Schuitmaker disappointed by veto of ‘Choose Life’ license plate bill

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, issued the following statement Friday regarding Gov. Rick Snyder’s veto of Senate Bill 163, which would have created a “Choose Life” fundraising license plate in the state of Michigan.

“Like so many Michigan residents who support life, I am disappointed by today’s veto of legislation that would have created a “Choose Life” license plate.

“This voluntary license plate would have raised funds to provide resources and services for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. Regardless, I will continue to advocate both in the Legislature and in my community for policies and solutions that support life.”

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Continuing the fight against prescription drug abuse

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a pair of bills that seek to prevent prescription drug diversion and reduce overdoses in the state of Michigan.

“The Legislature has remained committed to fighting the recent spike in opioid-related deaths head on; however, it is not something that can simply be legislated away,” said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, who sponsored both bills. “Successfully combating this issue takes time and expertise and relies on diligent participation from everyone involved.”

Schuitmaker, who has remained at the forefront of the legislative effort against opioid abuse, says illegal diversion is the root cause of the epidemic that is currently sweeping the nation.

Senate Bills 166 and 167 would aid the state’s ongoing effort against opioid addiction by attempting to eliminate this diversion at the source.

“We have doctors and pharmacies who are willing to prescribe and fill medications for patients with no medical need and patients actively seeking out these types of doctors to illegally obtain prescription medicine,” Schuitmaker said. “Michigan currently has a system that tracks prescriptions, but many physicians don’t use it properly, or even at all.”

The bills would ensure all prescribers use the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, which was designed to prevent drug diversion by collecting prescription data and loading it into a database made available to all Michigan prescribers and pharmacies.

Under the bills, all prescribers who prescribe Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances would review a MAPS report prior to issuing a prescription for a controlled substance. The report lists which substances a patient has received and who has prescribed them. A MAPS report could indicate to the physician or health care provider that abuse or doctor shopping may be occurring.

Also included in the bills are guidelines for punishing those who fail to do their due diligence.

“This quick, three-second search allows health care professionals to see the full scope of a patient’s prescription history,” Schuitmaker said. “When something doesn’t look right, there will be a paper trail of information that investigators can follow, and violators will be dealt with accordingly.”

SBs 166 and 167 now advance to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Proos, Schuitmaker honor local good Samaritans for aiding state trooper

LANSING, Mich.Sen. John Proos and Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker on Wednesday paid tribute to good Samaritans Jerry Burnham of Berrien Springs and Keith Pepple of Plainwell for coming to the aid of a state trooper under attack.

“Without regard for their own safety, Burnham and Pepple came to the aid of Michigan State Police Trooper Garry Guild. As a result of their bravery, the attackers were apprehended and, more importantly, no one was injured,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Our law enforcement officials put their lives on the line every day to protect our families and communities. It is an honor to pay tribute these gentleman who reciprocated that generosity.”

On Feb. 20, Trooper Guild’s pursuit of a fleeing motorcyclist resulted in two men attacking the officer on the side of a road. Upon witnessing the altercation, Burnham and Pepple stopped their vehicles and came to the aid of Trooper Guild. They stopped one assailant from choking the trooper and held back the other until the trooper could gain control of the suspects and place them under arrest. In May, the motorcyclist was found guilty on six counts, including assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and is expected to be sentenced on Wednesday.

“We are fortunate to have citizens of such a high caliber who are willing to put their own safety at risk for the benefit of others,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Keith and Jerry risked their lives without hesitation, and we will be forever grateful.”

Proos presented Burnham with a special tribute signed by Proos; Rep. Dave Pagel, R-Berrien Springs; U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph; Lt. Gov. Brian Calley; and Gov. Rick Snyder.

Schuitmaker presented Pepple with a special tribute signed by Schuitmaker; Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township; Upton; Calley; and Snyder.

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Editor’s note: Video of the Senate floor presentation is available by clicking here or by visiting www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Video.

Dashcam video of the attack and Burnham and Pepple coming to Guild’s aid is available by clicking here.

The above photo is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Photowire or www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com/Photowire.

Bills to stop female genital mutilation soon heading to the governor

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to help end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Michigan will soon be sent to the governor.

“Female genital mutilation is a horrific act of barbarism inflicted on young girls throughout the world and even here in Michigan,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The recent case in Southeast Michigan, where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by local doctors, was sickening and evil. It was a violation of human rights that cannot — and will not — be tolerated.”

Senate Bills 337 and 338, sponsored by Sen. Margaret O’Brien and Jones, would ban the practice of FGM in Michigan. The bills would make the practice a felony crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“With this legislation, we are taking a stand to protect all Michigan girls and women from this disturbing act,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Female genital mutilation has no place in our state or anywhere else, and I look forward to seeing Michigan join 24 other states in outlawing this oppressive procedure that permanently devastates so many young lives.”

SBs 368 and 369, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Sen. Judy Emmons, would prohibit someone from transporting a girl to have this procedure carried out. Under the bills, the crime would be a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“This barbaric procedure has no accepted health benefits and is only performed to exercise control over young women,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “We need to give law enforcement and prosecutors every available tool to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The bills stem from a recent case in which Michigan-based doctors were arrested and charged for allegedly conspiring to perform FGM on minors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“These bills would target those responsible for transporting young girls to be mutilated,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “The impact of the savagery we are fighting is tremendous. These traumatic procedures are usually performed without anesthetic, and victims can have ongoing psychological and physical health consequences, including infection, pain and even death.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FGM refers to cutting and other procedures that injure the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Federal law prohibits anyone in the country from knowingly excising or infibulating the genitals of any girl under 18 years of age.

