Calley signs Schuitmaker legislation to curb prescription drug abuse

LANSING, Mich. — A bipartisan effort aimed at curbing prescription drug addiction and overdoses received final approval from Lt. Gov. Brian Calley Wednesday afternoon.

State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, the lead sponsor of both bills, said she was thrilled to see this measure signed into law.

“These new laws will save countless lives,” she noted. “Doctors will have the opportunity to review a patient’s full controlled substance prescription history before making a decision to prescribe addictive drugs.

“Countless families have been devastated from the current opioid epidemic. Approval of these bills is just one step the state has taken to combat this public health crisis.”

Senate Bills 166 and 167 are now Public Acts 248 and 249 of 2017.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality photograph from Wednesday’s bill signing 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, joins members of Gov. Rick Snyder’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force along with other medical and law enforcement professionals involved in the legislation’s success. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed Senate Bills 166 and 167 into law on Wednesday.

Schuitmaker urges House to approve additional measures to prevent sexual assault

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker on Thursday said she would like to see the state House approve legislation that would eliminate the state’s statute of limitations law regarding criminal sexual conduct.

Schuitmaker, who co-sponsored Senate Bill 52, says this is common sense legislation that should have been easily approved in both chambers and sent to Gov. Rick Snyder by now.

“The Michigan Legislature has championed many reforms aimed at providing sexual assault victims with justice,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Unfortunately, the trauma from this violence can leave many victims suffering for years before they are able to speak out against their abuse and share what happened to them.”

SB 52 would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to eliminate the statute of limitations for a second-degree criminal sexual conduct in which the victim was under 16 years of age. The bill also would increase the statute of limitations for third-degree criminal sexual conduct to 20 years after the offense was committed or the victim’s 31st birthday, whichever was later.

Currently, complaints must be filed within 10 years after the offense is committed or by the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.

“With the massive increase in sexual assault claims we are seeing, we must change our laws to ensure that victims have a course of remedy,” Schuitmaker said. “This is just another tool we can give prosecutors in bringing criminals to justice and providing victims with the closure they deserve.

Schuitmaker points to the case of the convicted Dr. Larry Nassar as the primary reasoning for her support for this legislation. She said the legislation came up in a recent meeting with Rachael Denhollander and Sterling Riethman, both victims of Nassar, and they were very supportive of the measure.

“These girls were very young when this happened to them,” Schuitmaker said. “Victims in general, especially young girls, are often cautious about coming forward in a timely manner because of what it may mean for them. These bills would create a longer time frame for perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

SB 52 was unanimously approved by the Senate in October and is currently before the House Committee on Law and Justice.

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Opioid reporting bills head to Gov. Snyder

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday concurred with House amendments on a pair of bills that seek to prevent prescription drug diversion and reduce overdoses in the state of Michigan.

“Though many tragedies have happened in recent years, these bills are a culmination of hard work from every end of the spectrum to help put an end to this crisis,” said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “My colleagues and I have heard from parents of victims, individuals who have suffered from addiction, medical specialists, law enforcement and many others. This has been an amazing collaborative effort.”

Schuitmaker, who sponsored both bills and 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 require all prescribers who prescribe Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances to review a Michigan Automated Prescription System, or 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.

“This would put an end to pill mills and other illegal operations by creating a paper trail for every Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substance,” Schuitmaker said. “A quick, three-second search gives health care professionals a complete outline of a patient’s prescription history; allowing them to see if something doesn’t look right.”

Michigan currently has a system that tracks prescriptions, but Schuitmaker says many physicians don’t use it properly, or even at all.

“The bills would ensure all prescribers use the system and thoroughly examine a patient’s medical need for such medications,” Schuitmaker said. “The bills also include guidelines for punishing those who fail to do their due diligence.”

SBs 166 and 167 now advance to the desk of Gov. Rick Snyder for final consideration.

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UIA legislation move to Gov. Snyder’s desk

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — A bipartisan effort to address the ongoing problems at the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) received final approval from the Legislature on Wednesday afternoon.

House Bills 5165-5172 would make significant changes throughout the unemployment benefits system. The primary focus of this package is both reducing fraudulent claims and giving affected employers and employees a means to address claims filed by imposters.

“These benefits are meant to be used in an emergency situation,” said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Instead of providing assistance to those who needed a hand up while they got back on their feet, as the agency was intended to do, the system created a massive debacle  that resulted in many Michigan residents being wrongly accused of fraud and losing their assistance.”

The bills also require the UIA to increase reporting requirements to the Legislature and implement several additional internal measures that would better determine if claims are fraudulent or filed through a stolen identity. If a claim is determined to be fraudulent, the UIA will then cancel all benefits on a claim.

The agency would also then be required to credit an employer’s account for benefits paid to an impostor that were charged to the account.

“These are necessary reforms that will ensure the system works as it is meant to,” Schuitmaker said. “Simply stating that ‘a computer error’ falsely accused and caused more than 37,000 people to lose their benefits is not enough. We need to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

HBs 5165-5172 will now go to Gov. Rick Snyder for consideration.

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