Schuitmaker bills aiming to reduce drunk driving offenses, protect motorists pass Senate

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday passed a package of bills sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker that aims to reduce drunk driving offenses.

Senate Bills 175, 176, and 357 would create oversight and accountability for manufacturers and those who service breath alcohol interlock ignition devices (BAIID).

“This comes down to an issue of public safety,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “By increasing oversight of the ignition interlock program, we can ensure more drivers are complying with the law and our families are safe on the roads.”

A BAIID is 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 driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured and the ignition signal will be killed if the level is above the minimum threshold. To prevent drinking and driving behind the wheel, the driver is also required to be intermittently tested throughout their drive.

Certain court mandates may require a driver to have a BAIID installed on their vehicle as a condition of keeping driving privileges after conviction of various alcohol-related crimes. More than 8,000 of these devices have been installed in the past three years alone.

“Without a certification process for manufacturers and those who install and service the devices, our current program lacks integrity,” Schuitmaker said.

“Someone you can find on Craigslist may be on the list of installers that a manufacturer uses. These installers, who may not have any technical or mechanical expertise, will meet drivers in a fast food restaurant parking lot to install the device and offer advice on how to get around the system for a few extra bucks.”

Without proper licensure of these installers, there is no way to sanction any individuals guilty of this practice. This legislation would require annual certification from the Michigan Department of State for manufacturers, increase requirements for service centers and establish certification requirements for those who install BAIIDs.

“I have also heard several stories of devices being installed incorrectly,” Schuitmaker said. “The shoddy work resulted in not only an interlock device that didn’t function properly, but also substantial damage to the vehicle.

“Updating the certification process for installation and service of these devices creates a uniform code that would hold those who are guilty of misusing them to be held accountable and keep our drivers safe.”

SBs 175, 176, and 357 were voted out of the Senate and now await consideration before the House of Representatives.

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Schuitmaker legislation would save court users time, money

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker that would establish a statewide electronic filing system for Michigan courts advanced out of the Senate Thursday.

Senate Bills 531-533 would create a hassle-free e-filing system, enabling someone filing court documents to file online using a single username and password. The system would save court users money that would otherwise be spent on copying costs, postage and couriers.

“Court proceedings are often slow and difficult,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Creating a uniform and efficient e-filing system will make the whole process easier for Michigan residents.”

In a 2014 report, the National Center for State Courts recommended this upgrade to improve service and increase efficiency. The state of Michigan has 244 trial courts supported by 165 funding sources. Currently, each jurisdiction has the ability to set their own standards and requirements for filing documents.

“Our current patchwork filing system ultimately places the burden on our court users. Instead of rushing to the court trying to meet a deadline, this legislation will allow users to file anytime and anywhere, ultimately saving them time and money,” Schuitmaker said.

The new system would provide a basic framework for courts to establish e-filing services that fit their specific needs and capabilities. Each court would have the ability to customize how the service is delivered to their users.

“This legislation will use available technology to streamline the process for filing court documents and allow our court system to operate much more efficiently in the future,” Schuitmaker said.

SBs 531-533 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Schuitmaker, O’Brien bills improve public safety

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would improve oversight and uniformity for Michigan’s law enforcement officers passed the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bills 92-96, sponsored by state Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker and Margaret O’Brien, would update the statutes governing the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) — the organization responsible for overseeing the licensing and training of law enforcement officers in Michigan.

“Our law enforcement officers go out every day to perform a very difficult and dangerous job,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This legislation will ensure that officers are held to the highest standards and are properly trained and qualified to protect the public.”

Currently MCOLES is governed by a variety of statutes and executive orders. The bills would codify the current commission and create clarity and consistency.

“Putting a consistent set of guidelines that all full-time and reserve officers must follow in statute is beneficial to both the law enforcement community and to the residents of Michigan,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Our law enforcement officers serve and protect, and these guidelines will ensure the utmost integrity while doing so.”

