Schuitmaker: Oversight prompts bill idea from Paw Paw resident

LANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker will introduce legislation to allow free fishing on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

A constituent in the 20th Senate District prompted Schuitmaker to introduce Senate Bill 615 after the man tried to fish on Memorial Day only to discover he was breaking the law.

“A concerned Paw Paw resident was surprised Michigan did not have free fishing days on national holidays and brought the issue to my attention,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “I have to say I agree with him, especially when we have such a high tourist volume in our state on those weekends.”

Each year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) designates a Saturday and the following Sunday during January or February as free winter fishing days. In addition, the department may designate one other day or two consecutive days each year as free fishing days.

“We have a few free fishing days at the beginning of the year, when most people buy their fishing licenses, but none during the summer months,” said Schuitmaker. “We need to promote our Great Lakes State for both residents and tourists, and a free fishing day on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day will help tout our state's natural resources and recreational activities.”

During free fishing days, a resident or nonresident may fish for all species of fish in any Michigan waters designated by the DNR without purchasing a license or permit. 

Schuitmaker said SB 615 will likely be referred to the Senate Committee on Great Lakes and Tourism for consideration.

Senators encourage Michigan schools to install defibrillators at athletic, community functions

LANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker introduced a resolution Wednesday urging school districts throughout Michigan to install automated external defibrillators (AED) at all athletic and community-sponsored events.

Senate Resolution 74 was prompted by the tragic events last spring in Fennville when star basketball player Wes Leonard suffered cardiac arrest and died after a state tournament playoff game.

“The untimely loss of Wes Leonard left a deep impact in the hearts and minds of Michiganders and was felt across the nation,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “The unfortunate reality is that his was not the first death due to sudden cardiac arrest nor will it be the last. Wes’s story serves as an important reminder that we must take every precaution we can to help keep our young student athletes safe.”

Sudden cardiac arrest affects even the most physically fit and active among the population. It can happen at any time and its symptoms often go unannounced until it’s too late. Having AED devices on location can help save lives as immediate medical intervention is often a matter of life and death.

The devices are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, and staff training is neither costly nor time consuming. Having an AED plan in place could save a life.

“Even if having a defibrillator at a sporting event saves only one life, it is well worth the expense,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I fully support Senator Schuitmaker for sponsoring this vital measure.”

SR 74 will be referred to the Senate Committee on Education for consideration.

Aug. 22 designated Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Day in Michigan


LANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker said today that Monday, Aug. 22, 2011 has been proclaimed Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Awareness Day by Gov. Rick Snyder at the request of Mattawan residents, Eric and Sarah Kennedy.

The Kennedys lives changed in December 2008 when their eldest daughter was diagnosed with SMA at 16 months of age. Then, just weeks later, their second daughter was born and diagnosed with SMA as well.

SMA is known to cause degeneration in voluntary muscle movement, and is the leading genetic killer of children under the age of 2. One in 40 Americans carry the gene that causes the disease. Eric and Sarah unknowingly carried the gene responsible for SMA and, despite having no family history of the disease, had a 25 percent chance a child would be affected. There is at present no known treatment or cure for SMA.

“My husband, Eric, and I have become staunch activists nationally while we continue to fight the hardest for our beautiful daughters,” said Sarah Kennedy. “After he completed his deployment in Afghanistan he returned home to join me on the front lines in the fight of our lives: saving our daughters from the relentless onslaught of this disease.”

Those fortunate to survive past age 2 face a difficult future as their muscles slowly deteriorate, leaving them unable to walk, crawl, sit-up or even swallow. SMA crosses all racial, ethnic, religious and gender boundaries and, while it is primarily diagnosed in children, it can affect people of any age. Sensation and intellectual activity is normal and it is often observed that patients with SMA are unusually bright and sociable. 

“Families of SMA, a grassroots organization of which I am a member, is funding drug development programs and clinical trials, which may mean a treatment is on the horizon but we need all the help we can get,” said Mrs. Kennedy. “We thank Governor Snyder and Senator Schuitmaker for their support in helping to bring awareness to Michiganders.”

Schuitmaker urged residents to join the Kennedy family and Families of SMA to get involved and support the effort to raise awareness and find a cure for SMA.

For more information or to get involved in your community, please visit the Kennedy website at or the national organization website at

Additionally, all Kalamazoo Applebee’s locations will donate 15 percent of patrons’ bills to the nonprofit organization when they mention Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Day on Aug. 22.

Governor signs Schuitmakers bill requiring prisoner DNA collection

LANSING―State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, joined Gov. Rick Snyder in his office Tuesday for a ceremonial bill signing of Senate Bill 346. The legislation requires collection of DNA samples from all individuals presently incarcerated who have yet to provide a sample, and samples from all new convicts within 90 days of entering the prison population.

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