Schuitmaker ‘specialty courts’ legislation signed by governor

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that seeks to reduce recidivism and ensure that our state’s specialty courts employ proven, evidence-based practices was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday.

Senate Bills 435-438 were introduced to align state statute with recent changes adopted by the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) that would instruct all specialty courts to have state certification beginning with Fiscal Year 2018.

“These courts are a great alternative to traditional judicial proceedings,” said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, the package’s lead sponsor. “Rather than issuing a fine, or jailing an individual, these courts provide alternative options and unique, personalized care aimed at healing someone versus punishing them.”

These new laws will also improve the effectiveness of the state’s treatment courts by ensuring they employ practices that have been nationally recognized and proven to be effective.

Currently, specialty programs across the state are using various methods to achieve the end goal of rehabilitating an individual. While the SCAO provides recommendations based off of practices proven to be effective, there is nothing requiring specialty courts to follow them. The new laws create uniform guidelines that treatment courts across the state will implement to achieve better outcomes.

“We need to remember that specialty courts were created for a reason,” Schuitmaker said. “The focus should be on getting people the help they need instead of letting them get caught up in the criminal justice system. I am happy to see the new certification process signed into law and we can now ensure specialty courts throughout Michigan are following consistent guidelines and achieving the results they were created to achieve.”

SBs 435-438 are now Public Acts 161-164 of 2017.

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Sen. Schuitmaker announces November office hours

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, announced that November 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:

 

Wednesday, Nov. 8

10 – 11 a.m.

Mug Shots Coffeehouse

340 Water St.

Allegan

 

Noon – 1 p.m.

Plainwell City Hall

211 N. Main St.

Plainwell

 

Wednesday, Nov. 15

10:30 – 11:15 a.m.

The Breakfast Place

206 N. Main St.

Lawton

 

Noon – 1 p.m.

Railroad Café

555 Railroad St.

Bangor

 

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.

Saugatuck-Douglas Library

10 Mixer St.

Douglas

 

Friday, Nov. 17

10 – 11 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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Schuitmaker resolution calls for nationwide concealed carry reciprocity

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker on Thursday introduced a resolution urging Congress to approve a measure that would require other states to recognize one another’s concealed carry licenses.

U.S. House Resolution 38, which was introduced in early 2017, would allow a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms.

Schuitmaker’s resolution urges the federal government to approve HR 38, which was referred to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary and subsequently to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

“The right to defend one’s self should not be forfeited upon crossing state lines,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Relying on a varying patchwork of laws that vary by state is not an efficient system, but is unfortunately one that we currently rely on. It is time Congress approved a measure outlining how states will accept one another’s permits.”

Senate Resolution 109 was referred to the Michigan Senate Committee on Government Operations for further consideration.

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Schuitmaker to host press conference on new legislation protecting victims of sexual assault

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker announced on Wednesday that she will be hosting a press conference to announce and discuss legislation that would increase protections for victims of sexual assault, specifically instances where a child is conceived.

Who:

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton;

Ed Rivet, Right to Life of Michigan;

Genevieve Marnon, Right to Life of Michigan; and

Rebecca Kiessling, pro-life attorney/activist

What:

A press conference announcing upcoming Senate legislation to protect sexual assault survivors who are mothers of children conceived through rape.

When:

Thursday, Oct. 26 at 2:30 p.m.

Where:

Michigan Capitol

Room 402/403

Lansing, MI

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Senate legislation would protect victims of domestic violence, rape and human trafficking

LANSING, Mich. — Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault would be able to hide their physical addresses from their offenders under legislation being introduced by Sens. Margaret O’Brien, Tonya Schuitmaker and Rick Jones.

“It is time for the state to step up to help victims safely get a fresh start away from their offenders,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “This Senate legislation would help protect victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking by keeping their locations hidden from their offenders. For many women and children, this is a matter of life and death.”

The Senate legislation would create an address confidentiality program in Michigan. The program would enable victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking to obtain a confidential address to protect themselves from their past offenders.

The confidential address would be used on official documentations as well as mailing addresses.

“Keeping victims safe is the number one priority in this legislation,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “These individuals have already been through the most difficult of times, and I certainly think these bills can provide both closure and a bit of assistance.”

Under the bills, if a child is at risk of being threatened or physically harmed or they or their parents are victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery, they too would be eligible to apply as a program participant and receive an identification number. A school would not be allowed to disclose the address of a pupil or a pupil’s parent if they are program participants.

“With this legislation, Michigan would join 37 other states in offering address confidentiality programs for victims of abuse or assault,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “There are cases of victims who have been forced to leave the state or even the country to escape their attackers. By providing a confidential address under this legislation, the state can decrease the risk of victims being threatened or harmed again by offenders.”

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Schuitmaker welcomes Medal of Honor recipient to state Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker welcomed Vietnam veteran and recent Medal of Honor recipient SPC James McCloughan to the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday.

“McCloughan served as a medic and his actions directly resulted in 10 American lives being saved,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “On behalf of every member who sits in this chamber, I would like to salute SPC McCloughan for his bravery and heroism and honor his time in the armed forces. He is the true embodiment of courage and many men owe their lives to his actions from nearly a half-century ago.”

McCloughan is a resident of Casco Township and joined Schuitmaker on the Senate floor as members paid tribute to his courageous display of heroism during the Vietnam War and honored him as a Medal of Honor recipient.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality photograph of Schuitmaker welcoming Wednesday’s guests 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, places a pin on SPC James McCloughan during a Senate ceremony recognizing his service and honoring him as a Medal of Honor recipient.

House committee approves Schuitmaker legislation to combat opioid epidemic

LANSING, Mich. — The House Committee on Health Policy on Tuesday advanced a package of bills that would further the state’s efforts against the growing prescription drug and opioid epidemic in Michigan.