The House approved SBs 337-338 and 368-369 on Thursday. The bills will now return to the Senate to be enrolled and sent to the governor.

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Schuitmaker welcomes teacher of the year to state Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, welcomed Luke Wilcox of Kentwood to the state Capitol on Tuesday.

Wilcox, who teaches math and advanced placement statistics at East Kentwood High School, was recently named the 2017-18 Michigan Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education.

Wilcox has been at East Kentwood High School since 2001 and also serves as Math Department chairperson.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality photograph of Schuitmaker welcoming Tuesday’s guest 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.

PHOTO CAPTION: State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, along with Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, welcomed East Kentwood High School math teacher Luke Wilcox to the Senate floor during Tuesday’s session. Wilcox was recently named Michigan Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education.

 

Committee approves Schuitmaker doctor shopping bills

LANSING, Mich. — A Senate committee on Tuesday advanced a pair of bills that would further the state’s efforts against the growing prescription drug and heroin epidemic in Michigan.

“Nearly 2,000 Michiganders died from drug abuse in 2015, and those numbers have unfortunately continued to increase into 2017,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, who has been the lead in the Senate on several opioid-related issues.

Schuitmaker points to both “doctor shopping” and “pill mills” as the main contributors to the growing public health crisis.

Doctor shopping is a process in which patients seek out doctors who will write fraudulent prescriptions, while pill mills refer to collusive operations between such doctors and pharmacies that will ultimately fill the unwarranted prescriptions.

Schuitmaker introduced Senate Bills 166 and 167 to hinder this process and crack down on any illicit collusion between pharmacies and physicians.

“When you have doctors and pharmacies who are willing to prescribe and fill medications to patients with no medical need and patients actively seeking out these types of actors, it is a recipe for disaster,” she said. “These bills would make sure doctors who prescribe Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances consult MAPS prior to doing so and outline punishments for those who fail to do their due diligence.”

The Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, was designed to prevent drug diversion by collecting prescription data and loading it into a database made available to all Michigan prescribers. This allows health care professionals to see a full picture of the controlled substances that a patient has received and from which prescriber. A MAPS report could indicate to the physician or health care provider that abuse or doctor shopping may be occurring.

“The number of controlled substances prescribed in Michigan has nearly quadrupled over the past eight years,” Schuitmaker said. “These bills ensure that doctors will have all relevant information regarding a patient’s prescription history and are an important tool to end this deadly cycle.”

SBs 166 and 167 received approval from the Senate Committee on Health Policy Tuesday afternoon and will now go before the full Senate for a vote.

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Senate, House higher education budget limits tuition increases, allocates more for student financial aid

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State lawmakers from both chambers came together Tuesday morning to finalize the state’s higher education budget, which draws them one step closer to completing the final Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Appropriation Subcommittee, said the core of this budget is offering relief to students and families.

“For the seventh year in a row, we have placed a cap on how much Michigan’s universities can increase their tuition,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This cap, coupled with a public reinvestment in our universities, has helped to keep costs lower than they would have been.”

The 2017-2018 cap is set at 3.8 percent. Any school whose tuition increase goes beyond that amount will relinquish a portion of their state funding.

Tuesday’s report also includes a significant increase in available funding for student financial aid. This year’s appropriation includes $127 million total funding for grants and assistance programs, a 15 percent increase from last year.

“I remain wholly committed to making sure students have access to a quality education,” Schuitmaker said. “As educational costs continue to increase, more families are struggling to keep up. I believe that any student who has the drive to continue their learning should have the opportunity to do so.”

Overall, the state’s 15 public universities will see an increase of $28 million in total operations funding, a 2 percent increase from last year. When coupled with the 15 percent increase in student aid, Schuitmaker says she believes this is a positive step for everyone.

“Since assuming my role as chair of the subcommittee, I have maintained my commitment to making higher education more affordable for students,” Schuitmaker said. “This budget provides more resources for our state’s universities to continue their excellent work, while also holding them accountable to who matters most: the students.”

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Sen. Schuitmaker announces June office hours

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, announced that June office hours are scheduled for the 26th Senate District.

Schuitmaker’s district director, Deb Shields, will be available to meet with constituents at the following dates, times and locations:

 

Monday, June 5

9 – 10 a.m.

Fillmore Township Hall

4219 52nd St.

Holland

 

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Fennville City Hall

222 S. Maple St.

Fennville

 

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Mugshots Coffee House

340 Water St.

Allegan

 

2 – 3 p.m.

Plainwell City Hall

211 N. Main St.

Plainwell

 

Thursday, June 8

9 – 10 a.m.

The Breakfast Place

206 N. Main St.

Lawton

 

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Antwerp Township Hall

24821 Front St.

Mattawan

 

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Railroad Café

555 Railroad St.

Bangor

 

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Saugatuck Douglas Library

10 Mixer St.

Douglas

 

Friday, June 9

9 – 10 a.m.

Gaines Township Hall

8555 Kalamazoo Ave. SE

Gaines Township

 

Schuitmaker welcomes area residents to attend mobile district office hours this month hosted by District Director Deb Shields throughout Van Buren and Allegan counties, as well as Kentwood and Gaines Township.

Shields will be on hand to answer questions and respond to concerns that 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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