically absent, excused absence and unexcused absence. This change will create consistent reporting throughout the state and will provide more reliable data to teachers and administrators.

“Over the past five years, we have invested heavily in making our schools better places to learn and prepare the next generation,” Schuitmaker said. “Reforming our truancy laws is one way we can make sure students are in school and getting the most out of their education. If we can better define truancy and allow our schools to have more informative and useful reporting mechanisms, then schools and parents can be better prepared to address the issues surrounding a student’s truancy or chronic absence.”

Schuitmaker has worked with the Michigan School-Justice Partnership, as well as Gov. Snyder’s office on finding common-sense reforms for Michigan’s truancy laws.

“The Michigan Probate Judges Association supports this legislation as a step toward keeping our children in school and out of the justice system,” said Judge Dorene S. Allen, chair of the MPJA Juvenile Issues Committee. “It is clear that defining truancy is critical to a consistent application of truancy enforcement throughout the state. Our children will benefit from this legislation tremendously and we thank Senators Schuitmaker and Emmons for their commitment to this cause.”

Schuitmaker said school attendance and graduation lead to future success later in life. According to the Michigan School-Justice Partnership, Michigan has approximately 400 14-18 year-olds in adult state correctional facilities and within the entire corrections system 49 percent of inmates do not have a high school diploma or GED. Even worse, almost three-quarters of inmates read at less than a third grade level.

“Early and effective intervention aimed at keeping our kids in school will have a lasting, positive impact on countless families across the state,” added Schuitmaker.

SBs 405-408 have been referred to the Senate Education Committee for further consideration.

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Schuitmaker discusses the importance of ending sexual assault at Michigan’s colleges and universities

06082015SchuitmakerWomansPanState Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, discusses ways we can reduce sexual assaults on Michigan’s campuses, while also increasing the reporting at the “Let’s End Sexual Assault Summit” on Monday. Schuitmaker also thanked First Lady Sue Snyder for leading the important initiative.

Schuitmaker said sexual assaults on college campuses are underreported and we have to do everything we can to make sure victims feel comfortable coming forward. Michigan’s 15 public universities all use different reporting procedures, and a standardized set of rules would go a long way in increasing the number of victims reaching out and giving a report on their assailant. An alarming number of students are victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their college years, and only a small percentage of those assaults are ever reported.

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Editor’s note: the above photograph of Schuitmaker at the “Let’s End Sexual Assault Summit” is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.

Schuitmaker to introduce legislation making it easier for gun owners to purchase safety devices

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation will be introduced Wednesday by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker that would exempt gun safety devices from state sales and use taxes.

“This common-sense legislation will make gun locks and safes more affordable and accessible for all gun owners,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Locked firearms don’t fall into the hands of criminals or put innocent people at the risk of unintentional injury.

“Our Second Amendment provides a fundamental right to all law-abiding citizens to own a firearm. We can honor that right and promote responsible gun ownership practices by adopting this legislation.”

Oakland County Commissioner Bill Dwyer, a retired 49-year veteran of law enforcement and former Farmington Hills police chief, supports the legislation.

“In my career, I’ve seen far too many tragedies that could have been avoided, such as accidents that would have been stopped by a trigger lock or when an unsecured gun, owned by a law-abiding citizen, is stolen and used by a criminal with deadly consequences,” Dwyer said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for America’s firearms industry, also expressed support for the bills.

“This legislation will help to encourage even more gun owners to safely and responsibly store their guns when not in use, which will in turn help to reduce accidents which are already at historic lows,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.

“Removing the barrier to purchasing these safety devices is a no-brainer,” added Schuitmaker. “If our guns are not safely stored, a tragedy can happen when we least expect it. Removing the sales and use taxes on safety devices is just one practical way to encourage and promote safe gun habits.”

Schuitmaker noted that under current law a person is charged a sales tax on any gun safety device he or she buys in a Michigan-based store or a use tax on any device that is purchased from outside of the state. In some instances, the taxes on the safety devices can hold a person back from buying this important equipment. Firearms safety devices are exempt from sales tax in the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington.

Senate Bill 364 would amend the General Sales Tax Act and Senate Bill 365 would amend the Use Tax Act.

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