“Every community across our state has experienced the devastating effects of prescription drug and opioid abuse,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, who has been the lead in the Senate on several opioid-related issues. “This is not something that we can simply legislate away. It takes diligence and cooperation on every level.”

Because of their direct involvement with the process, Schuitmaker concentrated her legislative efforts on what have come to be known as “doctor shopping” and “pill mills.” As a result, she introduced Senate Bills 166 and 167 to hinder this process and crack down on any collusion between pharmacies and physicians.

“To get to the root of the problem, we need to weed out the bad actors,” she said. “Doctors and pharmacies working together to illegally prescribe medications for a quick buck is a recipe for disaster. These so-called medical professionals clearly do not have the patient’s best interest in mind. They are not only violating the law, but the ethics of the oath they took to become a physician as well.”

These bills would make sure doctors who prescribe Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances consult the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, prior to doing so. The bills also outline punishment guidelines for those who fail to do so or are negligent.

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.

“I, and many others, find it troubling that the number of controlled substances prescribed in Michigan has nearly quadrupled over the past eight years,” Schuitmaker said. “My goal with these bills is to simply make sure doctors have all relevant information regarding a patient’s prescription history and to put an end to the illegal operations that allow opioids to get into the hands of those who do not truly need them.”

SBs 166 and 167 now go before the full House for a vote.

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Hunters hunting outside of Michigan must follow new cervid rules

Michigan has a rich hunting heritage. New cervid importation regulations will help protect the state’s deer population to ensure our hunting tradition stays strong.

To help keep potential cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from unintentionally being brought into Michigan, hunters who harvest a cervid (deer, moose or elk) in any other state or province can only import certain parts, such as hides, deboned meat, quarters, finished taxidermy products, cleaned teeth and antlers.

CWD is a fatal, contagious neurological disease. In 2015, a free ranging deer in mid-Michigan tested positive for CWD. Since that discovery, nine animals have tested positive for the disease. The state has taken aggressive steps, including these new regulations, to help contain this threat. Those hunting in Michigan within areas where CWD has been found must follow specific regulations as well. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/cwd.

Schuitmaker, Colbeck urge federal action on immigration

LANSING, Mich. — State Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker and Patrick Colbeck on Tuesday introduced a pair of resolutions urging Congress to cut funding to sanctuary cities and to pass Kate’s Law.

U.S. House Resolution 3004, which is commonly referred to as Kate’s law, increases penalties for those who are deported and caught trying to return to the United States. The legislation is named after Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was killed by a man who had been deported numerous times, but was able to enter the U.S. again. Many attribute Steinle’s death to the city’s sanctuary city status, a term coined for cities that limit cooperation between their workers and federal officials attempting to enforce federal immigration law.

“This man should never have been here and Kate should still be with her loved ones,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This was a senseless, devastating crime that could have and should have been prevented. I applaud the House taking action and approving this measure, but the Senate needs to act quickly and get this to the president’s desk before this happens again.”

Michigan Senate Concurrent Resolutions 20, sponsored by Schuitmaker, and 21, sponsored by Colbeck, urge the U.S. Senate to approve Kate’s Law, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in early June. The pair of resolutions also urge the federal government to cut funding to any city that proclaims itself a sanctuary city.

“It makes no sense to financially reward government bodies that try to impede state and city employees from working with federal immigration authorities,” said Colbeck, R-Canton. “It should go without saying that public safety demands our police be allowed to report to immigration authorities and detain people who are here illegally.”

Schuitmaker agreed.

“It baffles me that cities across the United States are not only getting away with knowingly violating federal law, but are also advertising their sanctuary city status and encouraging more people to violate the law,” Schuitmaker said. “This is not only a matter of public safety, but a matter of preserving the rule of law. We cannot let local governments decide which federal laws they choose to follow.”

Both resolutions were referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary for further consideration.

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Casperson, Schuitmaker introduce legislation supporting Second Amendment, foster parent rights

LANSING, Mich. — State Sens. Tom Casperson and Tonya Schuitmaker on Wednesday introduced legislation that would preserve the Second Amendment rights of foster parents.

A policy change by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that took effect in 2015 requires all firearms legally possessed in foster homes be locked in a gun case or stored with a trigger-lock separate from ammunition.

Under this policy, firearms cannot be carried in a holster, even by someone who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, or stored in any other safe manner.

“Adopting a child does not require you to give up your constitutionally guaranteed rights,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Thousands of families across Michigan have figured out how to safely possess firearms in the privacy of their own homes without the government telling them how to do it.”

Senate Bill 527 stemmed from a situation in Casperson’s district in which a grandfather from Ontonagon was told he would have to forego his Second Amendment rights to foster his grandchild.

“This man is a veteran of the U.S. Marines and legally holds a concealed pistol license in the state of Michigan,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “The department has no authority to force someone to give up their constitutional rights.”

Both legislators pointed out that a very large percentage of Michigan’s law-abiding citizens carry or otherwise safely store firearms within their homes for self-defense.

“A gun that is locked up without ammunition does no good if someone breaks into the home,” Schuitmaker said. “The department is essentially telling residents that they can’t be trusted and they need the government to watch over them.”

Casperson added that Michigan should be doing more to assist parents looking to adopt, not asking them to forego their rights as Americans.

“Government officials are telling a law-abiding citizen that he needs to forego some of his constitutional rights in order to care for a family member, and if he doesn’t, the child will be removed from his custody. This is absolutely insane,” Casperson said.

“We should be encouraging people to adopt and give children a stable home. Telling them they have to give up rights in order to do so puts one more unnecessary roadblock in the way, hurts families and is blatantly unconstitutional.”

SB 527 would codify in state statute the rights of lawful gun owners to possess their firearms in a foster home. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services.

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