This legislation would also allow MCOLES to set minimum standards for reserve officers.

“Reserve officers are an important part of many law enforcement agencies across the state. But in some situations, we have seen questionable uses of these officers,” said Schuitmaker. “Certain agencies were giving untrained individuals vast law enforcement authority, while other agencies were hiring hundreds of reserve officers for very small communities.

“This package of bills will simply allow MCOLES to establish minimum standards for reserve officers in Michigan.”

Schuitmaker has been working with MCOLES and other interested parties to get these bills passed for a number of years. The legislation has received broad support from the law enforcement community.

SBs 92-96 passed out of the full Senate and now will move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Schuitmaker bills would enhance public safety with new BAIID standards

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — A package of bills that aims to reduce drunk driving offenses, introduced by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, was voted out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary Tuesday.

Senate Bills 175, 176, and 357 would create oversight and accountability for the manufacturers of breath alcohol interlock ignition devices (BAIID).

A BAIID is 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.

Under current law, some drivers may be court mandated to have a BAIID installed on their vehicle as a condition of keeping driving privileges after conviction of various alcohol related crimes. More than 8,000 of these devices have been installed in the past three years alone.

“Without a certification process for manufacturers and those who install and service the devices, our current program lacks integrity,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton.

“Someone you can find on Craigslist may be on the list of installers that a manufacturer uses. These installers, who may not have any technical or mechanical expertise, will meet drivers in a fast food restaurant parking lot to install the device and offer advice on how to get around the system for a few extra bucks.”

Without proper licensure of these installers, there is no way to sanction any individuals guilty of this practice. This legislation would require annual certification from the Michigan Department of State for manufacturers, increase requirements for service centers in the state, and establish certification requirements for those who install BAIIDs.

“This really comes down to an issue of public safety,” Schuitmaker said. “By increasing oversight of the ignition interlock program, we can ensure more drivers are complying with the law and our families are safe on the roads.”

SBs 175, 176, and 357 now head to the full Senate for consideration.

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Sen. Schuitmaker welcomes the Rev. Steve Smail to state Capitol to give Senate invocation

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, welcomed the Rev. Steve Smail to the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday. Smail serves as senior pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church of Plainwell and delivered the invocation before Senate session.

Editor’s note: A print-quality version of the above photo is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com. Click “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.

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Schuitmaker announces office hours events for October

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Who:

District Director Deb Shields and the general public

What:

Office hours

When and where:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 13

10 – 11 a.m.

Antwerp Township Hall

24821 Front St.

Mattawan

 

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Paw Paw District Library

609 West Michigan Ave.

Paw Paw

 

  • Tuesday, Oct. 20

9 – 10 a.m.

Fennville City Hall

222 South Maple St.

Fennville

 

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Mugshots Coffeehouse

340 Water St.

Allegan

 

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Plainwell City Hall

211 North Main St.

Plainwell

 

  • Wednesday, Oct. 21

8 – 9 a.m.

The Breakfast Place

206 North Main St.

Lawton

 

10 – 11 a.m.

Railroad Cafe

555 Railroad St.

Bangor

 

Noon – 1 p.m.

Saugatuck-Douglas Library

10 Mixer St.

Douglas

 

  • Monday, Oct. 26

10 – 11 a.m.

Fillmore Township Hall

4219 52nd St.

Holland

 

  • Tuesday, Oct. 27

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

Daily Brews Gourmet Coffee

128 South Main St.

Wayland

 

10 – 11 a.m.

Biggby Coffee

6082 Kalamazoo Ave. SE

Kentwood

 

Brief:

State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, welcomes area residents to attend mobile district office hours this month hosted by District Director Deb Shields throughout Van Buren and Allegan counties, in addition to Kentwood and Gaines Township.

Deb Shields will be on hand to answer questions and respond to concerns any residents of the district may have. No appointment is necessary.

For more information, please contact Deb Shields at (269) 303-5564 or by email at DShields@senate.michigan.gov.

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